The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, by Nancy Farmer

Tendai, Kuda, and Rita are the sheltered children of the chief of security of a futuristic Zimbabwe. When they decide they want to have an adventure, they manage to sneak off their property out into the underbelly of the city. There, they fall off the radar, and their father hires three detectives with special powers (Ear, Eye, and Arm) to find the lost children. The story jumps between narratives of Ear, Eye, and Arm and of the kids. 

This was a fantastic adventure story in a futuristic land. I’ve loved several of Farmer’s books, and this one didn’t disappoint. I loved the way she split the story so that we could see both the pursuers and the pursued. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes kid’s science fiction, or to kids between the ages of 9-12. I wish my nephew read, because I’d insist he read it. 🙂


Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher
Narrated by Euan Morton
Captain Grimm is a dedicated airship captain who has fallen into disrepute. Instead of in its military, he serves Spire Aurora by catching pirate ships on his free ship named Predator. However, when Aurora is attacked by a neighboring spire, he must take on a more dangerous mission looking for the enemy who may be lurking within Spire Aurora’s ranks. Besides the grim captain, the mission includes two feisty young women, a loyal (but disdainful) cat, and a young warrior of the guard. 

This is a fantastic addition to Butcher’s repertoire. Of his books, I’ve only read the Dresden ones, and then only a few, but I’ve loved every book by Butcher that I’ve ever read. This is no exception. It has adventure, fantasy, steampunk, science fiction and cats. How can that ever be a bad combination? I look forward to the next book in this series, and am now sorely tempted to pick up another Butcher book very, very soon.  


Burning Midnight, by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight, by Will McIntosh
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review 
This book takes place in the not-so-distant future – a future in which magical spheres have inexplicably appeared all over the world. These spheres can be burned by one person, and that person receives an extraordinary gift. 

In order to make enough money to help his mother pay the rent, Sully sells spheres at a flea market. When an edgy girl with an attitude and great spheres walks in, they make a deal to start hunting together. 

This is by far the best YA science fiction / fantasy novel  I’ve read in years. I knew it would be as soon as I started reading. The story pretty much starts out as a near-future mystery. Who is this girl Hunter and what’s her story? Where’d the spheres come from, and why? The action starts out slow and then steadily rises throughout the book until an adrenaline-pumped end. And the end is where this book went up from 4 stars to 5 stars. McIntosh has achieved the unthinkable: he’s wrapped up all of his loose threads in one book. It’s so nice to read a reasonably non-violent, non-sexual standalone book once in a while. And this one was exceptional, with its mixture of mystery, adventure, and action. 

I’d recommend this book to people anywhere from about 5th grade on up, and it’s appropriate for all ages. 

War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
Narrated by Greg Wagland
Spoiler alert!

When a pod crashes just outside London, our intrepid observer (unnamed protagonist) is at first curious. He watches as a lid slowly unscrews itself, and an alien crawls out. He only makes a run for it when green lightening chases down the watching crowd, scorching them all to death. He runs home, takes his wife to an out-of-the-way town, and for some idiotic reason heads back home. The rest of the book is his adventures on the way back to his wife. It also contains a short couple of chapters about the adventures of his brother in London – just to add some greater perspective of the story. 


Despite the name of this story, War of the Worlds is about three pods that land in the London area it is not an en masse invasion. I think it’s interesting that yet again Wells wrote a book where the characters remain completely unnamed. Perhaps that’s meant to make the story more “autobiographical” or simply to say that events, not names, matter when something like this happens. I like to think of it as the second choice. 

If you’ve read past my spoiler alert, then you don’t mind if I mention that in the end of the book all of the aliens died from bacterial infection because they were not immune to disease on Earth. I think this ending was quite creative and forward thinking at the time. It also gives the reader a feeling of no control. No. We didn’t destroy the aliens with our brains and technology and sheer will to live. They were going to destroy us, and that’s that. But something completely out of our control is what saved us in the end. 

I thought this ending was quite fascinating when I read the book as a teenager. Then, when the Tom Cruise movie came out one of my friends told me “don’t see it, it has the stupidest ending, I’ve heard.” So I expected something really darned stupid to happen at the ending. When it ended, she turned to me to say “I told you so” when I pointed out that this is exactly how the book ended. She was like “it was based on a book?” That gave me a perspective that perhaps an ending outside of our control is too philosophical for most readers/movie watchers of the day? Perhaps we just want to see ourselves be in control of our own fate? 

I think it’s interesting to note that the ending to Independence Day also had a similar ending – a virus killed the aliens, but in this case it was technological warfare and not a biological infection that we had no control over. So metaphorical disease was there, just as in War of the Worlds, but the power was in our hands. 

I’m trying to think of some modern books (besides outwardly religious ones) where a similarly dire situation is turned around by something outside of our control. If I recall, there’s a very popular Stephen King novel that ends in a deus ex machina sort of way. 


The Rolling Stones, by Robert A Heinlein

The Rolling Stones, by Robert A Heinlein
Narrated by Tom Weiner
Teenaged twins Castor and Pollux Stone cajole their father into buying a space ship, and the entire family goes on a trip around the galaxy. But Castor and Pollux repeatedly end up in trouble with their schemes to make a fortune on distant planets.


This is a hard book for me to review, so I’ll keep it short. I’ve only read one other book by Heinlein, A Stranger in a Strange Land, and that was as a teenager, so I expected something a bit more serious and meaningful in this book. Is this what pulp is? I’ve only read one pulp-fiction book, A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, so I’m very inexperienced with the genre. It took me a while to get over the cheese. But I recognize that when you’re reading a book that was written in a style foreign to you, it’s better to view the book within its context rather than comparing it to your usual type. And after I approached the book from this perspective, I began to really enjoy the humor and even became emotionally invested in the characters. I wouldn’t say I highly recommend this book, but I enjoyed my second pulp experience. 




Shada, by Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts

Shada: Doctor Who, the Lost Adventure
By Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts
Narrated by Lalla Ward and John Leeson

Shada is a novel tie-in to the popular TV series Doctor Who. Specifically, it is based on the screenplay (written by Douglas Adams) of an unbroadcast eighth doctor story arc.  The Doctor, Romana, and K-9 go to visit an old friend, Professor Chronotis, after receiving a distress signal. It turns out that Chronotis had stolen a dangerous book: The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey. All the Time Lords have heard of this book, but none of them quite seem to remember what it’s for. When the book is accidentally borrowed by a post-doc, the Doctor and Romana must find the book and keep it out of the hands of Skagra, an evil genius bent on becoming the universe. (Important distinction here – he’s not taking over the universe; he’s becoming it.) 

This is the first time I’ve ever read a novel tie-in to a show or movie. My opinion has always been that books can become movies but movies shouldn’t become books. You have to add in so much information for a TV novelization to be a good book. When I read a book, I’m not just looking for a story, I’m looking for beauty. For art. For characterization. These are things that this book did not particularly have. You knew who the characters were, after all. Why develop them? You knew about the world in which this story was taking place. No need for world building. So, in that way, the book isn’t what I’m generally looking for in a book. 

That said, this book did have humor, excitement, and familiar friends going through wild adventures. It was Doctor Who, after all, how could I not like it? 

The book was well-read – narrated by the actress who played Romana in the TV show. K-9’s voice was John Leeson, as well. So that was a very nice touch. This is my first time listening to a dramatization with sound effects. I’ve heard multiple-reader dramatizations, but never with footsteps, creaking doors, etc. It was kind of fun. Maybe I’ll try something like this out again. 

I’m going to have to give this book 3.5 snowflakes because I prefer books that have more characterization and world-building. But I also recognize that this is not what tv novelizations are meant to have. 

The Martian, by Andy Weir

The Martian, by Andy Weir, narrated by R. C. Bray
When a team of Mars explorers runs into some problems while on Mars, they think that astronaut Mark Watney has died. The rest of the crew avoid the storm by immediately heading back home to Earth. Unknown to them, Watney is still alive and must survive on Mars alone with meager supplies left behind by the Mars expedition. With his extraordinary resourcefulness, he manages to survive while desperately hoping that Earth will realize that he’s still alive and come to rescue him. 

This book was as fantastic as everyone says it is. Watney’s struggle to survive is fascinating, and the action moves forward at a steady pace. Yeah, there’s a lot of technical language, which made the book a little slower than I would have liked at times, but it was never so slow that I wanted to stop listening. It was more of an “ok, I get that you’re doing awesome technical stuff, let’s move on.” But those scenes were only paragraph-long. I was a little amused at how much money and time America was willing to put in to save Watney. After all, he was only one person and there are so many people on earth that could have benefited greatly from that money. They could have helped thousands of people instead of just one. I get it. He’s a hero. But he also made the choice to go on a dangerous adventure. The homeless and hungry in America and around the world did not make the choice to starve. Shouldn’t they be helped first?

The narration in the audiobook was also excellent. The humorous parts were so well executed that I had to laugh out loud on numerous occasions. 

I can’t wait to see this movie. I plan on going with my boyfriend next Tuesday. 🙂
4.5 stars for interest level and superb execution