Tag Archive | outer space

Q is quantum Bounders, teens in space, as weapons? by Monica Tesler (book review)

book cover of Bounders by Monica Tesler published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comFinally heading for Earth Force Academy,
in space at age 12!
Away from the bullies, at last…

Bred especially to be Bounders, Jasper and other 12-year-olds find themselves grudgingly assisted at Earth Force Academy and challenged to master the alien-shared tech needed to bound, but why exactly the military Earth Force decided that young teens with ‘unusual neurodiversity‘ were the best pilots for this alien world-jumping is rather… suspect.

In future America,


Book info: Bounders / Monica Tesler. Aladdin, 2016. [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Genetically specialized for interstellar ship bounding, 12-year-old Jasper is glad to escape earth-school bullies and learn to use alien quantum tech at the Academy in space, but he and his pod-mates start wondering why they were bred to become quantum pilots for the military….

(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace, by Ian Doertcher (book review) – May the Force be with thee!

book cover of William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher published by Quirk BooksKnights Jedi guard while evil Sith draw near,
Out in that “galaxy – far, far away.”
As beings fight for homeworld held so dear
Can heroes rise ‘gainst Federation’s sway?

Villains squeeze the planet of Naboo,
Whose patriots do try, do fight, do die.
When Gungan Jar-Jar offers his aid, too,
Queen Amidala finds a strong ally.

Seek out this so-readable retelling of Star Wars: Episode One at your local library or independent bookstore – ’twas published mere weeks ago.

Why speak just now of this most-worthy tome,
Why note it not upon its natal day?
Mark well today’s harmonious date, kind one,
And may the Force be with us all, I pray!

post scriptum – Verily I say, forthcoming and much-anticipated are part two The Clone Army Attacketh  in July 2015 and part three Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge  in September 2015.

post-post scriptum – Mine thoughts on earlier-released parts of this series? Look ye here: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars  (part 4), The Empire Striketh Back  (part 5), and The Jedi Doth Return  (part 6).

Book info: William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace (Star Wars, Part the First) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the very style of Shakespeare comes this peril-laden tale of Star Wars’ early days as The Phantom of Menace  relays the fall of the Republic, the rise of Anakin, and much swordplay, speeder racing, and treachery.

R2-D2’s bleeps and boops become clear through the droid’s asides, and finally, Jar-Jar Binks’ pidgin and pratfalls are nearly tolerable, as Doescher reveals Jar-Jar’s hidden political agenda of uniting Naboo’s humans and Gungans, using trenchant inner dialogue:

“Such thoughts as these were reprehensible
To all the bosses; thus my banishment.
Yet this is not the story I’ll relate.
[to Obi-Wan:] O issa longa tale you seeuh” (p. 31)

The young queen’s masquerade as her own maid, the fortuitious finding of Anakin Skywalker and arguments among the Jedi about training him (Yoda speaks in haiku), romance cut short, and enemies growing stronger – it’s all here.

While awaiting the newest Star Wars movie, refresh your memories of the history leading to it – The Phantom of Menace  will soon be followed by The Clone Army Attacketh  (part 2) and Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge  (part 3), while William Shakespeare’s Star Wars  (part 4), The Empire Striketh Back  (part 5), and The Jedi Doth Return  (part 6) are available now.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Looking back at crazy school days

Did you read every BooksYALove recommendation this summer? No?

Well, be sure to check out these two very different books about school that you might have missed (click on the title link to open its page in a new tab/window):

book cover of Target Practice: Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack published by Graphixbook cover of Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer published by Knopf Books for Young ReadersTarget Practice,  by Mike Maihack – Great combo in this graphic novel with talking cats, aliens, and the Queen of the Nile as a curious teen.

Kate Hattemer’s Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy pits those who think “For Art’s Sake” reality show is their path to success against the kids who think it’s ruining their school.

Remember that you still have time to enter the free giveaway for an autographed copy of The Green Teen Cookbook from Zest Books. Go to my original recommendation here and comment by 11:59 pm Central Daylight Time on Sunday, 31 August 2014 to be entered. I’ll toss all the comments into Randomizer when I get back from #IASL2014 in Moscow, and we’ll see who the lucky winner is!

p.s. Do either of these schools resemble yours?

Red Rising, by Pierce Brown (book review) – class warfare on Mars, to the death!

book cover of Red Rising by Pierce Brown published by Del ReyDemokracy is a lie.
Mourning is forbidden.
Love adds fuel to vengeance!

Game of Thrones  meets Star Wars and Hunger Games on the Red Planet in this rock ’em, sock ’em story, as lowest-caste Darrow is completely remade so that he can win the ultimate competition among ruling class youth and free his family and friends from slavery in the mines of Mars.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s site and click More Inside to read the first chapters so you know how the injustices heaped upon the Reds for generations have forged Darrow into a weapon.


Book info: Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1) / Pierce Brown. Del Ray Spectra, 2014.  [author site]  [series site]   [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A quest for vengeance drives Darrow to escape slavery in Mars’ mines and beat the Gold overlords at their own game as they fight to the death for power.

Deep in its hellish mines, Reds have slaved for decades so the Martian surface can become habitable, little knowing that the Red Planet is already a world of luxury.

When his young wife is executed for singing the forbidden death dirge, 16 year old Darrow’s rage makes him a perfect target for the Sons of Ares, fellow Reds who’re willing to rebel against the ruling Golds – from the inside.

Darrow is remade – bones re-engineered to sustain maximum impact, brain retooled for intellectual superiority, reflexes honed to matchless fighting ferocity – and enters the Institute where young Golds compete to become supreme rulers in the Solar Systems where the “noble lie of demokracy” has been stamped out.

All the Reds will stay enslaved if he doesn’t survive this vicious months’ long war against teens of the various Institute houses battling for the choicest apprenticeships of power, truly battling to the death.

A master strategist, a true leader, a Red in Gold’s skin, Darrow intends to win at all costs and to change society from the top down to the helldivers’ mines in this first book of the Red Rising trilogy.

The Jedi Doth Return! by Ian Doescher (book review) – Shakespeare parses the Force, dark and light

book cover of William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher published by Quirk BooksRescuer disguised, a comrade to free,
Jabba of the Hutt wouldst kill them all!
Luke will not from his Force-dark’nd father flee,
but seeks to free him from th’Emperor’s thrall.

O, rebel band, stay strong and share the Force
with Ewoks small, yet mighty in the fray!
A second Death Star bids to blast their world
and hidden base where freedom fighters stay.

Today marks the natal day of this final tale in Shakespeare’s Star Wars saga – seek for it at thine local library or a-favored independent bookstore.

Certes, thou hast already perused William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope (in discussion here) and well as The Empire Striketh Back (more here) – such classic stories from a galaxy far, far away…


Book info: William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return (Star Wars Part the Sixth) / Ian Doescher; inspired by the work of George Lucas and William Shakespeare. Quirk Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Amid daring rescues, new allies, and the dark Emperor himself targeting attacks on the Rebellion, the Jedi Doth Return  to win Star Wars in the Bard’s own style or perish forever!

Evil Jabba of the Hutt will soon regret his refusal to release carbonite-encased Han Solo to Luke Skywalker as this iambic pentametered tale begins on  desert Tatooine.

Luke, Han, and Leia’s stealth mission on Endor’s forest moon may gain the Ewoks as new allies, but may also imperil the Rebellion’s fight against the dark Empire, as Darth Vader uses the Force to sense his son’s whereabouts.

Will Luke be swayed to the dark side of the Force by Vader’s soliloquies?
Shall Lando of Calrissian join the Rebels or stand aside?
And what of the past shared by Luke and Leia?

Do read aloud the Ewoks’ speeches and you’ll hear the almost-English of the middle 2 lines of their AABA-rhymed communications.

The concluding volume of Doescher’s epically Shakespearean take on George Lucas’ classic space opera can stand alone (especially for hardcore Star Wars devotees), but is even more enjoyable after reading William Shakespeare’s Verily, a New Hope  (Star Wars Part the Fourth) and The Empire Striketh Back  (Part the Fifth). May the verse be with you!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Target Practice, by Mike Maihack (book review) – Cleopatra in Space! Talking cats! Alien war!

book cover of Target Practice: Cleopatra in Space #1 by Mike Maihack published by GraphixGood aim, quick reflexes,
sneaking out of class,
yes, Cleo is sure the rules don’t apply to her!

We all know about Cleopatra as queen of Egypt, but imagine her teen years – with time travel and intergalactic war and talking cats as teachers (yes, 15 year olds in the future have to go to school…)

Sample this action-packed graphic novel here free (thanks, Mike!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for the rest of the tale.

Alas, we’ll have to wait until April 2015 for the second in this #diversebooks series: The Thief and the Story.

So, alternate history – thumbs up or thumbs down?


Book info: Target Practice (Cleopatra in Space #1)  / text and art by Mike Maihack. Graphix, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Curiosity sends Cleopatra from ancient Egypt to outer space where the teen is hailed as savior of the galaxy – if she survives training school!

If she hadn’t slipped away from boring algebra (does a queen really need math?) for slingshot practice with her pal Gozi, then 15-year-old Cleopatra wouldn’t have found the old temple or the glowing tablet there which transported her from the ancient Nile Valley to the future, where talking cats explain her prophesied arrival.

At Yasiro Academy, Cleo learns alien languages (yawn), algebra (snore), and target practice (ray guns!) as she prepares for intergalactic war against Xerx who is capturing all knowledge stored electronically – and their sector is next!

First graphic novel in the Cleopatra in Space series, Target Practice  shows the young queen-to-be facing danger from school dances, warring aliens, and her own impetuous nature.   (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Tin Star, by Cecil Castelluci (book review) – stranded in space, searching for home

book cover of Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci published by Roaring Brook Press Left for dead on a space station,
no money to get home…
but where IS home now?

Tula had never imagined aliens as friends or humans as overwhelmingly untrustworthy, but after what her colony leader did and what she has to do to survive…

Read the first chapter free on the publisher’s site to start on Tula’s dangerous attempt to make it in a tin-walled future she never planned.

And if you can grab some 20-sided dice and a few friends, you can play the free role-playing game based on Tin Star here, before you even read the book!


Book info: Tin Star / Cecil Castellucci. Roaring Brook Press, 2014.  [author blog]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Abandoned on a remote space hub, Tula is surviving among its many non-human residents when Brother Blue returns with ominous news.

Questioning their leader when the Earth colony ship stopped at Yertina Feray space station was a deadly mistake for the 14 year old. With no identity pass or resources, Tula must join the Underbelly economy to survive.

Helping a Hort named Heckleck with his off-the-books trades and trying to avoid official notice by Constable Tournour the Loor, Tula is forging her place in the Underbelly.

But the arrival of other humans during an intergalactic political upheaval worries her – with good reason, as the colony leader reappears… in a uniform.

Can Tula stay clear of Brother Blue (or whoever he is)?
Will she ever find a way to get to Earth or their colony?

(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Star Wars & Shakespeare = The Empire Striketh Back, by Ian Doescher (book review)

book cover of William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher published by Quirk BooksFrom icy Hoth to Bespin’s airy clime,
Imper’al forces chase our valiant crew!
Through ast’roid field and perils dire, they flee –
Han Solo, Wookiie, rebel Princess, too.

Sage Yoda teacheth Luke the Jedi way,
As taught he this boy’s father in the past.
Yet time grows short and Skywalker departs –
His friends meet treachery this very day.

Lord Vader’s maskéd face his secret hides,
Now Luke must face a past he wouldst deny.
The Empire Striketh Back at freedom’s cause!
For hero, rebels, friends, so dark a time.

(Seek thee beginning of this Star Wars tale?
Yea, Verily A New Hope find’st thou here.
Fear not! We shall rejoin our friends eftsoon,
as in July, The Jedi Doth Return!)

Gentle reader, May the Force be with thee!

Book info:  William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back (Star Wars: Part the Fifth) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2014.[author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Return to that “galaxy far, far away” as the fifth Star Wars episode sees our valiant rebel heroes face bitter cold, epic challenges, and stinging betrayal as The Empire Striketh Back, in the style of the Bard himself.

Ian Doescher follows up his successful William Shakespeare’s Star Wars with the heretofore hidden voices of malign creatures (AT-ATs philosophizing in iambic pentameter), songs of the Ughnaughts in the corridors of Bespin, and the wisdom of Yoda shining forth in haiku:

Nay, nay! Try thou not,
But do though or do thou not,
For there is no “try.” (pg.98)

Old secrets, shocking treachery, newly acknowledged love – will the heroes prevail in this stellar fight for the right or will the Empire vile destroy all hope?  Mayhap, gentle readers shall discover all in July 2014’s The Jedi Doth Return!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

S is William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher (book review) – yea, Verily a New Hope!

book cover of William Shakespeare's Star Wars Verily a New Hope by Ian Doescher published by Quirk BOoksIn a galaxy far, far away…
In iambic pentameter,
Hark! William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is nigh!

When Ian Doescher’s love of the original Star Wars movie collided with Shakespeare’s plays performed in new arrangements and Quirk Books’ celebrated mashups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a personal fave), he began this trilogy.

As Luke mourns the death of his mentor, Princess Leia observes “His heart breaks for a person, Obi-Wan — My heart breaks for a people, Alderaan…”

If Star Wars is your thing, you’ll definitely enjoy this 400-year throwback with its familiar plot; if Shakespearean style is your preference, you’ll have too much fun reading the famous film in this format.

Thou must view the book trailer – verily, a worthy way to celebrate the Bard’s birthday tomorrow!


Book info:  William Shakespeare’s  Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope / Ian Doescher. Inspired by the work of George Lucas and William Shakespeare. Quirk Books, 2013. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: “Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears,” declaims Luke Skywalker as the rebellion begins its campaign against the Death Star.

Yes, this is the Star Wars story which started them all, retold in iambic pentameter as W. Shakespeare would have staged it!

The chorus sets the scene on Tatooine or in space, R2-D2’s asides give us insight into the plucky little droid’s character, and Chewbacca says “Auuggh!” as well he ought.

Already knowing the plot and details of this story allows readers unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s poetic play style to experience its rhythms and pacing with ease.

First in Doescher’s well-played series, Verily, a New Hope  is followed by The Empire Striketh Back  (Star Wars Part the Fifth), with the final volume of the trilogy, The Jedi Doth Return, scheduled for July 2014 publication.

As says Obi-Wan’s ghost, “Remember me, O Luke, remember me, And ever shall the Force remain with thee!”  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Linked, by Imogen Howson (book review) – illegal twin, found again

US book cover of Linked by Imogen Howson published by Simon Schuster

US cover of Linked

Separated at birth,
each thinking she was alone,
yet connected by thoughts,
their suffering begins again.

Telepathic twins in space” was UK author Imogen Howson’s working title for Linked,  and it describes the basic plotline well. Looking forward to scheduled 2014 sequel Unravel.

Grab this book if you like:

  • Mystery with a twist
  • Teens against a corrupt society
  • Action and adventure
  • Colonies in space
  • SciFi with grit

How far would you go to save part of your family, if it meant leaving the rest behind?

UK book cover of Linked by Imogen Howson published by Simon Schuster

UK cover of Unlinked

Book info: Linked / Imogen Howson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Elissa’s nightmares bring pain and bruises with them – not mental illness, but telepathy with her unhuman twin sister. Now they must escape the planet whose government wants to use them, regardless of the costs.

Brain surgery is the teen’s last hope of ending the visions of white-masked figures, the brutal pain, the bruises that bloom on her skin as she watches. Thankfully, their planet-colony has advanced medical care, thanks to the wealth that their unique spaceship engine technology brings in.

When Elissa discovers that her nightmares are the real thoughts and torture of another girl on Sekoia, she has to act. When she finds out that Lin is her sister, she doesn’t even know a word for it – twin? When she helps Lin escape, the girls become wanted criminals, and Elissa’s police chief father must catch them both!

How can two children be born at the same time, yet be separated?
Why are those people torturing Lin and other ‘unhuman’ children?
Can they convince brother Bruce to get them off-planet in a space academy ship?

A mystery, a terraformed planet filled with colonists and secrets, a race to safety… Lin and Elissa are linked through their minds – will they die that way?  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)