Chasing Polaris by Erica Cope and Autumn Doughton
Imogen Shaw is leaving Florida for college in Boston in 34 hours and she’s more than ready. But, she’s not ready for Seth Cavanaugh. When Seth and Imogen are thrown together for a one-night scavenger hunt, both of them will find what they are missing and will have to take a chance on each other. I liked this YA novel but it was not anything new or unique. The writing is very competent and the story, while predictable, kept my attention. I liked the scavenger hunt and the rapport between the main characters is believable and mostly natural. All in all, a fun, easy read.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Nix has spent her sixteen years sailing with her father on his ship, The Temptation. She has been across the globe and through the centuries. Her father can sail to any time and place if he has a map from that period. But he has spent Nix’s lifetime looking for one specific map. One that will take him back to Honolulu in 1868; back to before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix has been helping her father obtain various versions of the map even though it could erase her entire existence as she knows it. The premise of The Girl from Everywhere intrigued me right from the start. This book is incredibly creative mixing the time travel with adventure, a modern sensibility with fantasy, and nineteenth-century Hawaiian politics with mythological stories. I found Heidi Heilig’s ability to blend many different themes from addiction to fate to the inevitable love triangle of a YA novel into a cohesive story to be impressive. Her character development is also top-notch. Overall, this novel was refreshing.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that someone monitors their work email (it’s company policy) but that has not stopped them from sending each other endless personal emails. Lincoln O’Neill is the man whose job it is to read those flagged emails and yet he cannot bring himself to send these two funny, smart women warnings. To make things more complicated, he begins to fall for Beth through the emails. How do you tell a woman “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your email, and also, I love you…” Told mostly through Lincoln’s point-of-view and Beth and Jennifer’s email exchanges, Attachments, is delightful. Lincoln is a refreshing protagonist. He’s flawed but also unique and adorable. His authentic insecurities and problems make him relatable and encourage the reader to root for him. Being Rainbow Rowell’s first novel, it is not as fully nerdy as Fangirl or as deeply emotional as Eleanor & Park but do not let that stop you from enjoying the lighthearted fun of this book.
The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto
Science is knowledge and knowledge is power and power is political. Otto draws a direct line from science to democracy. He deftly argues that they need each other to survive. Democracy requires an informed electorate and science needs an open, free society. But the United States is now deeply embroiled in a war on facts and science. Otto describes the history of how we have transformed from a nation where the founding fathers revered science to a place where many falsely believe that science is subjective and the source of problems rather than a search for truth. This book is well-written and thoroughly researched. Otto provides detailed explanations and examples for his assertions. He also ends the book with an incredibly complete, multi-pronged plan to combat the current war on science. I not only recommend this book but heartily encourage anyone who can vote to read it. The fate of our democracy is at stake. “If knowledge does not have primacy in public decision making, then no truth can be said to be self-evident, and we are left with tyranny of ideology, with shots called by the wealthy and enforced by might.”
Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams by Nick Webb
While this biography is tedious to read, it is clear that the subject matter is worth the effort. Douglas Adams was a unique talent. He was a technophile, incredibly creative, and full of life. Yet, he was also difficult to live with, egocentric, and a perfectionist. Mostly, he was gone too soon.
“He loved philosophical ideas, and had a natural grasp of them, but he knew that plonking them unadorned into the text would induce instant tedium followed by the heterodyne squeal of a million radios being retuned…Douglas’s genius was to sneak them into the reader’s brain camouflaged as a series of extremely good jokes. It is this serious underpinning of dazzling notions and intellect that made Hitchhiker’s so extraordinary.”
Author Nick Webb brings Adams to life while seemingly trying to emulate Adams’ irreverent writing style. But Douglas Adams he is not and the book ends up being too long and meandering with only flashes of Adamsesque flair. Still, I enjoyed learning more about the author that brought us the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
After their harrowing case during the fall, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are hoping for a calmer winter break. But when Charlotte’s beloved Uncle Leander goes missing, Watson and Holmes are once again thrust into the dangerous game of deduction and mystery. As they chase clues as to Leander’s whereabouts across Europe, Charlotte and Jamie must also deal with the messy emotions of their unique partnership. Brittany Cavallaro has written another excellent Sherlockian mystery novel as her follow-up to A Study in Charlotte. She manages to balance fun and thrilling adventure with character development and broad drama. It continues to amaze me just how much Jamie and Charlotte are like their namesake characters and yet, still different and have their own personalities. All in all, I’m recommending you dive into Brittany Cavallaro’s latest Charlotte Holmes mystery with both feet.
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Solara Brooks needs to restart her life and the best way to do that is find passage to the outer realm where no one will care about the felony tattoos across her fingers. Unfortunately, the only way to get there is to become the indentured servant of her former classmate, Doran Spaulding, the spoiled heir to a fuel fortune. Suddenly, everything changes when Doran is accused of conspiracy and must flee the authorities. Solara tricks him into playing her servant and the two find refuge aboard the Banshee with its rag-tag crew. Starflight is a refreshing YA science fiction space adventure with excellent protagonists and an enjoyable supporting cast. It’s a fast-paced read with engaging plot points. I particularly liked Solara. She was an independent, non-apologetic, yet still feminine character. You’ll have fun with this easy, sci-fi tale.