Book vs. Movie: Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Limited in July 2014

Series: Southern Reach, #1

Genre(s): fiction, science fiction

Format & Length: audio, 6:00:14

Source: library

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Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

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Book Review: Smoke and Iron, by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron, by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Published by Berkley on July 3, 2018 (expected)

Series: The Great Library, #4

Genre(s): fiction, adventure, fantasy, science fiction, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 368

Source: Netgalley

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To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

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Review: The Dragon’s Glare, by T.J. & M.L. Wolf

The Dragon's Glare, by T.J. & M.L. Wolf

The Dragon’s Glare by T.J. & M.L. Wolf
Published by CreateSpace on December 23, 2017
Series: The Survival Trilogy, #2
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, science fiction, suspense
Format & Length: paperback, 346
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In 2019, three years after recovery of a powerful Hopi artifact from a mystery cave in Arizona, Una Waters finds herself on special assignment from D.C. to Chinatown in New York City. Unexplained acts of violence, including a cyber breach at the NYPD threaten to disrupt the lives of immigrants, forcing military intervention from General Ashcroft, now with U.S. Cyber Security. When newshound and compadre Jack Howser arrives to investigate a reported UFO sighting, Una begins to realize an episode of “missing time” at the Chinese New Year’s parade may hold the answers. Finally, an out-of-this-world encounter confirms Una’s childhood beliefs in Sky People, hinting that our future lies in accepting the fact that we are not alone.

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Review: The Liberty Box, by C.A. Gray

The Liberty Box, by C.A. Gray

The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray
Published by Wanderlust Publishing on May 19, 2016
Series: The Liberty Box, #1
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, science fiction, young adult
Format & Length: audiobook, 6:38:00
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Kate Brandeis has it all: a famous reporter at the age of twenty-four, she’s the face of the Republic of the Americas. She has a loving fiancee and all the success she could wish for. But when she learns of the death of a long-forgotten friend, her investigations unravel her perfect memories, forcing her to face the fact that she’s been living a lie.

Jackson MacNamera, trained from a young age in the art of mind control, returns to the Republic for his mother’s funeral. Within a few hours of his arrival, authorities collect Jackson and take him by force to a room ironically called The Liberty Box, where he must choose between surrendering his thoughts to the new Republic, or fleeing for his freedom.

Kate, bereaved and confused, finds her way to a cave community of refugees, where Jackson seems to offer her an escape from her grief. The two forge an uneasy bond, and in the process Jackson learns that Kate has some insight which may help the hunters in their attempt to free other citizens from the tyranny of the Potentate. Against the expressed wishes of the Council, the hunters plot a series of daring raids, attempting to prove that not only is freedom possible, but that the citizens are not too far gone to desire it. But with the odds so stacked against them, can the refugees succeed in their rescue missions right under the Potentate’s nose?

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Review: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by Random House Audio on September 9, 2014
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Format & Pages: audiobook
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2014 National Book Award Finalist

A New York Times Bestseller

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek:“Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

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Review: Seven-Sided Spy, by Hannah Carmack

Seven-Sided Spy, by Hannah Carmack

Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack
Published by NineStar Press on January 15, 2018 (expected)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, action, historical fiction, science fiction, thriller
Format & Pages: e-book, 201
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In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.

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Review: Artemis, by Andy Weir

Artemis, by Andy Weir

Artemis by Andy Weir
Published by Crown/Archetype on November 14, 2017 (expected)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, science fiction
Format & Pages: e-book, 384
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The bestselling author of The Martian returns with an irresistible new near-future thriller—a heist story set on the moon

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

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Review & Book vs. Movie: Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Published by Vintage on June 14, 2016 (first published July 2002)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, science fiction
Format & Pages: paperback, 281
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Ted Chiang’s first published story, “Tower of Babylon,” won the Nebula Award in 1990. Subsequent stories have won the Asimov’s SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer in modern SF.

Now, collected here for the first time are all seven of this extraordinary writer’s stories so far-plus an eighth story written especially for this volume.

What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven’s other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others.

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Review: Select, by Marit Heisenberg

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Select by Marit Weisenberg
Published by Charlesbridge Teen on October 3, 2017 (expected)
Series: The Select, #1
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, romance, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 352
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Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

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Review: Fairest, by Marissa Meyer

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Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Published by Square Fish on February 2, 2016
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: paperback, 228
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Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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