Staff Reviews

Tessa’s Syfy Series Recommendation: The Expanse by James S. A. Corey

An exciting new tv show will debut December 14th on the Syfy channel. This series, The Expanse, is based on one of the best new science fiction series in recent years. Starting with Leviathan Wakes, the coauthors (using a pen name) have created a future world in which interplanetary conflict puts mankind on the verge of war. What few people know, yet, is an alien threat so horrific it paralyzes people with panic. Normal people, anyway.

The Expanse books cross genres with political intrigue, horror, science fiction, mystery, some romance and humor. Currently at six books, the book series will ultimately encompass eleven novels and five novellas plus short stories. The TV show has two seasons completed covering the first two novels.

The trailers look awesome, and the actors chosen look like a good fit to their characters. Even though the Expanse solar system is a totally different place, I think they can make the show believable and engaging. Prepare for the conflict between Mars and Earth. Between Mars and the Outer Planets. Between everybody and something else. Who has allowed it in? Is it too late for us all? Don’t miss it—not the books, not the show. ~ Tessa November 2015 5 out of 5 stars

Tessa’s Book Review: One Year After by William R. Forstchen

One Year After, the latest book by Forstchen, is a good follow up to his first book as well as exploring further the possibilities of an American governmental collapse. While focusing on potential catastrophes from an EMP, the book could also be a great discussion starter on any topics, from economic collapse to ground invasion.


The first book in this series is One Second After, which came out in 2009. These two dystopian novels deal with the aftereffects of an EMP bomb, or electromagnetic pulse bomb, on the continental USA. The author situates the book in some beautiful country—the mountains of North Carolina. I read the first book when it was published, but even so, I reread it before reading the new release and second book, One Year After.

Recently on the New York Times’ bestsellers list, One Year After picks up the threads of the story, with a little more about the global situation, rumors of help, and continued bullying from Asheville. John is now the mayor, and Makala, now his wife, is head of public health & safety. They make a good team. There isn’t much of real interest in the first part of the book. I almost gave up, but then the raiders on the other side of the ridge above Black Mountain kidnap John. And the administrator in Asheville offers John the position of Major General, stationed at the nation’s center in Virginia. If John takes the position, the new draft for Black Mountain will be slashed in half. As Hans Solo would say, John has a bad feeling about this. But will he even escape from the raiders? And if he does, will he head up to Virginia, leaving Black Mountain? Some philosophical references to Machiavelli and others give the books more depth and provocative discussion, and tactical advantages and strategy play a big part in both books. Naturally, there is violence and battlefield medical care. If this kind of book is appealing, you will probably like them both. Recommended to lovers of dystopian or military action. ~ Tessa October 2015 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tessa’s Children’s Book Recommendation: The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

If you haven’t kept up with children’s books over the last couple decades, you may have missed a terrific author. Nancy Farmer’s books have covered topics such as cloning, long-term effects of pollutants, social progress and culture change. In The ear, the eye and the arm, she takes us to Zimbambwe in the year 2194, when General Matsika, chief of security, suddenly finds that his three children went on an Explorer Scout adventure alone into the city center and were kidnapped. The kidnappers distracted them with an illegal blue mutant monkey–then chloroformed them.
The three detectives hired to find the children are called Ear, Arm and Eye, because of their unique skills. Arm has extremely long arms and legs and he can sense emotions as well as having premonitions; Ear has extremely sensitive hearing; and Eye, of course, can see the fleas on an eagle. Their mothers lived in a village near a nuclear reactor which leaked plutonium into their water.


The story gives us a tour of the huge city of Harare, from the busy market to the toxic waste dump where the poorest, slaves, mine for plastic and then on to a small traditionally African country contained within Harare, completely cut off from technology, medicine and the laws. The children are nearly rescued by the detectives time and time again, but there is a conspiracy, some African black magic, and a fine dinner at the top of the highest building in Harare before the great ruckus brings it all to a satisfying end.
Be sure to take special note of the excellent Shona word shooper. We don’t have an English equivalent: it means to say the one thing calculated to keep an argument going (or get it started). Some of you, I’m sure, know someone who is an inveterate shooperer, like Tendai’s sister Rita, or you immediately think of that blatant shooperism, such as “Just what do you mean by that?” Nancy Farmer is brilliant, and this book is timeless and funny. ~ Tessa March 2011 5 out of 5 stars

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