An often enjoyable, if unpolished, story that could use an acknowledgment that not everyone celebrates Christmas.



In this sci-fi novel, aliens plan to invade our planet, and it’s up to a plucky, teenage orphanage employee and her allies to stop them.

The story’s protagonist was anonymously left at a Detroit-area orphanage as a baby. Now 19, the girl, known as Pix, is a resident staffer at the same orphanage. She does whatever needs to be done, such as raising funds for the orphans to have a big Christmas tree, lights, and presents. When the kids gather to decorate their donated tree, a very real-looking Santa Claus (spelled throughout as “Clause”) shows up with presents for all. Curious, Pix follows him when he leaves and discovers startling truths: his name is Nick Salisbury, he’s her biological father, and he and her mother, Sabrina, nicknamed “Brin,” are agents working for the Admin, an organization of benevolent aliens. Nick and Brin were recruited following an attack by the Vellim—evil, insectlike beings that they thought had killed Pix as a baby. Meanwhile, the orphanage is under threat from Ralph Normandy, a real estate bigwig who wants to acquire its land by hook or by crook. Also in the mix is Guy, a personable young man that Pix runs into on the street, who has secrets of his own. With the help of alien technology, her newfound parents, and some good-hearted folks, Pix aims to foil a new Vellim invasion while giving the orphans the best Christmas ever. Corbin (The Odin Chronicle, 2013) offers an upbeat holiday story packed with grateful kids, kindly adults, sneering villains, over-the-top light displays, and nifty alien gizmos. The plot satisfyingly combines scenes of action, miraculous help, and burgeoning romances among several characters. But although the novel often displays humanistic values, it has a culturally myopic view of Christmas, with the orphanage staff even claiming that “we don’t promote any particular kind of religious activity for the kids.”

An often enjoyable, if unpolished, story that could use an acknowledgment that not everyone celebrates Christmas.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5331-3241-3

Page Count: 374

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2017

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.


Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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