The Circuit

EXECUTOR RISING

In this first installment of a new sci-fi saga, a brilliant inventor/statesman secretly plots against his own totalitarian regime with the assistance of an advanced robot.
In Bruno’s (Isinda: Curse of the Sleeping Dragon, 2013, etc.) vigorous, often violent narrative of interplanetary intrigue, Earth has been reduced to an uninhabitable cinder by mankind’s rapacious mining of the resource Gravitum, which enables deep-space travel. Humanity has therefore spread throughout the solar system, particularly to asteroids and gas-giant moons, using hyperspeed travel provided by a series of conduit-stations called “the Kepler Circuit.” Most of these spaceways and colonies have been taken over by the New Earth Tribune, an authoritarian empire which exerts its will using a religion focused on worshipping the tortured Homeworld. Cassius Vale is a war hero and scientist who’s prominent due to his authorship of the Tribune’s security precautions, but he’s never forgiven the Tribune for its offenses against him, particularly the loss of his son. Secretly and illegally, he’s constructed an advanced artificial intelligence robot called ADIM (Automated Dynamic Intelligence Mech), an appearance-shifting droid of frightening destructive prowess and ruthless logic who also serves as Vale’s surrogate offspring. The engaging narrative follows not only Cassius and ADIM, but also Sage Volus, a bionic beauty and zealous Tribune agent who’s also, as it happens, a valued piece in Cassius’ anti-Tribune conspiracy. ADIM seems to be a bit of a riff on the killer cyborgs of the Terminator films (though without the time-travel gimmick), and the story walks a line between vintage pulp and more hard-edged, combat-oriented sci-fi. But as a series launch pad, its plotline is lean and satisfying. That said, there do seem to be some gaps in the future-history mythology that are more frustrating than thought-provoking, especially regarding the 500-year-old Kepler Circuit, its origin and function. One assumes that Bruno will provide these details in forthcoming installments. As it is, this kickoff ends with lots of dangling subplots—not to mention a few equally errant limbs.
A hard-charging opener to a promising, if bloody, space-opera series.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1606594049

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Mundania Press LLC

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

MAGIC HOUR

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more