In this compelling book, Lawrence Anthony is asked to take a troubled wild elephant herd into his wildlife reserve in Zululand, South Africa, or they will be killed. The Elephant Whisperer deals with elephants learning to trust a man and life on the reserve with his wife and dogs, including handling poachers and the Zulu people. Lawrence’s bond with the matriarch Nana is particularly touching, especially when she brings her newborn baby to meet him. His engaging and sometimes humorous stories of life with the elephants made me empathetic towards their plight.
The Elephant Whisperer will appeal to both animal lovers and adventure readers. The expressive narration by Simon Vance, a four time Audie Award winner, enhances the listening experience.
Mark Watney is an astronaut accidentally stranded on Mars with too little food, no way to communicate with Earth, and no way home. Plus, everyone thinks he’s already dead. So, this is what he does…
Did you know? The Martian by Andy Weir took a not-quite-typical journey to getting published. Read about it here. For another take on The Martian, check out Jennifer’s review.
Cixin Liu‘s The Three-Body Problem begins with a top secret Chinese project just after the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and on into the future, Earth tries to (and perhaps does) make contact with the civilizations of Trisolaris, a planet several light years away. Trisolaris, dominated by three suns, has eons of stable, then chaotic seasons in which culture flourishes then crashes with disastrous results. Inhabitants dehydrate their bodies to survive. Scientific efforts to predict gravitational motion in a three body system have perplexed physicists on Trisolaris (and Earth) for ages. Only a few on Earth know of these extra-terrestrial efforts begun by the Chinese and later appearing in strange video games.
If the Trisolarians migrate to our solar system to escape the certain destruction of their planet, should Earth welcome them as superior beings or fight an invading enemy?
Check back in a few weeks to check out my review of the second book in the series: The Dark Forest.
Love wide worlds full of details and interwoven stories similar to A Game of Thrones, but want something more technologically advanced? The Saga of Shadows is the ideal series for you.
In the far future, humanity has moved out among the stars and formed clans and colonies throughout the galaxy, working alongside alien races like the Ildirans. Twenty years after the elemental war, as told in Kevin J. Anderson’s previous series, The Saga of Seven Suns, this trilogy follows the lives of dozens of characters and their families through multiple points of view as a new threat rises in the form of the Shana Rei, shadow-like creatures who want to destroy all of creation.
Anderson does well to balance the large-scale battles with more individual struggles, such as the loss of one’s home, disease, love, and family. The first book, The Dark Between the Stars, is an excellent start, and the Hugo-nominated sequel, The Blood of the Cosmos, is even better. The third book in the trilogy, Eternity’s Mind, is expected to release in summer 2016.
Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley are teen lumberjane scouts at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, where they spend the summer learning valuable skills like knot-tying, archery, and battling supernatural creatures. As the girls start running into monsters and brainwashed boy scouts, they realize things at camp may not be what they seem and begin to investigate.
Comic fans will recognize the names Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Faith Erin Hicks, and Shannon Watters and know this is not a series to be missed. Lumberjanes is full of fantastic female characters and references to powerful women (often using phrases like “Oh my Bessie Coleman!”), fun dialogue, and intriguing mysteries. Lumberjanes Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 collect issues #1-8, but if you’re like me and simply can’t get enough, you can check out newer issues through Hoopla or eReadIllinois.
Did I understand all of the science? No. But it didn’t matter. I challenge you not to get drawn into Mark Watney’s epic quest for survival after he is accidentally left behind on Mars. A thrilling adventure, The Martian is largely told through the log entries of this snarky astronaut with glimpses of NASA personnel on Earth and in space. You may have seen the Matt Damon-led movie adaptation (or at least the previews), but I encourage you to pick up Andy Weir‘s novel!
With a device that can’t be explained by logic or reality, power hungry villains, and a secret government project, Signal is another fast-paced futuristic thrilling adventure. Once I got over my disappointment that we wouldn’t be seeing more of Rachel, I became engrossed in Sam’s next escapade. Brought in by his old colleague Claire, Sam must race against the clock to battle a sightless enemy with a constant advantage.
Just like the first in the series (Runner), you’ll need to suspend your disbelief. A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen, but you’ll be frantically flipping the pages to discover what comes next in Patrick Lee’s latest conspiracy novel.
Harry Bosch is near retirement and is assigned to cold cases with a young but very bright partner who has received favorable publicity from her last assignment. He and his young partner find themselves investigating two unusual cases simultaneously. The first involves the recent death of a victim shot 10 years before and the second case, the death of children in a fire from which his partner, as a child, survived. The cases would appear unrelated except for an anonymous phone call (placed by Harry?) on the department tip line.
The young partner and the reader have the benefit of Harry’s experience on a fast-paced tour involving a grisly autopsy, an arrest of a loner survivalist, political and departmental pressure, along with lots of sound but risky police investigation. At the end, could there be penance and redemption for a wrongdoer, and does Harry keep his job for yet another case?
Check out Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch novel The Burning Room (for another take, check out The New York Times review). And if you enjoy the adventures of Harry Bosch, check out our list of other popular mystery and suspense series.
Former Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has retired from the Quebec police and is enjoying a peaceful retirement with his wife Reine-Marie in Three Pines. Life is serene with good food, company of friends, and social gatherings. But Clara and Peter Morrow have had a riff, agreeing to separate for one year and meet again to assess their relationship. After that one year Peter fails to return and Clara, in distress, seeks help from the good inspector.
Gamache and his prior associate Guy Beauvoir join with Clara and her friend Myrna in the search. They trace Peter’s journey from Quebec to Scotland then return to visit Peter’s art professor and family in Canada and end with a stormy voyage along the St. Lawrence. Strange paintings Peter left with a young relative may be important to resolve the mystery. Jealousies, danger, and storms plague the investigators throughout the search in Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home.
A gruesome murder of Tessa Quayle in northern Kenya sets off the action of this gripping story. The Constant Gardener is not just the story of a diplomat seeking to find those responsible for the murder of his beautiful young wife, but also a parable of the conflict between forces seeking power and money opposed by those led by human values. The title is most appropriate as Justin Quale persists in uncovering those responsible in the face of powerful and deadly opposition. The ending is sad but not unexpected as Justin in one sense does accomplish some of the goals of his most courageous wife and finds a way to reconnect with her.
Of his 23 novels, John Le Carre rates Gardener as one of his four best.