Here you'll be transported into a world of reading through the eyes of a teenage fangirl, who loves to drink coffee and is obsessed with cats. We'll talk about anything and everything book related. From book reviews and feels to upcoming releases and recommendations, you'll get to see what it's really like being a dedicated reader.
With 2016 coming to a close of figured it was time to choose my top five favorites that I read this year. I know 2016 was not the greatest, but I hope that 2017 will be one for the books! I read a lot of amazing books that I wish I could include in this post, and I had the hardest time just choosing five, I can't imagine having to fill 10 spots. So, without further-a-do here are my top five reads of 2016!
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her
Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon
that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she
makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare
uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to
find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming
exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the
cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series
escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated
world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in
Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around
her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the
empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the
other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and
forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins,
Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is
untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s
impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and
looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks
refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko
and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats
of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which
brother to trust—and which to betray.
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when
she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling
warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over
the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town
transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other.
When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom,
assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and
there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the
Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope
of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than
anything the world has ever seen.
Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this
cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.
Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic
Senator's daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is
as much as sister as a master. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her
safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a
hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.
She must become her.
Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading
in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk
everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer,
Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one
thing she's been told she doesn't have - humanity. And, amidst all the danger,
action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her,
Sidonia and the entire Empire...
It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe,
who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving
accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then
on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are
brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious
bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the
Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him.
Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the
Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds,
they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the
Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of
Click here to see my review!
And there you have it, my top five reads of 2016! I loved so many more this year too...
And I can't wait for these reads in 2017...
And so many more!
Until next year when I have to do another one of these... drink some coffee, love a cat, watch out for them feels, and
remember to always read fearlessly!
Today Jennifer M. Eaton and Month9Books
are revealing the cover and first chapter for EMBERS IN THE SEA, the third book
in the FIRE IN THE WOODS series which releases January 31, 2017! Check out the
gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:
Fire in the Woods has been
an incredible journey for me. In book one, Jess and David raced through the
woods of New Jersey. In book two, they raced through space, and spent some time
on an alien planet. For book three, I needed a brand new frontier, and Earth’s
vast oceans seemed the perfect setting for a new alien adventure. I really hope
everyone enjoys Jess and David’s race through the sea, because the ocean has
secrets, and some secrets don’t want to be found.
Alien scientist David has dealt with
disappointment his entire life, but failing to breathe life into the planet Mars
is his greatest regret. Out of options and in need of a new home for their
people, the alien Caretakers rekindle their plan to inhabit Earth. First they
will have to eliminate the human race, including Jess, the only human David
Humanity has one final chance at
survival. David needs to emulate Earth’s precipitation on Mars. But the
catalyst to make it rain lies in the fathomless depths of Earth’s ocean.
The clock is ticking down to humanity’s
last hours as Jess and David face a world more alien than either of them can
imagine. The sea hides secrets, but some secrets don’t want to be found.
I tucked back the dark bang that flew in my face, shifted my seating, and balanced Philosophers of the Pre-modern World on my crossed legs.
Squinting in the morning sunshine, I forced my eyes to read the passage from Colton’s Lacon one more time:
“Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past, even while we attempt to define it.”
I closed the textbook and tossed it on the grass. “Why should I even care about what some old cleric guy said two hundred years ago?”
“Because he’s a famous old cleric guy.” Matt plucked the book from the lawn and dusted a few stray grass clippings from the cover.
“I came to college to study photography, not to be confused beyond reason by dead philosophers.”
Matt handed my book back as we stood. “Philosophy is supposed to broaden your mind.”
“Yeah, well, I’m broad enough.” I could sense a witty retort forming on his lips. “Don’t say it.”
He held up his hands. “I wouldn’t think of it.”
A group of people pointed at us from across the courtyard, and my fingers twined around my necklace, pressing the charm into my palm.
Here we go again.
When I first came to Columbia University, this was one of my favorite places to relax. The grass was like a hug from home, despite the New York skyline looming just over the trees. But each semester I had to dodge more and more Jess-watchers. Why they were still interested in me after all this time, I didn’t know.
It had been nearly two years since David left Earth to help his people populate Mars, and there’d been no impromptu spaceship sightings yet. But alien chasers still flocked to Columbia University thinking today might be the lucky day.
“How about we go this way.” Matt tugged me away from the wide-eyed group. Several of them raised camera phones, then looked at the sky.
It was always the same, as if just because Jessica Martinez walked outside, a spaceship would magically pop out of nowhere and whisk her away.
“You know, it wouldn’t hurt you to smile once in a while.” Matt waved at a guy holding a late model Nikon camera with a cheap lens attached to the front. “You always look ticked on the tabloid covers.”
I left the walkway and stomped across the grass. “These aren’t paparazzi. They’re just gawkers, and they’re driving me crazy. I wish they’d just let it go.”
Matt laughed. “Let it go? You’re Jess Martinez: the girl who saved the world from Armageddon. Twice. I think you need to cut people some slack.”
I stopped by the oak trees beside the library and watched a bird hop back and forth from the grass to the cement walkway. “I just want to be normal again. I want people to stop staring at me all the time.”
“Then you better stop wearing those tight jeans because, damn, girl, I’d snap a few pictures too if I thought I could get away with it.”
I smacked his shoulder, like I always did when he complimented me in his own, Matt-like way. It felt like we were back in New Jersey, back when I was “just Jess” and friendships weren’t so much a luxury.
“So, when is your cancer conference over?” I asked.
“It’s a symposium, and I’ll be here for a few more days.”
A few more days. It wasn’t enough. “Thanks for coming to see me. I missed you.”
Red stained his cheeks. “Yeah, I missed you too.” His gaze drifted to the tree. “Bobby says hi, by the way.”
I cringed and tried to hide my sneer. “I can’t believe you guys ended up friends after what he did to you in high school. He’s such a jerk.”
“Yeah, but he’s a connected jerk.”
“You don’t need him, Matt. You’re brilliant.”
He shrugged. “Brilliant only gets you so far. Bobby has the charm and means to get my work noticed.”
“And in return, you get him good grades?”
“I can’t take his exams for him, but yeah, I help with the other stuff.” We walked to the library steps, where he reclined against the marble. “He quit McGuire for you, you know?”
“That doesn’t change anything. He and I are never getting back together.”
“He’s trying to get back in your good graces … change the world so you see him differently.”
I eased down beside him. “Did he ask you to say that?”
Matt’s eyes opened like saucers. “Am I that transparent?”
“I can’t believe he’s pretending to care about cancer research just to impress me. When will he learn to take no for an answer?”
“So, you’re serious? You’re really not into him anymore?”
“Not. At. All. Not if he were the last guy on the planet.”
A smile spread across Matt’s face. “Good. You can do better. He’s a weasel.” He cleared his throat. “Just don’t tell him I said that. He’s still bigger than me.”
I mustered half a grin when three people jumped in front of the steps and tried to pretend they weren’t taking pictures of me.
“Wow,” Matt said. “They really don’t let up, do they?”
“Not too much, no.”
He stood and helped me to my feet. “How about we go inside somewhere? Is there anywhere around here we can catch an early lunch?”
I folded my arms. “Seriously? We’re in New York City. Name your poison.”
His grin made me forget about the roving photographers. “Anywhere quiet, where we can kinda be alone.”
I straightened. “Alone?”
He slipped his cold fingers around mine. “I meant it when I said I missed you.”
Whoa. I slid my hand away. “Weren’t you just rooting for team Bobby?”
“Yeah, well, I figure if the referee has banned Bobby from the game permanently, that kinda makes room for team Matt to swoop in and maybe win one for the eggheads of the world.”
A flash of seventeen-year-old Matt, bruised and bleeding on the sidewalk after Bobby beat him up for taking me to a movie flashed through my mind, before my vision refocused on the brilliant med student Matt had become. I’d saved the world from aliens, but Matt was going to save the world from cancer. He believed it. I believed it. Matt was one of those guys who could do anything.
As long as he could avoid getting beat up again.
And with me at his side, he would get beat up again. Going to college hadn’t changed Bobby that much, even if Bobby was riding on Matt’s gravy train.
Matt just put himself way out on a limb. But did I want to go out on that skinny little branch with him?
A smile burst across my face. Maybe I did. “How about something a little more casual, like ice cream.”
He held up his hands. “Whoa there. I don’t know. Ice cream sparks of commitment. We’ve only known each other for what, eight years? I think you’re moving a little fast for me. I thought I was pushing it with lunch.”
I punched him in the arm.
He punched me back. I loved that. No airs. No games. No attitude. Just Matt.
Maybe, just maybe, I could get my life back. Maybe I could be happy again.
A startled cry echoed through the courtyard.
“What is that?” a man yelled.
Matt grabbed my hand and we followed the throng away from the steps and onto the South Lawn. A huge hole had formed in the clouds, widening into a shimmering circle of crystal blue.
I plucked my camera out of my backpack and joined the amateurs clicking away with their cell phones. I hid my amusement behind the lens of Old Reliable.
These people had no idea what a picture could be, how to focus in just the right place, how to find tone in the simplest of images, and catch the perfect light to evoke the exact mood. I hit the shutter four times as the anomaly widened, expanding past several city blocks. Nature never ceased to astound me.
A few more photography students added their lenses to the crowd. There’d be no deficit of pictures for the papers to choose from, that was for sure.
I snapped seven more shots. The race was on. Click. Who would take the best shot? Click. Who would be the first to get their work into the papers?
Me. That’s who. Click. Click.
The shape shifted and elongated, swirling until it settled over the courtyard and froze as if someone pressed the pause button.
The crowd grew silent. I lowered my camera. WTF?
The air in the middle of the circle formed a nearly transparent, shimmering bubble. A rainbow formed across its surface; the stripes brilliant, clear, and defined. Dozens of breaths hitched as an iridescent flicker blasted across the apparition. The form pinched and molded into a colorful, swirling tube that slowly dropped from the sky.
Matt tightened his grip on my hand as the other spectators stepped away. Half their gazes staring up, the remainder staring at me.
“Friends of yours?” Matt asked.
I shivered. “No. That’s not Erescopian technology.” At least I didn’t think it was. Erescopian ships were liquid metal … shiny opal or silver. “That just looks like … ”
“Water,” Matt whispered.
Water hanging in the sky. Or more like a lake … a huge lake with a giant elevator tube dropping out of it. So. Not. Good.
The cylinder fell in short, billowing waves before settling on the middle of the South Lawn. It was there, but it also wasn’t—like it took a picture of what was on the other side and played it like a video, hiding the tube like a chameleon. Wicked cool—if I wasn’t standing so close to it.
Matt inched back, glanced at me, then returned to my side. If I wasn’t riveted to my little patch of grass, I wonder if he’d have run.
Camera shutters triggered like crazy. Everyone gawked at me, like I was supposed to know what to do.
Yeah, cause Jess Martinez knows all there is to know about spaceships.
A whoosh echoed through the open area, like the Jolly Green Giant had blown out a candle, but without the wind. The people on the other side of the cylinder lit up as if a hundred suns flooded them. They stepped back, shielding their eyes.
My fingers tightened on the strap of my camera. I’d seen that light before, on the tarmac two years ago, as hundreds of Erescopian soldiers left their liquescent spaceships and stepped on Earth for the first time.
A siren blaring from behind the buildings broke my frozen stance. I raised Old Reliable, clicking off shots that probably would amount to nothing, until a human form materialized within the cylinder’s hazy brilliance.
Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet
Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her.
While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth
collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three
energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not
infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes
in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire
with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.
Eyes glances over me, some lingering and some moving on as if the didn't even notice me standing there,
which was okay in a way, because I was used to being invisible.
But I wan't supposed to be invisible anymore.
For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse”
Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was
to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended,
she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a
Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive
parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public
high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s
imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the
friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.
It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the
connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond
grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with
the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out
of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for
the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.
First off, my full reaction of this book was that it was amazing! I don't read a lot of contemporary romances, but I loved this one! Armentrout, the queen of romance herself, has done it again! Everyone alive should read this book, it was that good! I have previously read Armentrout's Lux series, but it was so long ago, I completely forgot how exquisite she is with her writing style; truly exciting and refreshing. With ever new book she puts out, she gives her readers something new, and this one was no different. I like how in this one, Armentrout has focused on the difficult and almost taboo topic of foster care, because foster care which can be a hit or miss with most the books I've read. I also enjoyed seeing her classic romance style in action again, a long with the new characters and events/scenarios that took place in this one as well.
As stated before, most foster care that I've read are either a hit, or miss, for me. But with her writing style and creative out-looks, Armentrout took a very cliche topic and made it completely her own. This is a very heart-felt story that has changed my opinion on what all foster care books are like, and what to expect when reading one. This story will tough at your heartstrings, and at the same time send chills down your spine. And at other times will have you laughing out loud, or crying from mixed emotions and anger. The Problem With Forever has something for everyone to love, and an array of feels that might just leave you beat.
And just when you thought this book couldn't get any better, it did. I loved that characters Armentrout put into this story. All were very relatable and fun to see incorporated with this sensitive topic. Mallory, also known as Mouse, was an inspiring main character. She showed me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even when it seems like forever away and when monster lurk in the shadows. And don't even get me started with Rider. He was, as most of Armentrout's male characters are, perfect. I would date him in a heartbeat, if I could. He's such a sweet heart, but also has that bad-boy vibe too. Armentrout nailed it, I have never seen another author that can mix these to composts better to form the perfect boyfriend like she does. And I also loved all of Armentrout's side characters, they took this book to a whole new level. They really drought different tones and emotions into this story. And by having diverse characters, Armentrout made this book more fun and enjoyable for her readers.
Every Armentrout book that I have ever picked up, I've loved. And this one isn't a different story. The Problem With Forever is inspiring and heartfelt. Armentrout did an amazing job with this one, she made a true masterpiece. If you are already a fan of Armentrout, then you already know how wonderful her plot lines and writing style is. But if you haven't picked one of her book yet. I highly recommend you do, I promise you won't forget it! And I can't wait to see Armentrout has in store for me next.
Today Dee Garretson and Month9Books are
revealing the cover and first chapter for STATION FOSAAN, which releases February
14, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers
to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:
I’ve been a major science
fiction fan ever since I discovered A WRINKLE IN TIME. When I moved on to
watching STAR TREK every day after school, that hooked me. Spock was my first
crush. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe it was his pointy ears,
because I’m very taken with the pointy eared elves in LORD OF THE RINGS too. It
wasn't just Spock though. I loved all the strange new worlds. I was devastated
the day my father told me that even once I grew up, there would be no
Enterprise spaceships and I couldn’t be Lieutenant Uhura. I still remember how
I wanted that communication earpiece, the miniskirt and the boots.
So you might say STATION
FOSAAN is in response to that disappointment. I created my own science fiction
world, which has been influenced not only by STAR TREK, but by STAR WARS and
DUNE as well. And while it is a space adventure, it’s also a story of two
people who find each other only to discover their lives may have to follow
different paths. The essence of a story is always the characters. I love to
create ones I’d want to know in real life. And like in real life, these
characters face powerful forces who try to emphasize the differences between
peoples rather than finding common ground. It’s a test to see what they choose.
One of my favorite parts from the book is something that is also my personal
motto: “We have to take chances. I have to take a chance. It’s time to go
beyond the known.”
Scientists and their families stationed
on the remote planet of Fosaan were promised a tropical vacation-like
experience. But Fosaan, devastated from an apocalyptic event nearly
three-hundred years ago, is full of lethal predators and dangerous terrain.
Earthers are forbidden to go beyond the
safety zone of their settlement and must not engage the remaining reclusive
Fosaanians, native to the planet. Sixteen-year-old Quinn Neen is about to do
both of those things.
During an unsanctioned exploration of
the planet, Quinn discovers a beautiful Fosaanian girl named Mira stealing food
from his family’s living unit. But before he can convince her to show him
around, scientists are taken captive, leaving Quinn and the other young
Earthers at the mercy of space raiders.
Quinn must go from renegade to leader
and convince Mira to become an ally in a fight against an enemy whose very
existence threatens their lives and the future of Earthers stuck on Fosaan and
STATION FOSAAN is THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
meets STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN.
When a civilization comes close to extinction, what emerges out of the ashes? On Fosaan, music did not, and art has turned to survival craft. Perhaps if I record what I know, some in the future will understand us better. The coming of the Earthers may be the end of us, and I do not want our memories to fade to ash. I may be giving myself too lofty a title, but for now I shall sign my musings,
Erimik, historian of the Clan
A flash in Fosaan’s sky distracted me from my work for a moment. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought a large ship just entered the atmosphere, but none were scheduled to land.
The flex wall rustled behind me. “Piper?” I said, not looking up from the display slip. One more minute and I would have the depiction of the snake-like creature completed, right down to the exact interlocking star pattern on the skin and the red speckling on the forelegs. Duplicating the vivid greenish yellow color would be trickier, but I had imaged it so there’d be a reference when I got down to mixing colors.
It was pure luck I had found a dead one on the walkway to study. I didn’t know what happened to the other deceased animals on Fosaan, but if the shrieks and howls that came from shore were any hint, I could guess. I’d just have to make sure I got rid of the thing before Piper got home. My younger sister hated seeing anything dead.
“Piper?” I turned around, but no one was in the unit. The rustling sound had moved into the kitchen.
Magellan squawked and flapped her wings from the window ledge, “Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!”
Since the parrot said the same thing at every sound she didn’t recognize, I wasn’t too worried. “Mags, relax. It’s probably just an olon.” I got up and grabbed the stick I always used to shoo away the tiny nuisances. If I let one in, a whole flock of them would follow, perching on every available surface, chittering and staring as if expecting me to put on a show for them. Me, Quinn Neen, whose talents, such as they were, did not include entertaining anyone or anything. It was even worse when they brought in their latest catches from the sea, treating the floating living units like their own picnic area, dropping bones all over the floor.
Now that Mags felt like she had done her guard job, she lost interest. Balancing on one leg, she examined a talon on the other. “Beautiful toe,” she declared.
“Yes, you’ve told me before,” I said, knowing I’d never be able to convince the parrot a talon was not the same thing as a toe. I wasn’t sure she grasped the concept of “beautiful,” but she applied it more frequently to herself than anyone else. Leaving the bird to her talon inspection, I pushed aside the divider to get into the kitchen. No olons. No more rustling noise either, just the faint splash of the waves rocking the walkways that connected the individual living quarters. A gust of wind brought in the briny scent of the water, sharper smelling than the oceans of Earth. It overpowered the pine scent I had set on the room control, which I liked to use as a reminder of the pine forest reserve my grandmother managed on Earth. Another gust rattled the beads Piper had attached to her favorite house droid, but there were no other sounds. Maybe an olon had come and gone.
I turned to go back when a flash of white caught my eye. Startled, I dropped the stick and then tripped over it. A girl, a Fosaanian girl, stood clutching a wafer loaf to her chest, a cloud of long shimmery white hair quivering. In fact, all of her was shivering. She was soaked, water dripping off her. I could see her wet footprints all over the kitchen. Her silvery eyes held mine and I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I wasn’t usually so speechless around girls with incredible eyes, but I’d never encountered one I didn’t know in my own quarters.
“What are you doing?” I finally managed to croak, even though it was obvious she was taking the loaf, or more accurately, stealing the loaf. Fosaanians never came out onto the Earthers’ floating compound.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said, putting the loaf back on counter and edging to the door.
“No, wait!” I didn’t mean to shout, but my words came out too loud. The girl froze like I had issued an order, though I could tell she was ready to bolt. “It’s okay,” I said. “I mean, if you’re hungry, take it.” Picking the loaf up, I held it out to her, hoping it would convince her to stay for a little while. She would be the first Fosaanian I had talked to, if I could get her to talk. The small population of Fosaanians, the descendants of the few who had survived the planetary apocalypse, kept away from all of us Earthers, except for the ones who worked at the supply depot or who delivered the iridium sulfide. None of those could be called the least bit friendly.
She didn’t take the loaf, but she didn’t run either. Instead, she stood there looking around the room, clearly curious.
“I have an even better idea,” I said, trying to come up with one. “How about I fix us both something to eat? I’m hungry too.” The girl was too thin, but then all the Fosaanians I had seen were skinny. I assumed it was a Fosaanian physical trait that went along with their long fingers and thin necks, but now it occurred to me that if she was here to steal food maybe they weren’t getting enough to eat.
“The food, it is not for me,” the girl said. “My little sister, she had an accident and some of her teeth were damaged. It’s easier for her to eat soft food….” Her voice trailed off, and she clutched her hands together.
“You can take it. We have plenty. I’ll find some other stuff too.” I grabbed a carryall and opened the storage cabinet, looking for soft food. “Why doesn’t your sister just get replacement teeth?”
Her eyes widened. “You can replace teeth?”
“Sure, people do it all the time.” I had two replacements already, from running into a low bulkhead when I was trying to get some exercise during the long dull journey to Fosaan from Earth.
“How much do teeth cost?”
“I don’t know.” I found some milk bars and added them to the carryall. “Not much, probably.” I’d never even thought about it.
“If it costs as much as wafer bread, then it would be too much.” She sounded angry.
“Maybe not. I have a friend up on the space station in charge of inventory,” I told her. “I can ask him if they have some extra teeth. They probably do.”
Her eyes narrowed and she took a step back. “What would I have to do for them?”
“Nothing,” I said. I was struck by how suspicious she sounded. “My friend, Gregor, he isn’t too strict about things. Giving you some teeth for your sister isn’t going to break the budget of the station.” I knew Gregor would actually be pleased to do something that was outside the rules. He took so much pleasure in breaking military protocol, I sometimes wondered why he had signed up for more service after the mandatory enlistment was up.
An olon flew in and perched on a stool, folding its wings into small pleats and settling down like it intended to stay. I recognized it from its abnormal markings. Most olons had a bright green streak under each eye, but this one was missing the streak on the left. It was also the one who seemed to have an uncanny knack for knowing when food was out. “You’re not getting any of this,” I said to it. “Don’t be lazy. Go find your own food.” It hooted at me.
At the noise, Mags hopped into the room and then flew up and landed on the counter, flapping her wings and screeching, “Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! Dog! Dog!” She hated the olons and “dog” was her word for anything she hated.
The olon just gazed at the parrot, not moving. “Easy, Mags,” I said, “It’s ‘olon’. ‘Olon.’”
“Dog!” Mags flapped her wings threateningly. “Man the weapons!” My father had taught Mags the weapons line, and he and I thought it hilarious, though my mother wasn’t crazy about the parrot threatening any guest the bird didn’t like. When the olon didn’t move, Mags added in some incoming missile sound effects to indicate she was extremely displeased.
“Calm down, Mags.” The olon didn’t appear perturbed at all by the parrot. It sidled to the edge of the stool, its attention totally focused on the wafer loaf.
“Your creature talks? You communicate with them?” the girl asked, her amazing eyes widening.
It took me a moment to answer; I was so caught up in looking at her. “Uh, no, I sort of communicate with Mags, but I just talk to the olons. They don’t understand me. It’s a habit when I’m by myself.” Now she would think I was strange. I’d only started talking to myself once we’d arrived. There were fifteen other younger Earthers onplanet and an assortment of scientists who came and went to the orbiting space station for their shifts, but we often got tired of each other. I spent most of the time working on my own projects.
The girl eyed the olon. “I’ve never seen one without two markings on the face,” she said. “I did see one once with double markings, but never just one.”
“I’d like to see one like that.” I was intrigued that she had noticed. Most people didn’t pay much attention to them. When I had first observed the marking and pointed it out to my friend Lainie, she had pretended to be interested, but the way she smiled made it clear she was just humoring me.
The olon hooted once more and then flew back out the window, like it had given up on the possibility of a handout.
“All clear!” Mags announced, using another of the military phrases my father favored. She began to preen herself. “Beautiful feathers.”
“Quinn!” Piper shouted from the walkway. The bells my little sister wore in her hair jangled crazily as she ran into the room. “Quinn, guess what? The shuttle landed but nobody was on it. Not mom, not anybody. Nobody knows why.” Piper skidded to a stop, noticing the girl. “Why is a Fosaanian here?” she demanded, her eyes wide.
“Um…She was out swimming,” I said, not wanting to explain the conversation about the bread. There were never simple explanations for Piper. Everything always led to another why. “I invited her in,” I added.
“Hello,” Piper said, moving closer to the girl and sniffing the air. “You don’t smell. My friend Lia says Fosaanians smell.”
“That’s rude, Piper. I’m sorry,” I said to the girl. I had heard the same rumor, that Fosaanians smelled like the sulfur permeating the atmosphere.
“I said she DIDN’T smell.” Piper glared at me. “It would be rude if I said she DID. What’s your name?”
“My name is Mira,” The girl answered almost in a whisper.
Piper reached out and patted Mira on the arm as if she was some shy creature. “Mira is a pretty name. Mine’s Piper. How old are you? I’m seven. Why do you have that funny mark on your face?”
The girl jerked back like the question shocked her. I didn’t understand her reaction, and after she didn’t respond, I said to Piper, “It’s a tattoo.” I didn’t think much about it because the small three-sided red mark on her check matched the ones on the two Fosaanians who worked at the station.
Mira’s lack of response didn’t stop Piper. “Why do all the Fosaanians have white hair? It makes everyone look old.” Piper moved closer like she was going to touch Mira’s hair.
“Piper!” Time to distract my sister before she did anything embarrassing. “What about the shuttle?” I asked.
“It landed without anybody on it, and nobody at the supply depot can talk to the space station. Is it true Fosaanian babies are born with black hair and then it turns white?”
Piper’s jumps in topics were hard to follow, and it took Mira some time to answer. “We all have white hair all along,” the girl said.
“That’s strange.” I was puzzled, not about the hair, but about the shuttle. There were always communication problems between the depot and the station because of the weird atmospheric components on Fosaan, and because of the frequent volcanic ash that spewed into the air from a nearby island, but I couldn’t think of a reason why the shuttle wouldn’t have anyone on it. “Maybe everyone decided to stay for a double shift. Mom said they were having problems with the newest version of the MIdroids.”
Piper shrugged. “Mick didn’t say anything.”
“What’s Mick doing about it?” I asked. Mick ran the depot, with the help of a few Fosaanians and some ancient droids he refused to replace. He was good with supplies and machines and droids, not so good with other people.
“He sent the second shift up. They’re supposed to report back.” Piper twisted her finger through her own hair, and the bells jingled softly. I knew the hair-twisting meant Piper was nervous.
“I’m sure they will,” I said to reassure her. I was about to go back to talking to Mira when I realized there was something odd about Piper’s last statement. “How are they going to report back if the link isn’t working?”
“I don’t know. Do all Fosaanians have such curly hair? I wish I did.”
“Piper, stop with the questions. You’re being nosy. Why don’t you see if you can get Mom on the comm here?” I suggested.
“Okay.” Piper darted out of the kitchen, and too late, I remembered what I had left on the work table.
Piper’s shriek came a second later. “Quinn! Disgusting! It’s dead! Get it away!”
“Sorry, Piper,” I said. The Fosaanian girl was edging for the door again. “Wait, don’t go yet. Maybe you could help me with something. It’s in here.” I didn’t want to let her go so I gestured towards the other room and walked out of the kitchen hoping she would follow me. She did, stopping in the doorway. I heard a sharp intake of breath.
When I turned around, the girl was staring wide-eyed around the room. “How is this possible?” she said, reaching out her hand to touch one of the holographic pine trees.
“Oh, I forgot,” I pointed at the scene setter on the table. “I had the scene set to be a pine forest. I really miss one I used to go to on Earth, so I like to set that surrounding when I work.”
“I didn’t know such things existed,” Mira said, kneeling down to touch the stream that ran around the chairs. I turned the sound up so the faint murmur of water came from it. The girl’s hand went into it and touched the floor. “This is amazing! It looks so real. I smell something strange too.”
“I’ve got it set to pine forest scent. I can switch it to something else if you like, flowers, or a camp fire. Do you want to see it snow?” I changed the scene to snowfall and immediately drifts appeared, covering most of the furniture. Holographic snowflakes fell from the ceiling, which had changed to the gray of a winter sky.
Mira lifted her hands out and smiled. “It’s cold! I have heard of snow, but I didn’t know it was cold.”
“Excuse me,” Piper said, standing by the work table with her hands on her hips, her face screwed up in disgust. “Does anyone besides me care that there is a dead thing here?”
“It’s okay, Piper.” I said. “It can’t hurt you. I meant to get rid of it before you got home.” I switched the snowfall back to the forest. The falling flakes were too distracting most of the time.
Piper stomped her foot. “Why do you have to drag stuff inside to depict it? Why can’t you just image things like normal people?”
“There’s no challenge to imaging it. Anybody can do that. Depicting objects sharpens a person’s power of observation.” I’d heard one of the tests to get into the reconnaissance corps training program measured how well the applicant could observe tiny details. “Besides, I needed to scan its measurements so I could record them.” We’d had this argument many times and I didn’t get why Piper couldn’t understand. It wasn’t like I kept the specimens around forever, though sometimes to tease her I pretended I’d accidentally lost one in her room. She fell for it every time.
The Fosaanian girl got up and walked over to the table, stepping around a moss-covered boulder that wasn’t really there. She looked down at the creature. “You didn’t kill this, did you?” she asked.
If I had been the type to lie, I would have told her I caught it barehanded as it ran past me. I was a terrible at lying though. “No, it was already dead when I found it.” I switched the room back to normal.
“I thought so. Most beings don’t survive getting close to an anguist.”
“I didn’t know,” I said, somewhat pleased I had managed to study something so lethal. “It’s called an anguist?”
“I don’t care what it’s called!” Piper wailed. “Just get it away!”
Since I was done with it anyway, and it was already starting to smell in the heat, I reached over to pick it up, intending to drop it out the window into the water.
“Wait!” The Fosaanian girl said. “How did you get it in here? Did you touch it?” She sounded horrified.
My hand froze. “Uh, yeah, I picked it up and brought it in. Why?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer.
“How did you pick it up?”
I pictured how I had found the creature. “I picked it up behind the forelegs. Why?”
“They exude poison when they’re threatened, particularly from their tails.” Mira’s face showed the same alarm that her voice held. “It’s so lethal, it paralyzes you almost immediately.”
I couldn’t remember exactly where I had touched it. I’d moved it around a lot as I was measuring it. Was my hand feeling a little numb? I flexed my fingers. They still worked. “I feel fine. I guess I didn’t touch the poison part.” Good to know I hadn’t managed to paralyze myself. It had been idiotic of me not to think of that possibility. I knew there were dangerous life forms on Fosaan, and the Earthers were forbidden to go anywhere except the depot and the beach, but I hadn’t even imagined a small dead creature could hurt me.
“You shouldn’t just pick up what you find,” Mira said, putting her hands on hips just like Piper did. “There are many deadly animals and plants on Fosaan.”
At first I didn’t hear what she said. The amazing color of her eyes distracted me again. I had thought all Fosaanians had dull gray eyes.
“Quinn, didn’t you hear her? Deadly animals are a BAD thing,” Piper said.
“Um… I heard. Do you know how to identify them?” I asked the girl. She had just given me an idea.
“Of course I know,” she said, as if I were slightly dense. “I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t.”
I tried to pick my words carefully so I could get her to go along with my idea. “Could you show me which ones are dangerous? I really want to know, because I’m making a guide.” Her expression grew more puzzled and I realized she didn’t understand, so I kept talking. “The life forms that survived the Apocalypse haven’t been completely logged, I mean logged by our people. If you helped me, I could make a real guide. We could work on it together. I’ve got some great recording equipment my friend on the space station lent me and I’ve made this capture device to get some of the smaller flying creatures, so I can observe them and then release them. I’ll show it to you…that is…if you want to see it....” Her face was expressionless, and I realized she might think it was all too boring.
Finally she said, “No…I don’t think my uncle would allow me to help you…I don’t know.”
Since it wasn’t a flat-out no, I persisted, “It wouldn’t take much time.”
“It’s not a good idea,” she said, sounding certain.
I slumped back against the table. At this rate, I’d never get the guide done before the deadline to submit my application to the reconnaissance corps. Without something unique like a guide to add to my application, I didn’t stand much of a chance of acceptance. My examination scores fell right in the middle of average. And if I didn’t get in, my grandfather would make sure I was assigned to one of the officer academies. I knew that would only lead to a spectacular failure. I’d make an even worse officer than my father.
Piper’s voice caught my attention. “Quinn, I thought we were going to talk to Mom.”
“You can speak to someone on the space station from your own home?” Mira drew close to the comm unit and put out her hand like she wanted to touch it.
“Yes, everyone has one of these,” I said.
“Haven’t you seen the ones inside the depot?” Piper asked.
“Fosaanians aren’t allowed inside unless they work there,” Mira said.
I hadn’t realized that. I just assumed the Fosaanians preferred to keep to themselves. “Why not? It’s nothing special.”
“It’s a rule. Are these hard to work?” Mira’s hand still hovered over the touchpad. “My uncle and my cousin operate the one at the depot, and they say you can get information from everywhere in the galaxy, and pictures of other places. My cousin told me he’s seen images of other planets, and they have giant buildings on them.” She said it like she didn’t really believe it.
“Sure, tall buildings are everywhere.” I wasn’t interested in ordinary buildings, but if she was and it got her to stay, I’d show her as many as she wanted. “We’ll look at some once I talk to my mother.”
I was about to speak the code to call up the Comm Center at the station when a voice said, “Incoming message. Secure channel. Turing Seven. Response.”
“That’s Grandfather!” Piper squealed.
I restrained myself from groaning. My grandfather was the last person in the galaxy I wanted to speak to. “Not good timing,” I said, turning to Mira. “I’m sorry, but it would be good if you go in the kitchen while we’re talking to my grandfather. I don’t want to have to explain to him what you’re doing here.”
She didn’t question me, which surprised me, though at the same time I was happy I didn’t have to go into more detail. My grandfather did not like to be kept waiting. I spoke the response. “Turing Five.”
My grandfather’s attaché appeared on the slip, a woman who Piper called Lieutenant Bark because every word the woman spoke came out short and abrupt. “Hold a moment for Admiral Neen,” the woman said.
It didn’t take a moment. Almost instantly the grim, lined face of my grandfather filled the display. I knew everyone remarked on how much I looked like the man, down to the dark brown eyes that were nearly black, the sharp lines of our faces, and the set of our jaws, but I hoped I never grew to look so rigid. In a dress uniform, the dark green sheen of it rippling in the sterile light of his office, the man would have projected authority even if you didn’t know he was head of the Konsilan.
“Good day, Quinn.”
“Good day, Sir.” I instinctively sat up straighter. I’d learned long ago not to slouch in view of my grandfather.
“Hi Grandpa!” Piper pushed in besides me on the chair.
“Hello, Miss Piper.” A smile appeared on the stone face, something rarely seen. “How’s my girl?”
“Good! When are you coming to visit?”
I hoped he’d say “Never.” The last argument between my father and grandfather had been so terrible, I couldn’t imagine them meeting again.
“I’m not sure.” The admiral turned and said something to the attaché and then turned back. “I’m sorry, Piper, but I don’t have much time and I need to talk to your brother.”
“Okay,” she said, sliding off the chair. I heard her move to the kitchen and begin chattering again to Mira. “That’s a pretty necklace! Can you show me how to make one like it?” I didn’t hear Mira’s reply and I tried to block out their voices so my grandfather wouldn’t comment on my lack of focus, an almost criminal offense to him.
The frown had reappeared on his face. “Quinn, I understand you haven’t yet submitted your application for any of the officer academies. The deadline is coming up.”
“I know, Sir. I…uh…wanted to speak with you about that.” I felt sweat running down my back and wondered why the room had suddenly gotten so hot. I tried to think of how I had practiced my speech to my grandfather, but instead all I could see in my head was the sweep of wall in the man’s office that contained image after image of Neen ancestors in all their military glory.
My grandfather raised an eyebrow. “Go ahead.”
I reminded myself that it was my future at stake, not my grandfather’s. “I…” Before I could say anything else, the slip went blank. “That’s weird,” I said.
“What’s weird?” Piper came back in the room.
“We lost contact with Grandfather.”
I spoke the code to call up the Comm Center. The display flickered, then the familiar logo of the station came up, the words Advanced Artificial Intelligence Research Center emblazoned across a rotating triple torus. I waited for the next slip. Someone on first or second shift communications should appear.
Instead, a voice said, “Due to technical difficulties, AAIRC is not available at this time.” The slip went clear.
Dee Garretson writes for many different
age groups, from chapter books to middle grade to young adult to adult fiction.
She lives in Ohio with her family, and in true writer fashion, has cat
companions who oversee her daily word count. When she’s not writing, she loves
to travel, watch old movies, and attempt various kinds of drawing, painting and
other artistic pursuits.