Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

I have been in an absolute funk today. Sometimes the brain weasels come and they don’t stop chewing, you know?

Rebecca Roanhorse’s latest book, Storm of Locusts, has been helping me out of the funk. The protagonist is Maggie Hoskins, a monsterslayer with Clan powers who lives in a post-apocalyptic United States in Dinétah, the Navajo nation that survived the Big Water. Having recently “killed” two gods, she has enough trouble to deal with in her life… but then she ends up unwitting caretaker of a teenager with Clan powers, half-friends half-enemies with a once ally, and crossing the Wall into the remains of Arizona to find the man she fell in love with in Trail of Lightning.

No matter how much I hate doing laundry and no matter how stressed I am about my job, nobody’s asking me to figure out how a lightning god’s sword works, or attacking me with locusts.

Oh, yeah, by the way? Total fuckton of locusts in this book. Me? I have no problem with creepy crawlies in books because my brain just kind of slides over them like “oh yeah horrible thing happens here, we’re not going to dwell on that…” but if(when) they make this series into a movie this is going to be nightmare city for some people.

Including me. Because my brain can’t slide past creepy crawlies in movies.

Anyway, just like in the first book of the series, this one is chock full of Navajo gods, Navajo culture, kick-ass women kicking ass with swords, guns, knives, etc., one seriously fucking creepy bad guy, and magic.

Plus bugs. We are not screwing around about the bugs here, people.

Definite must read, looking forward to the next one, hoping it’s slightly more bug-free.

Twain’s Treasure (Phantom File’s #1) by William B. Wolfe

Alex, the protagonist of Twain’s Treasure, is a liar. And if I could see ghosts and they constantly got me in trouble I would be a liar too. After all, who believes a kid who says he can see ghosts? We’ve got medication and counseling and all kinds of other ways to deal with supposed paranormal sightings.

The only problem is that Alex’s best and only friend in town, Bones, is crazy for paranormal activity stories, shows, books, even conventions. And Alex has been lying about his ability to see ghosts for a long long time, even to his best friend.

Alex might have gotten away with his lies if it weren’t for one Samuel Clemens, supreme haunt of the library in Hannibal MO.

This book was ten times more delightful than I expected, and was chock full of facts about Mark Twain and the town of Hannibal. It reminded me Richard Peck’s The Ghost Belonged to Me only updated and, honestly, a bit more interesting. Definitely one to recommend to middle grades (and old fogies like me still reading them in their 40s).

Drive, Act 2 by Dave Kellett

Welp, that didn’t take long.

Drive Act Two is (obviously) the continuation of Drive, Act One, which I reviewed earlier today… because I inhaled both books today.

The second act of this story is as intoxicating as the first, filled with aliens and worlds beyond ours, introducing new characters and new twists and turns to the plot line at every convenience. The pacing continues to be spot-on. The art continues to be polished and delightful. The situation for our cast of characters continues to worsen, which, I mean sure, act 2, that’s it’s job.

I’ve reached the point in the story where even if I tried to explain the plot to the reader, it would take longer than actually reading the book. Plus I’d mess it up. Suffice it to say that I look forward to Act 3 with great admiration for Dave Kellett’s writing and a sincere desire to see how this all wraps up.

Or whether it does wrap up. There’s no law against a five-act space opera.

This isn’t one you’re going to find on Amazon. Buy directly from the Drive store in hardback, paperback, or PDF.

Drive, Act 1 by Dave Kellett

I fell in love with Dave Kellet’s art and storytelling style with his strip Sheldon, a long long time ago when I had the time to read daily comics. I can remember when Drive launched.

But then life happened and I never got back to it.

This was a tactical error on my part.

Drive is a delicious mix of humor and heartbreak, a grandmotherly taking-no-crap human captain, two other humans that are in La Familia (the government) and all kinds of other aliens. The most important of the aliens are a Russian-accented Veeta the size of a rhino, and a tiny we-don’t-know-what named Skitter.

The thesis underpinning the story is that Skitter could conceivably save the human race and their empire by becoming pilots in their military. But there are mafias, planets full of dumb bullies, a parasitic-virus-based race spreading through the galaxy, a very very pissed-off group of aliens looking to regain stolen tech, and, well, space to deal with.

This book is the first act of the story. You will not want to read it without also getting your hands on the second act, which is now also available.

(Well, I mean, you could, but you’ll be like WHYYYYYY)

The art is fantastic, the storyline paced well for such a long arc, the switching of points-of-view to different places and times used to great effectiveness. The story is occasionally interrupted with important notes, historical elements, pages from an encyclopedia, and foreshadowing.

Oh the foreshadowing.

I inhaled this book in less than a day and as soon as I am done this review I’m starting Act 2.

This isn’t one you’re going to find on Amazon. Buy directly from the Drive store in hardback, paperback, or PDF.

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions by Peter Brannen

I wasn’t one of those kids that was enamored with dinosaurs, and we didn’t really explain that birds were dinosaurs until I was well outside the age where my clothing shopping took place in the kid’s section. I became interested in dinosaurs and their extinction because I was one of those kids who was fascinated by plate tectonics and geology, and the plate tectonics and geology kept bouncing against the paleontology and, well,  eventually one takes a hint.

Thus I’ve found myself becoming interested in dinosaurs somewhat unexpectedly. I watch PBS Eons and read things about how chickens are actually dinosaurs.

And on the other side of the science debates, I numbly agree that yeah, humans are causing climate change, but do we know what could actually happen? Do we have any models?

Turns out we do. Not the models we would have chosen, but definitely actual research-driven mind-adjusting models. They’re called the mass extinctions.

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions by Peter Brannen scratches the geology itch, the plate tectonics itch, the biology itch, the paleontology itch, even a touch of anthropology near the end when the humans show up. It skips all those long “boring” stretches when everyone’s living just fine between the ends of their worlds. It puts significant attention on those times when multiple things, like a perfect storm, go horribly wrong. We don’t just learn about the mass extinctions. We learn about the places on our own roadsides where we can see the evidence of those extinctions – juts of ground that were the bottom of seabeds, cliffs that were volcanos, rocks that were animals.

This is the most in-depth look at what rises and falls in CO2 levels actually do to the Earth – its oceans, its land masses, and its atmospheres – that I’ve found anywhere I’ve looked. It’s the first time I’ve gotten an explanation of how the planet does its best to self-regulate its temperature (and it turns out to have a lot to do with dissolving the mountains) and the first time I’ve gotten a good idea of the time frames involved (really really *really* really long).

So will there be another mass extinction? Eventually, and it will probably involve CO2 levels. Whether that’s soon enough for our society to remember it, or far enough out that we’ve moved off-planet remains to be determined by our own behavior over the next 100 years.

In the meantime, this very readable, very relatable book will help you see far in the past and possibly imagine far in the future.