I’m re-reading Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell, for some relaxation and a brain-break from any heavy thinking. The first book in the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series, I first read Quarter Share about five years ago. I was looking for something light and sweet that still had thoughtful moments to it. This was a perfect answer: a very straightforward story of a sheltered but self-aware young man who is suddenly cast into the world, and the way he makes good.

Quarter Share is a very clean introduction to science fiction. It would be easy to picture this book being set in the 1800s rather than the further future. In this universe, a “quarter share” is the lowest birthing of crew on a working starship, and is where unskilled labor usually falls. Upon the death of his mother at the opening paragraphs of the book, our hero, Ishmael Horatio Wang (his parents had a horrible sense of humor), signed up for a quarter share as unskilled labor on the good ship Lois McKendrick, a deep-space trader. Under the cheerful management of Cookie (the cook, of course), and the other scullion Pip, Ish learns the ropes of being crew of the Lois, and then how to improve both his station and others’ lots in life.

Note that, while this is a YA book with only mild sexual overtones at times, the story doesn’t stay that clean in the next book in the series.

Colleen Reed, Contributing Writer

Quarter Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper #1) by Nathan Lowell
YA SF | Self-Published| 2007

I’m reading The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. This latest trip to the YA mythological well sees our author treating not with a demi-god but a god himself, with the impressively self-centered Apollo sent to Earth as a pimply, pudgy sixteen-year-old as punishment for his offspring’s malfeasance last time Riordan dipped a toe in the Greco-Roman pantheon. Book-wise, we’ve already encountered Percy Jackson and are now hanging out at Camp Halfblood, where Apollo hoped to find shelter from the enemies he has made over four thousand years of whimsical godliness. Instead, he is for sure about to go on a Quest.

I always enjoy Riordan’s blend of modern day coming-of-age journeys with millennia-old religion, even when the happenstance-iness is just shameless. (The Chase family has two demigods in it, with godly parents from different pantheons? Come on!) Whether spending time with the egocentric Apollo is going to be as much fun as that spent with the unlikely heroes Percy, son of Poseidon, Jason, son of Jupiter or Magnus, son of Thor (not to mention those less interesting non-demigod Kane kids), I am not yet ready to say, but so far it’s looking pretty good. Apollo’s aggressive vanity is actually pretty amusing, so far. “Seven layer dip… my sacred number is seven… you named this for me!” Heh.

Rachel Hyland, Editor-in-Chief

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan
YA Urban Fantasy | Disney-Hyperion | 2016

I am reading The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish. I grabbed this book mainly because it was set in Seattle, and I’m a sucker for that place. Add in a tough lady leading the charge with a bit of supernatural shenanigans, and you’ve got me hooked. I was immediately surprised by how much I liked this book, although I shouldn’t have been. It hits all the right notes you expect from this sort of genre. Kincaid Strange is a bit Buffy, a dash of Liv Moore, and just a touch of Wynonna Earp (gotta love a paranormal asskicker who rides a motorcycle). When you have a strong lead, a good story/mystery is almost secondary, but the author does a good job with that as well. The world in which Kincaid operates is extremely well crafted and brought to life very vividly. Seattle is strongly represented, just with a bit of the Otherside carried on the sea breeze.

My main complaint about this novel isn’t so much a minus as it is a curiosity. I kept convincing myself this was the second or third book in a series. The characters referenced past cases, there were relationships established and treated as if it had all been explained before. But multiple sources tell me this was indeed the first of a new series. It’s not a minus because all the relationships are very clearly explained, so maybe it’s just that they click immediately…? Hard to call that a con.

This was a fun book, with another tough lady investigator kicking the ass if paranormal evildoers. There seem to be a lot of those running around these days in both movies and tv shows, but Kincaid Strange is definitely one who is worth your time.

Geonn Cannon, Contributing Writer

The Voodoo Killings (Kincaid Strange #1) by Kristi Charish
Urban Fantasy | Vintage Canada | 2016

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