The Boys Start The War (1993)

By: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Hatford brothers are devastated to learn that their best friends, the Benson brothers, are moving away from Buckman, West Virginia. But when the Malloy sisters move into the Benson house, the Hatford brothers concoct a scheme to drive the Malloy sisters away and bring the Bensons back.

I’ve read this book series three times over. Naylor is one of my favorite authors of all time. This reading, however, was more for business than pleasure. But I enjoyed it just as much as I did back in the day when I read it the first time. The characters are brilliant, the setting perfectly nostalgic, and the pranks hilarious. Definitely keep this series alive and pass it on to the children in your life. They’ll thank you for it.

The Island (2016)

By: S. Usher Evans

The two countries of Madion have been at war for far to long. But when an air skirmish goes awry, leaving a pilot from one country, and the prince from the other, alone on a deserted island, they must work together to survive. And they learn fascinating things about themselves and their respective countries along the way.

Let me preface this by saying I’ll read anything S. Usher Evans writes. I really like her writing style, and I’m a fan of her storylines. That being said, I thought this was artfully crafted. The trapped on an island narrative can be overdone, but this was truly engaging. However, I found that towards the end of the novel, the spunky female pilot devolved into a damsel in distress. Of which I was not a fan. But that’s just a personal thing for me. You should definitely read anything Sush has written.

Shameless plug: check out her other books here. I recommend the space pirates.

Scion of Conquered Earth (2016)

By: Michael J. Allen

A nameless teenager struggles to survive in an apocalyptic version of Earth where great, murderous machines and cannibalistic caravans of the Mad Max variety are out to get him at every turn. He ends up escaping on a run-down spaceship and takes off into the stars for an adventure across the star systems.

There were a lot of good parts about this novel. I liked the main character. I thought he was believable and well-crafted. And the chapters written in the P.O.V. of the AI were fascinating. I believe Allen did a great job showcasing the brainpower of a supercomputer, while still making it understandable for a human reader.

That being said, this book read like two completely different novels. One followed the Earth-bound nameless hero facing a plethora of unsavory acts to survive. The second followed a semi-seasoned pilot in his plight to save slaves and get money. It was quite jarring to transition between the two, especially as the chapter detailing him getting on the ship wasn’t clear in the first place. Things that should’ve been explained were glossed over, and difficult terminology was thrown around as though it was all commonplace.

This was a more difficult read, and a little hard to swallow, but overall an enjoyable book. Check it out if you either like Mad Max or Star Trek. It has elements of both.

The Boys Return (2001)

By: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

When the Benson brothers come to visit for spring break, all havoc breaks lose as the three Malloy sisters, four Hatford brothers, and five Benson brothers converge.

This was my favorite book in the whole series, by far. I loved the way all the relationships played out, and I was enthralled by the crushes that blossomed. Reading in again, fifteen years later, I still loved it. Like I said, pass this series on to the children in your life. You won’t be disappointed.