September 14, 2017

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

Title:  Off the Page
Author:  Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Pages:  359
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Series:  Between the Lines, Book 2

Synopsis:  Meet Oliver, a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale and transported into the real world. Meet Delilah, the girl who wished Oliver into being. It’s a miracle that seems perfect at first. Sure, Oliver doesn’t know that you shouldn’t try to open your locker with a dagger or that there’s no such thing as “the ruler” of the local mall. But he also looks at Delilah as if she’s the only girl in the world --- the only girl in any world --- and Delilah can’t help feeling that being with him is a dream come to life.

But not every story can have a happy ending. Because the book wants Oliver back. And it will turn both worlds upside down to get him.

Oliver and Delilah will have to decide what --- and who --- they’re willing to risk for love and what it really means for a fairy tale to come true.

Review:  This book was a nice, happy ending to a fun YA series.  I can't say I'll be keeping these books, but I am glad I read them.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

September 7, 2017

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

Title:  Between the Lines
Author:  Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Pages:  352
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Series:  Between the Lines, Book 1

Synopsis:  What happens when happily ever after ... isn't?

Delilah hates school as much as she loves books. In fact, there's one book in particular she can't get enough of. If anyone knew how many times she has read and re-read the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially the popular kids, she'd be sent to social Siberia forever.

To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there's a handsome (well, okay, hot) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there's something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they're from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?
"And how do you know that you're not part of a story book?  That someone's not reading your story right now?"
Review:  A book where the characters are real.  This is like The NeverEnding Story set in modern times and with a twist.  The prince from the fairy tale wants to come to the real world.  How much fun is that?  It's a whole lot of fun and the story has plenty of memorable characters.

While this is not my favorite of Ms. Picoult's books, it is a good read and it's very nice that she co-wrote it with her daughter.

Rating:  7 / 10

September 5, 2017

The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Title:  Firebrand
Author:  Marion Zimmer Bradley
Pages:  605
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Series:  None

Synopsis:  Blending archaeological fact and legend, the myths of the gods and the feats of heroes, Marion Zimmer Bradley breathes new life into the classic tale of the Trojan War - reinventing larger-than-life figures as living people engaged in a desperate struggle that dooms both the victors and the vanquished, their fate seen through the eyes of Kassandra - priestess, princess, and passionate woman with the spirit of a warrior.

Review:  Ms. Bradley is at her best in a novel like this one.  From King Priam to Helen of Troy, from Agamemnon to Odysseus, all of the characters are so life-like and so realistic.  It's like you are there in Troy when the Gods and men brought down the greatest city of the time.

Akhilles is no hero.  He is a spoiled, rotten, horrible person.  Helen of Troy is a women whose fate had been decreed by the Gods.  She is their pawn in the great game to destroy Troy.  Kassandra, the main character, has had visions of blood, fire and death from the time she was a very young girl.  Her 'gift of sight' was tempered with a curse -- no one who heard her prophecies would believe them.

The novel does not end in Troy.  It continues on into Mycenae and beyond, following Kassandra and her story.

Exciting and enchanting, with plenty of gory war scenes, this book is nearly impossible to put down.  In the author's postscript, she mentions that The Iliad makes no mention of Kassandra's fate.  She goes on to say:

"However, tablet #803 in the Archaeological Museum in Athens reads as follows:


I do not know if the tablet actually exists or not.  After reading this novel, I hope that Kassandra did indeed survive to have a family after the fall of Troy.

Rating:  10 / 10

August 29, 2017

Forbidden Trespass by James Axler

Title:  Forbidden Trespass
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  314
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #123


In the war-torn wasteland known as Deathlands, desperation and destruction have replaced dreams and peace. Each day arrives with a new life-threatening challenge for wanderer Ryan Cawdor and his fellow band of survivors….


Bizarre murders are taking place in a fertile farming community, and the locals are quick to point fingers at Ryan and his companions. But they know another culprit is responsible. A colony of mutants has been driven from its underground home, forced to find sustenance in the light of day. And only human flesh will satisfy their hunger. Caught between a rock and a horde of hungry cannibals, Ryan and the companions face an ultimatum—help the cannies reclaim their territory, or risk becoming the next meal. Except something far more sinister— and ravenous—lurks beneath the lush fields…

Review:  Not one of the better books in this series, but it did have plenty of action and thrills.

Rating:  5.5 / 10

August 22, 2017

The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz

Title:  The Face of Fear
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  306
Genre:  Thriller
Series:  None

Synopsis:  To stop a brutal killer, the NYPD enlists the help of clairvoyant Graham Harris. He sees the murders in his mind--sometimes at the moment they are happening. Then he sees the most terrifying vision of all--his own murder...

Review:  This is pretty standard fare, but still pretty good.  It was exciting in many places and the bad guy was delightfully awful.  It is a fast read and I would have finished in more quickly if I hadn't been so busy.

Rating:  6 / 10

August 20, 2017

The Void of Mist and Thunder by James Dashner

Title:  The Void of Mist and Thunder
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  404
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 4

Synopsis:  When an all-consuming void from the Fourth Dimension opens up, unleashing monsters throughout the Realities, Mister George has one last weapon at his disposal--the mysterious and powerful Karma button, which might be even more dangerous than anyone imagined.

Review:  This series did not have what I consider a very happy ending.  This author seems to like to have a huge sacrifice made by his main characters.  In this series and in his children's series The Jimmy Fincher Saga, the main character ended up in a very sad position.

I'm glad I read these books, but I won't be keeping them.

Rating:  6 / 10

August 16, 2017

The Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner

Title:  The Blade of Shattered Hope
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  507
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 3

Synopsis:  Things have changed for Atticus Higginbottom. After the near catastrophe in the Fourth Reality, Tick’s being homeschooled in the fields of science, trying to master the mysterious Chi’karda. But just as he begins to make progress, Mistress Jane reappears, now hideously scarred and much more powerful. She has tapped into the universe’s darkest secret to create the Blade of Shattered Hope, and in her quest to attain a Utopian Reality for the future of mankind, she’s ready to risk billions of lives—including those of Tick’s parents and sisters—to set her plan in motion. Her vengeance knows no bounds and when rumors begin to circulate about the secret scientific experiments taking place at the Factory, Tick and his friends—Sato, Sofia, and Paul—are faced with their most dangerous task yet. And they must not fail; for if they do, the entire universe could cease to exist.

Review:  There's only one book left in this series.  I'm sad in one way and happy in another.  I'm sad because, really, these books are very good.  I'm a little happy because they take me far too long to get through.  It's not boredom or poor writing.  They just aren't easy for me to read for some reason.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

August 13, 2017

The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner

Title:  The Hunt for Dark Infinity
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  446
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 2

Synopsis:  It's been a quiet summer for Tick, Paul, and Sofia, but the latest message from Master George changes everything. The Realities are in danger -- and from something more terrible than Mistress Jane and the mutated Chi'karda of the Thirteenth Reality. People from all Realities are unexplainably going insane. Worse, some Realities are fragmenting, disintegrating into nothingness. Master George has learned that Mr. Chu from the Fourth Reality is working on a mysterious new weapon called Dark Infinity. But no one has any idea how to stop the weapon -- or even if it can be stopped.

To make matters worse, Tick and his friends have been kidnapped, forced to wink from Reality to Reality, solving impossible riddles in order to survive the deadly traps surrounding them.

Mistress Jane and Tick find themselves in a race to reach the weapon first -- but who will destroy it and who will become its master?

Review:  This series is really good so far.  It's fairly easy to read, but not exactly a fast read for me.  I have had trouble finishing these books in a timely fashion.

Still, this one was quite scary and the storyline is unique.  I really liked it.

Rating:  7 / 10

August 8, 2017

The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

Title:  The Journal of Curious Letters
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  503
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 1

Synopsis:  What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created -- the life that would've been? What if those new Realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?

Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is a regular thirteen-year-old boy living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials "M.G.," the letter informs Tick that dangerous -- perhaps even deadly -- events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal that on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen.

Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? As M.G. warns Tick, very frightening things are coming your way. Will you join Tick and his friends on an amazing journey through the Realities? What will your choice be?

Review:  I love James Dashner.  This book was a lot of fun to read, full of good humor and great storytelling.  I don't love it as much as I did his Maze Runner series, but I do love it so far.  I notice on some sites that this set of books is listed as Young Adult.  I'm sorry, but a boy in middle school is not a young adult.  Not yet anyhow.

The other realities are twisted versions of our own and some of them are quite scary.  It's an original story with original characters.  If you loved Harry Potter, you'll probably love Tick Higginbottom too.

Rating:  7.5 / 10
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