December 27, 2011

Playfair's Axiom by James Axler

Title:  Playfair's Axiom
Author:  James Axler
Format: PB
Pages: 316
Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure
Publisher: Golden Eagle, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0373626076
Series: Deathlands, Book 98

Favorite Quote: 
     "What the hell!" Mildred exclaimed when Ryan emerged back to the stairwell with ribs and leg and arm bones stuck through his belt like a sort of armor corset.
     "Door stops," he said, picking up the lantern and handing it to her.
     "I hate this century."

Synopsis (Back Flap):  A legendary warrior of nuke-spawned America, Ryan Cawdor understands the hard-and-fast rule of Deathlands.  Where there is life, death is only a matter of time.  Still, staying alive is the dubious luxury of being quick, hard and willing to abide by a code of honor long abandoned to the wreckage of this postapocalyptic hell zone:  truth and fair play.

St. Louis is a concrete jungle of fetid head, acid rains and cutthroats.  With J.B. Dix gravely wounded, Ryan and his group become captive guests of a local barony.  Freedom lies in the success of a dea:  recapture a runaway teen, daughter of the ailing baron.  But the dangerous power behind the throne rests with a self-proclaimed holy man.  His gruesome manipulation of life and death are about to put the group in a race for their own salvation.

Review:  It was time to revisit my favorite vice, the Deathlands series.  These books are always action-packed and always full of shootouts and terror.  I wasn't disappointed.  All my favorite characters are still here and the story is still fun.

Rating:  8 / 10

December 23, 2011

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Title:  Stardust
Author:  Neil Gaiman
Format: PB
Pages:  333
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Harper, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0061240485
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quotes:  But Faerie is bigger than England, as it is bigger than the world (for, since the dawn of time, each land that has been forced off the map by explorers and the brave going out and proving it wasn't there has taken refuge in Faerie; so it is now, by the time that we come to write of it, a most huge place indeed, containing every manner of landscape and terrain).

He wondered how it could have taken him so long to realize how much he cared for her, and he told her so, and she called him an idiot, and he declared that it was the finest thing that ever a man had been called.

Synopsis (Back Flap):  What happens when you make a promise to bring back a fallen star?  Teenager Tristran Thorn is about to find out, as he ventures beyond the wall of his English countryside town.  After falling in love with the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester, he sets out on a quest to fulfill his promise to his beloved -- and stumbles into the magical realm that lies beyond.

Review:  The movie made from this book is one of my all-time favorites.  I was afraid to read the book to be honest, but it is a great story and I am so glad now that I did read it, although they did change some parts for the film version.  My only complaint is that the wonderful role done by Robert De Niro in the film actually was almost non-existent in the book and he really was one of my favorite characters.  But, that being said, I actually rather liked the original and thought the ending, while not as exciting as the film, was really well-written and tied things up nicely.  It did not detract from my enjoyment that I mostly already knew what would happen either.  Taken totally on its own, this is a really great piece of Fantasy literature.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

December 20, 2011

Daughter of the Wind by Joan Xian

Title:  Daughter of the Wind
Author:  Joan Xian
Format: PB
Pages:  288
Genre:  Romance
Publisher: Red Slipper, 1999
ISBN-13: 978-1885478948
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  The gods had surely forgiven the offenses of his youth and sent him a promise.

Synopsis (PBS):  Marked at birth by an ancient curse, haunted by mysterious dreams, destined to atone for her mother's past, one woman is the key to changing the future. She is Ka-tien, unaware of the secrets of her ancestry - until abducted by a feared Khan, and trapped by his web of seduction, she discovers the power of love to free herself, annul the curse, and find her way back to the man she loves.

Review:  A bodice-ripper set in the Orient.  It is what it is, which isn't much, but it wasn't terrible.  It was a fast enough read with a few interesting tidbits about the life of the people of China.  There was alot of sex and intrigue.  Other than that, this was just a filler book that I had which would complete my A-Z challenge this year.

Rating:  4 / 10

December 16, 2011

The Ransom of Black Stealth One by Dean Ing

Title:  The Ransom of Black Stealth One
Author:  Dean Ing
Format: PB
Pages:  472
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher: Tor, 1990
ISBN-13:  978-0812508574
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "So, what's he like?  And if you tell me what they are like, or she is like, I intend to throw myself into the fireplace."

Synopsis (PBS):  The Ransom of Black Stealth One is about a breakthrough in stealth technology:  an ultralight, ultrasleek plane that is not only invisible to radar, but can vanish without a trace through the use of computer-controlled technology. When a renegade engineer steals a plane, and takes the niece of a CIA chief hostage, the intelligence community mobilizes all its resources in a desperate race to keep Black Stealth One out of the hands of foreign agents.

Review:  Well, I didn't see the big twist at the end.  And I did like the main characters, Petra and Kyle.  But some of this story left me feeling like I was reading a story about how not to write about (or treat) women.  I suppose the target audience might find the scene about a grown woman getting spanked for misbehavior amusing, but I really didn't.  Either way, it was a quick enough read and kept me interested. 

Rating:  6.5 / 10

December 11, 2011

Sunwaifs by Sydney J. Van Scyoc

Title:  Sunwaifs
Author:  Sydney J. Van Scyoc
Format:  PB
Pages:  214
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Berkley, 1981
ISBN-13:  978-0425046456
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "Feed from my strength and you will know, Nadd, sunlight, moonlight, starlight, lifelight; feed and the opaque will become clear and the clear transparent, sunlight, moonlight, starlight, lifelight; the hidden will become apparent and the apparent understood."

Synopsis (PBS):  Conceived during a sunstorm on the planet Destiny, they are the sole survivors of 300-odd afflicted babies. And as children of the entire community they are reared together in Sunwaif Cottage. Without parents, they find kinship in each other and, most important in the vast powers of nature. For the Sunwaifs are not normal.....

Review:  Children born on another planet with amazing powers, created to bring together the humans and the planet they have found.  Their powers encompass everything from healing to death, fortune telling to animal husbandry.  The story is fast to read and well-written.  I enjoyed every minute of it, but I wasn't really surprised since I've always liked this particular author.  While not as good as her Daughters of the Sunstone trilogy, this was a really good read.

Rating:  8 / 10

December 8, 2011

Sliver of Truth by Lisa Unger

Title:  Sliver of Truth
Author:  Lisa Unger
Format:  HC
Pages:  352
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Shaye Areheart, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-0307338464
Series:  Ridley Jones, Book 2

Favorite Quote:  The idea that we might never understand, that our questions might go unanswered until the day we die, almost never occurs to us.  And when it does, it fills us with dread.

Synopsis (PBS):  Bestseller Unger's sensational second thriller (after Beautiful Lies) puts her in the same league as such genre masters as Peter Straub and Peter Abrahams. From the cryptic opening section, which ends with a New York Times reporter finding her husband bleeding to death, Unger grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go. Meanwhile, the FBI informs Ridley Jones, a magazine writer, that her late uncle, Max Smiley (who's really her biological father), is still alive and being sought by assorted international players on all sides of the law. Rapidly finding that little in her life is what it seems, Jones is horrified to be confronted with evidence indicating that Smiley is a misogynistic monster of the first order, who may have played a role in the murder of the reporter's husband. Unger's gifts for dialogue and pacing set this far above the standard novel of suspense and will leave many anxiously awaiting her third book.

Review:  When I read the first book in this series, Beautiful Lies, I didn't realize there was another book that went with it.  It wasn't until later that I realized, happily, that I could read the continuation of Ridley Jones' adventures.  I enjoyed the first one immensely and was worried this one wouldn't be as satisfying.  I'm pleased to say I was wrong.  Not only was this as satisfying, I think I liked it even better than the first one.

Full of fast-paced action and twists and turns, this story kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  That coupled with the insights into the psyche of a killer made for a really great read.  It was such a fast read that I finished it in less than 48 hours.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

December 6, 2011

The Quickie by James Patterson

Title:  The Quickie
Author:  James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Format:  HC
Pages:  357
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Co, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-0316117364
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  I felt an impulse rush from the lizard part of my brain to my right foot, which was hovering over the accelerator. 

Synopsis (PBS):  Lauren Stillwell is not your average damsel in distress. When the NYPD cop discovers her husband leaving a hotel with another woman, she decides to beat him at his own game. But her revenge goes dangerously awry, and she finds her world spiraling into a hell that becomes more terrifying by the hour. — In a further twist of fate, Lauren must take on a job that threatens everything she stands for. Now, she's paralyzed by a deadly secret that could tear her life apart. With her job and marriage on the line, Lauren's desire for retribution becomes a lethal inferno as she fights to save her livelihood--and her life.

Patterson takes us on a twisting roller-coaster ride of thrills in his most gripping novel yet. This story of love, lust and dangerous secrets will have reader's hearts pounding to the very last page.

Review:  Fast, fast read with so many twists my head is still spinning.  Really a good book.  My only complaint is that the main character, Laura, isn't really all that sympathetic.  She brings so much of the trouble upon herself that it's sometimes hard to really tell the difference between her and the 'bad guys'.  The end was a little trite as well.  But, still, I enjoyed the story, especially since it was so easy to read.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

Shadowfane by Janny Wurts

Title:  Shadowfane
Author:  Janny Wurts
Format:  PB
Pages:  214
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Eos, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0061073557
Series:  The Cycle of Fire, Book 3

Favorite Quote:  Cliffhaven's Kielmark whispered, his anger subdued to purest sorrow.  "Taen asked that I keep you safe, and I swore her an oath of debt."

Synopsis (PBS):  Ivainson Jaric, heir to the Firelord's legacy, is caught in a life and death struggle to win his inherited powers. Taen Dreamweaver battles her evil brother, corrupted by demons to slaughter his own kind. If either one of the falls, the Stormwarden will never win free of his icy imprisonment to help their cause. As Scait, Demonlord of Shadowfane, uses his captured human talent for his conquest, his machinations raise an even greater threat, one that could hurl all the world to its destruction , and end mankind's chance of reclaiming freedom among the stars... And so the Cycle of Fire races toward its powerful conclusion!

Review:  This was a fabulous trilogy.  And this was a great conclusion.  I loved it.  I highly recommend getting the omnibus edition.  You won't want to stop reading until the very end.  The only downside?  That this series is over and I don't have another story from it to read.  I am not often surprised by a fantasy series, but this one really fooled me.  I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.

Rating:  10 / 10

November 30, 2011

November 2011

Still reading far too slowly.  I only need to read 5 more books to finish one more of my personal challenges, but I will never finish the pages challenge this year since I still need over 15,000 pages to beat last year.  Maybe December will be better.  I read 6 books and a total of 2051 pages.

1. The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart  (4.5/10)
2. The zero Game by Brad Meltzer  (10/10)
3. Where the Road Ends by Tara Taylor Quinn  (6/10)
4. Final Target by Iris Johansen (6/10)
5. Stormwarden by Janny Wurts  (10/10)
6. Keeper of the Keys by Janny Wurts (9.5/10)

I read 4 Thrillers and 2 Fantasy.  My favorite book is easy.

Favorite book of the month:  Stormwarden by Janny Wurts

Keeper of the Keys by Janny Wurts

Title:  Keeper of the Keys
Author:  Janny Wurts
Format:  PB
Pages:  212
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Eos, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0061073557
Series:  The Cycle of Fire, Book 2

Favorite Quote:  "Mortal fool.  I am the master of space and time.  Are you doubting my ability to safeguard simple timber and cloth?"

Synopsis (PBS):  'THE FIRELORD'S HEIR MUST BE HUNTED DOWN AND SLAIN!' — This is the cry of the Accursed as they sweep through the ruins of doomed Elrinfaer. Their prey is Ivainson Jaric, Keeper of the Keys, heir of the Firelord. The geas placed by the Stormwarden on Firelord has passed down to his son - and Jaric must guard the Keys that keep the Mharg-demons bound.

His blood gifts him with raw power - but not enough. Jaric had hoped to renounce his duty and pass the Keys back to their maker. But the Stormwarden sleeps within ice cliffs of his own making. Now, Jaric must become a Vaere- trained sorcerer land embrace the Cycle of Fire - the mastery of which consumed Firelord's soul, driving him to madness and leading him to betray his own people.

Will the same price be demanded of Jaric? Or can he master THE CYCLE OF FIRE ...?

Review:  Jaric and Taen are really growing on me.  I even like the Stormwarden, although I've barely gotten to know him.  The Vaere remain my favorite characters, especially the gnome-like Tamlin, but the Demons are quickly becoming another favorite.  They are deliciously evil....or at least most of them are.  The Llondian seem to be the exception to that rule.  Not that any of them are demons, since actually they are aliens.  I love it.  Old myths covering the actual scientific facts that need to be protected at all costs.  It's very original.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

November 18, 2011

Stormwarden by Janny Wurts

Title:  Stormwarden
Author:  Janny Wurts
Format:  PB
Pages:  264
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Eos, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0061073557
Series:  The Cycle of Fire, Book 1

Favorite Quote:  The collar's legacy was misery; woe to the mortal who touched it, for his will would serve the powers of Kor's Accursed without hope to the end of life.

Synopsis (PBS):  SUMMON ME, SORCERER, AND KNOW SORROW... Written in the records at Vaere is the tale of the binding of the Mharg-demons by Anskiere, wizard of wind and wave. Anskiere was aided in this task by Ivain, master of fire and earth, for the skills of a single sorcerer were not enough against so formidable a foe. It is further recorded that at the moment of greatest peril, Ivain betrayed his companion out of jealousy. Nonetheless the demons were defeated, the wards sealed, and Anskiere survived to swear a powerful oath against his betrayer. So potent was the magic in the words spoken by Anskiere that sailors who have visited the site claim the winds there repeat them to this day: 'Your offence against me is pardoned but not forgotten. This geas I lay upon you; should I call, you, Ivain, shall answer, and complete a deed of my choice, even to the end of your days. And should you die, my will shall pass to your eldest son, and to his son's sons after him, until the debt is paid...'

Review:  I actually am reading the omnibus edition of The Cycle of Fire trilogy, but I will review each story separately.  It's been far too long since I read a really great Fantasy novel, and this is assuredly a great one.  I love every last bit of it.  The characters are wonderful, especially the Vaere, the supposedly mystical and mythical creatures that are actually futuristic machines, were great.  I loved it.

Rating:  10 / 10

November 11, 2011

Final Target by Iris Johansen

Title:  Final Target
Author:  Iris Johansen
Format:  PB
Pages:  387
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Bantam, 2002
ISBN-13:  978-0553582130
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I believe that's crystal-clear.  But you went through a hell of a lot tonight.  Are you sure that you're able to judge ---"

Synopsis (PBS):  The President’s daughter... — The women determined to save her... — The man with the power to betray a nation... — Melissa Riley arrives at her sister’s isolated Virginia country home to find herself plunged into a deadly drama. There the renowned Dr. Jessica Riley is attempting to draw the daughter of the President of the United States out of a severe catatonic trauma. The last thing young Cassie Andreas saw was an organized team ruthlessly murder her nanny and the Secret Service agents sworn to protect her. But to free Cassie, Melissa and Jessica must trust a mysterious, charismatic man.

Michael Travis made his fortune in the international underworld. He risked everything to save Cassie during that terrible night of bloodshed. And he has entered into a secret bargain with the President. But is his show of concern all a treacherous charade? Melissa and Jessica have no choice but to accept Travis as their ally—and to follow a dangerous plan that will lead them into the world of a killer who’ll destroy anyone standing between him and the...Final Target.

Review:  Iris Johansen is one of my favorite authors.  All her books are good and this one is no exception.  I wasn't especially fond of any of the characters, with the exception of Galen, Michael Travis' partner in crime.  Unfortunately, he was only a secondary character and wasn't around much.  It didn't hurt the story though.  Even though none of the characters were all that likable, the story was good enough to make up for it.

Rating:  6 / 10

November 7, 2011

Where the Road Ends by Tara Taylor Quinn

Title:  Where the Road Ends
Author:  Tara Taylor Quinn
Format:  PB
Pages:  379
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Mira, 2003
ISBN-13:  978-1551667065
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Charles was not in the park.  He might have wandered away.  Might be in the vicinity.  But no one seemed to think that.  They were going under the assumption that the Wainscoat heir had been abducted.

Synopsis (PBS):  The difference between love and obsession isn't easy to define, but Amy knows that sometime in the last five years her son Charles' nanny, Kathy, had crossed that line. Almost a year ago Amy's husband, Johnny, had suggested letting Kathy go, but then Johnny was killed in a boating accident, and Amy didn't want to lose another person close to Charles. Now convinced it's for the best, Amy lets Kathy go, but soon afterward, while Amy and her young son are at an amusement park, Charles disappears. Even though a police investigation clears Kathy of any involvement, Amy knows Kathy is the key to finding Charles. After hiring private investigator Brad, Amy insists on becoming involved in the search. Skillfully conveying the guilt, anger, and despair that haunt her protagonist, Quinn smoothly blends women's fiction with suspense and then adds a dash of romance to construct an emotionally intense, compelling story of the changes one mother goes through as she searches for her missing child

Review:  This was a good book.  Not a great one, but quite good.  The story was easy to read and kept me guessing.  I didn't know who had done it until the very end, although I did begin to suspect. 

A child is abducted and his mother spends all her time trying to find him herself.  It was hard to read the parts about how little Charles was being treated, but other than that it was a really easy read.

Rating:  6 / 10

November 4, 2011

The Zero Game by Brad Meltzer

Title:  The Zero Game
Author:  Brad Meltzer
Format:  HC
Pages:  459
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Warner, 2004
ISBN-13:  978-0446530989
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I'm serious about that chief of staff job, Harold," she calls out as her voice echoes down the long hallway.  "Only eighteen more years until I reach the age requirement.  I'll expect you there bright and early."

Synopsis (PBS):  The New York Times bestselling author of The Millionaires and The First Counsel returns to Wash-ington, D.C., with the story of an insider's game that turns deadly.Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler are best friends who have plum jobs as senior staffers to well-respected congressmen. But after a decade in Washington, idealism has faded to disillusionment, and they're bored. Then one of them finds out about the clandestine Zero Game. It starts out as good fun--a simple wager between friends. But when someone close to them ends up dead, Harris and Matthew realize the game is far more sinister than they ever imagined--and that they're about to be the game's next victims. On the run, they turn to the only person they can trust: a 16-year-old Senate page who can move around the Capitol undetected. As a ruthless killer creeps closer, this idealistic page not only holds the key to saving their lives, but is also determined to redeem them in the process. Come play The Zero Game--you can bet your life on it.

Review:  Government conspiracies.  Killers for hire.  A 8,000 foot deep mine shaft.  From Washington, DC to South Dakota, this story has all these things and more.  It's fast-paced and exciting.  I never saw half of what happened coming and certainly didn't know who half the bad guys actually were. 

I finished this book in just over 24 hours.  It was an incredible read, probably one of the best this year.

Rating:  10 / 10

November 3, 2011

The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Title:  The Yellow Room
Author:  Mary Roberts Rinehart
Format:  PB
Pages:  350
Genre:  Mystery / Thriller
Publisher:  Kensington, 1996
ISBN-13:  978-1575661193
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "More beautiful women than you have sobbed on it," he said.  "But to hell with them.  You're my girl now.  Or are you?"

Synopsis (PBS):  A corpse -- somewhat charred around the edges -- has been discovered in the linen closet of the Spencers' fabulous Maine retreat. No one has a clue as to who she is or how she got there. Certainly not Carol Spencer, who has just arrived to open up her isolated family house for the summer. — Unfortunately, Carol seems to be the prime suspect, judging from the questions the police are asking. She has one advantage over the police: she knows she didn't do it. But now the servants have disappeared, all the telephones have been removed, and, as night rapidly falls, a dangerous killer is closer than she thinks....

Review:  This book was very old-fashioned.  It takes place during WWII so I expect the author was trying to make things as they would be in that time.  I got a little tired of the women being told to sit down and stop being hysterical though.

It was a good enough mystery though.  I thought I knew who done it and I was wrong, so that was a surprise.  This was really just okay, but it was a really fast read.

Rating:  4.5 / 10

November 1, 2011

October 2011

I'm still having trouble reading like I want to.  So many changes lately.  But, I did better than last month, though I doubt I'm going to meet my goal for number of pages read this year. 

I read 5 books and a total of 1932 pages.

1. Interest of Justice by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg (9/10)
2. The White Abacus by Damien Broderick  (5.5/10)
3. Once Upon a Summer Day by Dennis L. McKiernan  (9/10)
4. The Experiment by John Darnton  (8.5/10)
5. Nighteyes by Garfield Reeves-Stevens  (9/10)

I read one Thriller, three Science Fiction and one Fantasy.  I really liked all but one of them so it's hard to pick a favorite.  I think I'll have to choose the thriller this time though.  It really was good.

Favorite book of the month:  Interest of Justice by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

Nighteyes by Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Title:  Nighteyes
Author:  Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Format:  PB
Pages:  433
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Spectra, 1990
ISBN-13:  978-0553285031
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  The stars burned through the aurora.  Something hid among them even now, she knew.  Is there intelligent life on other worlds? her father had asked.  Not anymore, her child had answered.  We won.

Synopsis (PBS):  After years of observing us, abducting us, and experimenting upon us, they have finally made their first mistake.As the sun sets on a lonely Connecticut farmhouse the shadows come, gliding through windows, sliding up walls, enveloping Sarah Gilmour as she searches frantically for her missing child. Then the shadows, with their dark, inhuman eyes, are everywhere, surrounding her as she sobs silently, realizing with horror that they have taken her daughter once again. And that now they have come back--for her.

Review:  Alien abductions.  Time travel.  A future Earth that cannot survive without returning to the past.  There were so many things I loved about this story.  What I loved the best was that I just didn't see it coming --- the aliens are us, humans, from the future, changed beyond all recognition by genetic engineering to survive in a world that we can't imagine.

This book was scary, thrilling, and full of great characters.  Highly recommended.  I actually finished this book yesterday, so it counts towards October.

Rating:  9 / 10

October 24, 2011

The Experiment by John Darnton

Title:  The Experiment
Author:  John Darnton
Format:  HC
Pages:  421
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Dutton, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0525945178
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:  Bacon said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.

Synopsis (PBS):  A world we can't imagine may lie just around the corner . . . — With the brilliant combination of cutting-edge science and nerve-jangling suspense that made his first novel, Neanderthal, a major bestseller, John Darnton returns with The Experiment.On a remote island off the Southeastern coast, a young man named Skyler sees his friends vanish one by one. In a small New York town, a journalist observes a corpse with its fingerprints burned off. In New York City, an expert on twins stumbles upon a case that hits stunningly close to home for her. Soon, all three come together on the trail of a scientific experiment more audacious than they could have conceived--and so secret that none of them may be allowed to survive.

Review:  This was a thriller and a darn good science fiction novel.  All the objections to human cloning come true in this fast-paced story.  A group of children and young adults, all clones of the wealthy and powerful, being held on an island for organ harvesting in hopes of prolonging the 'prototypes' lives far past the norm. 

There are shots given to keep these same people youthful.  Of course, the entire experiment is a failure because the supposed cure for aging turns against the Lab and begins aging them even more quickly. 

The main characters are believable.  I did not see the surprise at the end coming and that's always a good thing.  Really a great read.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

October 20, 2011

Once Upon A Summer Day by Dennis L. McKiernan

Title:  Once Upon A Summer Day
Author:  Dennis L. McKiernan
Format:  PB
Pages:  372
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Roc, 2006
ISBN-13:  978-0451460318
Series:  Faery Series, Book 2

Favorite Quote:  Neither awake nor in a dark dream are perilous blades just as they seem.

Synopsis (PBS):  Borel, Prince of the Winterwood, has been dreaming of a beautiful, golden-haired maiden night after night. He believes that she truly exists-and that she is in terrible danger. To save her, Borel must journey through the land of Faery-and face the dark forces that await him...

Review:  I really love this series.  This book is based loosely upon the tale of Sleeping Beauty.  It's obviously far longer than the original story.  There are great characters, my favorites being Flic, the field sprite, and his companion, Buzzer, the bumblebee. 

This was a fast-paced romp through the land of Faery.  I highly recommend this series for both action and some great fantasy reading.

Rating:  9 / 10

October 17, 2011

The White Abacus by Damien Broderick

Title:  The White Abacus
Author:  Damien Broderick
Format:  PB
Pages:  338
Genre:  Science Fiction
Pubisher:  Avon, 1997
ISBN-13:  978-0380785599
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "Honor is the duty one owes to oneself," the ai tells him.  "It is not on lien to those who chanced to bear you or to some arbitrary system of mad bigotry you just happened to grow up among."


Now there are two sentient races inhabiting the known universe: one as human as Adam. . .the other of robotic mind.They share the Earth in harmonious coexistence. But elsewhere, only those who age and war and die are permitted.On earth, a young human prince has befriended a being far different from himself. But usurpation and fratricide are calling them both to the royal youths embattled home planet--drawing them into a nest of treacherous family conspiracy and cruel, naked ambition where the enemy owns the armies, the power, and the very soul of the world. But the prince will have his revenge, though only ally stands at his side: a peace-loving creature of augmented intelligence in a place where he is am unwelcome stranger--a barbarous world where he is forbidden. . .and feared.

Review:  Much of this book is good.  Some of it isn't.  There were a couple of portions I skimmed because they were so completely confusing and really unrelated to the main story. 

But, the main story was good.  A human, raised out on an asteroid, comes back to Earth and is befriended by one of the intelligent robots that are now part of our society.  They return to the asteroid and change the lives of those backward people, and perhaps all of humanity, forever.

It wasn't one of my favorite Science Fiction novels ever, but I'm still glad I read it.

Rating:  5.5 / 10

October 7, 2011

Interest of Justice by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

Title:  Interest of Justice
Author:  Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
Format:  HC
Pages:  368
Genre: Thriller
Publisher:  Dutton, 1993
ISBN-13:  978-0525936800
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "Nah, I don't want a motorcycle," he said thoughtfully.  "I've decided I want a dog.  Then we'll be a real family.  All we need is a dog.  I never had a dog."

Synopsis (PBS):  The author of the explosive bestseller Mitigating Circumstances again applies her insider's knowledge of the criminal justice system in a riveting new legal thriller. When Judge Lara Sanderstone's sister and husband are murdered, Lara takes in their teenaged son--who may be a suspect--and Lara may be the next victim.

Review:  Now, this was a thriller.  A corrupt judge, a pedophile, a murderer with a penchant for rape, another judge who, while she's a good person, is somehow related to all these, and a hard-nosed cop determined to get to the bottom of a real mystery.  Fast-paced and easy to read, this book was everything that's good in a thriller.

The main characters were believable.  The secondary characters were even better.  The bad guys were really bad.  I loved it.

Rating:  9 / 10

September 30, 2011

September 2011

This was a dismal month for my reading.  I moved, lost internet access, had my computer get fried by lightning, and generally had more stress than I knew what to do with.  I read three books, for a total of 1747 pages. 

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin (8/10)
2. The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville (3/10)
3. Jury of One by David Ellis (8.5/10)

I finished one horror and two thrillers.  There's really not much competition this month for best book, but I liked the last one a lot.

Favorite book for the month:  Jury of One by David Ellis

Jury of One by David Ellis

Title:  Jury of One
Author:  David Ellis
Format:  PB
Pages:  421
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Berkley, 2005
ISBN-13:  978-0425201459
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  But in her three-plus decades on this earth, she was relatively sure that she had never seen a human being move so quickly as Paul Riley raised his hand and called for the check.

Synopsis (PBS):  Children's rights advocate Shelly Trotter is out of her depth in criminal court, defending a teenager accused of killing a cop. And when she discovers that he may be her own son, nothing--not legal ethics, not political pressure--will stop her from keeping him off of death row....

Review:  This book was a fast read.  Two days and done.  It was exciting and had twists and turns that I never saw coming.  I love finding a really good new author.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

September 27, 2011

The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville

Title:  The Magic Circle
Author:  Katherine Neville
Format:  PB
Pages:  552
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Ballantine, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0345423139
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Maybe the mystery is the ancient wisdom, how to use earth's natural rhythms and energies to support us, instead of damming up rivers that are her arteries, ripping merals out of her belly, cutting down trees that are her breath, building walls to confine all life to allotted spaces.

Synopsis (PBS):  When her cousin is slain by an unknown assassin, Ariel Behn becomes the sole heir to a family legacy: a sinister cache of manuscripts that thrusts her into the deadly center of international intrigue--and an age-old enigma that spans the centuries. Whoever assembles and interprets the cryptic clues of this ancient mystery will possess the power to control the fate of the world.

What strange powers lie hidden within the manuscripts? Splashed against a lavish backdrop that sweeps from the rise of the Roman Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall, THE MAGIC CIRCLE finds one woman standing at the center of it all: Ariel Behn. As she races across continents to reveal the dark secrets buried in her family's past, she begins to unlock the chilling truth of the coming millennium. . . .

Review:  This was the strangest book.  It had some thrills, although too few for my tastes.  It was more of a historical fiction, mixed with a philosophy text.  It was pretty dry and boring in many parts. 

It skipped between the times of Jesus and Hitler, returning to present time rather suddenly.

I kept reading, hoping it would get better, but I was pretty disappointed, especially since the ending told me very little about the big secret the main characters were looking for during the other 500+ pages.

Rating:  3 / 10

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Title:  The Passage
Author:  Justin Cronin
Format:  PB
Pages:  774
Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  Ballantine, 2011
ISBN-13:  978-0345504975
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  I am Babcock.  One of Twelve.

Synopsis (PBS):  An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy–abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl—and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Review:  Unfortunately, I've lost internet connection at my home.  I read this book at least 2 weeks ago.  I know it was a great story, but my review is going to be really short since I really can't remember what I wanted to say.

This book was recommended to me by the librarian at the local library.  She was right.  I did like it, very much.

Rating:  8 / 10

August 31, 2011

August 2011

I did better this month than last month, but I'm still not reading as much as I could or would like to.  I read 10 books this month, for a total of 3389 pages.

1. The X-Files: Goblins by Charles Grant (8/10)
2. Lucky by Alice Sebold (10/10)
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer  (7/10)
4. Void Moon by Michael Connelly (8/10)
5. Children of the Night by Dan Simmons  (6.5/10)
6. The Face of the Deep by Jim Young (10/10)
7. The Last Child by John Hart  (9.5/10)
8. The Uncanny by Andrew Klavan (6/10)
9. The X-Men: The Last Stand by Chris Claremont (4/10)
10. The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton  (8.5/10)

There are 3 Science Fiction, 3 Fiction, 3 Thrillers and 1 Horror.  I can't remember the last time I didn't read a fantasy novel during a month.  However, I was very happy with these choices for the most part.  My To Be Read Pile is at 513 today, which is only 3 less than last month.  I have to stop getting new books.

It's a hard choice this month for favorite book, but I really think it's got to be Jim Young's.  It was just so darn good.

Favorite book of the month:  The Face of the Deep by Jim Young

The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton

Title:  The Terminal Man
Author:  Michael Crichton
Format:  PB
Pages:  261
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Ballantine, 1998
ISBN-13:  978-0345354624
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Obviously, nobody would ever try to build such a computer using current technology.  New methods would have to be found -- and there wasn't much doubt in McPherson's mind what the methods would be.  Living tissues.

Synopsis (Amazon):  Harry Benson suffers from violent seizures. When he becomes part of an experimental program that sends electrodes to his brain to calm him, he is in recovery. Until he discovers how to get those soothing pulses more frequently, and then escapes the hopsital--on a murderous rampage with a deadly agenda....

Review:  I love this author.  I especially love finding a book I haven't read by an author I love for sale on the ten cent table at the library.  This book takes a look at how far science could go in the area of mind control.  When I say mind control, I do not mean these doctors are trying to control Harry.  They are trying to help Harry control his seizures using a new and experimental technique.

Of course, it backfires in the most astounding fashion.  The technology was probably ahead of the times when this book was originally published in 1971.  Unfortunately, we have surpassed much of the computer related technologies described as nearly futuristic.  It didn't hurt the story one bit though.  Since I'm not a computer scientist, I could read the story for what it was -- a terrific and horrifying look at how far we might be willing to go to cure what ails humanity.

The characters are well-written.  The action is fast-paced.  The storyline is absolutely believable.  I highly recommend this story.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

August 27, 2011

X-Men: The Last Stand by Chris Claremont

Title:  X-Men: The Last Stand
Author:  Chris Claremont
Format:  PB
Pages:  336
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Del Rey, 2006
ISBN-13:  978-0345492111
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "We strive because we must, that is reality.  But why we strive must never be forgotten."

Synopsis (Amazon):  TAKE A STAND.

The world has acquired a lethal new weapon against X-gene mutants, whose superhuman powers separate them–for better, for worse, forever–from ordinary mortals. Now, for the first time, mutants have a choice: retain their godlike abilities, though their powers may isolate and alienate them, or surrender them and become human. The mutant antibody is called a cure, but its invention may trigger a struggle that destroys every living soul on Earth.

As Magneto declares all-out war against humanity and its dreaded cure, the U.S. president mobilizes the military. But it is Charles Xavier and the X-Men who truly must brace for the ultimate battle, for they alone are powerful enough to determine the outcome.

Lessons of the past are useless in the coming life-and-death conflict, as new players–mutants possessing unprecedented, unearthly skills– take center stage. With so many joining forces with Magneto’s evil Brotherhood, the X-Men will face their ultimate test against an enemy whose forces far outnumber their own.

Now, as the world trembles, the Phoenix slowly rises. . .

Review:  Well, the movie was much better.  But, I didn't really expect much since I realized after starting it that this was a novelization of the screenplay.  That said, it was a pleasant revisit to a story I already loved.  The characters are well-known and well-loved.  The purpose of the X-Men remains true.

I was touched in all the places I should have been and found myself drawn into the action and conflicts.  It was a super quick read.  For a bit of fluff, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  I really don't think this was a fair judge of this author, so I will try to read something original of his one day.

Rating:  4 / 10

August 26, 2011

The Uncanny by Andrew Klavan

Title:  The Uncanny
Author:  Andrew Klavan
Format:  PB
Pages:  401
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Island, 1998
ISBN-13:  978-0440225775
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I am the Everlasting Thing," he said.  "I feed on the marrow of time.  I was here before the oceans turned black with life, and when the deserts are white with death I will remain."

Synopsis (Amazon):  Richard Storm is passionate, hot-blooded, and running out of time.  Sophia Endering is cool, beautiful, and haunted by a centuries-old mystery.  Now the Hollywood filmmaker and the troubled young woman have come together in a race against the unbelievable, the unthinkable, and. . . The Uncanny.

Richard Storm reached the top of his profession producing horror films based on classic English ghost stories.  Now, with his life beginning to unravel, Richard is searching for something to believe in.  Fleeing Hollywood for London, he embarks on a desperate quest: to find evidence that the great old stories bear some truth, that the human spirit lives on after death.

What he finds is Sophia, a woman caught in a nightmare more chilling than any of his film horrors.  Propelled by a furious love, haunted by a terror he can barely confess to himself, Storm pursues Sophia through the labyrinth of her family's madness and their involvement in Nazi art thefts, down a trail formed by the classic ghost stories themselves--into the very heart of the uncanny.  .  .  .

Review:  This book is quite different than I expected.  It's not as scary as I thought it would be, but it was still quite good.  I loved the character Harper the best.  She was smart and witty.  I am still not really sure what The Uncanny is, but it didn't matter.

Much of this novel revolves around a strange take on The Holy Grail and the fact that it can give immortality.  I've certainly never read a more imaginative or original story on this subject.  It also touched on paganism, Satanism, human sacrifice, and ghosts.  This wasn't one of my favorite books, but it was well worth the read.

Rating:  6 / 10

August 20, 2011

The Last Child by John Hart

Title:  The Last Child
Author:  John Hart
Format:  PB
Pages:  419
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  Minotaur, 2010
ISBN-13:  978-0312642365
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  No crows, Johnny thought.  God knows.

Synopsis (Amazon):  Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he'd been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is---confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing . . .

Undeterred by Hunt's threats or his mother's pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.

Traveling the wilderness between innocence and hard wisdom, between hopelessness and faith, The Last Child leaves all categories behind and establishes John Hart as a writer of unique power.

Review:  This is an incredible novel.  Issues of belief and trust are at the root of this story.  Johnny doesn't believe in much anything or trust much of anyone.  Except he believes he can find his sister.  His journey to do so forces him to confront and battle many harsh realities:  his mother's drug use, his father's disappearance, and his own lack of faith.

There was quite a bit of action.  I loved the characters, especially Detective Hunt and the escaped convict, Levi.  No one in this story is untouched or blameless, but in the end it is more about forgiveness than blame.  This is not a happily ever after type of story.  But it ended just as it should, with hope for the future.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

August 17, 2011

The Face of the Deep by Jim Young

Title:  The Face of the Deep
Author:  Jim Young
Format:  PB
Pages:  222
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Pocket, 1979
ISBN-13:  978-0671829308
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  For I am opening the great gateway into the center of the galaxy, just as I closed it when a murderous people came through it to lay waste this world and its inhabitants.  But do not think there is no murder in your people, for if I did not open this largest of our channels, you too would be so confined as to become like Cinala's petrified demon and that demon's race.

Synopsis (Back Cover):  The earthly expedition breathlessly awaited it's arrival on Bok II, home of the galaxy's one other intelligent race.  They had wanted to study its medieval culture, view its Citadel God-head, and warn of the impending explosion of its sun.

But the leaders of Bok II -- found no kinship with their visitors, found only danger and threat, and so they brutally imprisoned these brothers of the mind.

With the aid of the friendly aliens of Nalcq, two of the prisoners escaped.  Rafe O'Sullivan and Lea Bennington had one chance to radio for help; they begin a torturous push to the "far speaker" in the city of Vuul.  They did not know that in their path the Citadel waited, the sight of which could instantly kill, or helplessly enslave....

Review:  This book reminds me why I love good Science Fiction.  The aliens are so like us, yet so different.  From the culture, to the religion, to the system of laws, they are alien and yet not.

The main character, Rafe, is believable and likable.  The aliens are wonderful.  The world is not Earth and absolutely enthralling.  This book is a gem and took less than 24 hours to complete.  It is done in the grand old Sci-Fi style only much more approachable and easy to read than some of the better-known authors.  I loved it.  Completely.

Rating:  10 / 10

August 16, 2011

Children of the Night by Dan Simmons

Title:  Children of the Night
Author:  Dan Simmons
Format:  PB
Pages:  451
Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  Grand Central, 1993
ISBN-13:  978-0446364751
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I swear upon the Blood of Christ and the Blood of the Chalice," I cried, my voice not breaking, "that Vlad Dracul will be avenged, that I will personally drain and drink the blood of Vladislav, and that those who planned and committed this treachery will lament the day when they murdered Vlad Dracul and earned the enmity of Vlad Dracula, Son of the Dragon."

Synopsis (Back Flap):  In a desolate orphanage in what remains of post-Communist Romania, a desperately ill infant is given the wrong blood transfusion -- and flourishes when he's supposed to die.  The discovery of his unique immune system may hold the key to the long awaited cure for cancer and AIDS.  For a dedicated American doctor, he promises the medical breakthrough of a lifetime, as well as a very special love she's never been able to find.  But he also conceals a shockingly intimate link to a clan of vampires and their legendary leader -- the fiend the world calls Vlad Dracula, who, for centuries, has triumphed over countless rival tyrants, including death itself....

Review:  I'd really consider this story more of a Medical Thriller than Horror.  Just because there are vampires in it does not make it Horror.  These vampires are not from legends.  They are normal people with a genetic disease that forces them to consume blood to survive.  A good bit of the book is spent with Dr. Kate Neuman and her efforts to identify and cure this disease before it kills her adopted son.  Even during the more exciting portions of the book, there is quite a bit of medical jargon being tossed around.  This is not to say that it wasn't a good thriller.  It was.  It just wasn't scary.

I will say that I was enthralled by the historical facts about Vlad Dracula.  But, while this was a thrilling read, it was not quite what I expected.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

August 11, 2011

Void Moon by Michael Connelly

Title:  Void Moon
Author:  Michael Connelly
Format:  PB
Pages:  447
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Vision, 2001
ISBN-13:  978-0446609142
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "Remember what you said before about there being a jinx?  It was the void moon, Cass.  That was the jinx."

Synopsis (Amazon):  In L.A. Cassie Black is another beautiful woman in a Porsche: except Cassie just did six years in prison and still has "outlaw juice" flowing in her veins. Now Cassie is returning to her old profession, taking down a money man in Vegas. But the perfect heist goes very wrong, and suddenly Cassie is on the run--with a near-psychotic Vegas "fixer" killing everyone who knew about the job. Between Cassie and the man hunting her are a few last secrets: like who really set up the job, why Cassie had to take the change, and how, in the end, it might all be a matter of the moon...

Review:  I just love finding a new author who I love.  This was a great read.  It was fast paced and thrilling, full of plot twists and unexpected turns.  Up to the end, I wasn't sure what would happen.  It was really a surprise, and a good one at that.

It's not quite on the same level as a really great Grisham thriller, but it's good, even great in some areas.  I loved the heroine, Cassidy Black, the ex-con.  I loved the bad guy, known in Vegas as the Jack of Spades.  I especially loved the fact that there was absolutely no romance in this novel, except in Cass' memories.  This was not a romance novel disguised as a thriller.  It had fast cars, lots of action and quite a few deaths.  It was a thriller.

Rating:  8 / 10

August 7, 2011

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Title:  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Author:  Jonathan Safran Foer
Format:  PB
Pages:  326
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  Mariner, 2006
ISBN-13:  978-0618711659
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I changed the course of human history!"  "That's right."  "I changed the universe!"  "You did."  "I'm God!"  "You're an atheist."  "I don't exist!"  I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cracked up together.

Synopsis (Amazon):  Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

Review:  This is one of the strangest books I've ever read.  There are blank pages, odd pictures, and type that can't be read at all.  Told mostly from the point of view of nine-year-old Oskar, it switches viewpoints and swings between the past and the future so often that I wasn't always sure what was going on.  But, it was still an incredible work of fiction.

While this story is obviously about healing and the paths we take to find it, I came away mostly with a real appreciation for the little coincidences that make up our lives.  Take one random action away and a whole life is changed.  I didn't adore this book, but it certainly made me think.

Rating:  7 / 10
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