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
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