January 30, 2012

The X-Files: Ruins

Title:  The X-Files: Ruins
Author:  Kevin J. Anderson
Format: PB
Pages: 264

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper, 1997
ISBN-13: 978-0061057366
Series: X-Files, Book 4

Favorite Quote:  Every time Special Agent Dana Scully ventured into the bowels of FBI Headquarters to see her partner, Fox Mulder, she felt as if she were doing something illicit - or at least unwise.

Synopsis (PBS):  In the most ambitious and exciting X-Files adventure to date, Mulder and Scully fly to the Yucatan jungle to investigate a missing team of archaeologists. Their exploration leads to a strange electronic signal coming from beneath ancient ruins -- a signal aimed upward, at the stars....

Review:  Another of my secret vices.  I love The X-Files.  Still.  Fortunately for me, these stories do not really need to be read in order.  It's a good thing since I've only read #1 and #4.  I haven't gotten the ones between yet, although I will I'm sure.  This was a fast read; amusing, thrilling, scary and full of possible alien evidence that gets lost, leaving Mulder the only believer....except me, of course.  No, this isn't high fiction.  It will never make a 'Top 100' list. But it is a blast from the past and kept me entertained the entire time.  And, really, isn't that more important?

Rating:  8 / 10

January 24, 2012

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Title:  Dark Places
Author:  Gillian Flynn
Format: PB
Pages: 345
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Three Rivers, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0307341570
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  I only heard because I was hiding in a closet while my family died because I was a worthless little coward.

Synopsis (PBS):  "I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ." — Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details –proof they hope may free Ben– Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

Review:  This was a really unusual book.  It skipped between the past, before the murders happened, and the present, which is when Libby is searching for the truth.  Every major character told parts of the story.  I was so sure I knew who had done it.  Unfortunately, I was only partially right.  The author threw a twist in that I never saw coming, until the bitter end.  There were no winners in this story.  None of the characters were particularly likable and some of them were completely awful.  I really didn't like Libby at all, although she showed signs of becoming a better person towards the end.  

While this was a thriller, it was also a family drama.  It told the horrible story of the Day family which, while the murders were awful, had a horrible life before the killings ever happened.  Their problems were sad, scary and absolutely human.  This was a really good story, although I did think the author could have given at least one clue to the surprise ending instead of creating a situation that was mentioned only in the last few chapters, making it impossible to foresee.

Rating:  8 / 10

January 18, 2012

The Mocking Program by Alan Dean Foster

Title:  The Mocking Program
Author:  Alan Dean Foster
Format: HC
Pages: 271
Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller
Publisher: Aspect, 2002
ISBN-13: 978-0446527743
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Who could say what was and was not possible within the mysterious, half-magical mathematical milieu that was the Box?

Synopsis (PBS):  The bestselling author of the Spellsinger and Flinx series delivers a suspenseful high-tech police procedural set in a gritty, near future Los Angeles.Angel Cardenas is a hard-working police detective in 21st century Los Angeles. But Cardenas is no ordinary copas an intuit he possesses the special talent of knowing what others will do in any given situation. When a businessman is found murdered, missing his vital organs and all his money, Cardenas is on the case. His investigation takes him to the victims home, where an explosion nearly kills him. Now, he has to figure out where the woman and the young girl who had been living there have disappeared to. And why doesnt the victims I.D. match his DNA scan? Exploring the underworlds of Los Angeles,Cardenas will stop at nothing in his search for The Mock, a stone-cold killer who will do anything to get what he wants.

Review: This is a thriller set in the far distant future.  It seems to be set in what is now Mexico, but I believe the entire continent in the book is one country, so it's hard to grasp exactly where they are.  

I liked quite a few of the characters, even some of the lesser ones.  Full of strange lingo and odd technologies, the story can be hard to follow, but it's worth the effort.  As usual, Mr. Foster writes a fascinating and fun story.

Rating:  7.5 / 10

January 11, 2012

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Title:  House Rules
Author:  Jodi Picoult
Format: PB
Pages: 532
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Washington Square Press, 2010
ISBN-13:  978-0743296441
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Jacob stares right at me.  It hurts.  It actually hurts.  "House rules," he says simply.  "Take care of your brother:  he's the only one you've got."

Synopsis (PBS):  Jodi Picoult wraps another stirring melodramatic plot around a misunderstood modern affliction in this tale of Jacob Hunt, an 18-year-old murder suspect who has Asperger's Syndrome. — Jacob's mother Emma and his little brother Theo have gradually become reluctant satellites of Jacob and his condition, forced to make unwanted adjustments to their own lives in order to better suit his needs. Jacob is obsessed with forensic science, and has the odd habit of appearing at crime scenes and bombarding the investigators with unwanted advice. At the sight of one particularly heinous crime, Jacob's criminal insights prove to be a bit too precise, and he is soon charged with murder. The situation is compounded when Jacob's lack of emotion, his social awkwardness, and his involuntary tics are read as the callous reactions of a psychopath.

Emma's only hope of saving her son lies in the hands of a young attorney who must not only combat the prosecution's convincing evidence, but also his own client's tendencies to make himself appear guilty.

Review:  Wow.  Just wow.  I remember now why Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  I didn't really know much about Asperger's Syndrome, but I certainly feel like I do now.  I knew the reason Jacob did what he did before it was revealed, but it didn't take away from the story one bit.  The characters are all great.  I especially liked the older brother, Theo, and the police officer, Rich.  But, my favorite was the lawyer, Oliver.  Really, this is just a fabulous story with plenty of emotion and action and all the things that make a story great.  Ms. Picoult never disappoints.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

January 4, 2012

The Veil by Diane Noble

Title:  The Veil
Author:  Diane Noble
Format: PB
Pages: 377
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: WaterBrook, 1998
ISBN-13:  978-1578560141
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "Justice has to be seen to, Hannah.  One way or another."

Synopsis (PBS):  A shroud of secrecy cloaks a new nineteenth-century sect known simply as the Saints. But that veil is about to be drawn away. Amidst the majestic beauty of 1857 Utah, the members of one secluded religious group claim to want nothing more than to practice their beliefs without persecution. Yet among them are many who engage in secret vows and brutal acts of atonement…all in the name of God.

But one young woman, Hannah McClary, dares to question the truth behind the shroud. Soon Hannah and the young man she loves–Lucas Knight, who has been trained from childhood to kill on behalf of the Church–find themselves fighting for their very lives.

As a group of unwary pioneer families marches into Utah toward a tragic confrontation with the Saints at a place called Mountain Meadows, Hannah and Lucas are thrust into the most difficult conflict of all–a battle for truth and justice–even as they are learning for the first time about unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.…

Review:  I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did.  It's got a lot of religious references, but that's to be expected since it is about the Mormons.  It had so much historical information that I really didn't know and it was surprising and horrifying and almost too much to handle in places.  The killing of the pioneer families was terrible.  Thankfully, the book ended on an upbeat note.  It's a good book and it's well worth a read but beware, it's not an easy story in places.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

What's in a Name Challenge

Last challenge I'm going to join, I swear! I'm joining the Whats in a Name Challenge hsted by Beth Fish Reads.

January 2, 2012

Outdo Yourself Challenge

I'm doing the Outdo Yourself Challenge hosted by The Book Vixen this year. I'll start out trying for the level of Getting My Heart Rate Up (1-5 more books)

New Authors Challenge

And I'm doing the New Authors Challenge again by Literary Escapism. I'm going to try to do 50 again this year.

100+ Books in a Year

Well, I'm absolutely doing the 100+ books in a year again.  It's hosted by Book Chick City and I loved it last year!

2011 Challenges

Well, I met all my challenges this year except that I didn't read more pages than last year.  Here are the links for everything I did.  I'll be looking for new challenges soon.

Personal Challenges

100+ Books in a Year

New Authors Challenge

Fantasy Reading Challenge

Speculative Reading Challenge

I read 2446 pages in December and 8 books.
Shadowfane by Janny Wurts (10/10)
The Quickie by James Patterson  (8.5/10)
Sliver of Truth by Lisa Unger  (9.5/10)
Sunwaifs by Sydney Van Scyoc  (8/10)
The Ransom of Black Stealth One by Dean Ing (6.5/10)
Daughter of the Wind by Joan Xian  (4/10)
Stardust by Neil Gaiman  (8.5/10)
Playfair's Axiom by James Axler  (8/10)

My favorite book of the month is Shadowfane by Janny Wurts (10/10)

My favorite book of the YEAR is Phytosphere by Scott Mackay (10/10)
Back to Top