Sunday, July 29, 2007

#64 -- Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

From the Publisher
Loop me in, odd one. The words, spoken in the deep of night by a sleeping child, chill the young man watching over her. For this was a favorite phrase of Stormy Llewellyn, his lost love, and Stormy is dead, gone forever from this world. In the haunted halls of the isolated monastery where he had sought peace, Odd Thomas is stalking spirits of an infinitely darker nature

Through two New York Times bestselling novels Odd Thomas has established himself as one of the most beloved and unique fictional heroes of our time. Now, wielding all the power and magic of a master storyteller at the pinnacle of his craft, Dean Koontz follows Odd into a singular new world where he hopes to make a fresh beginning—but where he will meet an adversary as old and inexorable as time itself.

St. Bartholomew’s Abbey sits in majestic solitude amid the wild peaks of California’s high Sierra, a haven for children otherwise abandoned, and a sanctuary for those seeking insight. Odd Thomas has come here to learn to live fully again, and among the eccentric monks, their other guests, and the nuns and young students of the attached convent school, he has begun to find his way. The silent spirits of the dead who visited him in his earlier life are mercifully absent, save for the bell-ringing Brother Constantine and Odd’s steady companion, the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

But trouble has a way of finding Odd Thomas, and it slinks back onto his path in the form of the sinister bodachs he has met previously, the black shades who herald death and disaster, and who come late one December night to hover above the abbey’s most precious charges. For Odd is about toface an enemy who eclipses any he has yet encountered, as he embarks on a journey of mystery, wonder, and sheer suspense that surpasses all that has come before.

My Opinion
I liked this story of Odd Thomas better than the last book. I really enjoy Odd's personality. He is a humble hero, with a wonderful, yet simple, sense of humor. I love the way he interacts with people as well as with the spirits of those who are attracted to him after death.

A lot of this book is about his interaction with the residents, the nuns, brothers, children, guests, and spirits at the Sanctuary where he has retreated after his horrible experiences in the last book. While he is trying to shelter in this out of reach world, he again encounters the horrible bodachs that always fortell of tragedy, suffering and death. He has to try to figure out what is coming and how to stop it. With the help of a few trusted and quite memorable characters, Odd find himself once again in the role of a savior and hero.

The ending of the book makes it quite clear that Koontz is not finished telling us about the adventures of Odd Thomas and I for one look forward to more of Odd's tales.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hidden Treasures West of Mars Summer Reading Contest

It's time for the Hidden Treasures West of Mars Summer Reading Contest!

The rules are simple:

1. Find a book that's a Hidden Treasure. That means a book that hasn't made it to a best-seller list anywhere that you can find. A suggested reading list is available at Feel free to find your own treasure, though.
2. The book MUST be from a royalty-paying publisher. If in doubt, ask.
3. Read it.
4. Post a review somewhere on the Internet between July 15 and August 15.
5. Sign the Mr. Linky at West of Mars Blog. Include the permalink for your review.
6. Yes, you can use a Hidden Treasure book that fulfills another contest or reading challenge.
7. Yes, you can review more than one book.
8. If, for some reason, you don't want to win a prize, let Susan know.
9. If you have suggestions for the Hidden Treasures Suggested Reading List, or a prize for the winners, drop Susan an e-mail, .
10. Prizes will be awarded August 20. Winners will be contacted and winning list will be posted no later than 22 August; be sure to have a way for us to contact you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

#63 -- Shade's Children by Garth Nix

From the Publisher
The Key to Survival Rests in the Hands of Shade's Children

In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no child shall live a day past his fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the child is the object of an obscene harvest resulting in the construction of a machinelike creature whose sole purpose is to kill.

The mysterious Shade — once a man, but now more like the machines he fights — recruits the few children fortunate enough to escape. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords' power — and the key to their downfall. But the closer the children get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become ...

My Opinion
This was a fantastic book!! Kind of made me think of a junior version of 'Battlestar Galactica', which is one of my favorite television shows.

The book takes place in a futuristic setting. One day all of the people over the age of 14 just disappear leaving behind nothing but children. Shortly after the adults disappear the children are rounded up and taken to dormitories where they are raised until their 14th birthday at which time they are taken away by creatures, to the Meat Factory. The Meat Factory is a holding area where the children are help until their brains and bodies are used to create more creatures, whose sole purpose is to participate in horrible war games for the enjoyment of 'overlords'. These overlords think of the children as nothing more than animals and treat them as such.

While most children are resigned to the fact that they will be taken away when on their 'Sad Birthday', some manage to escape, and try to stay alive, constantly running from the various creatures who hunt them down.

This book follows a group of 4 of those survivors who are taken in by 'Shade', a computer program that holds the consciousness of an adult man left over from before the Change. Shade shelters and trains the children to survive against the creatures, while at the same time, using them to gather information so that he can 'set things right'. His ultimate goal is to defeat the overlords and return the world back to the way it was before. But at what price?

This book is non stop action and I had a very hard time putting it down once I started it. What a fantastic storyteller Garth Nix is and I am looking forward to reading more of his books in the near future.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

#62 -- Mammoth by John Varley

From the Publisher
An intact wooly mammoth is discovered frozen in Canada. Huddled next to the huge creature is the mummified body of a Stone Age man around 12,000 years old. And he is wearing a wristwatch.

My Opinion
I love a good time travel book and this one has all the ingredients for one. It does get a little bogged down and side tracked about mid way through the book, but overall it is a good read.
Howard Christian is a very rich man who buys whatever he wants, and at the moment he wants to breed a Woolly Mammoth, so he hires a team to find and excavate a frozen Mammoth, so that he can have the DNA extracted to create a elephant/mammoth hybrid. When the crew discovers a caveman's body frozen next to the carcass wearing a very modern wristwatch, Howard's obsession takes a turn. A metal briefcase lying next to the caveman has to be a time machine, so Howard goes about hiring the best of the best to figure out how to make it work, which is Matt Wright, the smartest mathematician around.
In the meantime, Howard continues his quest to breed the Mammoth by hiring Susan Morgan, an elephant trainer, to help care for the elephant that has been artificially inseminated with the elephant/mammoth embryo.
Working next door to each other in a warehouse on their separate projects, Susan and Matt meet and fall in love. When an accident sends the two of them back in time, to the Ice Age, and then home again, with half a dozen living, breathing Mammoths accidentally transported forward in time, their lives change forever.
Who was the caveman found next to the Woolly Mammoth and how does it relate to Matt & Susan's jaunt back in time?
This really is a good story, with a fantastic, ending that brings the whole thing together and makes you wonder? Is time travel possible?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

#61 -- Resurrection Dreams by Richard Laymon

A man discovers he has the ability to bring people back from the dead, and he's determined to work his magic on the girl of his dreams--but first he'll have to kill her.

My Opinion
One thing I can say for Laymon, he can be counted on to deliver if you are looking for sick & twisted.

Melvin Dobbs is the kind of guy that no one likes and everyone likes to pick on and for good reason. Melvin's obsession is to resurrect the dead. After a high school stunt to resurrect a dead cheerleader backfires, Melvin is sent away to an institution where he is 'cured' of his obsession, or so he says.

Vicki was the only girl in high school who ever stood up for Melvin. Now she is back in Elsworth after completing her medical school and residency, to practice medicine in her hometown. But along with her education she brings nightmares of Melvin 'resurrecting' the dead cheerleader. She knows that she is going to have to face Melvin again, but she never dreams that she will become the driving force behind his obsession.

Melvin is determined to prove that he is 'Melvin the Magnificent' and bring back someone from the dead. The lack of cadavers to experiment on does not stop him either. He just creates his own. After many tries he is finally successful in resurrecting a nurse that he has murdered. The ensuing horror that comes with his success is a sick and twisted ride through the imagination of Laymon.

A good zombie story, with interesting characters. I quite enjoyed it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

#60 -- Homebody by Orson Scott Card

From the Publisher
Damaged Houses
A master craftsman, Don Lark could fix everything except what mattered, his own soul. After tragedy claimed the one thing he loved, he began looking for dilapidated houses to buy, renovate, and resell at a profit--giving these empty shells the second chance at life he denied himself.
Damaged Souls
Then in a quiet Southern town, Lark finds his biggest challenge: a squalid yet sturdy mansion that has suffered decades of abuse at the hands of greedy landlords and transient tenants. While two charming old neighbor ladies ply him with delicious cooking, they offer dire warnings about the house's evil past. But there is something about this building that pushes Lark on, even as its enchantments grow increasingly ominous. Will finishing the house offer Lark redemption, or unleash the darkest forces of damnation upon him?

My Opinion
Well I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in this one. I suppose because I started the book expecting to read a horror book, and I had high hopes because of the author, maybe I was setting myself up for disappointment from the beginning.

What we have is a tame ghost story that is really more of a love story than anything. It is about the pain of loss, and trying to do the right thing.

The book is well written, although there were some things that just seemed to be extra padding and unnecessary for the story. Kind of like a movie that still needs to be edited.

But the plot was good and the characters were interesting. Don Lark is a man who has lost everything. When his baby girl dies due to the negligence of her mother, his ex-wife, he is devastated. He deals with his loss by isolating himself. The way that he goes about isolating himself is by purchasing old run down houses and restoring them into beautiful homes, which he then sells. When he purchased the Bellamy house and moves in to begin renovations, he encounters a couple of odd old ladies who live next door and warn him that the house is no good and needs to be destroyed. He also comes across a homeless girl who seems to have taken up residence in the old house and has no where else to go. So he let's her stay as he lives in and works on the old house. These characters all come together as the history of the old house unfolds and Don learns that some houses have their own power.

The first 2/3 of the book is really getting to know Don, while the action happens in the last 1/3 of the the book. There are times when the story drags, but overall it is well written and a solid story.

Monday, July 16, 2007

#59 -- Lullabye by Particia Wallace

*From the Publisher*
Eight-year-old Bronwyn knew she wasn't like other girls. She didn't have a mother. At least, not a real one. Her mother had been in a coma at the hospital for as long as Bronwyn could remember. She couldn't feel any pain, her father said, it was just like sleeping--only she never woke up.....

But on visiting days, when Bronwyn sat with her mother, she knew it wasn't true that she couldn't feel anything. Her mother was angry. Angry at the nurses and doctors for the way they treated her. Angry at her own helplessness.

But soon, very soon, she would be helpless no longer. And then she would show them all the true meaning of suffering.

*My Opinion*
While this book is listed as horror on the spine, I would not really call it horror. It is however a good book that keeps you involved and reading. The book centers around the English family. Deborah went into a coma while 8 months pregnant with her child. Her deeply devoted husband can not stand the thought of losing her and moves her to a long term care facility where he makes a life for himself and his daughter while still holding out hope that his wife will one day wake up. AT 8 years old, Bronwyn doesn't have a mother like the other kids do. Her mother lays comatose in a hospital bed. The horror part of the book comes when people in the hospital start to die. People who have been caring for Deborah English as she lay in a coma. But really that is just a small part of the story. What the books is really about is how a family deals with life when a loved one is in a coma. How a child grows up knowing that she has a mother, but not really having one. How a man who loves his wife more than anything else in the world deals with the fact that she is gone and he has to go on with life.

While the deaths themselves are somewhat horrific, the climax of the book is really quite tame. Overall a good read as long as you are not expecting a lot of true horror.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

#58 -- Grave Peril: Dresden Files #3 by Jim Butcher

*Publishers Weekly*
Wizard Harry Dresden stars in the third installment of the Dresden Files (following Fool Moon), a haunting, fantastical novel that begins almost as innocently as those of another famous literary wizard named Harry. In the opening scene, Dresden and his knight friend, Michael, battle the ghost of a woman who is terrorizing a local hospital's maternity ward. From there, the novel quickly evolves into an unorthodox tale spiced with sexual innuendo and subtle humor (Dresden carries his ghost-hunting gear in an old Scooby-Doo lunch box). Due to the weakened barrier between the spirit world which Butcher refers to as "the nevernever" and the actual world, obsessive and violent ghosts are on the loose in modern-day Chicago, and they seem to be targeting Dresden and Michael. Horny vampires and possessive demons join the mix as Dresden journeys into the spirit world to hunt down the villains who are terrorizing him and his friends.

*My Opinion*
Wow!! These Dresden Files books just keep getting better. This one is non-stop action, you barely get a chance to catch your breath. Harry has to deal with the Nightmare, an evil that attacks in your dreams. It seems to be targeting Harry and those who are close to him. The plot is multi-layered and keeps you involved. I loved the character of Michael and his feisty wife Charity. Not sure that I like the direction of Harry and Susan's relationship and all I can say about the ending is YIKES!! Absolutely fantastic book!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

#57 -- Lie to Me by David Martin

Library Journal
Certainly not for the squeamish, this taut, gripping, and bloody thriller details the mad ravings of a warped personality. After seven years in prison, Philip confronts someone from his past, tortures her wealthy husband, and demands money. The following day, when the woman reports her husband's gory ``suicide,'' policeman Theodore Camel, astute but just marking time, suspects something more. As the plot alternates between the ex-con's depraved psychosexual fantasies and Camel's perseverance, tension takes hold, shaking the reader with the possible reality of it all. Scary.

My Opinion

Excellent book. While the story is sick and twisted and definitely not for the squeamish it has a great plot and is very fast moving. I did not want to put it down once I started. While I was able to figure out some of the plot, other things took me completely by surprise. Excellent SS book!!! I will be looking for more books by this author.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

#56 -- Mates, Dates, and Inflatable Bras by Cathy Hopkins

*From the Publisher*
A turning point is exactly what Lucy Loverling does NOT want. Everything is changing around her, and suddenly she has to make all sorts of decisions. Everyone else knows who and what she wants to be except her. Izzie has become friends with the glamorous Nesta, and Lucy isn't certain she likes a threesome. Nesta and Izzie look sixteen, but Lucy, at fourteen, can still pass for a twelve-year-old.
But then one day Lucy sees the most wonderful boy crossing the street, and things do start to change -- in all areas of her life...

*My Opinion*
This was a quick, fun teen read. If I come across any more in the series I will definitely pick them up. Since I am American it was fun reading a book about a teen from England. The slang and such was a lot of fun to figure out.

#55 -- Must Love Dragons by Stephanie Rowe

*From the Publisher*
*Single Female Dragon seeks love and good times in the big city.*
Theresa Nichols is a red-blooded young woman-trapped in a red-hot dragon's body. Until the chance for a real-live date with her cyber boy toy Zeke sends her running to Satan to strike a deal. After all, when you've gone without sex for over two hundred years, a night of good lovin' is worth your eternal soul, right?
*Single Male, ex-Dragon Slayer, seeks fiery sex goddess.*
Zeke Siccardi is a private detective trying to live a normal life-and outrun his dragon-slaying past. Not easy to do when his sexy online paramour turns out to be a dragon with a contract out on her life. Now Zeke has to protect a woman he was born to kill. But for the love of a fire-breathing sexpot, how hard could it be?

*My Opinion*
I enjoyed this second book of Rowe's almost as much as I did the first.
This book centers on Theresa, Justine's Dragon best friend who we met in 'Date Me Baby, One More Time'. Yes it is a bit far fetched at times, but if you can let yourself go and enjoy the wonderful characters that Rowe brings into the stories it is well worth the read. Looking forward to reading the next one as well.

#54 -- Entertain the End (Everworld #12) by KA Applegate

*From the Publisher*
Finally, the answers to all the mysteries start to fall into place in the last volume of K.A. Applegate¹s best-selling young adult series. David, April, Christopher, and Jalil will now learn the truth.

*My Opinion*
Fantastic ending to a great series of books. I really enjoyed this series.
While this last book ties up a lot of loose ends and brings about a great ending, there is a little shimmer of a hope that Applegate could one day decide to revisit EverWorld. There is plenty left to write about and I for one would welcome more of this series.

#53 -- Mystify The Magician (Everworld #11) by KA Applegate

*From the Publisher*
David, Christopher, April, Jalil and Senna managed to escape Neptune's deadly clutches and have washed Eire. It's ancient Ireland, complete with giants, leprechauns, a band of gods and goddesses and druids. Senna chooses this haunting location to unleash a power-hungry scheme that gets everyone in far more danger than Senna had ever imagined.

*My Opinion*
This is the best of the EverWorld books yet. I ended up sitting up very late (or early) finishing it because I could not put it down.

After escaping Neptune the teens wash up on the shores of Ireland. Into a village where they live by Merlin's example. In peace with the rest of Ireland and have already adopted the 'telegraph' that the teens had introduced the Fairies to earlier. This is also where Senna's awful plan comes to life and the teens are in a battle for their lives with their own kind. I really hate for this series to end, I have enjoyed it so much. But alas all good things come to an end, so I will be starting on the last book tonight.

#52 -- Understand The Unknown (Everworld #10) by KA Applegate

*From the Publisher*
There are some things that you know you'll never do. And though you may dream of riding a winged horse, or speaking to a dragon, you pretty much know it isn't gonna happen. Unless, of course, you find yourself in Everworld. David, Christopher, April, and Jalil are in Everworld. And even though they've found Senna, the person they thought would be their ticket home, Everworld holds onto all of them even tighter than before. Now they have to find out why.

But not before another encounter with the surreal. David and the others have been called back to Olympus to help the gods battle Ka Anor, and the fastest way to get there is by boat. Unfortunately, Neptune, ruler of Everworld's sea, doesn't like trespassers. Now David and his friends are about to discover the lost city of Atlantis...

*My Opinion*
Love this series of books. In this one the teens are taken prisoner by Neptune while trying to cross the ocean to reach Mt. Olympus. They also discover Atlantis which is run by another 'real' world person, the first one they have met since arriving in EverWorld.

Friday, July 6, 2007

#51 -- Inside The Illusion (Everworld, No. 9) by K.A. Applegate

From the Publisher
Senna. She is the reason David, Christopher, April, and Jalil even know about Everworld. She is the one who they’ve been chasing all over this strange parallel world to get some answers. To show them how to get home again. To get back to the real world.

So now it’s her turn to tell her side of the story. To explain why she dragged her friends into a world of winged horses and wizards. A place that once only existed in their imaginations. Now it’s her turn to explain Everworld….

My Opinion
Finally we get to hear from the witch herself, Senna. The kids finally make it to EverWorld Egypt and encounter another dangerous god, Sobek, Amazons, and Senna’s real mother. We also learn about Senna. How she came to be what she is and what she plans to do. Great addition to the series.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

#50 -- Brave the Betrayal (Everworld #8) by KA Applegate

From the Publisher
Jalil, David, Christopher, and April have definitely made some mistakes since they’ve been trapped in Everworld. You have to admit, it’s got to be pretty tough not to screw up when you find yourself in a place that makes absolutely no sense. So, it’s pretty understandable that Jalil and the others wouldn’t think twice about trading a chemistry book for an unbelievably sharp knife. For protection. After all, the Coo-Hatch seemed harmless enough. Just another group of transplanted aliens who managed to end up in Everworld.

Now it seems those same aliens are combining the textbook information with their own technology to create horrific new weapons. And guess who they plan to use them on…

My Opinion
With a detour through and Africa created by the gods the teens are heading to Egypt to find Senna’s real mother, a witch herself. While in Africa they run into a demigod who demands a sacrifice be made to his gods. When April & Jalil refuse to sacrifice anything, his wrath is horrible.

A side note on this one—there is a lot more on the topic of the kids in the ‘real’ world in this book. How being in EverWorld and then crossing over into the real world when they sleep is affecting them in both worlds and how they are somehow becoming less in the real world and more in EverWorld.

#49 -- Gateway to the Gods (Everworld #7) by KA Applegate

*From the Publisher*
David, Christopher, Jalil and April have finally found allies in Everworld who stand half a chance against the evil Ka-Anor. They've joined forces with the mighty Greek Gods to defend against the Hetwan's latest attack.

*My Opinion*
Another great one! In this book the teens are on Mt. Olympus and must help the gods to fight the invasion of the Hetwan since they have no clue how to defend themselves. David leads the mortal forces in the battle to save EverWorld from Ka Anor.

Monday, July 2, 2007

#48 -- Fear the Fantastic by KA Applegate (EverWorld #6)

*From the Publisher*
As Christopher and his friends continue to survive in Everworld until they can find a way back to their own world, they find themselves witnessing the Hetwans preparing to defeat Greek lands and battling the repulsive and dangerous Ka Anor, who is planning to invade Mount Olympus.

*My Opinion*
Another great EverWorld adventure. In this book told by Christopher, the teens escape Fairy Land with their lives and some added riches. They cross into the land of Ka Anor though, the Eater of Gods. The one who has created all of the problems that EverWorld and the kids now face. He is the reason that Loki wants to open a gateway to the Real World. In this book they have to battle the Hetwan, a bug-like alien species who serve Ka Anor. They also meet one of the original Gods from Olympus and must try to help save him from being killed by Ka Anor.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

#47 -- Discover the Destroyer by KA Applegate (EverWorld #5)

*From the Publisher*
Welcome to the land where all of your dreams and nightmares are very real-and often deadly.

*My Opinion*
Another great book added to the series. In this book told by Christopher, the group heads to Fairy Land to try to retrieve items that the Fairies have stolen from 'Nidhoggr' the Granddaddy of the Dragons. They have 6 days to complete the task or they die. How bad can fairies be after all they have been through?