Sunday, January 27, 2008

Them by Katherine Applegate

Remnants #3

Of the Eighty people chosen to escape Earth's destruction, only a handful survived. And those that made the five-hundred-year trip through time have not emerged unscathed. They've landed among the truly bizarre, and it is now time to confront their strange new reality. Despite the enemies they know are out there, Jobs's and Mo'Steel's group venture out to explore, and soon discover what looks like a recreation of the Tower of Babel. Within the tower, they find an alien creature – wounded, but a potential threat nonetheless. Still, they decide to follow it deeper into the tower in an effort to unlock its secrets.

My Opinion
In this third book of the series the group of survivors sets out to explore the new world they have landed on. Soon after the set out they discover that this is not a planet, but a ship. A ship large enough to hold worlds, that seems to be controlled by a super computer who is using their own data stores from Earth to create an environment for the survivors, based on artwork. But the artwork it chooses is a combination of artists who created paintings of atrocities that only a crazed mind could create.

What was one group of survivors becomes two separate factions. The normal group and the misfits. Who fits where is slowly determined by emerging mutations and each individuals desire or resistance to follow the self appointed leaders. Jobs, Mo-Steel, Olga (Mo-Steel's mom), Violet and Billy Weir form one group. The others form another, although some do not fit in as well as others. Tamara, who was pregnant when the shuttle took off from Earth, and her 'baby' that was born while the others were in hibernation, seem to be an entity of their own. 2Face who is taking care of Jobs younger brother Edward, finds herself fighting for her very life when the baby demands a human sacrifice. And Edward seems to have developed a mutation to camouflage himself that is becoming evident to the rest of the group.

While these two separate groups battle demons straight from the crazed mind of a long dead artist from Earth, as well as the every present Riders, they make startling discoveries about the ship that they are on and wonder if they can indeed survive.

Destination Unknown K.A. Applegate

Remnants #2

My Opinion
In this second book of the Remnant series the survivors of the destruction of Earth wake up from what they discover is a 500 year hibernation only to discover that while the new hibernation technology worked for some, others were not so lucky. Out of the 80 survivors less than 1/3 of them wake up from their long journey to discover that the world they have landed on, while able to support human life, is not very friendly towards it.

Jobs and his younger brother wake up to find that both of their parents have failed to survive the journey. Mo-Steel and his mother wake up but his father does not. As the survivors come to grips with the fact that there are very few of the remaining humans left alive they begin to explore the world they have landed on. Thanks to one survivor, Violet, they discover that the environment that they find themselves in is a mishmash of artwork that was added to the memory banks of the shuttle when it left Earth. It seems that someone has attempted to make the survivors feel at home, while not understanding the data that they have discovered. On top of the strange environment the survivors encounter Riders, a strange alien life form who attack and kill one of the survivors without provocation. As the survivors struggle for their survival they explore this strange new world that they now have to call home.

The Mayflower Project by Katherine A. Applegate

Remnants, No 1

The end of the world. Not something most people think about. Not something we even expect to ever really happen. But what if you found out an asteroid the size of New Jersey were about to collide with the earth? What would you do? t's the year 2011, and that's the question Jobs is asking himself. The question he asked his family. He certainly didn't expect the answer he got. Didn't expect that in a very short time he and his family would be some of the lucky few selected to board a revamped space shuttle... A shuttle that would leave Earth just before the asteroid destroys it. But there are a couple of catches: The shuttle has no ultimate destination; and all those aboard will be placed in a state of suspended animation---indefinitely. Or at least until the computers find a habitable planet for them to live.

My Opinion
I picked up the first 4 books in this series because I absolutely loved Applegate's Everworld series. So I thought I would try this one as well. I love sci-fi and like to read 'end of the world' books so this sounded right up my alley. I decided to go ahead and start the series even though I only have the first 4 and there are a total of 14, because my dd read this book and said that she did not care for it.

I am currently on #4 and all I can say is 'Waaahhhhaaaa!! I don't have anymore of the series yet!'

I love this series!

In this first book we meet the main characters, Jobs, Mo-steel, 2Face and others as they discover that Earth is doomed by a huge asteroid that will hit in less than 2 weeks. The only plan to save humanity is a quickly thrown together hope of survival for a select few called 'The Mayflower Project'. What is essentially a refurbished old shuttle with a bunch of as yet untested technology quickly added on. The hope is that the 80 chosen will be able to launch into space prior to the asteroid strike and use a new hibernation technology to travel in space in search of a planet that can support this ragtag remainder of humanity.

The chosen are folks who work for or have contacts with NASA and their families, so while there is an intersting mix of people, it is nothing like a group you would expect to be formed when they are to be the only humans left alive.

Jobs-- a 14 year old techie, and his best friend, Mo-Steel, an adrenaline junkie are the main characters in the story. We follow them from the first discovery of the impending dome of the planet Earth to the final moments of Earth's existence as witnessed by Jobs and Mo-Steel as they are floating in space attempting to repair the solar sails on the shuttle so that the shuttle can begin it's journey to the unknown. The ride from the discovery of the asteroid to the moment of the destruction of Earth is a roller coaster that you don't want to get off.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

With each of his #1 New York Times bestsellers, Dean Koontz has displayed an unparalleled ability to entertain and enlighten readers with novels that capture the essence of our times even as they bring us to the edge of our seats. Now he delivers a heart-gripping tour de force he’s been waiting years to write, at once a love story, a thrilling adventure, and a masterwork of suspense that redefines the boundaries of primal fear—and of enduring devotion.
Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered golden retrievers. Among dog lovers, she’s a legend for the risks she’ll take to save an animal from abuse. Among her friends, Amy’s heedless devotion is often cause for concern. To widower Brian McCarthy, whose commitment she can’t allow herself to return, Amy’s behavior is far more puzzling and hides a shattering secret.
No one is surprised when Amy risks her life to save Nickie, nor when she takes the female golden into her home. The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny. Even her two other goldens, Fred and Ethel, recognize Nickie as special, a natural alpha. But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents. An ominous stranger. A mysterious home invasion.
And the unmistakable sense that someone is watching Amy’s every move and that, whoever it is, he’s not alone.
Someone has come back to turn Amy into the desperate, hunted creature she’s always been there to save. But now there’s no one to save Amy and those she loves. From its breathtaking opening scene to its shocking climax,The Darkest Evening of the Year is Dean Koontz at his finest, a transcendent thriller certain to have readers turning pages until dawn.
From the Hardcover edition.

Dear Reader,

The Darkest Evening of the Year is meant to be (but you'll be the judge) an edge-of-the-seat, funny, uplifting novel about dogs and the wonderful people who rescue dogs that have been abused or abandoned. It's about an exceptional woman, Amy Redwing, and a mysterious golden retriever, Nickie, who go on a magical journey through some dark territory that will require all the courage and all the faith in each other they can muster. I hope you'll think I've done dogs proud, because I've known few human beings who can match the goodness of the average dog!
--Dean Koontz


This was a totally enjoyable read. I love Koontz but have been a bit disappointed in his last few books. This one was not disappointing! He has gone back to his supernatural twist and this book was great. The seemingly unrelated events that we follow lead to a very interesting climax, that while it is not totally a surprise, is interesting when it comes together.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, Vol. 1

by Robert Silverberg, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card & Raymond Feist

New bestselling short novels by master storytellers are highlighted in this first of three volumes of a "stellar compilation" (Booklist) series sure to delight their fans as well as introduce new readers to the writers' world of fantasy and science fiction. Authors include Stephen King, Orson Scott Card and Raymond E. Feist.

Orson Scott Card's "Grinning Man," set after Heartfire, seems like it could be an extract from the forthcoming sixth Alvin Maker novel. Opening with Alvin and Arthur Stuart travelling through Kennituck, the two come upon a man who is grinning down a bear. Letting the grinning man get ahead of him, the travelers come to a small village where they meet up with some inhospitable villagers who had heard about Alvin from the grinning man. Card's tale is good, but it relies on more knowledge of Alvin, Arthur and their circumstances for it to be fully effective.

Raymond Feist has already shown how slavery exists on Kelewan in both the original Riftwar Saga and the Daughter of Empire series he wrote with Janny Wurts. In "The Wood Boy," Feists tells the story of a noble house on Midkemia which is captured by the Tsurani and has slavery imposed upon them. Feist's tale is told through the eyes of Dirk, a young woodgatherer who hopes to escape his servitude and live his own life once again.

Also included in this volume--

Stephen Kings Dark Tower -- The Little Sisters of Eluria
Robert Silverberg Majipoor -- The Seventh Shrine

My Opinion
I totally enjoyed this book.

Before each story there is a brief introduction that introduces us to the world that the author has written the story about. The only one that I have already read is Stephen King's Dark Tower. I have only read the first few books in the series but that made Stephen King's story my favorite as we travel with Roland on his journey and encounter what we can only describe as a form of vampire.

I have Card's books on my TBR mountain so his story was a nice introduction to his work and was enjoyable. Kind of makes me think of an American version of DiscWorld. lol

I also enjoyed Feist's Riftwar story as I also have some of his books on my TBR pile.

I have to admit that I did not read Silverberg's story as the introduction did not lead me to believe that I would care for the series.

Overall though a nice read with some great introductions, or additions to some wonderful series.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nowhere on Earth by Michael Elder

From the back cover--

The year is 2173. Populations on every continent are expanding at alarming rates. Childbirth is thought of as an epidemic or plague. Society appears to be in the early hours of doomsday. Crushed like sardines into towering communal apartments, people are controlled by the Thought Police, whose main weapons are the Mediums -- telepathic individuals who can recognize and pinpoint any rebellious thought which might tend to diminish the power of the State.

Seems this is actually the first in a series of books--

Barclay series
Nowhere On Earth 1972
The Perfumed Planet 1973
as Flight to Terror, U.S.A. 1973
Down to Earth 1973
The Seeds of Frenzy 1974
The Island of the Dead 1975

My Opinion

I really enjoyed this book. So much so that I am going to look for the others in this series. I guess one of the reasons that I enjoy good sci-fi is because it can be very thought provoking.

In this book we meet Roger Barclay, just one of millions of people who live in a future that is way too overpopulated. To the point where everyone's lives have to be regulated in shifts so that there is enough room for everyone. When his wife goes into labor he is thrilled about the idea of becoming a father, but when he is told that his wife has died and that his daughter is stillborn, a very rare occurrence in this future world, he is devastated. That is until he receives a videophone call from his supposedly dead wife. Barclay begins on a journey that makes him question his entire existence and that of his world. He rebels against a government that wants to control it's citizens with the use of Mediums, telepathic individuals who can detect any thoughts that are not in line with what is considered 'good' for the people. He is sent off to a work camp where he spends the next 5 years preparing for the opportunity to rescue his wife and daughter, who was born a telepath.

In his journey of rebellion Barclay comes to realize that his world is in trouble. A realization that makes everything he has known and believed seem insignificant. Where that discovery leads is the beginning of a great journey that I am looking forward to reading about in the other books of this series.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Among the Free by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Shadow Children #7

From the Publisher
"Enough games," the man said, raising the gun yet again. "And enough of the Population Police, I say."
This time he cocked the gun and aimed carefully.

This is real, Luke thought. This is really going to happen.

"No, don't!" he screamed.

Luke Garner is a third-born in a restrictive society that allows only two children per family. Risking his life, he came out of hiding to fight against the Population Police laws. Now, in the final volume of Margaret Peterson Haddix's suspenseful Shadow Children series, Luke inadvertently sets off a rebellion that results in the overthrow of the government. The people are finally free. But who is in charge now? And will this new freedom be everything they had hoped?

With all of the plot twists and excitement Haddix's fans have come to expect, Among the Free brings the Shadow Children sequence to a chilling conclusion.

My Opinion
This was a good ending to a wonderful story. While I found this final book in the series to be a bit anti-climatic of an ending as far as the action went, it was quite good as far as the philosophical angle. Very thought provoking. Just how easy would it be to manipulate a society into turning their hatred to a group of children who were not supposed to exist, after years of starvation and hardship. The fact that the new 'government' was so easily able to manipulate society as a whole was quite scary.

I was a little bothered by the first half of the book, where the author seems to completely change Luke's personality. Turning him into a scared, cowardly, child instead of the strong leader that he has been portrayed as in earlier books.

But over all it was a good ending to a wonderful series. I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Among the Enemy by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Shadow Children #6

From the Publisher

An ache grew in his throat and he wanted to sob, but he set his jaw and held it in. He'd been wrong to send Nina away, wrong to refuse to help her, wrong to let the commander treat him like a pet. He'd been wrong to think that everything ended when he lost Percy and Alia....I can stop this evil, he thought.

The Population Police are gaining more and more power, and illegal third-borns are in increasing danger. Young Matthias finds himself caught in the cross fire between the Population Police and the rebels — and unwittingly ends up saving the life of a Population Police officer. By way of reward, the officer takes Matthias to the luxury of Population Police headquarters to train him to become one of their own. There, among his most feared enemies, Matthias encounters Nina, another illegal third-born, who enlists his help in a plot to undermine the Population Police. But Matthias is under constant scrutiny, he has no idea whom he can trust, and he's mourning the loss of his friends Percy and Alia. What can one boy do against a wicked bureaucracy?

In the most exciting Shadow Children book yet, Margaret Peterson Haddix examines how the courage of individuals can make an impact on growing evil.

My Opinion

Another fantastic chapter in this chilling story.

In this book we meet back up with Matthias, Percy and Alia who we met in an earlier book. Just three young third children who were abandoned by their parents and raised by a kind old man named Samuel until his death when they found themselves on the streets struggling for survival. Last time we met them the were in a Population Police prison with Nina. After proving her loyalty and helping the three children escape from the prison, Mr. Talbot helped the kids by putting into a school under fake ids. But when the Population Police come to the school in the middle of the night and take all of the students away to be placed in Work Camps, Matthias finds himself faced with many choices to make, and results that he did not count on.

Through a string of events that leave him alone and desperate, Matthias finds himself at Population Police Headquarters, marked as a hero. Amongst those who have tried to kill him and his friends their whole lives, he has to face some hard choices and grow up much too quickly.

Fantastic story and I can not wait to see how it all ends in the next book!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Among the Brave by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Shadow Children # 5

From the Publisher
In the aftermath of a crisis that threatens the safety of all shadow children -- illegal third-borns in a society that allows only two children per family -- Trey's friends expect him to take charge -- a function he doesn't want or think he can do.

Trey's new role leads him to travel with Luke Garner's brother, Mark, to Population Police headquarters. There he impersonates an officer to try to rescue Luke, who has been taken prisoner. The nonstop adventure puts all three boys in danger and risks exposing the underground movement to help all shadow children.

In this, the fifth book in the Shadow Children series, Margaret Peterson Haddix returns to the futuristic setting and compelling characters she created in Among the Hidden. With an adrenaline-fueled plot and surprising twists, Haddix has again crafted a story that is suspenseful until the last page.


My Opinion

I started this book back in September when I was reading the entire series. Then I got hired to work full time and dropped off on reading. I picked it back up today as I am finishing up Christmas vacation by trying to catch up on some reading.

I really enjoy this series of books. It is heart wrenching when you think about what is happening in the books.

In this one, Trey, who has always been the scared timid one at Hendricks School, is reluctantly forced into the position of a hero when his friends are arrested by the Population Police. Along with Luke's older brother Mark, he sets out on a journey to rescue his friends. He battles his fears, which are many, after spending his life in hiding as a third child. In the end, he discovers a new desire to take the fight further.

I can't wait to start the last in the series to see how it all ends!

In the Blood: Darkwings #4 by Savanna Russe

Since the feds coerced sleek New York vampire Daphne Urban into spying for the U.S., she's been part of Team Darkwing. Their latest assignment: rescue the kidnapped daughters of the city's elite.

The terrorists demand gold-and access to a military secret. So Darkwing goes on the prowl in the depraved, secret vampire underworld. It's a world of passions that Daphne has always shunned, until temptation finds her. And if she wants to save the kidnapped girls, she can't get distracted...

My Opinion

This was an okay read. I really enjoyed the first two books in the Darkwing series but have been a little disappointed in the last two. The author seems at times to be experimenting with her writing style. There were moments in this book that were just too poetic and flowery. The storyline was okay. We know that this author takes on modern day problems and the storyling involves an Al Queda cell in New York City, which could be believable. But the way that she interjects Daphne's emotional baggage into the plot ruins it for me. I mean Daphne has been through so many men in this series that I can not keep up. Oh well, I will continue to read the series as she has a new one coming out in May of 2008; 'Under Darkness'. Hopefully she will stick with the spy part of her writing and stay away from attempting to put so much emotion and sex into the books. It just doesn't work.

Reading in 2008

I have decided to not set a number goal for my reading in 2008. Now that I am working full time I can not read as much as I like and I don't like to feel that I am under pressure to get a certain number of books read.

I am however going to set a few personal goals.

The first is to get the owed TBR pile completely finished and keep it gone. These are books that I have already promised to others, either through VBB or swaps, that I still have not read. This means that instead of choosing a book I want to read based on my desire to read it, I am choosing books to read based on what I owe out to others. So this needs to stop.

I also want to tackle some of the series that I have accumulated. find that I enjoy gathering series of books. I like to read a series back to back. The only problem here is that if I collect a series of say 5 books and then I start reading them and find that I am not enjoying them, I am stuck with the rest of the series. So I really want to get to work on reading these series and at least beginning a series by reading the first book, before I decided to accumulate the rest of the books in that series. (My bookshelves will appreciate this goal as well.)

So that is the extent of my reading goals for 2008, besides enjoying what I read. Which reminds me. I am no longer going to attempt to complete a book just because I think I should like it. If it am not enjoying it by page 100 then off it goes.

Happy Reading in 2008 Everyone!!