Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book of the Week The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
Putnam 2013

This apocalyptic young adult science fiction novel is a page turner. A little bit Terminator, a little bit The Host, a little bit Ashfall and little bits of about five other well liked books. This is not to say it is derivative, it has enough familiarity to strike an instant connection but with unique twists and turns. Yancey has plucked many universal fears and plunked his characters in this world gone wrong due to an alien invasion.

The 1st wave was an electromagnetic pulse that dropped planes from the sky as well as stopping everything that uses electricity. No lights, no computers, no power or transportation grid. Lots of death. But that is not enough for these aliens who have not yet been seen. The 2nd wave is flooding. You know those stories about California falling into the ocean, it's worse. The 3rd wave,     pestilence, comes as a a hemorrhagic fever. Followed by the 4th wave that pits survivors against shooters. What is the 5th wave?

Skillfully told mostly from the view points of Cassie and Zombie, the horrors of the 5th wave erupt across the pages like the pops of assault weapon fire.

If you were looking for the next big thing after Hunger Games, this is it. Published as young adult, it will also be a big hit with adults.

     Speculative Fiction - Science Fiction - Aliens - Thriller - Teen

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book of the Week - Tankborn series by Karen Sandler

Sandler, Karen
Tu Books 9781600609824

The second book, Awakening, in the Tankborn series is out this month and is an interesting follow up to Tankborn. Not wanting to spoil the first book, if you haven't read it yet, I'll try to write about it cryptically enough to not give away too much. What I really liked about Awakening  is that, like the first installment, it features strong female characters who are proactive and are dealing with issues of religion, race, and politics. Food warehouses are being blown up and Kayla notices the scrawled letters, FHE, freedom, humanity, equality. Could there be two movements working to change this stratified culture made of trueborns of high and low status and tankborns, a slave class? This story moves at a more measured pace than the first one and would best be read following Tankborn. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Sandler, Karen
Tu Books 9781600606625
Science fiction is definitely experiencing a renaissance. Kayla and Mishalla are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, best friends who know that when they reach fifteen they will probably never see each other again. After things on Earth fell apart, a colony of settlers moved to another planet. They instituted a strict caste system based on those who funded the migration and the people who indentured themselves to go. Several decades before the story starts, The Infinite(the GENs' deity) inspired a trio of prophets to create the GENs to do the work that had been done by low-borns and infused them with animal DNA to enhance the skills they would use in working. Mishalla has been sent off to care for low-born orphans but they keep disappearing, taken away in the night. Kayla, who has extremely strong arms is sent to care for an elderly trueborn man who strangely enough has a tattoo similar to the tattooed dataports on the GENs cheeks. Sandler deftly weaves strands of race, privilege, politics, greed, and romance into a fascinating culture. The young protagonists are very real and exhibit great strength of character. Another book that I enjoyed that used tattoos to signify caste was The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington

Friday, April 19, 2013

Just Read - A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Dina Nayeri
A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea
Riverhead. Penguin    2013

Starting with Saba, an 11 year old Christian Persian girl growing up in an Iranian village in the 1980s the story follows her grief-filled life into her early 20s. She and her twin were told that even if separated their fates are entwined. Both Saba and Mahtab are obsessed with American culture. Their mother, a physician is trying to them out of the country as life under the Ayatollah is not healthy for women, girls, and Christians. Saba, an ingenious story teller, remembers her mother and twin at the airport leaving for America. As she grows up she envisions Mahtab, who calls herself by the westernized nickname, May, experiencing life in America. While dreaming about going to Harvard, Saba is married off to a man even older that her father, as she tries to figure out how to get out of the country. A compelling story with a unique setting,  this literary novel will be popular with readers who enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's  The Kite Runner and Abraham Verghese's  Cutting for Stone.

Literary. Multicultural. Book Groups

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book of the Week -- Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis

Stan Markowski, a hard boiled police detective in the Supe (as in supernatural) Squad of the Scranton, PA police department, is introduced in this totally satisfying series debut. A comment he makes ends up resulting the in the death of his partner when they respond to a call involving goblins, meth, and a hostage in a liquor store. Next he is partnered with Karl Renfer, a young cop under a cloud because of a situations involving zombies. Karl does come through when Stan is almost devoured by a demon that starts a case involving vampires, wizards, vampire wizards, and a series of ritual murders that look to be sacrifices in a dark magic spell that could change the world forever.

The fast pace, satisfying mystery, and characters who become real makes this a welcome addition to the genreblend of paranormal and mystery. Very gritty with a sense of humor.

Readers who like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Mark Del Franco's Connor Grey series will enjoy this and look forward to seeing what trouble Stan and Karl find next.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Status Update

Reviews of Teen Crime, Mystery, and Suspense are now available in the Crime, Mystery, and Suspense Tab. If you have another genre, subgenre, reading interest category you would like to see available sooner rather than later, please just drop me a comment to that effect. Happy reading.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Coming Soon - More Reviews

The folks I know in the world of books are wonderful. Thank you to all the authors and librarians and publishing folks who have sent out the URL.

I'll be moving a large number of reviews onto this site soon. I've written around a thousand in the last three years and they are on my database just waiting to be added.

Just Read - The Street by Ann Petry

The sights, sounds, and smells of Harlem in the 40s come vividly to life in this tale of unending woe. Lutie wants a better life for her young son Bub and makes decisions she hopes will lead to prosperity and an escape from their horrible lives in Harlem. Petry's writing sucks the reader in, wanting this strong, smart woman to succeed but things just seem to go from bad to worse. The writing is powerful and I kept pulling for Lutie and hoping for something good to happen for her.

Sub genres and intrest descriptors I'd assign for this are:

  • historical (contemporary when written but will appeal to readers who like authentic depictions of the past) 
  • African-American
  • Literary
  • Oprah

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book of the Week -- Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price

Even though Charlie Price's novels are gritty and disturbing his protagonists have heart and are trying for something better than the lot they've ended up with. His settings, while not described in detail really capture the essence of the locations whether in rural Montana (in this book) or in the southwestern desert (in Desert Angel) and make the reader feel the places. Bad things happen in his books and people deal with them. Dead Girl Moon features three teens, all from different places, who end up together in a small town. Grace, the victim of sex abuse goes on the run after deciding not to kill the brothers who have raped her, Mick, has moved repeatedly with his father, a petty criminal who moves on just ahead of the law, and JJ, who is orphaned and living in a trailer with her depressed, drunk, non-functioning aunt, her affable but clueless, baked weed-dealing uncle, and her ten year old uncontrollable (probably due to fetal-alcohol-syndrome) cousin who is often handcuffed to furniture, make unexpected connections.  Life becomes even more perilous when they find a body in the river and know the powerful crooks who run the county are a major danger to them. This is a page turner. Even though it looks like life may never get better for these kids the reader sees the faintest glow of hope. Grittiness on the level of books by Adam Rapp, Ellen Hopkins, Coe Booth, Woodson's Beneath a Meth Moon, and Leavitt's My Book of Life by Angel is leavened by the hope of more than survival for the trio of main characters.