Monday, January 28, 2013

Flash Flood by Chris Ryan

Towards the beginning of my blog I read and reviewed Survival by Chris Ryan. I enjoyed it and wanted to read the second book in the series but got distracted. Instead I ended up reading Flash Flood by Chris Ryan. Flash Flood is the first book in Chris Ryan Code Red series.

In Flash Flood by Chris Ryan we are introduced to Ben Tracey, a 13 year old British boy who is the son of two scientists. Ben's mother, Dr. Bel Kelland is both a scientist and environmentalist and at the beginning of the book she is giving a lecture on global warming. After the lecture she is asked to speak to several politicians, but this means she will be late picking Ben up from the train station. Her decision to speak to the politicians sets up the entire book, Ben's fight to reach his mother after a natural disaster.

London is right at sea level and the only reason it doesn't flood is because of the Thames Barrier. But when an inexperienced tanker helmsmen runs in to the barrier during torrential rain fall London is flooded.

This is the story of Ben's survival as he fights his way across London to reunite with his mother. Along the way we are introduced to several other characters, like his mother Dr. Bel Kelland, and two criminals who manage to escape police custody during the initial panic.

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 when considered with its age range. It was written for a younger audience and so will seem a very easy read for those of us a bit older than the target age. The author Chris Ryan manages to sneak in some survival tips at the same timehe builds a strong story.

Wildfire by Chris Ryan - This is the sequel to Flash Flood. If you like the first, read the second!

Survival by Chris Ryan - I reviewed this book a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. The review can be found here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

I found this book while browsing my libraries Overdrive ebook site and put a hold on it. It took almost two months for me to be able to check it out and by then I had forgotten what it was about.
So I put off reading it for two weeks because somehow in my mind I was thinking it was about fairies. Oberon, Obernewtyn.... sometimes my brain makes weird connections.
Finally I read the blurb again and imagine my surprise when it wasn't about fairies but in fact it was a post apocalyptic book.

My interest rediscovered I quickly read Obernewtyn and was pleased with the book overall.

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody is set sometime in the future with the location never really being mentioned. After reading the dialogue between characters I came to the conclusion that it was set in Great Britain with a large portion of it taking place in Scotland. However this is never actually mentioned.

After a nuclear blast demolishes most of the population and leaves most of the land tainted by radiation the country is ruled by a council supposedly appointed by Lud, their god. This new community disapproves of anything having to do with technology and anything from Before.

Because of the effects of the Great White (the nuclear bomb) many people are starting to develop abnormalities, from birth defects to mental abilities. The Council believes these people are abminations, signs of Lud's wrath and as such decide to burn those they label Misfits.

Eventually there are so many Misfits that they can't burn them all and instead they start Council Farms, forced labor camps. The most feared of these camps is Obernewtyn, where experiments are supposedly conducted to purge the Misfits of the taint of  the Great White.

In the middle of all of this is Elspeth a young orphan who has been hiding her Misfit abilities. Elspeth has the ability to read minds, something she has successfully hidden for years. However when she is found out she is sent to Obernewtyn.

This story is how Elspeth learns to survive in a hostile world where everything you do is turned against you.

I would rate this book a 3.75/5, its good but there wasn't as much action as I had hoped for.

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody - There are a total of seven books in this series so far, if you like the first book then you should check out the rest.

London Eye by Tim Lebbon - This book is set more modern day with a biological disaster happening in London that causes people to develop powers and the government isn't too happy about it. I reviewed London Eye in an earlier post, review can be found here.

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Sorry for the slow updates, I started a new semester of college and had to settle in to classwork again.

Last year I read Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. In this book the moon has been knocked out of its orbit and closer to Earth. This has devastating effects on Earth, everything from the tides to volcanoes.
This year I finally got around to the sequel, The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I had put it off for some unknown reason, but I am glad I finally read it. I am now on the hold list for the third book in the series.

The Dead and the Gone takes place during the same time frame as Life as We Knew It, but miles away.  The Dead and the Gone is the story of Alex Morales and is set in New York City. Alex Morales is a seventeen year old high school studen with two sisters and a brother. His sisters are Brianna and Julie, his brother Carlos. When the asteroid strikes his mother is stuck at work in a hospital, his father is at his grandmother's funeral in Puerto Rico, and his older brother is in California with the Marines. Alex is left alone to care for and protect his two sisters.

Alex does all he can to provide for Bri and Julie and when there is an opportunity to send Bri to the country he sends her to safety. With just Julie to watch after, they manage to survive in a world gone to hell.

How will they survive when the volcanoes erupt and the city is cast in to eternal grayness and winter?

I would rate this book a 3.75 out of 5. It was a good book but a bit repetitive at times. I do plan on reading the third and fourth books in the series as soon as I can get a hold of them.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer - This is the first book in the series and while it could be read as a stand alone book I would suggest reading them both. It all ties together for the third and fourth books.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin - This book lacks an asteroid but it is a post apocalyptic book about what would happen if the volcano in Yellowstone National Park were to erupt I was a big fan of this book, the first two books in the trilogy have already been published.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Technical Difficulties.

My blog is currently experiencing some technical difficulties.

Several posts have reverted to drafts and unfortunately about half of the review is missing.
This means I will have to retype my reviews and hope they turn out as well as they were before.

This is what I get for not saving the posts in a Word document.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Birth of a Warrior by Michael Ford

The Birth of a Warrior by Michael Ford is the second book in the Spartan Warrior series. (Fire of Ares book one in  the Spartan Warrior Series review found here.)

This book starts not long after Fire of Ares, after the uprising. Lysander is dealing with the after effects when he is chose to be the first to go on his five day survival journey that will mark him as fit to be a Spartan warrior. Lysander is paired with Demoratos and Agesilaus for the journey, two people who will do about anything to make sure he doesn't make it off the mountain alive. When Lysander saves Demoratos from certain death new alliances are made.

While facing the challenges of his journey Lysander notices a fire and thinking it is a forest fire he races off to try and help only to find out that the coastal villages are burning. The Persians have attacked and killed the messenger that has gone to warn Sparta.

Sparta is now in the hands of Lysander.

Birth of a Warrior is an excellent sequel to The Fire of Ares. It has all the same characters facing new challenges and rising to the occasion. It shows the trials of Spartan training along with Lysander and his fight to stay true to himself. Lysander's upbringing and his current situation are constantly at odds but he somehow manages to make it work.

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.

The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford - This is the first book in the Spartan Warrior series and it would be a good idea to read it first.

Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield - I haven't read this one but it is about a female Spartan who has been trained as a priestess warrior. Also, her name is Lysandra

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Sea-God at Sunrise by G.L. Tysk

I didn't know this before, but G.L. Tysk is a friend of a friend. My friend Hannah was talking about a debut novel her friend had written and I thought it sounded right up my alley.

Little known fact: The first 'adult' book I read was in seventh grade and it was a Christian historical fiction. Thank to that first book I have loved historical fiction ever since. 

The Sea-God at Sunrise by G.L. Tysk is a historical fiction set in Japan in the 1840's and is about a pair of brothers and the third mate of a whaling ship. When all are put in a situation that none expected they are all faced with the same ordeal – how do you remain true to who you are when you are removed from everything you know.

In the 1800's Japan is still in extreme isolation by choice and has nothing to do with any foreigners, while they have no Navy they still patrol their shores and prevent outsiders from landing.

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Shima and Takao, two young brothers who are Japanese fishermen. They have been shipwrecked and drift to shore on a deserted island. Unfortunately the island is lacking in almost all resources and the brothers are in desperate shape. They have lost all hope and are close to dying when they are found by the crew of the whaling ship Archer.
Japan’s isolationism presents a problem for the crew of the Archer when they try to return Shima and Takao to their native country. Takao has taken to the ship and isn’t sure he wants to leave while Shima has remained hesitant to join a crew where none of them speak his language. But when they are rejected by their countrymen they are both devastated and must learn how to survive in an unfamiliar situation.

Added to this is the story of Third Mate Daniel Ellis and his unforeseeable climb in rank during their voyage.

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.
I loved this book; it was a different genre than I have been reading lately and was a nice break from my usual books. This book is based off of the true story of Nakahama Manjiro though it seems that Takao’s story is closer to Manjiro’s even if The Sea-God at Sunrise was written from Shima’s point of view.


The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi – While this book really doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the Sea-God at Sunrise they do both take place on ships…. Other than that, I seriously loved this book as a kid and if you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus – This book is the story of Nakahama Manjiro. It was written in 2010 and was a Newbery Honor winner in 2011.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

I have seen lots of hype for Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter and  I have enjoyed several of her other books in the past so I decided to give it a shot.

I will admit, it was not what I was expecting for the title. I was expecting something closer to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - a classic public free domain book altered to include zombies. Instead I spent the first several chapters trying to figure out whether 16 year old Alice Bell was schizophrenic or was actually seeing zombies. Zombies that no one else could see.

The beginning of the book is slow, we are introduced to Alice Bell and her younger sister Emma who are living with their lovely mother and their paranoid father. Alice's father is obsessed with the monsters that go bump in the night to the point of building a specially fortified house - the walls have steel in them. He see's monsters that only come out in the night and is tyrannical about being locked down in the house at night. No sleep overs for the girls, no school events that last until after sunset. But Emma has her heart set on performing in her ballet recital on Alice's sixteenth birthday and Alice will do whatever she can to make that dream come true. Sadly their night comes to a tragic end when Alice and her family are in a fatal car accident that leaves Alice as the sole survivor.

Alice is moved to another town to live with her grandparents where she makes friends with Kat, a girl she met while in the hospital after her accident. On the first day of school Alice runs in to the mysterious Cole and when they lock eyes weird things begin to happen.

It is not long after this that Alice finds out the zombies are real and she is locked in to a battle of good versus evil. With some new friends and enemies at her side she seeks revenge on the zombies that caused her family's car accident.

I rated this book a 3.5 out of 5. It was well done but a bit slow at times. It is however a very interesting take on the zombies, Gena Showalter writes the zombies as a creature of the spirit realm rather than the physical realm. I do like that in this book what happens to your spirit effects your physical body.

Sadly, the second book in this series doesn't come out until some time later this year, I couldn't pin down an exact date.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - This book is the original book by Jane Austen with zombies added in for fun. I really enjoyed reading this version while I struggled through the original Pride and Prejudice

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel - This is not your traditional zombie book. In this book zombies are still capable of higher brain function, they just happen to be dead.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Publishers versus the libraries.

Recently I was researching a rumor I had heard that you can buy a one year membership to the New York Public Library to access their ebook site. Instead I found this article (link)  by The New York Times about how publishers are blocking libraries from buying their ebooks. This bothered me, but the article was from December 2011 so I decided to look farther in to this issue.

In researching this, I found an article on the American Libraries Magazine website that is titled An Open Letter to America's Publishers (link). This article was published in September of 2012 so it is an up to date article. What I read astounded me. I frequent the bookstores, I go to author signings, I use the library ebook system Overdrive and yet I hadn't heard of this issue until today. The top six American publishing companies are blocking libraries from buying their ebooks. Two of the six companies do allow libraries to purchase the ebooks but only at higher prices (almost double the retail price) or with a limited number of times they can be borrow before having to buy a new copy.

You should also read this article about the Library Journal's 2013 Librarian of the Year Joanne Budler (link.) She has done many amazing things in this debate as the Kansas State Librarian.

I don't think that libraries should be completely blocked from buying ebooks from popular publishers, doing so drastically limits what books the library can get. I think there must be some middle ground that can be reached, but someone will have to compromise for that to happen. I think that limiting the number of times a book can be borrowed is a good idea, but exactly how many times is up for debate. I think that they should do a study on how many times a paper book can be borrowed before it begins to deteriorate and go from there. If a regular book can be borrowed and read fifty times before having to be replaced then maybe that is how many times an ebook should be limited to.

Sadly, I don't think this debate will be solved any time soon and with several publishers already in trouble over ebooks I have a feeling there will be much more drama to come.

I am posting this because I believe this issue needs to be common knowledge. It is a shame that with how many people are switching to digital reading that our libraries won't be able to provide all the books that people desire. I personally can't afford to buy all the newest books in eformat or in paper and I depend on my local library for almost all of my books. When paper books aren't an option, I need those ebooks to keep me busy.

How I love my eBooks!

Two Christmases ago I got an awesome present - a Nook Color. This was a real game changer for me. Finally there was an effecient way for me to carry multiple books without weighing myself down. Plus I could read in all types of light settings (except sunlight unfortunately.) The only thing that really held me back was the cost of ebooks. When I buy paper books, I almost always buy them used and save a lot of money, you have to when you read as much as I do. Two books a day at full price is well outside of my budget range.

To start with I didn't use my Nook as much as I would have liked, I would buy a book here and there and would read as many of the Nook free books as I could find. Sadly, the free books aren't always the best written.

Free ebooks fall in to three categories. One, free public domain books - classic books where the copy write has expired. Two, prequels, novellas, and samples of author's works that are usually tied to a series in some way. And three, authors who are self publishing for the first time.

The last category is what I read a lot of. Usually new authors publishing for the first time and just trying to get their works out there to the public. An unfortunate downside to this is that the ebooks tend to not be very well edited and there are some real stinkers out there. But there are also some hidden gems, just wait to be discovered. I devoured these books, taking the bad with the good and really seeing what all was available.

Eventually though, I got bored with reading the free ebooks because there was really no way to judge the quality of the ebook before I started reading. My Nook was put away and not used much and I went back to reading more paper books.

But then I found the gloriousness that is Overdrive. Overdrive is an application for many devices that many libraries use to host their ebook library. I fell in love with this app. You can check out up to ten books at a time and there is a large selection available. I got the app for my cell phone and that is what I use for most of my reading these days. I love being able to check out new books any time I want (with the exception of that time I got blocked from the site for a few days because I checked out and returned too many books in a seven day period.) My local library has a great selection for this app and it is totally free.

Supposedly you can buy a one year membership to certain libraries even if you don't live there but I am still researching that one. Fortunately I have yet to run out of books hosted by the Salt Lake County Libraries.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford

The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford is a book I have seen many times when scrolling through the ebook site for my local Salt Lake County Library. I have read the blurb a dozen times but was never too interested in it, I have to be in a certain mood to read about the past, rather than the future. But I told myself to pick a book off of a random page and this is the book that sounded the most interesting at the time. I am glad I read it.

Lysander is a young Helot, a Spartan slave, who spends his mornings training himself to fight and his days working in the fields to earn enough grain to support himself and his sick mother.  Helot's aren't allowed to own anything so Lysander is forced to hide the only item of value he has, a pendant he was given at birth. Lysander has been raised to believe that his father died and his mother was enslaved when the Spartans conquered the Messenians.
One day when forced to run errands for his slave master he is accosted and his pendant is stolen. This family heirloom is more important than Lysander ever knew, it is the fabled Fire of Ares. The Fire of Ares was given to King Menelaus by Ares during the Trojan War. He was told that the Fire of Ares would give strength to the righteous.

But when Lysander's true lineage is revealed he is suddenly put in to the Agoge, the training center for the Spartan army. Lysander's older age at the start of his training and his mixed heritage make him the target of the other boys in his age group. Part of the reason he is sent to the Agoge is to track down the person who stole his pendant and to retrieve it. Lysander struggles initially to adapt to the training but eventually he begins to thrive, making friends with Prince Leonidas and Orpheus, a Spartan said to be God Blessed.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, I gave it a 4 out of 5. I have already checked out the sequel and will be reading it soon!

Birth of a Warrior by Michael Ford - The second book in the Spartan Warrior series. I haven't read it yet but it continues on with Lysander's story.

Liberty by Kimberly Iverson - This is for a slightly older age set, it does include some adult themes. Rhyddes is Celtic woman who has been taken as a slave by the Romans to pay her family's taxes. She was raised on a farm and is trained to be a gladiatrix, a female gladiator. This is a pretty awesome book if you like the Roman games.

Nobody's Princess by Esther M. Freisner - This is a fictional story about a young Helen of Sparta before she became Helen of Troy.

How I track my books.

If you haven't noticed yet, I read a lot of books. And I really do mean a lot.
At times it can be tricky keeping track of all of them, I try my best, but occasionally I do forget if I have already read a book.

In 2013 I am determined to keep track of all of the books I read so I have implemented redundencies. First, I track all of my books online at, then I track them in this blog and finally I write them down in a notebook.

My book notebook is a new thing this year, I wanted physical proof that I could carry with me. I tried to find a book journal but I couldn't find a single one with enough book entries. I just read too much. So I got a normal notebook and have turned it in to my very own book journal.

This is what I ended up with:

So far I am loving my journal, it is nice to have a simple book to carry in my purse. Each entry has the author name, title of the book, date read and my rating for it.

And hopefully it will last me a full year.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Survival by Chris Ryan

Today I went to the Salt Lake County Public Library's ebook site and used that to find my new book.
I applied several filters to find the genre I like, YA this time then picked a random page (in this case, page 37) and found a book on that page that I wanted to read.

This led me to Survival by Chris Ryan. This isn't my usual type of read. Normally when I read a book about teens survival it tends to be dystopian or post-apocalyptic. But I am glad I picked this book.

Alex has been trained in survival by his SAS father, though he hopes to never have to use it. Amber is a rich girl who is amazing with navigation. Li is trained in martial arts and is an expert free climber. Hex is a hacker and Paulo is a lady's man who is also a mechanical genius. These five teens make up Alpha watch on the summer exploration ship Phoenix. In the beginning they don't get along, Amber the rich girl constantly clashes with Hex a boy from inner London. After getting in trouble on their watch, they sneak in to a life boat to eat snacks and to hide out.
Unfortunately, the rope holding their boat to the ship snaps and they are set adrift.

After a run in with a shark they manage to make it to shore on a small deserted island. While the island is idyllic with plenty of fresh water and food. But the island also has its dangers, leeches, sharks in the bay and worst of all - komodo dragons. While competing with the komodos for food, the teens also manage to build shelters and a signal fire.

This is the story of how they survive in the wild.

I rated this book a 4 out of 5. It was a good read about teens working together to overcome the odds. One thing I liked about this book is that at the end the author Chris Ryan, ex-SAS, includes 10 survival tips. Overall a good book. I plan on reading more of his books and definitely more of this series.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - I loved this book when I was younger, I still do. It is the story of Brian who is flying to Canada in a small plane when the pilot has a heart attack causing the plane to crash. The book is about how he survives in the wilds of Canada.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding - On the opposite side of the spectrum, this is the story of a group of boys who crash land on an island and it all goes horribly wrong. This was one of my favorite books as a teen.

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda was recommended to me by

In The Hunt there exists a world where vampires evolved as the dominant life form and Hepers (humans) are thought to be extinct with only a few hidden individuals left.

In The Hunt Andrew Fukuda combines some traditional vampires myths with some very interesting ideas of his own. Vampires can't be in sunlight without being grievously injured but they also scratch their wrists as their version of laughter.

Morale is down and the government is losing ratings. The leader decides its time for a popularity ploy - the final Heper Hunt ever. Hepers are supposed to be so close to extinction that only five are left at the Heper Institute. The Heper Institute is for the study of hepers, to learn their weaknesses. For this hunt they have given the hepers weapons and books on how to use them, but everyone knows hepers won't last the first night.

Gene has a secret. He is a heper who is hiding in plain sight. Sleeping by day, going to school at night, he is doing all he can to blend in to society. A society that would kill him in a heartbeat if they knew the truth. He keeps people at arm's length and doesn't socialize unless forced. When his number is called to participate in the Hunt, he knows his carefully constructed world is about to come tumbling down.

By his side is Ashley June, a girl from his school. Gene has always had a crush on Ashley June but was never able to get involved because of his secret life. When she is selected to go on the Hunt with him, he questions his feelings for her and if it is all worth it.

I rated this book a 2 1/2 out of 5. I just couldn't get in to the book and really it all just seemed a bit silly. I wasn't sure at times if it was meant to be a spoof on other vampire books or if it was supposed to be serious. I probably will not be reading the sequel.

I can't think of any right now, I need to research this more properly. I will come back to this at a later date hopefully and have recommendations for you all.

Its hard to think of recommendations for books I don't particularly like.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gravity by Melissa West

Gravity by Melissa West was another Goodreads recommendation.

Gravity by Melissa West is a good blending of science fiction and fantasy. It is set in the undisclosed future, far enough ahead that technology has improved by leaps and bounds. WWIV has devastated planet Earth, destroying almost all of the arable land. Chemists develop a food pill, a single pill that serves as a replacement for a full meal. The only down side is the large cost of manufacturing the pill, to solve this they exorbitantly raise the prices on what little real food remains.

They call on the Ancients, an alien race that has provided help terra forming Earth every time the human race has managed to destroy it. The Ancients agree to help only on the condition that once their bodies adapt to Earth that they will be allowed to peacefully cohabitate with the human race. The Ancients don't have the antibodies necessary to survive on Earth yet, instead they have to take some each night from a human. The humans use a Patch that immobilizes them during the time the Ancients feed.

Enter Ari Alexander and Jackson Locke. Ari is a human teen, she is the daughter of the Commander and the next in line to lead the Engineers/military. Jackson Locke is the Ancient assigned to her. One night Ari's Patch goes missing and she is stunned to discover that Jackson is her Ancient. Jackson is a popular boy at school, competing with Ari to be 'top seed'. But Jackson is also a latent Ancient, sent to spy on Ari and her father.

While Ari fears the consequences of seeing him, Jackson has a message for her. Ari's help is needed to save the Earth from war.

I rated Gravity by Melissa West a 4 out of 5. It was an enjoyable read. There were times that Ari and Jackson were a bit like Mary Sue characters, perfect at everything, but it worked for them. One thing I really enjoyed was the lack of a love triangle which is a rarity these days in YA books. I plan on reading the sequel when it is released.

The Host by Stephanie Meyer - I don't know why this one popped in to my head, I'm really not a big fan of her other works. But when I think of alien invasion I am reminded of The Host. I did enjoy The Host the most of all of Stephanie Meyer's books that I have read.

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch - This one is definitely not a YA novel. Katherine 'Kitty' Kat is your every day Mary Sue until she witnesses an alien attack and manages to take down the alien with a pen of all things. It turns out that Kitty's special way of thinking is just want a government agency needs to save the world.

I am proud to say I have hit 200 page views! I know in the blogosphere that is not many, but I am super happy about this!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dark Life by Kat Falls

I was recently browsing Pinterest and found a pin to a blog with a list of 25 book series to read if you loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (blog post can be found here.) I absolutely loved The Hunger Games so I went through the list. Not so surprisingly I had already read all the books on the list with the exception of two. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and Dark Life by Kat Falls. Now, I have seen the movie adaptation of City of Ember and I really enjoyed it and I didn't want to ruin the movie by reading the book. Because it totally will for me. That left me with Dark Life by Kat Falls.

The plot of Dark Life by Kat Falls was an interesting concept. Sometime in the future the oceans rise leaving very little land above water. Instead, the Commonwealth opens up the Benthic Territories under the ocean for settlers, if you homestead for 5 years, the land becomes yours. But there are side effects that go with living under the sea. After years of eating bioluminescent the settlers start to slightly glow. And those children born in Benthic Territories are being born different as well. Parts of their brains are becoming more active and these are developing in to the Dark Powers.

Enter Ty, the first baby born under the ocean. He is now 15 and all he wants in life is to turn 18 so he can start his own homestead. He lives with his mother, father and younger sister Zoe. He is adventurous and the first of children to develop dark powers. One day he is out exploring when he finds a derelict submarine, recently sunk. He enters the submarine and discovers a mess of a ship, he also discovers Gemma, a Topsider looking for her lost brother. The only problem is that the settlement is under attack by Shade, the leader of the Outlaws. This book is about Ty and Gemma's hunt for her brother and their fight against the Outlaws to protect the Territories.

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5. It was a quick read but I really enjoyed it. It was heavier on the science fiction than other books I have read recently, but it was nice that for once the science was about inhabiting more of our planet rather than outer space.

The Burn by Annie Oldham - This book is set in the future after a nuclear war. Colonies of survivors live under the ocean including Terra, the main character. Terra hates it underwater and is given the chance to escape, though at a heavy cost. She bands up with survivors living on land and it goes on from there.

Origin by Jessica Khoury

I saw Origin by Jessica Khoury on an endcap at Barnes and Noble as I was on the hunt for another book and was drawn in by the cover. Upon reading the blurb I decided I needed to read this book. Just enough science fiction in it to make it entertaining without stretching it too far. A good light read.

Pia, our 17 year old main character, is the result of five generations of careful selective breeding. In 1902 scientific explorers found an area of the Amazon rain forest that held rumors of immortal warriors and cures for every disease known to man. What they found instead was Elysia flowers which collect a nectar so powerful that even a sip will kill you unless it is mixed with the Catalyst. Experiments with rats lead to the making of an immortal rat named Roosevelt and that was when they switched to human trials.

Fast forward five generations and you are left with Pia, the only immortal human in existence. As the subject of Project Immortis, Pia is subjected to various tests. No needle can prick her skin and while she still feels pain she never bleeds. Trapped in Little Cambridge, a scientific camp surrounded by an electrified fence, Pia is completely isolated from the outside world. Pia can name the genus and species of any bug, plant or animal, but she doesn't even know where she lives. Pia is a curious teen but isn't allowed outside of Little Cam, not even in to the surrounding forest.
One day a tree falls outside the fence creating a small hole that Pia and her pet jaguar Alai can crawl through in to the rain forest. While scared of the outside she starts to explore eventually running in to Eio Farwalker, a local village boy. They are the same age but have been raised extremely differently. And of course a romance develops, even though Eio isn't her perfect man. A point that is brought up frequently is that Pia is 'perfect' and that before 'the Accident' thirty years ago there was to be an immortal man born to be her perfect man.

I really liked this book. This is one of the few books where not only is it acceptable for a character to be a bit of a Mary Sue, it was an integral part of the plot. Origin had enough science fiction/fantasy to it to be entertaining without getting too technical for the science part. While it did have fantasy aspects, like the Elysia flower, it does seem like something that could happen, at least the genetic experimentation. Over all a pretty good book.

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.

Maximum Ride series by James Patterson - While these characters are left with a bit more of an extreme appearance, they are the results of genetic experiments. It is for a younger audience, but it is an entertaining read. There are eight books in the series, I have only read the first three.

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong - The main character, 16 year old Maya, is raised in a medical research community by her adoptive parents on a small island. This book leans a bit more towards the paranormal but still has the medical experiment element. The Gathering is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Zom-B by Darren Shan

I went in to this book with fairly high hopes. Darren Shan has written quite a few horror books including the popular Cirque Du Freak series. I am a big fan of zombie books and I was looking forward to this book.

However, I was rather disappointed by Zom-B by Darren Shan.
For a zombie book, there weren't too many zombies. I mostly continued the book to be able to say I finished it.
The first 70 or so pages of a 150 page book had very very little to do with zombies, it dealt more with racism.
The main character of Zom-B is B Shawn, a local thug in London. Through out the book we see B beating up weaker kids and frequently making racial slurs. B's father Todd is extremely racist and does everything he can to encourage B to follow in his footsteps. B is trying to decide if its too late to change or if B really is the racist that everyone thinks.

Honestly, I really don't have much I can say about this book. There are several twists that would be good, but I can't get past the blatant racism in the book. I know it is a hot topic but I didn't expect it to this level. Between that and the writing style I just really couldn't get in to it.

I rate it a 2 1/2 out of 5

I can't think of any similar recommendations.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys was an amazing book. I know I use the word amazing too often, but in this case it is fitting.

I had seen this book pop up on my goodreads recommendation list a few times but was hesitant because of the name. For some reason I thought it was related to another book with a similar name. Finally I read the blurb and was intrigued.

Between Shades of Gray is set in Siberia in 1941 in the midst of WWII. Lina is a 15 year old Lithuanian girl who is an aspiring artist. At the beginning of the book she getting ready for bed when the NKVD barge in to their house and tell her family they have 10 minutes to pack their belongings and get in to the truck waiting outside. Lina, her mother Elena and her younger brother Jonas rush to fill their suitcases wondering all the while where her father is and when they will see him again. Her father was Provost at a university in Lithuania but he is still taken by the Soviets and deported.

Along the way Lina, Elena, and Jonas meet various people who have a huge impact on their lives. After two months of being packed in to a train car with forty other people they arrive in Altai at a forced labor beet farm. When Elena refuses to cooperate with the NKVD her family is submitted to horrible living conditions, surviving on food rations of 300 grams of dried bread each day. They do what they have to do to survive, always with the hope that eventually they will be sent home and reunited with their father. Lina draws sketches with clues for her father along the way, passing them to others in hopes that he will eventually get them.

Between Shades of Gray is a very thought provoking book about the side of WWII that doesn't get mentioned as often. Everyone knows what Hitler did to Germany in his attempts to conquer the world but you don't hear as often about what Stalin did to build the U.S.S.R..

I give this book a 4 1/2 out of 5. While it isn't based on any particular persons true story, it could be the story of anyone from Eastern Europe during WWII.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank - This is the heartbreaking true story written by a Jewish girl in Nazi Germany during WWII. It is quite possibly the most famous book about WWII, probably the most widely read.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - This is a book for a younger set, it was the first book I can ever remember reading about WWII. I still think of this book frequently and reread it at least once a year. I am a huge fan of Lois Lowry.

The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson - This is a more light hearted tale from WWII. A girl is unable to escape from Vienna with her family but a family friend offers to help - by proposing to her a marriage of convienence. I enjoyed reading a WWII that actually ends in happiness even though I know most real stories from the war didn't end that way. I am a big fan of Eva Ibbotson's books.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 2013 Goodreads Challenge!

I have set my goal low so far, only 100 books this year. But as I go I will be eventually increasing it to 365 books. I know that is a bit excessive, but in 2012 I read roughly 460 books, with only about 50-60 of those being novellas or books under 200 pages in length.

So for kicks and giggles I am going to list out the books I read this year as I read them. Not all will be reviewed, but at least a quarter of them should be, eventually. And to be nice, I will even include links!

2013 Books Read:
Hero by Cheryl Brooks
Deadly Descendant by Jenna Black
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Zom-B by Darren Shan
Origin by Jessica Khoury
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda
Runaway Mistress by Robyn Carr
Virgin River by Robyn Carr
Dark Life by Kat Falls
Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr
Ash by Malinda Lo
Gravity by Melissa West
Elemental by Antony John
Survival by Chris Ryan
The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
The Sea-God at Sunrise by G.L. Tysk
Birth of a Warrior by Michael Ford
The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Outcast Mine by Jamie Craig
Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake
Flash Flood by Chris Ryan
Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake 
Beyond by Graham McNamee
Swipe by Evan Angler
Deception by Lee Nichols
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
The First Days by Rhiannon Frater
Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater
Poison Study by Maria V Snyder 

I am making a separate list for books under 200 pages because I consider them novellas. It's tricky to set a definitive page number as the cut off between novellas and novels, it is based more on word count. But I had to make a cutoff point and 200 pages it is.
Plus the fact that I was able to read four of them in one day would lead to the conclusion that I can't count them as actual novels for my challenge. Maybe for every two I read it counts as one novel.

Marrying for King's Millions by Maureen Child -- 184 pages
Satin & a Scandalous Affair by Jan Colley -- 186 pages
Bedded by the Billionaire by Leanne Banks -- 186 pages
Tycoon's One-Night Revenge by Bronwyn Jameson -- 177 pages
Pregnant at the Wedding by Sara Orwig -- 186 pages
Baby on the Billionaire's Doorstep by Emily McKay -- 184 pages
One Night, Two Babies by Kathy DeNosky -- 192 pages
In the Tycoon's Debt by Emily McKay -- 192 pages
More than a Millionaire by Emilie Rose -- 192 pages
The Billionaire's Fake Engagement by Robyn Grady -- 192 pages
Texan's Wedding-Night Wager by Charlene Stands -- 192 pages
Conquering King's Heart by Maureen Child -- 192 pages
Falling for King's Fortune by Maureen Child -- 184 pages
The Desert Lord's Baby by Olivia Gates -- 187 pages
Boardrooms & a Billionaire Heir by Paula Roe -- 192 pages
From Playboy to Papa! by Leanne Banks -- 192 pages
Bossman's Baby Scandal by Catherine Mann -- 181 pages
The Magnate's Pregnancy Proposal by Sandra Hyatt -- 183 pages
Affair with the Rebel Heiress by Emily McKay -- 182 pages
Claiming His Bought Bride by Rachel Bailey -- 183 pages
Tempting the Texas Tycoon by Sara Orwig -- 181 pages
Prince of Midtown by Jennifer Lewis -- 185 pages
The M.D.'s Mistress by Joan Hohl -- 186 pages
Wed by Deception by Emilie Rose -- 185 pages
His Expectant Ex by Catherine Mann -- 184 pages
The Desert King by Olivia Gate -- 187 pages
In His Brother's Place by Elizabeth Lane -- 192

Please don't judge me for my love of sappy romances.

Deadly Descendant by Jenna Black

Earlier this year I read Dark Descendant by Jenna Black and thoroughly enjoyed it. Today I was on and discovered that a sequel had been published this year. I was excited by this discovery and had to read it right away, even if it wasn't the next book on my reading list. Once I started reading Deadly Descendant by Jenna Black I couldn't put it down until it was finished.

In Dark Descendant P.I. Nikki Glass finds out that she is a descendant of Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt. When she finds out that part of being a descendant means that she is now immortal, her life is thrown in to turmoil. Anderson, leader of a small group of immortal descendants, contacts her to help him hunt down his wife Emma, who was kidnapped by the Olympians, immortal descendants of Greek gods.

Deadly Descendant is what happens after the end of Dark Descendant. Emma is back, but after ten years of being held captive, she isn't quite right. Emma and Anderson are constantly fighting and Emma is doing all she can to drag Nikki in to the middle of the fights. 

On top of this the Olympians have come to Anderson for help, civilians are being attacked by an immortal descendant of Anubis. Nikki is on the hunt with the help of Jamaal, descendant of Kali (Hindu goddess of time, change, and death) and Jack, descendant of Loki (Norse god of mischief) along with several others. Nikki is in a race against time since the killer has a schedule and an agenda. 

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 with a warning that this book does contain sexual situations and of course violence. The Nikki Glass series seems to be geared more towards adults, unlike Jenna Black's other series Faeriewalker.

Dark Descendant by Jenna Black - I would recommend reading the first book first. These are not stand along books, to get the full affect you need to read them in order.

The Devil Inside by Jenna Black - If you liked this series, you might want to try out some of Jenna Black's other books, this is another of her adult series.

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan - I know I recommended this one before but it is fitting yet again, this is a teen version of being the descendant of a god.