Sunday, October 30, 2011

Glow by amy kathleen ryan

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

From GoodReads:
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue? 

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them... 

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. 

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.”

This book caught my attention form the very beginning. I admit it...I'm a sucker for an interesting book cover. This one drew me right in! I would have selected it from a book shelf, if it hadn't come to me as an ARC in the mail. What was even more unexpected-the book tackles some very big issues and really makes the reader think!

The story alternated between two main characters and the events of their lives on a space ship headed to colonize a new planet. The chapters are short and the book flows fairly fast. It seemed to get bogged down in the middle with some physics and science concepts that might have been edited to give the cliff notes version. There are some gaps in the logic of some of the characters, but overall, they are an interesting group of space travelers.

This is a YA/SciFi novel, which is the first in a series of books. This is definitely one for older YA readers (I would suggest 15 and older). There is an atmosphere of sexual intimidation throughout the book, which eventually deteriorates into sexual violation. There is nothing particularly sexually graphic in the book, however, the events that take place leave you feeling psychologically battered. This is a very different look at the darker side of human nature, something that is not usually found in a YA book.

The storyline also examines the effect of religion on a group and how it can be used to manipulate others into believing that what they are doing is right in the name of their god. Some may be offended by this and take it as an anti-religion theme. I think it could lead to some wonderful discussions (religion being only one of the topics of discussion) within a book group or with parents and their teens. I will be passing it on to my daughter.

This one is worth your time (even though the ending is a bit weak). I look forward to the next book in the series.

Thanks to St. Martins Griffin for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle…

From the Hardcover edition.
The papers have called me a monster. You’ve either concluded that I am a braggart as well as a sadist or that I have a deep and driving need to be caught and punished.    
In the sweltering heat of an Atlanta summer, a killer is pushing the city to its breaking point, preying on the unsuspecting, writing taunting letters to the media, promising more death. Desperate to stop the Wishbone Killer before another victim meets a shattering end, A.P.D. lieutenant Aaron Rauser turns to the one person he knows can penetrate a deranged mind: ex–FBI profiler Keye Street.
And you must certainly be wondering if I am, in fact, the stranger you seek.
Keye was a rising young star at the Bureau until addiction derailed her career and her life. Now sober and fighting to stay so, Keye picks up jobs where she can get them: catching adulterers, serving subpoenas, chasing down bailjumpers, and dodging the occasional bullet. With multiple victims, little to go on, and an entire police force looking for direction, the last thing Keye wants is to be pulled into the firestorm of Atlanta’s worst nightmare.
Shall I convince you?
And then it suddenly becomes clear that the hunter has become the hunted—and the stranger she seeks is far closer than she ever dared imagine.

An electrifying thriller debut, The Stranger You Seek introduces a brash, flawed, and unforgettable heroine in a complex, twisting novel that takes readers deep into a sultry Southern summer, a city in the grips of chaos, and a harrowing cat-and-mouse game no reader will ever forget."

If you're a fan of Patricia Cromwell and Kaye Scarpetta, you will enjoy this new girl on the block! Keye Street is a tortured heroine with lots of skeletons in and out of the closet. She is a southern Chinese girl with a gay African American brother. I was hooked from that point on. She is strong and she is weak, and you root for her all the way through the book.

The plot is filled with twists and unexpected turns with a little romance on the side. It is a fast and thoroughly entertaining read. Great for a rainy weekend on the couch! This book is to be the first of a trilogy and I look forward to reading the other books. Keye is a great new addition to the crime/mystery genre.

Thanks to GoodReads and Bantam Books for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist


Quoted from Goodreads:
From the author of the international and New York Times bestseller Let the Right One In (Let Me In) comes this stunning and terrifying book which begins when a man's six-year-old daughter vanishes. One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While the couple explore the lighthouse, Maja disappears -- either into thin air or under thin ice --  eaving not even a footprint in the snow. Two years later, alone and more or less permanently drunk, Anders returns to the island to regroup. He slowly realizes that people are not telling him all they know; even his own grand- mother, it seems, is keeping secrets. What is happening in Domaro, and what power does the sea have over the town's inhabitants?”

The book begins with some very good character development and a beautifully set scene. The characters are interesting and real. As the book continued, I began to wonder where it was heading. There were a few things that didn't quite make sense, but not enough to keep my interest. I kept waiting for the “horror” story to begin. It never really did.

While I cared about the characters, and their stories were somewhat interesting, I found it a bit boring. There is some paranormal activity in the book, but it gets diluted as a result of some unnecessary ramblings.

At one point I put the book down and quit reading it. I did pick it up again and decided to read the ending. After reading the ending, I decided to give it another try and read it the rest of the way through to the ending. It felt more like a chore, than entertainment, but I did it! I found myself more confused than terrified. In fact, it just wasn't frightening to me at all. I am not sure that the comparisons to Stephan King are valid, at least based on this novel.

The general idea and plot of the novel were good, but the suspense and terror I was expecting just didn't happen. Overall, it was a disappointing read.

 Thanks to Thomas Dunn Books/ St. Martins Press for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Lost Angel by Javier Sierra

The Lost Angel by Javier Sierra

"In approximately seventy-two hours, a little-known Middle Eastern terrorist group plans to bring about the end of the world. Convinced that they are the descendants of angels, they believe they are on the verge of at last being returned to heaven. Central to their plan is the kidnapping of Martin Faber, an undercover American scientist whose research has led him to an extraordinary secret.
Martin’s only hope for survival is his young wife, Julia Alvarez—a woman born with a rare psychic gift. But she must find the courage to save her husband, all while running from religious extremists and clandestine government agencies.
Sierra takes readers on an adventure across the world, from the summit of Mount Ararat to the high desert of New Mexico, from the monuments of Washington, DC, to the medieval city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Sierra spent years investigating scientific and historical mysteries related to mankind’s efforts to engage directly with the Almighty."

The amount of detailed research was apparent from the first page of this book. My copy included a well written glossary of terms, events and people that was interesting on it's own and added lots of detail to the story. I referred to it several times during my reading.

The plot is based on real science and real world events. At times I had to question what parts were fiction and what parts were real facts. This is the mark of a great novel! Unfortunately at other times, the science seemed to bog the plot down and the pace became too slow. There is a fine line between information that is relevant to a story and information that while interesting, really has little impact on the plot. Some of the research could have been edited or condensed.

For the most part, it is a pretty effortless read. The chapters are not too long. They alternated among the characters' story lines. I did like that Julia's (the main character) chapters were written in the first person and the others were in the third person. It made the reader bond with the character of Julia, since you felt like you were listening to a friend tell her story. It was a very effective technique.

Overall, I felt that all the characters were underdeveloped. When Julia finds that she has been used and mislead by her husband, she doesn't seem to spend much time thinking about him and their relationship. It seemed like the author spent so much time on his research that he forgot about character development. There are several characters in the story that didn't seem to have an impact on the plot and I wondered why they were included. At times,it was confusing, especially with the alternating story lines.

The ending of this book was too abrupt for me. I expected some interaction between Julia and her long lost husband. Julia felt flat and one dimensional at this point. I wanted to feel more emotion from her and was disappointed.

Should you read this book? Sure! The plot is interesting and unique. It is a very good story, just not quite a great story, but still an entertaining read!