Ok, I know I was jonzing for a good Young Adult series. Especially dystopian. Especially after The Hunger Games, and more importantly, especially afte...moreOk, I know I was jonzing for a good Young Adult series. Especially dystopian. Especially after The Hunger Games, and more importantly, especially after The Divergent series finished up. Although I loved what Veronica Roth did with the ending (that most people almost threw themselves off a building for) from a writer's perspective. Not to give it away just in case you didn't read it. It was powerful! But this review is about Marie Lu and her final chapter to the Legend series. Too bad she is overshadowed by such powerful other dystopian novels because Legend kicked some series tale. Prodigy as amazing as well, but Champion in my most humble opinion fell just a little short. Not by any fault of Marie's. It's just that the story that was initiated in Legend was so original and twisting, and unpredictable that reading Champion made me feel like she ran out of juice . Like a runner giving out just before the finish line. I could see the ending coming and it was just a matter of time until it all came to a flat end. There was a sequence in the middle where Marie tries to tie in some video game technology that reminded me of my Final Fantasy playing days - a tribute to Lu's history of game making - but that came off more annoying that innovative. I also wanted to see more fighting or action from Day and June with this being the finale and all. But alas, it was not meant to be. Marie did do a great job of bringing things to a close and even tied off the lose ends of Day, his brother and the disease that almost killed everyone. For that, I was grateful. Anyhow, I hope to see this one on the big screen one day, in interest to see how Hollywood transitions it. Maybe they will spruce it up a bit with action elements that keep the persona of Day very cool. Anyway, I give Marie Lu's finale a strong 3.5/5(less)
One of my favorite Young Adult books in 2012 returned with a sequel that did not disappoint. Rain and her band of super-teens (that’s my tagline, not...moreOne of my favorite Young Adult books in 2012 returned with a sequel that did not disappoint. Rain and her band of super-teens (that’s my tagline, not the authors) are still enslaved in the UZA. The new breed of freedoms fighters are committed to ending the tyranny of President Nicks “Tricky Nicky”, but realize that in order to overthrow her reign of terror, they will need to devise a plan and ally themselves with other rebels. Rain begins to have unsettling dreams, where she hears the voice of another young female who she does not recognize. This sends her into a panic over the idea that someone has discovered her and the resistance and is making a way to destroy them. Rain becomes more dedicated than ever to the cause and seeks to find answers to the many questions in her head. What I always like about sequels (if done right) is that it gives you the chance to gain more insight to the characters. Sarah Elle Emm does this fantastically; with smooth pacing and dialogue that digs just deep enough to each of the side and main character’s personalities. The story isn't saturated with the kids wielding powers like super heroes, but mostly delves into them thinking and problem solving. Rain, the main agonist of the tale, even goes through a rough spot with her boyfriend Jabari, which keeps her character grounded to the reader beyond her super powers. The feel of the dystopic future is layered well, with details that pull you in to the setting. To top it all off, the cliff hanger ending makes your mouth water for the next installment. I give Opalescent 5/5. (less)
Steelheart is one of those super-hero books that put a slant on the idea of people inherently having character flaws and using super powers for the de...moreSteelheart is one of those super-hero books that put a slant on the idea of people inherently having character flaws and using super powers for the detriment of society. In the near future, a group of people evolve into “Epics”, are given powers when a meteor named “Calamity” crashes on Earth. These beings have various powers that make them super. These Epics, choose to over-run society and take whatever they want, when they want. They are virtually indestructible. The main antagonist of the story named Steelheart, is the most powerful of all Epics and transforms Chicago into New-Cago, making the entire city a virtual steel fortress that goes ten feet into the ground. Prior to doing this, Steelheart gets into a confrontation while robbing a bank with a man and his son. He eventually kills the father, but before doing so, the father gets off a shot from his gun and leaves a small scar on his face. David (the son), who is the main protagonist, embarks on a quest to kill Steelheart and free the city of his evil. But first, he must find the weakness of Steelheart, along with the other Epics that inhabit the city and are under Steelheart’s rule. It’s fun to discover that one thing that could possibly kill each one. There is a bit of testing, since the ideas of weakness are based only in theory. The book is convincing in the world building aspects, making Chicago turn into a new age cold, metal covered fortress. Along with that, Sanderson does a great job of making the Epics “feel” well…Epic. The main cast of evil characters appear indestructible, up until each one of their demises. Sanderson also gives quite a bit of style to characterization, making the young boy’s allies in his quest of vengeance come to life. The only issue I had with the book was that sometimes it has a tendency to drag along in parts, taking too long to get to the point. It’s a big book, and it will take some time of investment to get to the end. Thankfully, the twists along the way are rewarding enough to finish out. For those into fiction, super heroes and redemption stories, you’ll get a kick out of Steelheart. It’s lush story elements and surreal world brings you in and gives you a well worth it experience. I give Steelheart a 4/5 stars. (less)
"Where conspiracy calls, adventure awaits"' reads Joshua Lisec's tagline as an author. And he delivers....moreBOOK REVIEW: THE PHOENIX REICH by Joshua Lisec
"Where conspiracy calls, adventure awaits"' reads Joshua Lisec's tagline as an author. And he delivers. THE PHOENIX REICH is every bit as epic as the writer proclaims. The beautifully raw emotion of Max's character made me root for him from page one. After his father is murdered, Max launches into an investigation fueled by pure sorrow and rage. But as the plot moved forward, I could definitely see the makings of a true action hero; one in the same league as Indiana Jones. I laughed quite hard many times while reading their hysterical exchanges. Lisec really knows how to bring a character to life. Mix in a little spicy romance between Max and the German gal Sofia and I was sold. The flashbacks to the carnage of World War II are definite tear jerkers, with the horribly unexpected sacrificial deaths, and the finality of Max's journey coming full circle are scenes from a blockbuster movie. While the international locales, vibrant plot twists, and play-by-play action are something out of a David Baldacci or Dan Brown bestsellers. Lisec's grasp of what makes us human gave him a true voice of his own. The cliffhanger epilogue of this first novel makes me salivate for the sequel, with rumblings of a prequel, THE COMPASS, in the wings. DonnaInk Publications put together a great book that I’m sure action aficionados will enjoy. The Max Meyers Adventure Series soars to a white-knuckling 4 out of 5 stars. (less)
I’m running. I’m running. And I can’t stop. As an ex-track athlete who spent most of his time doing the exact...more(Original Article) http://wp.me/p1E9M4-6o
I’m running. I’m running. And I can’t stop. As an ex-track athlete who spent most of his time doing the exact same thing in high school and college, I can appreciate a good run. I was a hurdler. Leaping over a 42 inch barrier, running full speed, with multiple adversaries in the adjacent lanes next to you is no small feat. It takes a great degree of focus and energy. More than that, there is an unwritten importance of keeping your eyes ahead of you on the next obstacle while toppling the current one.
Much like Patel’s story of wall climbing, curb skipping and fire-escape grappling Jack Nill, life in the future can be a dance of adaptation and tight-roping. Sam Patel set out to create a new series that captures the essence of these elements with his stunning debut in Data Runner. The story takes place I the future, where corrupt corporations run the ship and the government has all but been decimated by the widening gap between poor and wealthy stretching to almost limitless proportions. The economic tide is washed in technology and Geek warfare, with the internet being the battleground. Data running –odd jobs that require a person to download information into their arm and transport it from point A to B for money – has come to the forefront as a lucrative business, with multiple companies investing big bucks on trainer personnel with the skills to get things done. Jack Nill possesses the talent of parkouring, which allows him to travel city blocks sort of like a certain web-slinger who runs New York, just minus the web-fluid in his wrists. He bypasses school and joins a faction of Data Runners to make ends meet.
Behind the basic plot of a young man struggling to earn another buck until the best new gig comes along, is a story that addresses the importance of friends and family, of which Jack is short on. His mother went missing years ago and his father is a living enigma who keeps his work private. Before too long, Jack finds out that running data from here to there isn’t as easy as it seems. He gets caught up in and unravels the seams of a corporate conspiracy to bring down the entire city, with the spoils going to the last company standing. And of course, he carries the data that holds the key to thwarting the evil plans.
The story moves at an expected rapid pace, with Patel providing an adequate amount of detail that fleshes out the scenery of tomorrow, without slowing down the storyline. Mix in a cute budding romance for Jack to play around in, and you have the start of a story that I anticipate watching grow as the series runs along. Anyone into young adult, cyberpunk and sci-fi is in for a treat. The showdown at the end was a little anti-climactic, but I’m hopeful that Jack will find his light at the end of the Closter phobic tunnel in time. I give Data Runner an exhilarating, parkour twisting, 4 out of 5 stars.
Data Runner comes out June 25th and will be available on ebook, at Amazon and Barnes and noble. (less)
BOOK REVIEW: THE DROWNING WORLD BY BRENDA PETERSON
OK, before you start even reading, this is a book about Mermaids. If you, like me, are not a fan of...moreBOOK REVIEW: THE DROWNING WORLD BY BRENDA PETERSON
OK, before you start even reading, this is a book about Mermaids. If you, like me, are not a fan of Mermaids, you are going to struggle with getting into this book. Usually, I read young adult novels because I write young adult novels and I am very picky with what I choose to read for the simple fact that most of them follow a certain blueprint. There are just so many ways to you can tell the same story over and over again, so I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone and read something that I was not too familiar with, nor was I normally drawn to. This is that book! Surprisingly, I enjoyed it. It’s not to say that I am Mermaid prejudice. I mean, I didn’t grow up in a bubble and I could not miss the success train that The Little Mermaid was. But singing and dancing under the sea was just not my cup of tea; especially with talking crabs and pretty fish. I did however appreciate the love story elements of Ariel and the dashing hero. Thankfully, in Brenda Peterson’s novel (the first in a series) there are neither dancing crabs nor singing dolphins. There are however, talking dolphins and turtles. Peterson excelled at creating a world all her own (Aquantis) where Mer-people dwell and utilize fancy technology to navigate the sea and communicate. I appreciated her attention to detail, even down to the telepathic form of communication and tattooing. The Drowning World tells a story of future Earth in which Hurricanes have a finally put a butt whipping on the entire Eastern Sea Coast of the USA and a young Mermaid named Marina ventures on to dry land and befriends and young boy named Lukas. Over time, she brings him to her home world of Aquantis, where he finds out that he too have special abilities. Without spoiling it, they are unknowingly flung through a whirl pool/worm whole ten years in the future where Lukas is in a desperate search to find his father and return back through the whole. There’s couple of love triangles to keep the reader involved along the way, along with some small action scenes. As a writer, there’s nothing like playing in your own fictional world and Peterson flexes her imaginative muscle, enough to keep me interested. The problem is I felt more drawn to the environment, technology and elements, rather than the characters. Peterson switches POV from Marina and Lukas from a first person perspective and while she nailed Marina, I found it hard to distinguish between Lukas and her. Gender references like calling other characters handsome just didn’t come off too believable. Sometimes the conversations came off a little stiff and scripted. The ending of the book leaves the book wide open for the sequel and I’m sure that as the series progresses; there will be time to dive more into the psyche of each character. If you are a huge fan of marine life and love stories, you need to grab this one quick. If not, there is still much to be found beneath the sea in The Drowning World. I give it a 3.5/5 Stars. (less)
I gotta admit, something about Prodigy just didn't fill me up like Legend did. The plot in Legend was so much less predictable than Prodigy. The fresh...moreI gotta admit, something about Prodigy just didn't fill me up like Legend did. The plot in Legend was so much less predictable than Prodigy. The freshness of the story telling was also so rewarding. The love story between Day and June was revved up a bit, but not enough to satisfy me this time around. I also thought there was a little more action in the first one. The story took our heroes to Colorado now, leaving the battered land of California behind. The relationship between Day and June is exercised rather quickly as they are recruited by a group that wishes to take down the Republic: namely Anden, the son of the previous dictator. June is asked to infiltrate the Republic and get back in their good graces, close enough to end Anden's life. I won't give you the rest of the details, but Marie pulls off another special blend of intrigue and twists to keep you engaged. The ending of Prodigy was good, warranting me to sink my teeth into the last one when it is released later this year. I really had high hopes for this one, seeing as though the first in the series was a runaway hit in my mind. 3.5/5 Stars. (less)
Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story This is a wonderfully written biography that details the trials, challenges and success of the life of Cullen...more Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story This is a wonderfully written biography that details the trials, challenges and success of the life of Cullen Jones. If you didn’t already know by now, Cullen Jones is an American swimmer that has participated in the Olympics. Cullen has not only earned a gold medal on the relay team, but has secured multiple throughout his career, including a silver medal this summer in his individual race the 50 meter freestyle. The 28 year old swimmer is America’s most successful African-American athlete in the event. But Cullen isn’t just an icon in the water. As the book details, Cullen Jones speak to youths around the globe, encouraging them to achieve their goals no matter what their upbringing and despite the barriers placed before them. Cullen’s strong faith and family support galvanized him to achieve unheralded success in the sport and he has used his platform to engage people, both young and old, helping them to realize their dreams. The book is very well written, simple in its dialogue. Its smooth delivery never falls short, keeping the reader interstate and invested to see Cullen’s accomplishments over his career. The book is aimed at tweens and early teens, but older people who are looking for a biographical story the captures the good old fashioned notion of hard work paying off, will also find something valuable here. I give Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story3.5 out of 5 stars. (less)
Veronica Roth did it again. What a wonderful, compelling read. Still like the first one better, but cudos to Veronica for bringing about a new wrinkle...moreVeronica Roth did it again. What a wonderful, compelling read. Still like the first one better, but cudos to Veronica for bringing about a new wrinkle to the story adding color and unique commentary to bring teh story alive.(less)
I just finished reading Mark Oetjens’s The Staff of Rahgorra. This is a science-fiction novel that follows the story an evil over...moreThe Staff of Rahgorra
I just finished reading Mark Oetjens’s The Staff of Rahgorra. This is a science-fiction novel that follows the story an evil overlord named Thrull and his quest to secure a weapon called The Staff of Rahgorra and wield its power to control the galaxy. Along the way, Cam Del Rey- the hero of the story-, an ex-GSB agent is recruited to help secure the staff that was lost hundreds f years ago. On his quest, he meets up with a young GSB agent named Koya, who has a hidden past. Both possess a power known as “Jai”, similar to the force. It allows a person to become hyper sensitive to the world around them. They can move faster than normal and ‘sense’ when someone else who has this power is close by. She accompanies Cam and he decides to teach her how to control her Jai, in order to help him overthrow Thrull. As any good book would, there are segments if intrigue, drama, and deception.
I don’t want to give away a lot of the story, but Staff is a science fiction novel for the science junky. Mark litters the book with very cool and interesting science facts, such as String Theory, to educate and capture the interests of the reader, while weaving it into Rahgorra lore. Mark writes with a very smooth style, that carries the story long well. He knows how to capture the essence of science-fiction and evenly lace the story with technology and action, while keeping the reader engaged.
My only gripe with the story is that it is very familiar to me. I am a huge Star Wars junky, and this tale almost parallels it with similar themes of good versus evil and the power of Jai is somewhat like the Force. It was like reading a story within the Lucas world. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not something that I would call original. For science-fiction aficionados, it is a good read. (less)
I really like Veronica Roth writing style. Her first person perspective really draws the reader in to the characters and she really knows how to set t...moreI really like Veronica Roth writing style. Her first person perspective really draws the reader in to the characters and she really knows how to set the atmosphere for action and drama. I appreciate her take on a dystopian world, but I really would like to see a bit more (detail) on the world itself. The characters were definitely on center stage in this book. Maybe the sequels will paint the picture more when they arrive. Good book, recommend to all of those YA readers. (less)
Mr Labossiere hit the nail dead on the head with his suggestions for helping those struggling married men get into a more intimate and sincere connect...moreMr Labossiere hit the nail dead on the head with his suggestions for helping those struggling married men get into a more intimate and sincere connection with their spouse. His insight and strategies for building the marriage relationship are more than useful, they are critical for building physical and emotional bond a man and a woman. (less)