Challenge: 50 Books discussion

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Finish Line 2013! Yay! > Jim E- 60/40 for 2013

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments Last year my goal was to read 50 books and I got through 70. However, I read a lot of young adult so only about 31 or so were adult books. This year I want to read at least 60 books but at least 40 should be adult. This will be an interesting challenge because my adult books tend to stick to either Star Wars or Zombie books whereas my Young Adult books have a bit more differentiation (though largely dystopian or sci fi/fantasy). I've plotted the first 25 or so to get through so let's see how it goes.


message 2: by Jess (new)

Jess Cattanach (jesscatt) | 217 comments Good luck trying something different this year! Also, you can't go wrong with zombie books ;)


message 3: by Monica (new)

Monica (monnieh722) Either way... you have great taste in books! :) If you have any suggestions, send 'em my way!!


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments Was there any specific genre you like Monica? I recently updated my 2012 challenge list with my best and worst books of 2012. Only a handful of books got four or five stars and two got 1 star.


message 5: by Monica (new)

Monica (monnieh722) I love scifi/fantasy! Just haven't been lucky enough to find "good" adult books. Thats all YA books are about now!


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments I'm not a huge fan of adult sci-fi other than Star Wars novels. There are quite a few good ones of those and a handful of ones I can't stand.


message 7: by Monica (new)

Monica (monnieh722) I've only read one of the Star Wars books; I'll have to give the rest a try!


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 1. (1 Young Adult) Red Pyramid The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1) by Rick Riordan

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book and it took me forever to finish. My review is specific to the audiobook version. First, the good thing. There were two actors that did the reading of the story, a male and female. The female actor gave an exceptional performance. She was very enjoyable to listen to and did a great job with the different characters. The male performer was average. I looked up the female performer (Katherine Kellgren) and she is consistently awarded as one of the best audiobook performers year after year.

As for the story, I enjoy Riordan's Percy Jackson books but I just couldn't get into this one. One of my biggest issues was the dialogue of the egyptian gods, especially the "evil" ones, seemed very childish and immature. It was so bad it was to the point of making you want to roll your eyes. One example is when Sadie (the female lead) is insulting the villian, Set, and calling him vile and evil, he takes it as a complement and responds with a "yeah, I am pretty evil aren't I". If you like the Percy Jackson books, these don't seem quite up to the quality of those. I will probably finish the series, but won't be jumping right into the second book.


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 2. (Adult 1): Bone Song Bone Song (Tristopolis, #1) by John Meaney

I did not care for this book. I originally picked it up because when I did a search on the library computer for zombies, this book was listed. Technically, the book has zombie characters but they are not the man-eating living dead variety. The zombies are just like everyone else, only not living. This book bills itself as a novel of dark suspense. It is essentially a cop novel set in a very dark/chilling environment. More or less a sci-fi Gotham City. The author has an interesting imagination for his cities/technologies but doesn't do an especially good job of conveying the imagery to the reader nor explaining what certain unfamiliar (i.e. author's creations) actually are. I'm not a huge fan of cop/detective novels nor a huge fan of science fiction (other than Star Wars) so this book not something I would normally choose. I suppose most of the book was okay. However, the ending was a major disappointment. As I mentioned, this is basically a detective novel so the main character, Donal, spends his time investigating a crime. When the villains are revealed at the end, there is a moment of "was that character mentioned earlier"? It kinda comes out of left field as "who?" Additionally, the final chapter is presumably meant to build drama and tension for the second book but was so melodramatic and pointless that I actually rolled my eyes. That part of the ending more than anything made me not want to read the second book which I've had from the library for a couple of months now. Technicallyl, the second book is on my "to read" list but I've moved it from next up to way down the list with no intention of getting to it anytime soon.


message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 3. (2 Young Adult) Shadows Shadows (Ashes Trilogy, #2) by Ilsa J. Bick

This review includes spoilers- read at your own risk.

This book was okay but it was written very different from the first book and the ending totally ticked me off (more on that later). This is the second book in the Ashes trilogy. The previous book ended with Alex, our heroine, running away from Rule only to find herself face to face with a group of changed/teenage zombies. The first book, if I remember correctly, is written almost entirely from Alex's perspective. You would naturally think that the second book would pick up where the first ended with it's annoying cliffhanger. Nope, it starts from the perspective of a new, and secondary, character providing an update on what happened to Tom, who disappeared in the middle of Ashes and hasn't been heard from since. Only after you get the update on what Tom has been doing for the last 4 months since Alex has last seen him do you get to Alex's situation. Whereas the first book was all Alex's, the second book puts you into the heads of an assortment of characters (Alex, Tom, Chris, Peter, Lena, and even minor characters). You might spend a few minutes with Peter and his situation and then jump to Tom where you spend a couple of weeks with him. This happens at one point where Alex is left is a bit of a problem situation and then she disappears from the book for quite awhile while you follow Peter, Tom, Chris and Lena. During this time you're left to wonder, what the heck happened to Alex. You only find out when her adventures start intersecting with the others.

Regarding the ending. You basically have 4 different stories going on. You have Alex in the hands of the changed, Tom linking up with a group intent on destroying the mine which houses a bunch of changed, Chris/Lena wandering about the woods, and Peter in the hands of psycho militia men. With the exception of Tom and Peter, the ending leaves you with a WTF happened to the other guys. Alex's last scene in the book occurs probably 30-40 pages from end and you don't know if she is alive or dead, though things don't look good so it will be quite the boondoggle to keep her alive. Chris's last scene is even earlier in the book and again you're not sure if he is alive or dead. There is a scene with Lena later on but that doesn't clarify things any. In fact, she's left facing a group of changed and you don't know if she escapes, is captured, or killed.

I think it will quite a load of BS if Alex does survive and comes back for the final book. Her situation was too improbable to survive. If she does die, then you have to wonder what the heck is wrong with this author. I'm not saying that you can't kill off the main character of a trilogy, but it should be done at the end of the story (i.e. the supposed death of Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith). If the character dies in the second book, why should people read the third. Most people picked up the second book because they became attached to her in the first book and it's her they want to follow. Leaving her survival unknown at the end of book 2 is just a BS marketing ploy to get people to buy the third book to find out what happened. It's hack writing and weak. Make the fact of your character's clear at the end of the book and develop a story that makes readers want to read the next book to find out what happens next with the character, not just whether they lived or not. I'm so glad I get these books from the library for free rather than paying for them.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 4. (Adult 2) The Hobbit The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I personnally did not care for the book too much. This and Lord of the Rings are the only books I've read where I think the movies are better than the books. The movies provide for much more character and plot development. They also provide for a visual differentiation of the dwarves which you get none of in the book. The Hobbit manages to pack in a lot of action into a short space but at the expense of detail and explanation. It's is a lot of action scenes tied together by a loose narrative, kinda like reading a comic book. The ending was rather disappointing (spoiler alert). Bilbo and the dwarves spend the entire book building toward this confrontation with Smaug the dragon and then the dragon is killed by a single arrow by some random character that doesn't show up till the book is 80% over. This then leads to a random battle with the goblins, which with the modifications in the movie will make more sense than it does in the book. This huge battle is provided as a cliff-notes summary rather than any actual detail provided.

I have trouble understanding why the Hobbit/LOTR are such popular books. Perhaps it was based on the time they were written. Tolkien had an exceptional imagination so possibly the credit goes to the mythology that came from his imagination. However, as a book and storyteller, there is a lot to be desired.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 5. (Young Adult 3) Kill Order The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5) by James Dashner

This was a quick paced, decent dystopian novel. It is the prequel to the Maze Runner series. For those looking for answers for some of the unanswered questions from the Maze Runner, this is not the book for you. This book doesn't really answer any of the lingering questions. There is a short prologue featuring Teresa and an epilogue with Thomas but neither of them really add anything to the story. Where the addition comes for the overall series plot is this book takes place about 1 year after the solar flares wreck havoc on the earth. The Death Cure aludes to a kill order that took place that caused the Flare sickness. The book chronicles the Kill order, the outbreak of the Flare, and one group of 4 peoples attempt to deal with the oncoming disease. It provides a set-up for how the world got into the situation it was in come Maze Runner but mentions nothing of WICKED or anything else that is the plot of the other novels. As a stand alone book, it is an entertaining read and moves along very quickly with lots of action. A good book in itself but not really a great addition to the series.


message 13: by Jim (last edited Jan 26, 2013 10:40AM) (new)

Jim | 289 comments 6. (Adult 3) Area 51: The Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base Area 51 An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen

This was a pretty interesting book. It is essentially a history of Area 51 as told based on hundreds of interviews from people that have worked there. The most interesting parts of the book are the revelations behind the "aliens" at Area 51 and Roswell. You states the truth in the first chapter but waits till the very end to give the full story about it. The rest of the book touches on secret spy plane tests/development, drones, atomic bomb testing, and other aircraft development. At times the book branches away from Area 51 and talks about the Bay of Pigs invasion, Tet Offensive, and search for Bin Laden. These are remotely tied to activities at area 51. The book was good though the audiobook version is read fairly monotone by the author. Since it is a history book, I guess there isn't much acting to be done. For the record, you don't necessarily need to read the book to get the truth on Roswell and the aliens because the author has stated it on an episode of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, however, she doesn't give the full details of how the project was set up and started till the last chapter of the book. What is interesting is Area 51 is directly tied to the Roswell crash artifacts from 1947 because they were moved from Wright Patterson AFB, OH to Nevada in 1951. Area 51 gets its name from the year of the move (for the record, its part of the Nevada test range and there are many other "areas #") I'm sure many conspiracy theorists/alien buffs will reject the story provided to the engineers at Area 51 but it does provide for a plausible alternative. Who knew H.G. Wells could cause such trouble?


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 7. (Young Adult 4) 39 Clues: Cahills Vs. Vespers- Shatterproof and Trust No One. Shatterproof (The 39 Clues Cahills vs. Vespers, #4) by Roland Smith Trust No One (The 39 Clues Cahills vs. Vespers, #5) by Linda Sue Park

Technically these are two separate books but since they are so short, I am counting them as only one book for my challenge. Each was reviewed separately.

Shatterproof: This was a good addition to the series. The characters are not always believable, nor it the dialogue but it is writen for children and I think the authors accept that things are a bit over the top (with the Cahills and Vespers that is pretty intentional). I wish there was a bit more character development of the other Cahills besides Amy and Dan. Every once in a while you get to look inside Hamilton or Jonah or Ian and gain some insight but then it stops.

Trust No One: This was an interesting book as you finally learn who the Vesper mole is and their motivation. However, the book seems to be pretty inconsistent. I think that has to do with the fact each book is by a different author and I'm not sure there was great collaboration between the author of the previous book and this one. At the end of book four, Jonah has what is a rather life changing event. Jonah and Hamilton virtually disappear from this book till the very end but the major event from the previous book seems to be having very little impact on him despite what was said at the end of the previous one. It makes me wonder if the author knew what happened to Jonah in the prior installment.

Additionally, the Vesper's series is really ramping up the violence compared to the original 39 clues series. In the original 39 clues, only two characters died and one of those was minor. There have been several murders/killings in this series. This includes of-screen mentions of minor characters to the deaths of both supporting and major characters. An irritating aspect is that Ian's involvement and the side story with his mother has virtually disappeared during the last two books.


message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 8. (Adult 4) Left Behind: Armageddon Armageddon The Cosmic Battle of the Ages (Left Behind, #11) by Tim LaHaye

This includes spoilers:

I didn't care for this book. The concept and idea is fine, but the writing is so horrible, it makes it difficult to enjoy the book. The dialogue seems like it is written by a 12 year old and that is the good dialogue. The dialogue of Carpathia and his cronies is even worse, it's like a bad 80's cartoon. Also, all the "heroic" characters talk the same. There is no differentiation between them.

As for this book specifically, I don't find myself sad that Chloe died. She had become a complete idiot during the last several books continuing to put herself on the front line despite a complete lack of training. This time, she made completely ridiculous and tacticless decisions and got herself captured.

Albie's demise was a bit more sad but it was also unrealistic. Leading up to his encounter with MM, they said Albie was one the top 3 black marketeers in the world pre-rapture. Then, he meets with a man he acknowledges as one of the baddest men on the planet. the man has tattoos on his neck for each person he's killed. When Albie arrives, the guy is getting a tattoo and tells Albie its not because he's killed some, but sometimes he gets them in advance (first warning). Then he tells Albie he is only a businessman and only cares for money, which these days he makes by turning in bodies of Christians (second warning). He also prefers those christians dead because they are easier to deal with (third warning). All this time, Albie, who you would think has an exceptional degree of street smarts to be one of top three black marketeers in the world, would have clued into things. Nope. Albie doesn't realize anything until MM shoots him in the head.

Finally, Buck is a pain. He has become a totally unsympathetic character and I do not find myself liking him at all. I have to give credit to Rayford, George, and Razer for all not just smacking him across the head throughout this book. I would not be upset if it was him that died at the end.

I had high hopes for this series as I liked the concept. The first couple of books were okay even if they were outlandish (i.e. the UN Secretary General actually having some sort of world authority.. whatever). But as the books have progressed, the characters have gotten more unrealistic in their action (even considering the plot) and the writing is getting worse and worse. I roll my eyes at the dialogue of Leon Fortunato and his comrades. I will read the next book only because it is the last and I've already read the first 11, might as well finish the series.


message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 9. (Adult 5) Star Wars: Scoundrels Star Wars Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

I really enjoyed this book. This book was placed shortly after the original Star Wars film (Episode 4: A New Hope). It has Han Solo and Chewbacca running a Ocean's 11 style heist which includes Lando Calrissian as part of the team. It was a fun, quick paced story. The story is very "Snatch" like in that you have several different plotlines going on at once all intersecting at some point. YOu have Han planning his heist, the target- a Black Sun sector chief, facing challenges from a Black Sun Vigo, who is running his own scheme, all with a Imperial intelligence crew chasing after them. It was fun to read a Star Wars novel that was self-contained and didn't have any huge galactic implications. I enjoyed some of the new characters such as Bink and Rachele. this was more enjoyable than the last self-contained star wars novel I read, Mercy Kill. I think it was because the characters were more familiar than the few returnees from wraith squadron in Mercy Kill.


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 10. (Young Adult 5): The Rise of Nine The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies, #3) by Pittacus Lore

This was a pretty good book. It was fast paced and full of action. We're starting to learn a bit more about Lorien and their mission. In this book we got to meet 8, learn a lot more about 9, and the leader of the Mogorians. The books are rather interesting in that they constantly shift in being told from 3 points of view (Four/John Smith, Six, and Marina/Seven). Each character has their own font so it is easy to tell them apart once you've seen each. Interesting since two of the points of view are female and one male but I guess since there are two writers (one male/one female) I wonder if they split the writing that way. We still haven't met 5 but I think that will happen in the next book. I'm curious how long the series is meant to run. Overall, it was a fun book to read.


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 11. (Young Adult 6): Article 5 Article 5 (Article 5, #1) by Kristen Simmons

An unimpressive book. The book follows Ember Miller who is sent to a girl's rehabilitation center after her mother is arrested for violating a moral statute (having a child out of wedlock). This is meant to set-up the turmoil as Ember deals with the separation and uncertainty over her mother's arrest and her our trials. First off, the set-up doesn't totally make sense. Apparently, the US was attacked by all it's enemies in a great war and responded afterwards by converting to an uber-conservative country that outlawed virtually everything (books, hair dye, clothing, etc). Its what I might imagine communist Russia was like in the 70s. However, what doesn't stand to reason is why the government would respond to an all-out attack with that type of change. It is never stated which "enemies" it is that attack the US (terrorists, North Korea, Iran, China???) but it doesn't seem like a logical response that we would change to ultra-conservatism. This would make sense if we were attacked by a communist country, we lost, and they introduced a new version of communism but it is never suggested that is the case, nor is it suggested we lost.

Second, Ember Miller is a singularly uninteresting character. She is a typical 17 year old girl with no exceptional talents, skills, abilities, or interests. In fact, she is largely clueless and overly prone to emotional outbursts (perhaps that is meant to be realistic but it is annoying). Since the entire story is told first person from Ember's POV, you receive all information the way she does. Where this gets annoying is that things happen (foreshadowing) that is blantantly obvious to the reader but Ember doesn't realize till the end of the book. (spoilers follow): For instance, Ember's ex-boyfriend Chase, now a soldier in the military, helps break her out of the rehabilitation center at the behest of Ember's mother. When Ember first asks Chase about her mother, he responds stoically and cryptically as to her well-being. I clearly knew his reaction meant Ember's mother was dead. Ember wasn't able to figure this out until nearly the end of the book and even didn't pick up on it when another ex-soldier said all the statute violaters were executed. Also, Chase's actions (rescuing Ember, protecting her from thugs, etc) speak to the fact that he still loves her and will do anything to keep her safe. Again, this goes unrealized by Ember until late in the book. Even when she finds he has kept her love letters while he was away in a copy of her favorite book (one he dislikes), it doesn't occur to her that he never stopped loving her despite his own ordeal with the military.

Several times throughout the book, Ember demonstrates her lack of skills and rationale thought by trying (badly) to escape Chase, escape the rehab center, and get herself captured again and again. However, at the book's climax, she has overnight went from someone totally clueless who couldn't fend for herself to someone who can, in two days, plan a breakout from a military base. WTF!!! She's demonstrated no skills/abilities at being competent at this but comes up with it after 2 days in prison. This is also given the fact that she is an escaped fugitive accused of murder who, once in prison, is essentially given free reign of the compound without an armed escort or guard. What kind of prison is this?

anyway, I found Ember rather unsympathetic and irritating. The book itself lacked any significant action or plot. It set itself up for a sequel but I think I'm going to pass on it. Also, I listened to the audio version of the book. It was well read with one exception. There were clearly parts in the book where the story separated (line spaces between different parts of the story/kinda like chapter breaks). While reading, the actress did not adequately pause at these breaks to make it clear settings or timeframes (i.e. flashbacks) were changing. This meant the listener had to take a moment to figure out where things were as times, characters, or locations shifted suddenly. Otherwise, the actress did a great job reading the story.


╟ ♫ Tima ♪ ╣ ♥ (tsunanisaurus) You've written some great reviews so far this year! I've enjoyed reading them.


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments Thanks. I find I write reviews better with books I don't like than those I do. Guess its because I'm more negatively critical. Unfortunately, too many books this year have fell into the not so good category.


╟ ♫ Tima ♪ ╣ ♥ (tsunanisaurus) James wrote: "Thanks. I find I write reviews better with books I don't like than those I do. Guess its because I'm more negatively critical. Unfortunately, too many books this year have fell into the not so g..."

Couldn't agree more. Most of my reviews I've written have been for books with 3-stars or less. For any book I loved, I feel like I don't do it justice or just end up gushing about it. With books I don't like as strongly, I feel like I can actually be critical/constructive of it.


message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 12. (Young Adult 7): Flesh and Bone Flesh and Bone (Benny Imura, #3) by Jonathan Maberry

This was a good quick book to read. I much more enjoy Maberry's YA novels to his adult ones. This book answered a lot of questions such as how the zombie plaque started, what is beyond Mountainside in the Rot and Ruin, where the airplane came from, and so on. At times the book felt awkward because it was had scenes that I thought were overly similar to other books/movies. He even has a little shout out to George Romero and Dawn of the Dead when two characters talk about how their group survived the zombie outbreak by living in a shopping mall for a year. There was some depth as Benny dealt with (spoiler for Dust and Decay) Tom's death but I think the emphasis was more on action than character development. this book added a ton of new characters (Captain Ledger, Saint John, Mother Rose) that the book had to spend time on which took away from Lilah, Benny, Chong, and Nix (though he rarely writes from Nix's POV anyway). Overall, a good book. I'm wondering how long he plans on taking the series.


message 23: by Jim (last edited Feb 20, 2013 06:02AM) (new)

Jim | 289 comments 13. (Novella 1) Star Wars: A Forest Apart Star Wars A Forest Apart by Troy Denning

This was an enjoyable novella. It is told purely from Chewbacca's POV which I believe is a first. You actually get to hear/understand Chewie's dialogue along with his wife Malla and son Lumpy. It was nice to read a fun tale about Chewie given his demise so many years ago in Vector Prime and his absense from LOTF and FOTJ. He has shown up recently in the various Timothy Zahn books (Scoundrels, Allegiance, Choices of One) but you really never get an idea of what is going on in Chewie's head. This was a good addition to what he thinks about, how he sees his family/relationship with Han, and general outlook.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 14. (Novella 2) Star Wars: Fool's Bargain Star Wars Fools Bargain by Timothy Zahn

This book was okay. I enjoy Timothy Zahn's writing but this didn't do anything for me. I think it was largely because it centered on Stormtroopers rather than any of the characters from the Classic/NJO eras that I enjoy. I don't really care for reading about other characters like that which is probably why I've never completed the Clone Troopers or Bounty Hunter novels.


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 15. (Novella 3) Star Wars: Boba Fett- A Practical Man A Practical Man (Star Wars Boba Fett) by Karen Traviss

This was okay. It was interesting seeing what Fett was up to during the NJO era. I kinda like Fett and his code of honor. He's admirable in his own way.


message 26: by Jacque (new)

Jacque (bookgirltoo) | 104 comments Hi Jim,
I'm a huge fan of YA, probably because I worked in a school library for 18 years. But there are some excellent books in YA. Have you read the Books of Umber series? If you haven't, put Happenstance Found on your reading list.


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments Thanks Jacque, I'll look into them.


message 28: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 16. (Young Adult 8) Feedback Feedback (Variant, #2) by Robison Wells

I will say this made for a very quick read. It picked up exactly at the moment where Variant left off. Since it had been quite some time since I'd read variant, it took awhile before I remembered who all the characters are, something not aided by the complete lack of visual description of any character. The book did manage to explain a bit more of what was going on at the school but without giving spoilers, it provided part of an explanation that went in a direction I was not expecting. The book was okay and moved along rather quickly though Benson is an annoying protagonist. He is impulsive, arrogant, and fails to think things through. Overall, I didn't really "feel" for any of the characters. I will probably read the next book in the series, I'm assuming there will be one since this didn't wrap up everything, but I won't rush out to get it the first day of release. It's more of a "I'll read it when I get around to it".


message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 17. (Adult 6/re-read) Star Wars: Dark Force Rising Dark Force Rising (Star Wars The Thrawn Trilogy, #2) by Timothy Zahn

I really enjoy the Thrawn Trilogy. I listened to the audiobook version and sometimes feel they had some sort of voice modification system in use to make the reader sound just like so many of the characters. I like the development of Karrde and Mara Jade in this series. A couple things I noted in this reread (I've read it 5-6 times) is that while Zahn acknowledges its been 5 years since Return of the Jedi and other stuff has happened to the Rebellion characters, outside of the Outbound Flight, he only references events that occurred in the original movie trilogy as opposed to filling in some of the gaps himself. The other thing is that he makes excessive overuse of the word sardonic/sardonically. Virtually anything Karrde or Thrawn does is sardonic. I also find Capt Pelleon's character rather interesting in these books as he is very much a follower without extensive vision, especially compared to Thrawn. It's interesting to see how far he'd come from his Thrawn trilogy days to Legacy of the Force.


message 30: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 18. (Adult 7) Feed Feed (Newsflesh, #1) by Mira Grant

This book was rather good. I was torn on the rating because I could have rated it a 4 star as well. The book was not what I was thinking it would be like when I checked it out. I anticipated a typical zombie novel. This book instead was more of a journalistic mystery set in a zombie environment. The zombies are really secondary to the mystery/suspense story.

A couple of comments on the book. The author gives a lot of credit for technology and science in the acknowledgements but still managed to get some info wrong. For instance, when she is talking about the infective dose of the Kellis-Amberlee (zombie) virus, she mentions that ten microns is enough to infect a human and that one character was murdered with 900 million microns. The problem with this is a micron is a measure of distance. It is short for micrometer or 1 millionth of a meter. The writing suggests that a micron is a particle or spore (as common with biological agents). A particle can be micron sized but it is still a particle. This is akin to Han Solo's comment that he completed the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. A parsec is a measure of distance, not time (as one might think by the use of "sec (second)" in the word).

Another error was one of continuity. Each chapter ends with a blog entry representative of the different characters. At one point, one of the characters dies (this is a zombie novel so that shouldn't be a spoiler) and the blog entry lists the date of death as April 17, 2040 (an event that happened as part of the narrative). Later, Georgia holds a meeting with all of her subordinate bloggers. After the meeting, a key support blogger resigns. The end of the chapter blog entry is from that character and includes their resignation notice...dated April 9, 2040. The resignation was in response to the characters death, however, the entry is dated more than a week beforehand. Just an editing error most likely but still had me turning pages back and forth to figure it out, not the best response for a page-turning novel.

On that note, the novel was quite a page turner, especially in the later half when people start dying and the mystery really begins. I found myself wanting to stay up to read just one more chapter, one more chapter, instead of going to bed. That is why I might be a 4 star book instead of a 3. What might make it a three is the ending of the book which left me very disappointed. SPOILER--- the book ends with the death of a significant character (a different one than above) and I'm not certain I'd be all that interested in reading the next two books without that characters active involvement.


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim | 289 comments 19. (Young Adult 9) 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers- Day of Doom. Day of Doom (The 39 Clues Cahills vs. Vespers, #6) by David Baldacci

This book was good and a bit action packed. However, it also demonstrated the problems with having multiple authors write a single series. I actually wonder if Baldacci had read any of the 39 Clues novels or was simple told who the characters were because he did such a bad job of representing so many of them. The biggest of all was Jonah. (SPOILER!!!) At the end of the 3rd? book, Jonah shoots and kills someone. The event weighs heavily on Jonah for the rest of that book. However, in the following books, the event is never mentioned again nor does having killed someone appear to have any impact on Jonah. In this book, it's like Baldacci was told that Jonah was some hip-hop superstar and that is how he is represented, consistenly making references to singing (even in battle) despite Jonah's portrayal in the other 17 books. So many of the other characters are simply charactures of themselves (Hamilton, Reagan, Nellie, Natalie) that the story really suffers. The book is much darker than any other with the deaths of several characters, some of which I think were unnecessary or poorly developed. A decent conclusion to the series but poorly written.


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Jim | 289 comments 20. (Young Adult 10) The Necromancer The Necromancer (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #4) by Michael Scott

I listened to the audiobook at work so I probably didn't pay as close attention to this as I would have if I had read it. However, I'm starting to get a little tired of this series. I seriously think this series is about 2 or 3 books too long. Virtually nothing of significance happened in this book and the big climax practically came out of nowhere and was rather superficial anyways. There are two books left in this series and I am not looking forward to completing them.


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Jim | 289 comments 21. (YOung Adult 11) Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus) The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, #3) by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan's books are good but at the same time, not good. I like the characters and the story. The stories usually move along at a good pace and have lots of action. The main characters are interesting and they usually are fairly humorous. However, Riordan's writing has some issues. I know the Percy Jackson books are considered children more than young adult but they get a bit too childish. The stuff he adds to make them more appealing to a younger age group is too over the top. For instance, Posiedan wears a loud Hawaiian shirt with a grungy beard that reminds you more of the Dude from Big Lebowski. Or in this book, a giant that is bent on destroying Rome wearing a leotard for battle and doing ballet turns while fighting. It's too childish. Also, everything that happens in the Percy Jackson novels is too coincidental. One example has Percy and friends travelling across the Atlantic. They get attacked by a sea monster and Leo/Frank/Hazel fall into the water. The attack just happens to occur right next to an undersea mer-person training center and the three are rescued and provided guidance they will need in their next battle. That is a little too convenient. The problem with these books is that is how everything happens. By comparison, the 39 Clues series is also for children and involves a round the world quest but in those books, the kids actually have to deduce clues to figure out where to go next and what to do. They aren't handed the information in "chance" encounters at every opportunity like in Percy Jackson. Riordan even wrote the first 39 Clues book so you know he capable of making it more problem solving based rather than coincidence but he sticks with his formula.

As for the audiobook version, I did not care for the guy reading it. All his voices sounded similar and virtually all the guys sounded like surfer dudes. You would think that might fit Percy as son of the sea god except Percy is from New York City. The audiobook also had poor editing, frequently cutting off the first words of sentences as the actor read them.


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Jim | 289 comments 22. (Young Adult 12) Doomed Doomed by Tracy Deebs

This book was rather interesting. I haven't read a lot of techno thrillers other than Critchon and Dan Brown. I may actually want to try and find some similar books. Regarding this book, it was interesting and fast paced but had a few drawbacks. The book is written in present tense which makes things fell kinda funny for awhile. More significantly, the main characters, Pandora, Eli, and Theo spend a lot of time playing an massive multiplayer online game. When the author describes Pandora's avatars actions, she doesn't clearly deliniate them from the real Pandora. For example, the book is told first person from Pandora's viewpoint so when playing the game she keeps saying stuff like, I look here and I attack this monster when really it is her avatar doing those actions while Pandora sits at a computer. The end of the book is also rather anti-climatic, kinda like the writer got tired of the story. In the story, Pandora is given 12 pictures of her past with her dad that she has to follow to save the world. She only gets through 7 of them before the end of the book. Why were their 12 if the bad guy, her dad, wasn't going to use them. I almost get the feeling the writer either a) got bored/tired of writing the book and just decided to finish it, or b) was late on her deadline and had to just wrap it up to get it to print in time.

Also, I had a lot of trouble telling Theo and Eli apart and continually had to go back to their brief description at the beginning of the book to remind me of who was who.


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Jim | 289 comments 23. (Adult 8) Star Wars- Old Republic: Revan Revan (Star Wars The Old Republic, #3) by Drew Karpyshyn

I didn't really care for it. I'm not a big fan of the Old Republic era so that didn't help. From what I understand from the Essential Readers guide, this book is basically a sequel to the Knights of the Old Republic game. Having not played the game, it was obvious from the start of the book that all the action/backstory had occurred somewhere else. It was a little annoying with the first half of the book constantly referring back to the "official" events of the game. I actually felt like Scourge was a more central character than Revan was despite the title of the book.

There were some other things I didn't care about the book. First, this book is set to take place over 3000 years before Star Wars: A New Hope yet things don't seem to have changed much. Coruscant is still described as it is in the movie era novels. Apparently, even 3000 years earlier, Coruscant was still the republic capital and a planet wide city. You'd think things might have changed over the course of a few millenia. Also, the sith are still being led by an Emperor and called Imperials with imperial guards wearing red uniforms just like in the movies. I just felt that taking place 3000 years earlier, so much would not be the same as it was in the movies.


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Jim | 289 comments 24. (Adult 9) Glorious Appearing- Left Behind 12. Glorious Appearing The End of Days by Tim LaHaye

I am just glad to be done with this series. I was only reading the final books to finish the series since I started it. This book was the most boring and painful to read. This book was overly preachy even for this series. They kept stopping the storyline to quote scripture for pages and pages. It really killed any attempt at a plot and made the story worthless. I also don't like how the characters make ridiculous decisions just so they can be at the scene of events so the author has someone present to give their point of view of events happening at a given location. The main characters themselves don't actually do anything except go from one place to the next in order to report on events so the reader knows what is going on. Bad, bad writing.


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Jim | 289 comments 25. (adult 10) Kingdom Come (Left Behind 13?) Kingdom Come The Final Victory by Tim LaHaye

Despite finishing the left behind series and disliking the last half dozen books, I listened to this one since I had it on CD and was going to be at my computer for several hours anyways. The only positives I can give this are that you don't notice the bad writing, plotting, and dialogue very much when the guy reading the book is awful. He barely provided any gaps when changing dialogue from one person to the next so it was very annoying to listen to. I will never read anything by either of these authors ever again, regardless of subject matter.


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Jim | 289 comments 26. (young adult 13) Ten Ten  by Gretchen McNeil

Basically think of pretty much every teenagers alone in the woods horror movie you've seen and you have the plot of the book. 10 teenagers are on a deserted island for a party when they mysteriously start dying.....oooohhhhh. The plot is pretty formulatic but it was reasonably well done and I will admit I didn't know who the killer was until they finally revealed themselves. Otherwise everything became pretty predictable. It's short but moves along at a quick pace once the kids make it to the island. Original, not so much. I could probably rattle off a half dozen movies with the same plot. During the first few chapters I was thinking this book was quite a bit too much like The Ring but even the book has a direct call-out to that film. Reasonably entertaining, "popcorn" novel if you have time on your hands. Well done enough I might see what else the author has written.


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Jim | 289 comments 27. (adult 11) Micro Micro by Michael Crichton

I did not really care for this book. First, it should be noted, that will Michael Crichton's name is foremost on the cover, the book is largely written by Richard Preston after Crichton's death. It has been awhile since I've read a Cricton novel but usually enjoyed most of them. This one, not so much. I think it was more Preston's writing than Crichton. Regardless, while I know both authors enjoy incorporating technology extensively in their novels, in this one they frequently went into sidebars about the technology that killed the plot motion. Also, the writing tended towards very short abrupt sentences with lots of repetition. For example, lines like "Peter watched as the man put a sign in the parking lot. Peter told the others, "He put a sign in the parking lot." It gets rather annoying, especially on the audio version. Not a Richard Preston fan.


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Jim | 289 comments 28. (adult 12) Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith Star Wars Lost Tribe of the Sith The Collected Stories by John Jackson Miller

I had read most of the original stories on the ebook format but recently finished the last 3 stories in the hardcopy version. I'm not a huge fan of the Sith or the Old Republic Era so they don't particularly appeal to me. It was kinda interesting getting some back story on the Kesh Sith as it pertains to Legacy of the Force/FOTJ. One thing that had me wondering recently was, if the sith are so backstabbing and all about themselves, how do they manage to exist as a group without killing off all but one or two of them?


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Jim | 289 comments 29. (adult 13) Star Wars: Clone Wars- No Prisoners No Prisoners Star Wars (The Clone Wars) by Karen Traviss

This was an interesting book. I think it was almost done as a way to explain Callista's background and how her Jedi development conflicted with what is shown in the prequels. I didn't realize she was going to be part of the story. Having Pelleon as part of the story was a bit odd because it didn't seem like he should have been old enough to have served in the clone wars, especially as a Captain. A naval captain is rather high ranking despite what the author does when she has Pelleon and Rex (army Captain) have an exchange that they are both Captains so stop with the sir. There is huge difference between a captain in the navy (O-5) and a captain in the army (O-3). Otherwise the book was okay but I think they could have concluded it a bit sooner. The last two chapters were mostly epilogue. Pelleon also seemed a lot more confident and assure of himself than he does in the Thrawn trilogy novels.


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Jim | 289 comments 30. (young adult 14) Undead Undead (Undead, #1) by Kirsty McKay

I read this in a single day so at least I can say it is a quick read. Also, don't judge a book by it's cover (my cover was the cheerleader with an axe). That was very misleading and doesn't even represent the main character. The book was light on the zombie action and took nearly half the book before it got moving. I felt that Smitty was an obnoxius, know-it-all idiot. the final premise for the book seemed a bit far reaching for the way the book was developed and written. I have also decided I'm not a big fan of writers writing short books (under 300 pages) and ending with a cliff-hanger and uncompleted story arc. At least I got this from the library. Decent but a bit mundane.


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Jim | 289 comments 31. (young adult 15) The Prey The Prey (The Hunt, #2) by Andrew Fukuda

I listened to the audio version of this book. It was not done very well. The reader was very monotone and his voice sounded too old for the teenage Gene. He also did not add a lot of inflection or variation when he did other characters. As for the plot, it kinda of plodded along at a rather slow pace. The events with the mission seemed a bit contrived but also very predictable. Gene is not a very interesting character and I have little empathy for him. I am only continuing to read this series because it was on audio and at the library (i.e. free). Also, it was appropriate to listen to at work (compared to the one in my car which has a bit too much profanity to be a good idea at the office). I also had limited interest in the book so if I got focused on work, it wasn't a big deal if I missed anything. I did manage to basically drill through it in two days while working on a big project. Was still able to pay attention since a lot of what I was doing was cut/paste, repetitive, tedious work. Made the work day go quicker at least, especially since my work area is extremely quiet.


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Jim | 289 comments 32. (adult 14) A Once Crowded Sky A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King

This book was a bit of a disappointment. I really enjoy superheroes and grew up reading lots of comics so I thought this would be interesting. However, the writing is very poorly done. The author has way too much inner monologue that gets confusing (and boring) as you get flashback origin stories of different characters. Additionally, the dialogue was a bit too realistic. For instance, in most writing, the dialogue is a tad bit more formal than it would be in real life. This is done to make the dialogue understandable. If you don't know what I mean, just listen in on a conversation between two or more people. There are a lot of interruptions, incomplete sentences, and nonsense sounds. the dialogue in this book is a bit too realistic such that it becomes difficult to follow. Especially when 3 characters are having a talking but only two are having a conversation with the third saying their own thing. It doesn't help when many of the characters are mentally unstable or drunk. The rest of the writing is a bit too lyrical or too difficult a prose to read for extended periods. I basically trunged through half the book last night just to get it finished so I could read something else more enjoyable. I would give a 4 for effort and concept, but a 1 for execution.


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Jim | 289 comments 33. (young adult 16) No safety in Numbers No Safety In Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

the book was good and a very quick read. this second point is due to the fact it is less than 300 pages. However, because of that, it is also an incomplete story in my opinion. The book starts with several thousand people getting quarantineed in a mall because of a bomb threat. By the end, one week has passed. I know there is a sequel coming and I think they could probably have combined the two books for a more complete narrative. This book didn't even have much of a climax even if the author did try and go for a "big secret" reveal at the end to build anticipation for the second book. The reveal wasn't particularly significant or unexpected and came on the heels of a lack of climatic ending. I'm also curious about the authors knowledge of bioterrorism agents as it seemed to be lacking and based more on "what are the names of things that sound scary" as opposed to an working knowledge of bioterrorism agents, dissemination techniques, and analysis methods. Also, given what the actual agent is and how similar agents have been handled in real world situations, the actions in the book seem a little overreactive. One particular example of lack of working knowledge, let's assume you have a biological agent released in a building and you are concerned that the agent is airborne transmissible, why wouldn't you turn off the HVAC system in the building so you aren't exhausting potentially contaminated air into the outside environment you are trying to protect by isolating the building in the first place?

I also just realized that the story is told primarily from the viewpoint of 4 unrelated teenagers (okay, I didn't just realize that but what comes next), and all 4 of these 4 teenagers could be classified as "outsider/loner/new kids" in their respective school/social environments. Could have been a bit more variation in the primary population as opposed to them all being the same, just changing gender and ethnicity. I will probably read the sequel but as with this one, I'll wait for the library to get it.


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Jim | 289 comments 34. (adult 15) Directive 51 Directive 51 (Daybreak, #1) by John Barnes

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. I did not really care for it. It was 18 discs on CD so I'm thinking it was a rather large print book. I think the author bit off too much in their scope. The book covers an apocalypse starting with the planting of bioterrorism items till several months afterwards. The author attempts to do this by being in all places at once. As a result, you have a huge cast of characters at the beginning, all introduced at once, which makes it very hard to distinguish between them. As the book goes on, it focuses on a smaller core of characters. However, the result is that all these characters that are introduced and followed every few chapters at the beginning are then ignored and forgotten. They pop-up from time to time and then disappear with no resolution to their storyline. You have one group of "bad guys" being arrested by neighbors and being taken to a police station and that is their last appearance. You never know if they get there or what happens to them afterwards. It gets very cumbersome and annoying with this continues to happen throughout the book. I think the author would have been better served to focus on his core characters (Camerron, Heather, Graham) and their response to the tragedy. This could be supplemented with material that provides additional detail. For instance, rather than having a specific A-10 pilot tell his tale of shooting down a plane, you could just describe the event as conducting by some nameless pilot. Do we really need to know the pilots reaction to the fight afterwards and how he interacts with his wife in hours afterwards, especially if he is going to disappear from the novel a quarter of the way through? Probably not. I would say, pull back on the scope and just follow a few important characters rather than trying to be everywhere in the globe all at once.


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Jim | 289 comments 35. (young adult 17) Dualed Dualed (Dualed, #1) by Elsie Chapman

Interesting, short, fairly well paced. I do wonder at some of the choices West makes, such as being a striker. Overall, nothing exceptional but I'll pick up the sequel at the library. Not one to be purchased though.


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Jim | 289 comments 36. (young adult 18) Tempest Tempest (Tempest, #1) by Julie Cross

Rather dull and passive. Seriously lacking in action till the very end. Never really captured my interest. Too much time spent on Jackson and Holly's boring teenage relationship. I will not be reading the rest of the series. With time travel, you can do a great many things to make the story interesting. This does few of them and does them poorly.


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Jim | 289 comments 37. (adult 16) Star Wars: Path of Destruction Path of Destruction (Star Wars Darth Bane, #1) by Drew Karpyshyn

I had been avoiding this book because I neither a big Sith fan nor a fan of the Old Republic. I will say that this exceeded expectations and was pretty good. It actually had me looking forward to reading the next in the series. This book offers great insight into how the sith become the way there are come the movies which is fascinating. I did not especially care that the main villian, Sirak, was essentially Darth Maul only yellow, that was bit unoriginal. Overall, the book was entertaining and good. Not sure if this was because of the story or because so many books I've read lately were bad (i.e. not continuing the series). We'll see how they do when I get to the 2nd in the series.


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Jim | 289 comments 38. (adult 17) Cabin in the Woods The Cabin in the Woods The Official Movie Novelization by Tim Lebbon

This was okay. I was hoping it would add more to the story from what was in the movie but outside of inner monologue, it didn't really add that much. Otherwise it was scene for scene, word for word from the movie. Disappointment. I really would have liked more background on why they played out the scenarios.


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