“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”
Published June 21st 2011 by William Morrow.
I tried to beat the release date of this book but I could not finish on time. But hey, better late than never, right?
I am familiar with James Rollins’ work by way of the novelization of the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Later on, I came across his Sigma Force series. When I received this book, I must say that I was concerned that I would not be able to grasp it very well because being the seventh in a series, it would be hard for me to catch up on character development; that the author would not put that much time in explaining who these characters are for the new reader. Luckily, that was not much of an issue after all.
The Devil Colony brings Director Painter Crowe and his team at Sigma Force to a race against time. A series of nanobot caches threaten to explode and blow up the planet. It takes them across the United States and even an adventure to Iceland. It all begins with a discovery of a Native American gravesite containing gold plates with ancient script engraved on them. Things become heated between the Native American groups and the National Guard and amidst that riot, the lead anthropologist of the dig dies suddenly, her body consumed by an unexplainable explosion.
Not long after Sigma Force was called in to help, it becomes personal to Director Crowe. His niece, Kai, is caught in the middle of it all, even being accused of masterminding the explosion. Together with the rest of his team, Crowe will do anything to not only save his niece but prevent these explosions from destroying the world.
This incorporated Native American history with the history of the Mormon faith (is it just me or did I read “JOHN Smith” somewhere in the book as supposed to “JOSEPH Smith”?) as well as nanotechnology. All of it was pretty new to me so it was a lot to take in. I appreciate all the explanations and the illustrations provided. They were very clear and it really did help push the story forward. Information-heavy as this book was, it was not boring at all. I found myself getting more and more interested in the topics being talked about. It was easy to understand.
I also love all the action and adventure the characters went through. I do not know how this compares to the other Sigma Force novels but this one was great. A bit of Indiana Jones-like thing going on with Painter Crowe and his part of the story while Commander Grayson Pierce was on his own vigilante mission.
As someone who is not familiar with these characters, I found them all engaging. They worked well with each other, which was what I would expect with six books of development behind them. At first, I was afraid that the author would just go into these characters without much introduction but Rollins gave hints of their backstories here and there. Not a lot, but enough to for a new reader to get her feet wet. My favorite was Kowalski. I am sure he is a tough guy through and through but his lines are just hilarious. Definitely the comic relief of the whole book! His penchant for C4 explosives reminds me of one of my favorite Mythbusters quotes from Jamie Hyneman: “When in doubt, C4.” I sympathized with Gray and the many problems he is facing on top of his already numerous responsibilities. I am very curious about Seichan. I was the most curious about her story and at the same time, confused by it. Kat and Monk, they are so sweet. Those two parts, I wished I read the other books so I would have a better grasp of their characters/relationships.
I do enjoy these kinds of books, in general, even if I am not familiar with the history they are basing their story from. Apart from not knowing the characters very well, I thought this was a solid and well thought out story. This definitely made want to get the rest of the series and start from the top. James Rollins, consider me a fan.
Recommendation: Fans of Steve Berry and Dan Brown would find something that they would like in this book. If you are interested in technology and fictionalized history, especially Native American history, give this a try. Although I might not recommend this being your first book to read out of the series. As much information that the author gave about the characters, I was still pretty much in the dark.
Book trailer and where to buy: click here.
Expected publication: June 30th 2011 by Little Prince Publishing.
Songbird is about 17-yer-old Dani Mays and her struggles with her past and present. She had a turbulent childhood; going from one foster home to the next, dealing (or trying not to) with an alcoholic mother and a convict father. It all started when she witnessed her own father murder Jace, her beloved brother. She was six years old. Eventually, Dani settled in with the Thompsons and led a somewhat normal life. But it was her best friend, Reece Tyler who made it all better. Reece was good-looking, popular, but he chose to be Dani’s friend nonetheless. He had been there with her always. Sort of like, another brother to take the place of the one she lost. Her future was looking bright until her past comes back to haunt her.
This is my second Young Adult book in a row. I must admit, I am still a reluctant reader. Let me tell you what I liked about it. It is well written. Easy to read, easy to understand. It is also very plot driven. Everything, from Jace’s death to Dani’s struggles with her friends melded together nicely in the end. I must say, the funeral for Jace, as told in a flashback, was very good. I teared up a little bit. It dealt with heavy emotions and situations – abuse, murder, family dysfunction – but it is balanced by happy thoughts such as love and friendship.
The thing between Reece and Dani was so cute in the beginning. I was rooting for them. Even when Colin, the new kid in school, came around, I was still hoping they would end up together. But it became old so fast. Nothing happened for the first few chapters other than Dani pining for Reece, thinking he’s cute and he’ll never go after a girl like her, all that jazz. Colin comes into the picture and Reece goes all possessive. Then it becomes this constant “will they or won’t they” among the three characters. When one gives in, the other shies away… and vice versa. It eventually got so tedious that I found myself rolling my eyes, thinking, “not again”. I felt that the book could have used less of that and still would be an effective story.
Then came the weird phone calls. That plot line, to me had so much potential. If developed earlier/better, it would have been a good B-story. But it was lost in the sea of the Reece-Dani-Colin drama that you could take that whole part out and it would not affect the ending very much.
I could see the author’s struggle between keeping the mood light and fun (with all the teen romance aspects) and inserting a bit of a suspense/thriller aspect. I just wish she took the risk of developing the darker plot point further. I could have used more of that and less filler.
Recommendation: Teens would like this and find that they can somewhat relate to what Dani is experiencing in high school.
Get your copy here.
Remember this mess?
Well, it took me a good part of an afternoon and listening to the original soundtrack of The Borgias by Trevor Morris to transform that mess to this…
As you can see, I do not have that many books and even less DVDs. Yes, I have one foot in the digital age. But this clearly proves that I support the printed word.
Up top, I have my Harry Potter and TV show DVDs. I have HP 1-4; just out of the frame are my Orlando Bloom movies; those stacked horizontally are my Matthew Gray Gubler and Stark Sands filmographies. I have American Idol – Best & Worst, True Blood Season 1, Generation Kill, Castle Seasons 1 & 2, Criminal Minds Season 5, CSI Season 1, and CSI:NY Seasons 1 & 2. Then a DVD about serial killers and then some VCDs of movie musicals – Cats, The Sound of Music; and a special packaged Black Hawk Down. Just beside the videos are my wider and/or hardcover books. My copy of Heatwave by Richard Castle is signed by the cast of Castle. Those coral colored rectangles on top are my One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick audio book and Primrose Past by Caroline Rose Hunt.
On the middle shelf, are my Harry Potter books and as you can see, butterbeer mug and glass from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Also, my Lord of the Rings collection comprising of the 2-disc DVDs, the 4-disc boxed set, the books, and little Gollum there. And yes, I have TWO 4-disc boxed sets of LOTR: The Two Towers. And no, it is not for sale. Haha! Completing the space are my Wicked and Jacqueline Susann novels.
And for the bottom part, the biggest stash. It’s a kind of an awkward space… so I just stuffed it. On the left, behind the 3 Tru:Blood bottles are my military history books. Yes, there are two copies of Generation Kill by Evan Wright there. The red one is signed by some of the cast of the HBO miniseries. I also have 2 hard copies of One Bullet Away, one is hidden by the bottles. Speaking of Tru:Blood, you can see Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris 1 to 8. To the right of that are my other vampire-related stories: The Vampire Diaries 1-2 by LJ Smith, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Mixed in are other historical fiction, Dan Brown, and Anita Shreve novels. Those stacked horizontally are the books I’ve won from GoodReads First Reads. I have since added two books to that stack.
I have two more shelves under these. They’re still in chaos; the bottom one I use for my shoes. But I still have more stuff – magazines, pictures. Eventually, I’ll have them all sorted out.
1 – The best book you read last year: outside the ones I’ve read at least twice before, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
2 – A book you’ve read more than 3 times: Generation Kill by Evan Wright.
3 – Your favourite series: the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
4 – A guilty pleasure book: Erm, I enjoyed the first book from The Vampire Diaries series by LJ Smith. I gave up after the second one.
5 – A book that made you laugh: depends on what I’m reading. I usually find funny parts in the books I read.
6 – A book that made you cry: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
7 – Most underrated book: Hmm… I can’t think of one right now.
8 – Most overrated book: In my opinion? The Hunger Games trilogy. It did nothing for me.
9 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving: Honestly? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
10 – Favorite classic book: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
11 – A book you hated: Anne Frank’s diary. I absolutely HATED it.
12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore: I don’t have one.
13 – Your favorite author: Anita Shreve. Among others. I can’t think much right now.
14 – Favorite male character: Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester.
15 – Favorite female character: Hermione Granger.
16 – Your biggest fictional crush: Er… movie Legolas? XD
17 – A good quick read: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff.
18 – A book that disappointed you: Anne Frank’s diary again. Disappointed me so much that I now hate the crap out of it.
19 – Favorite book-to-movie conversion: The Lord of the Rings trilogy bar none.
20 – Favorite romance: Jane Eyre.
21 – Favorite book from your childhood: Nancy Drew Mysteries: Mystery of Mirror Bay.
22 – A book you can’t wait for: none at the moment.
23 – A book you’ve been meaning to read for ages: The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis.
24 – A book that you wish more people would read: One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick.
25 – Character you are most similar to: Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds.
26 – A book that changed your opinion about something: Well, I have yet to come across a book that will change my mind about Young Adult literature. I’m not saying I hate it. I just do not prefer it.
27 – Most surprising plot twist or ending: Dominance: A Novel by Will Lavender.
28 – Favorite book title: Haha for some reason, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
29 – A book everyone hated but you liked: The opposite happens more often.
30 – Your favorite book OF ALL TIME: Jane Eyre. And The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.
This is my favorite part of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen:
I open the orangutan’s door and set a pan of fruits, vegetables, and nuts on the floor. As I close it, her long arm reaches through the bars. She points at an orange in another pan.
“That? You want that?”
She continues to point, blinking at me with close-set eyes. Her features are concave, her face a wide platter fringed with red hair. She’s the most outrageous and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
“Here,” I say, handing her the orange. “You can have it.”
She takes it and sets it on the floor. Then she reaches out again. After several seconds of serious misgivings, I hold out my hand. She wraps her long fingers around it, then lets go. She sits on her haunches and peels her orange.
I stare in amazement. She was thanking me.
Such a powerful image.
These books arrived at my door over the past week.
If you want a definition of “swamped” just check out my Stash page. XD
I’ll get around to reading and reviewing them eventually. Looks like I won’t be reading anything else apart from these freebies for a while. That’s good, if you ask me. Through the giveaway programs, I am able to expand my literary horizons.
Published May 13th 2011 by CreateSpace.
* In compliance with FTC guidelines, it should be noted that I received the book for free.
I came across this book while browsing several book blogs. I saw the author’s post saying that he was willing to give readers a free copy of Dark Matter Heart in exchange for a review. I figured, why not? (If you want your own copy, I will post details under the comments.)
Dark Matter Heart is the first book in the Cor Griffin Bloodsuckers Series. Our hero is Cordell “Cor” Griffin, a seemingly ordinary high school student. Together with his mother, Jane, he moves up to the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles, California to start anew. New neighborhood, new school, new friends.
He meets Taylor on his first day of school. He also meets a pretty girl named Caitlyn. Unfortunately, being the new kid in school, he becomes the target of the bullies. Things do not become easier for Cor when strange things begin to happen. Certain people that Cor comes in contact with die. And they all have the same cause of death… all were drained of their blood. Suspicions arise when it seemed coincidental that the murders start on the day Cor moved into town.
I do not have a good track record when it comes to Young Adult stories. Especially the Paranormal subgenre. Often, I am left unaffected or give up before I even finish it. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was a quick read; the story was fast-paced and direct. I like that it was very readable, the short chapters seem to add to the pace of the story. There are a couple of typos here and there but no big deal. I liked how the characters were written, Taylor mostly. I also liked Cor but it was easy for me to picture Taylor in my head.
The premise of the story is interesting. It is certainly different than most of the vampire fiction novels flooding the book shelves these days. I liked the ending a lot. It had a twist that I did not expect at all. I am interested on what will come next.
Given that is a new YA paranormal/vampire series, I understand that the author wants to establish his own canon of vampire history, e.g. Stephenie Meyer and her sparkling “vampires”. And I respect that. I might not agree with all of it but at least the author is trying to set his series apart from the others. Although, I still found myself shaking my head at some parts.
There were bits of the story that were left open-ended. I figured since this is the first book in a series that those details will continue on to the next book. I hope so. Good continuity is always a plus for me. Overall, it is a good establishing piece for a series.
Recommendation: Fans of YA vampire fiction would find that this is right up their alley. If you want to take a break from Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, give this a try.
Get your copy here.
“Funny how things get away from you. For years you can’t remember nothing. Then just like that, it all comes back to you.”
Like I said in my review, I loved the writing in this piece. I am not surprised that the author picked this for free reading, possibly as a teaser for the whole book.
Give it a try. You can read right off Smashwords or download to your computer. Tell me what you think of it.