Alive (The Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler

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“I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness. I hear my own breathing, but nothing else. I lift my head . . . it thumps against something solid and unmoving. There is a board right in front of my face. No, not a board . . . a lid.”

A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief — she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people … and no answers.

She knows only one thing about herself — her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin — yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they’re to have any chance, she must get them to trust each other.

Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there’s a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.

I picked up an ARC at Book Con. The release date is July 14, 2015. I will be respectful of author’s request and keep this spoiler free.

I enjoyed Alive very much. It’s an exciting page turner. Sigler does a great job of writing about human behavior. During the characters’ journey and discoveries they face many ethical, phycological, political, and other challenges.

The characters are well developed and play off each other in a manner that the reader feels like they are a part of their group.

I have to mention this and I won’t give anything away. I’ll just describe it in a general summary. There is a very subtle love triangle but it was not the main focus, which I loved. It’s more about basic human emotions of attraction and some jealousy, rather than anything mushy, idealistic and moving way too fast.

I like the sci-fi aspect. It was not what I was expecting since I thought it would be a supernatural story. Some answers I guessed correctly and other times I would go back and reread chapters to absorb all the details again. There is some world building that really interests me and I want more details.

The pacing is just right. I didn’t get frustrated by drawn out mysteries but there are questions I hope are addressed in the next two books.

I can say without a doubt I am interested in this trilogy and look forward to the release of book two.

5 out 5 (circles) O

 

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Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace #1) by M.J Arlidge

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The “dark, twisted, thought-provoking” (#1 New York Times bestseller Tami Hoag) international bestseller—first in the new series featuring Detective Helen Grace.

Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense….

This is one of the free books I picked up at Book Con this year.

It was ok for me. Crime thriller novels are not my usual genre. I’m not usually into the who-done-it and the catch the serial killer before he or she strikes again, unless it’s on TV. Sometimes the story went really dark, and the details were quite gross. I understand the theme of the novel and painting a whole picture for the reader, but it was almost like torture porn.

There were also the typical red herrings, one of which I guessed early on.

On to the positive aspects. I liked the short chapters from different characters’ persectives. Not only did it make it a fast read, it also gave a wider view of the psychological consequences. The trauma and PTSD the characters went through was well written. As for the villain’s motive, while not justifiable was understandable. I don’t have much experience reading crime thrillers so I have this unfair assumption that the villains are written to be sick and twisted for no reason. Knowing her reasons made the character more dimensional than just someone who kills to further the story of the protagonist/lead detective.

I also liked the way the female detectives worked together on the case.

Fans of crime novels will enjoy this series. I think for now I am one and done. Unless I pick up a free copy of the next book at a convention. There is a whole series planned. My copy has a conversation with M.J. Arlidge and he said when he first discussed Eeny Meeny with his publishers he also verbally pitched the first seven novels in the Helen Grace series to them. The next book, Pop Goes the Weasel, comes out October 6, 2015.

2.5 out of 5 locked rooms.

Book Con – May 30 – May 31, 2015

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The set up was an improvement from last year. There was room to walk around and they gave out bracelets for the panels being held in the Special Events Hall. That prevented people from queuing up at 10AM for a panel that didn’t start till 3PM.

Started off Saturday morning getting bracelets for Mindy Kaling in conversation with BJ Novak at 11AM and Room Film panel featuring first look and cast discussion.

Mindy and BJ were very funny. I liked them both on The Office, and I can’t deny, I ship them in real life. I forgot how Mindy knew this story but it was a funny one about how when Tom Hanks and Dave Chappelle were filming You’ve Got Mail. It was at the time of the Seinfeld series finale and after a long day of filming they couldn’t find a place to watch it. So being on the Upper West Side (where much of Seinfeld took place) they figured everyone would be home watching it. They knocked on some strangers door and asked if they could watch the finale with them. Ok, when I tell the story it is lame, but look for this panel on YouTube and Mindy tells it right.

I read the book sampler of Why Not Me? and I liked the part in the first essay about when you are still best friends with your best friend and you have that inside joke that lasts for years. And even just one phrase of that inside joke will still make you laugh.

I read Room back in 2012 and had no idea it had been adapted into a film. It was because of Book Con that I found out. So I loved the book and was very excited about this panel.

Emma Donoghue spoke about her process of writing the novel and then adapting it into the screenplay. I am so happy to hear she wrote the screenplay. I have much more faith in a book to film adaptation when the author is the screenwriter.

She also said that a small Irish film company produced the film. Good, those big Hollywood suits often screw things up anyway.

Brie Larson, playing Ma, and Jacob Tremblay, playing Jack, also spoke about their roles. Brie actually secluded herself for a month to prepare for the role. She also went on a special diet and built muscle tone to be able to keep up with a energetic 5 year old.
Jacob was adorable and seemed a bit nervous but spoke really well in front of a large audience.

Then it was up to the Exhibit Hall. We were not crammed into a tiny corner like last year. There was room to walk around and not feel like a salmon swimming up-stream.

I didn’t see many book give-aways on Saturday. I picked up a few chapter samplers. I only picked up one free book, H2O, by Virgina Bergin. It came with a poncho!
Also, one of my friends gave me a ARC she picked up, A History of Glitter and Blood, by Hannah Moskowitz. 

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Book Review: The Prophet by Michael Koryta

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A new thriller from international bestseller Michael Koryta: the killer of a teenage girl terrorizes a small town and reopens decades-old wounds.
Adam Austin hasn’t spoken to his brother in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered. Now Adam keeps to himself, scraping by as a bail bondsman, working so close to the town’s criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them.

Kent Austin is the beloved coach of the local high school football team, a religious man and hero in the community. After years of near misses, Kent’s team has a shot at the state championship, a welcome point of pride in a town that has had its share of hardships.

Just before playoffs begin, the town and the team are thrown into shock when horrifically, impossibly, another teenage girl is found murdered. As details emerge that connect the crime to the Austin brothers, the two must confront their buried rage and grief-and unite to stop a killer.

The Prophet was a wonderfully written story about grief, family ties, and a suspenseful mystery. I became emotionally invested in each of the brothers’ lives. They were developed in a well rounded way that I could understand each’s point of view; Adam’s guilt, living in the past, and wanting revenge as well as Kent’s decision to forgive, like a good Christian, and learning that life goes on.

What was also identifiable was that though Adam and Kent were estranged, in the end they would still do anything to protect each other. That end sure had me at the edge of my seat and shouting out at the characters, then ultimately I cried at the bitter-sweet outcome.

There were some questions that were not answered or not fully detailed, but it’s acceptable because this was the brothers’ story. Not the police, or the FBI, or the killer’s. It kept it simple and more character driven.

As someone who hates football unless it’s a Friends Thanksgiving episode, or movie and TV series Friday Night Lights, I liked how the football games factored in. (Which makes sense because when they handed this out at Book Con last year they described it as Friday Night Lights meets In Cold Blood.) I didn’t understand the terminology, because I just can’t grasp the rules of the game, but I was rooting for the Cardinals and for their distraught star player.

If you stumped about what you should read next, this would be my recommendation.

4.5 out 5 Touchdowns. 

Book Review: The Family Hightower by Brian Francis Slattery

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In 1968 two boys are born into a large family, both named for their grandfather, Peter Henry Hightower. One boy—Peter—grows up in Africa and ends up a journalist in Granada. The other—Petey—becomes a minor criminal, first in Cleveland and then in Kiev. In 1995, Petey runs afoul of his associates and disappears. But the criminals, bent on revenge, track down the wrong cousin, and the Peter in Granada finds himself on the run. He bounces from one family member to the next, piecing together his cousin’s involvement in international crime while learning the truth about his family’s complicated history. Along the way the original Peter Henry Hightower’s story is revealed, until it catches up with that of his children, revealing how Peter and Petey have been living in their grandfather’s shadow all along.

The novel takes a look at capitalism and organized crime in the 20th century, the legend of the self-made man, and what money can do to people. Like Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, The Family Hightower stretches across both generations and continents, bearing the weight of family secrets and the inevitable personal toll they take on loved ones despite our best intentions.

First I must note that the copy I read was an Advanced Uncorrected Proof that  I received last year at Book Con. I’m reading the books I received then before I attend this year’s Book Con at the end of the month.

Part one of the book was really thrilling and mysterious. I quickly found myself rooting for the good Peter Henry Hightower cousin.
Part two, did give great insight into the family history but it also slowed down the story for me. I had put the book down for more than a week before I picked it up again and powered through to finish. Which then made part three, that was back in the present day of part one, feel a bit anti-climatic. I thought there would be more of a suspenseful chase but the set up events made everything work out smoothly.  Still, the characters are well developed and evoke emotion from the reader. Like I said, I rooted for (the good) Peter, I even rooted for Sylvie, thought Petey was a naive, selfish, idiot, felt so bad for Madalina and her parents.
The writing style is very descriptive as the  author speaks directly to the reader.  The narration at times is more told then shown. Often the dialogue is not in quotes but just a reference in italics. Sometimes the sentence are rambling and go off on tangents, or skip between past, present and future. However, it all comes together and makes sense in the end.
There is a lot of well researched history; history of Cleveland, African nations, Ukraine and the Soviet Union, . One historic moment I especially liked was the Sugar Ray Robinson-Jimmy Doyle fight because of the way it symbolically tied in with the threat old PHH gets.
Overall it was a good historical fiction like story of a dysfunctional family and the disgusting life of organized crime.
3.5 out 5 Namesakes.

Reviews for “Proxy” and “Guardian” by Alex London

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Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

This is one of the many books I picked up at New York Comic Con 2013. When I saw on the  Book Con schedule that Alex London was doing a panel with Veronica Roth, I decided to read Proxy right away .

I found it to be a enjoyable and fast paced read. The action is non-stop. Just when the characters have gotten away, someone else is right behind them. Some “twists” were predictable, but no less captivating. It was an adventure that kept me turning the page.

I liked the character development for the Syd and Knox along the way. From beginning to end I was engaged with the way their situations and their journey shaped them.

I do have to critique Knox. I did not hate him, but he did annoy me a lot. He got to be less so towards the end. What annoyed me most about him (besides being a spoiled rich kid who let Syd take his punishments for years with indifference because he just wanted to get back at his father) was that he would flirt with Syd. Knox has some nerve! His punk ass stupidity caused lasting damage on Syd! Then Knox tries butter him up to get him to trust him? And what a tease too because Knox is not gay.
Then Knox gets all afraid Syd might “get ideas” when they have to share the thermal blanket. First of all, that is the furthest thing on Syd’s mind, especially since he does not even like Knox romantically. Second, Syd should be worried about Knox trying something since he’s the one flirting all the time. The best part was when Syd and Marie were messing with him. That got me to laugh out loud. It’s one of my favorite scenes.

I very much like Marie, but she was not as developed as Syd and Knox. I hope to learn more about her background and see where her character goes in the next book.

I like that Syd, the hero/main character of the story, is gay. Not that I have read all the books that exist, I don’t see many LGBT heros/main characters in Sci-fi/fantasy stories. That aspect of his character, as well as the homophobia he experiences was well written. It didn’t feel forced or artificial.

There is also the social commentary aspect of consumerism and advertisers always bombarding customers. Only in Proxy, it’s a bit like “The Matrix” where they are biologically always connected. Therefore, in Proxy they always being presented with ads and offers everywhere they go. I don’t know how it doesn’t drive them insane.

One other critique I have was Knox’s sacrifice at the end. I am not sure how I feel and keep going back and forth. Not that he did it, but the way it was rushed. I keep trying to figure out if it felt like it came out of thin air or if it makes total sense. On the one hand it’s about time Knox grows up and does something for a greater cause than himself. And he owes Syd much more than he could ever give, so I am glad he stepped up. Then again, Syd had been cultivating the virus for 16 years. Knox had his blood transfusion a week ago. Did such a complicated virus really spread in his system that quickly? Did I miss the hints and clues to the mark behind his ear, or was it left out on purpose for a last minute “shocking” twist?  That is something to look for when I read it again.

3.5 out 5 debts to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The pulse-pounding sequel to Proxy! Inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.
In the new world led by the Rebooters, former Proxy Syd is the figurehead of the Revolution, beloved by some and hated by others. Liam, a seventeen-year-old Rebooter, is Syd’s bodyguard and must protect him with his life. But armed Machinists aren’t the only danger.
People are falling ill—their veins show through their skin, they find it hard to speak, and sores erupt all over their bodies. Guardians, the violent enforcers of the old system, are hit first, and the government does nothing to help. The old elites fall next, and in the face of an indifferent government, Syd decides it’s up to him to find a cure . . . and what he discovers leaves him stunned.
This heart-stopping thriller is packed with action, adventure, and heroics. Guardian will leave you breathless until the final page.
A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, James Dashner’s Maze Runner, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy will be swept away by this story.

 

 

Back in May, right before Book Con I went to the book launch party for Guardian at Books of Wonder. Alex London spoke a bit aboutProxy and GuardianGuardian is the sequel he never planned to write. While Proxy works as a good stand alone, Guardian leaves you wanting more. I can’t stop thinking about it and have been unable to move on to my next book.

I really enjoyed the talk at Books of Wonder. Alex London is really personable, friendly, and funny. He’s a good story teller. You can read more about his bio hereTo sum up he used to be a journalist and one story he told that stuck with me was when he was in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am not going to be able to retell it as well, so please bear with me. A volcano was erupting so they evacuated the town. Except for one group of people who decided to stay. They were these boys who had been taken as children to become soldiers and were then rescued and being rehabilitated.
So Alex had called up the priest, who was their caretaker or teacher, to make sure they were all right. The priest said that they were fine and that the lava was spilling into the town, but they boys had quickly built a trench around their school, so the lava flowed into that and left them unharmed. The reason they didn’t want to evacuate was because they had finally found a home and so they worked together to keep it intact. I didn’t say it as eloquently but I think you get the meaning. It was a very touching and heart warming.
(I should bringing a digital recorder to the talks I go to so I can make proper notes afterward.)

I also watched the Book Con panel with Alex and Veronica Roth last night. I was there in person, but I felt like watching it again because I enjoyed it so much. They’re funny and I really liked their casual conversation and learning all the tidbits about their books I didn’t know. I laughed at the clone army part. 

Ok, so onto my thoughts on Guardian.

First, you don’t know how much it BOTHERS me that the covers don’t match. I have an first edition of Proxy and the cover of Guardian matches the paperback edition of Proxy. I like this design better and would like to know who printed this edition:

Guardian by Alex London

 

Although both my copies are personally signed by Alex, so if I got that ^ edition (if it exists) of Guardian I’d have to get it signed too. Publishers, listen to me. Keep your editions consistent so it can match on my shelves. Hardcover first editions should keep the same design. Same with paperbacks. 

Ok, now I am really going to write my review. It contains spoilers so I’ll hide the rest.

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Book Con – May 31, 2014

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Yesterday my friends and I went to Book Con. Originally, back in February, we had bought tickets to Book Expo America Power Reader Day. BEA is for people in the industry and book bloggers, but Power Reader Day is open to the public. Only this year ReedPop bought PRD and turned into Book Con. We were issued new tickets and our event was separated from the BEA events in the Javits Center. Ridiculous if you ask me, but I still had a great time.

Stared out the morning when it opened at 9am on the show floor, picking up whatever free books they were giving out. I only roamed around for an hour so I didn’t pick up much. The Book Con corner of the Javits Center was quite crammed and disorganized.

I did manage to get:
The Prophet, by Michael Koryta
The Family Hightower, by Brian Francis Slattery (It is an advanced uncorrected proof)
Interview With the Vampire, by Anne Rice (20th Anniversary Edition)

There were also a couple of samplers too.

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