Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hunger Games (Movie) Trailer

The first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games was released this week. I thought some of you might be interested.

Book description from Amazon:
If there really are only seven original plots in the world, it's odd that boy meets girl is always mentioned, and society goes bad and attacks the good guy never is. Yet we have Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion—and now, following a long tradition of Brave New Worlds, The Hunger Games. Collins hasn't tied her future to a specific date, or weighted it down with too much finger wagging. Rather less 1984 and rather more Death Race 2000, hers is a gripping story set in a postapocalyptic world where a replacement for the United States demands a tribute from each of its territories: two children to be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death. Katniss, from what was once Appalachia, offers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, but after this ultimate sacrifice, she is entirely focused on survival at any cost. It is her teammate, Peeta, who recognizes the importance of holding on to one's humanity in such inhuman circumstances. It's a credit to Collins's skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable. She has the attributes to be a winner, where Peeta has the grace to be a good loser.It's no accident that these games are presented as pop culture. Every generation projects its fear: runaway science, communism, overpopulation, nuclear wars and, now, reality TV. The State of Panem—which needs to keep its tributaries subdued and its citizens complacent—may have created the Games, but mindless television is the real danger, the means by which society pacifies its citizens and punishes those who fail to conform. Will its connection to reality TV, ubiquitous today, date the book? It might, but for now, it makes this the right book at the right time. What happens if we choose entertainment over humanity? In Collins's world, we'll be obsessed with grooming, we'll talk funny, and all our sentences will end with the same rise as questions. When Katniss is sent to stylists to be made more telegenic before she competes, she stands naked in front of them, strangely unembarrassed. They're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet, she thinks. In order not to hate these creatures who are sending her to her death, she imagines them as pets. It isn't just the contestants who risk the loss of their humanity. It is all who watch.Katniss struggles to win not only the Games but the inherent contest for audience approval. Because this is the first book in a series, not everything is resolved, and what is left unanswered is the central question. Has she sacrificed too much? We know what she has given up to survive, but not whether the price was too high. Readers will wait eagerly to learn more.
Buy The Hunger Games

Friday, August 26, 2011

Serpant's Kiss

Serpent's Kiss is the 10th book in Alex Archer's Rogue Angel series. I haven't read any of the other books. You don't need to have read the others to understand this book. There are a few things (like her friendship with two immortal men) that aren't explained but they don't take away from the story.

Annja Creed is an archeologist. Think female Indiana Jones. She's gorgeous. She has martial arts training up the ying yang. She can handle any weapon and fight any foe. She also has a magic sword that appears and disappears with a thought. Nothing we haven't seen in Highlander. I've always wondered why no one notices when someone suddenly has a sword and when the fighting is done it's nowhere to be seen. Obviously the effects of the sword are visible. What's the point of killing someone with a sword if they don't stay dead when the sword disappears? But I digress.

Serpent's Kiss is a bit jumpy. There are three main sets of characters. Annja and the rest of the archeology crew, a bunch of pirates who want what Annja digs up and a group of law enforcement people focused on catching the pirates. There's also a bit of story that happened a long time ago to set up what Annja finds when she finally gets where she's going. I have a bit of a quibble with the blurb on the back of the book.

Just as Annja's grail comes into view, she must ward off an even greater evil. Because deep in the Nilgris mountains is a race of people that the world forgot.

And they don't like strangers.

In reality the “forgotten people” are pathetic. They're no match for modern weapons. They only managed to kill people because they surprise them, set traps for them or out number them. The also only appear in the last few pages of the book. Not exactly major characters.

All in all, I give this book a 6/10. It was enjoyable quick read. The reality quotient is fairly low. Especially when it talks about Annja as if she's the average archeologist. I knew that Annja would survive the book (she's needed if the series is to continue) but I was never sure if anyone else would. That made it interesting. The head pirate was your stereotypical modern bad guy. He didn't see what he did for a living as wrong. He was just “reclaiming” things from the see. I hate to say it but I almost longed for a “plucky” sidekick with no special talent who knew Annja's secrets but had to be rescued at least once per book. Maybe I've been watching too much Doctor Who.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cheyenne Book Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Murder, romance, secrets and hidden pasts. Deception from every angle—who's telling the truth? 

Cheyenne Wilson's life is thrown into turmoil after her adoptive parents are killed in an accident. With only her best friend Colt to comfort her, she scours through the family archives, hoping to quell her grief. Instead she begins to unravel the mystery behind her birth parents, and her secret heritage. She is a Timeless- a being that ages one year for every hundred human years when they reach their twenties- and of the royal line, destined to gain great power. 

But Cheyenne has other problems. The ones who killed her parents want her too, and Colt is hiding something of his own. Surrounded by danger and with few she can trust, Cheyenne must face the dark truth of her past, and choose between a forbidden love that will forever hold her heart, or her destiny...

Buy Cheyenne (A Timeless Series Novel)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2012: The War for Souls

2012: The War for Souls by Whitley Strieber is a bit of a trip. As an author, Mr. Strieber is hit and miss. The Hunger was excellent. The sequel not so much. I forget it's name. I didn't finish it. 2012 is an ambitious book but I think it works.

There are three Earths. One in each of three dimensions. One Earth has two moons and never had a World War. One Earth is ruled by a species that evolved from dinosaurs instead of primates. Then there's our Earth. The dinosaurs have been breeding like rabbits. They need to take over the two moon Earth. They tried 13, 000 years ago and failed. The Maya were there and they predicted the next time the two moon Earth would be vulnerable to attack again. In the year 2012. In that year the three Earths would be aligned and travel between them would be possible.

The novel jumps around between the three Earths. Sometimes I had to go back and make sure I understood which Earth I was in. It got really confusing when characters from each Earth started moving between the universes. 2012 is part sci-fi, part horror, part cautionary tale. Think Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Saw meets An Inconvenient Truth. There's a lot of death and violence. It gets a bit cartoon-like at the end. I found myself skimming over big sections. I got that the dinosaurs were bad early on. I didn't need to keep having evidence pushed in my face. They do some fairly disgusting things. Images that I may not get out of my head for quite a while. I hate that.

If you're a sci-fi/alien/prophecy/disaster fan you'll like this book. It's not the best book I've read in this category but it was interesting enough that I wanted to finish it. I'm also happy about the way things turned out. That's a big plus. I don't like wading through guts and gore to get to an end I think is stupid.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fatal Storm Book Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
5th Book in the Chase Dagger Series -- "Lightning is the least of your worries." -- The Indiana Paranormal Investigators are spending a night in a gothic mansion on the outskirts of Cedar Point, Indiana. Four people are participating, only three remain in the morning. There have been other disappearances and homicides in the past connected with the mansion. And the one common denominator has been the weather. Chase Dagger and his entourage plan to spend a night in the mansion to seek answers. But they get more than they bargain for as another storm builds on the horizon. The Chase Dagger series blends mystery with fantasy, horror, and sometimes sci-fi. Critics call it "MacGuyver meets Dark Angel."

Fatal Storm (Book 5 in the Chase Dagger Series)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shut Your Eyes Tight

Shut Your Eyes Tight is the second book by John Verdon to feature retired NYC Detective Dave Gurney. I haven't read the first book, Think of a Number, but the second book is a good stand alone mystery.

The book starts with Dave's friend Jack dropping by to tell Dave about a case. A local woman was beheaded at her wedding reception. Everything points to the Hispanic gardener who hasn't been seen since the incident. Also missing is the next door neighbor's wife. Jack has been removed from the case supposedly for disagreeing that the gardener did it. He's told the dead woman's filthy rich, and slightly unstable, mother that Dave can find the gardener and get the truth about her daughter's death. Dave is bored out of his mind but he knows his wife, Maddie, will not like him getting involved with another case so he compromises and says he will give it two weeks.

I found Dave and Maddie's relationship annoying. He's this hot shot detective with a mind that's always working. Maddie expected him to become a “gentleman farmer” the minute he retired. He wonders if there's something wrong with him that he gets so wrapped up in solving mysteries. She stomps through this book pissed off that he hasn't morphed into the proper partner for her. I think towards the end she realizes that she's had unrealistic expectations of Dave. By the end of the novel they seem to be getting along better but I'm not convinced they can keep it up.

The plot of the book is a little convoluted. There's a lot of talk about sex but any action takes place “off camera”. Teenaged runaways, mob families, white slavery, trust fund assholes and more beheadings make their way into the story. I could have done without the Dave as artist subplot. It didn't add anything. I didn't like the bad guy from the minute I met him. It becomes fairly obvious that there's something wrong with his relationship to the murdered bride early on. I kept thinking of the movie The Sixth Sense where, throughout the movie, Bruce Willis kept talking to people but only the little boy replied to him. Once you realize that you know what the “surprise” ending is. With this book once you've noticed certain things the ending is obvious.

I enjoyed this book. I think I might even get the first book in the series. I'm hoping that Dave doesn't get in life threatening situations in every book. That would be boring. It's one of the reasons I stopped reading Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malhone books. How many times can a human get tied up/beaten/blown up/shot/mowed down before the body just gives up?

I received a review copy of this novel but the views expressed are completely my own.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Empire of Fear

I solemnly swear to never again read a book that has the word “epic” in the title or subtitle.

Empire of Fear: An Epic Vampire Novel by Brian Stableford isn't a bad book. In fact, it's quite well written and has an interesting premise. It starts off well and then suddenly everything slows to a crawl and keeps crawling for a good chunk of the book.

Empire of Fear is an alternate history novel. Attila the Hun, Dracula, Charlemagne and Richard the Lionheart are all vampires. There's even a vampire pope which I thought was a nice touch. They and other vampires control most of the known world when the book starts in 1623. Needless to say they are not very nice. They control mainly by fear. A small group of humans is secretly looking for a way to kill vampires.

The story follows two members of the Cordery family. The main part of the book takes place in Africa. It is thought that the origin of vampires can be found there. This, for me, is where the book drags. I actually stopped twice and read other books. It took me forever to get thorough the middle section. And then I felt like the last section was just tagged on. I wanted more of the first section with the elder Cordery.

Empire of Fear isn't awful. Stableford is a very good writer. I just had a hard time reading the middle section. If you like vampire or alternate history or epic novels, you'll enjoy this book.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cold Kill Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Every breath you take, he’ll be watching you…Every breath you take, he’ll be watching you…When Jane Roberts is found dead in a woodland area Detective Sergeant Laura McGanity is first on the scene. The body bears a chilling similarity to a woman –Deborah Corley –murdered three weeks earlier. Both have been stripped,strangled and defiled.When reporter Jack Garrett starts digging for dirt on the notorious Whitcroft estate, he finds himself face-to-face with Jane’s father and gangland boss Don who will stop at nothing until justice is done. It seems that the two murdered women were linked in more ways than one and a dirty secret is about to surface that some would prefer stay buried.As the killer circles once more, Jack and Laura must get to him before he strikes again. But his sights are set on his next victim and he’s watching Laura’s every move…