Hollow Kingdom
August 6th, 2019 by diane92345

You know that something is wrong when your mo-fo’s (aka human’s) eye falls out of his head and he isn’t concerned. So begins the totally original post-apocalyptic tale of the Hollow Kingdom.

S.T. is a pet crow. His mo-fo, Big Jim, is sick and won’t stop poking his finger at the wall. Eventually, Big Jim gets hungry for a live dinner forcing S.T. to leave home with Dennis, his none-to-smart bloodhound brother. As S.T. and Dennis search for a cure for Big Jim’s illness, they encounter both domestic animals and zoo escapees.

Filled with both humor and pathos, Hollow Kingdom is a unique post-apocalyptic tale. This must be the only book written from the point of view of a domesticated crow. It is strongly recommended for anyone looking for something different to read. 4 stars!

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Horror, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: ,

Apocalypse Confirmed
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

I challenged myself to guess how I would like three apocalyptic books prior to reading them. How did I do?

This four-day weekend I’m challenging my book selection skills by pre-rating three apocalyptic thrillers, reading them, and seeing if I was right in my initial assessment.

Here’s the rundown for those that didn’t read my initial post.

Religion and Nazis are key plot points in Sign of the Cross by Glenn Cooper. It is published by independent Black Thorn Books. Out July 4th.

The king of alternate historic fiction, Harry Turtledove, takes on the End of Days in Alpha and Omega. Published by science fiction and fantasy publisher, Del Rey Books, this book promises dirty bombs, other signs of the apocalypse, and a startling discovery during a dig under the Temple Mount. Out July 2nd.

Finally, I have Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig released by Bethany House, a Christian publisher. A centuries old manuscript carries the key to stop the End Time scourges that are erupting worldwide as foretold in the Bible. Also, out July 2nd.

Here is my initial scoring:

  1. Alpha and Omega—it promises the twisty plot and surprising conclusion that I enjoy.
  2. Sign of the Cross—it sounds like The DaVinci Code in the end times, which is a good thing. I loved that book!
  3. Storm Rising—I read a review on NetGalley saying it was a military thriller, which is not my favorite, for sure. However, it has the highest rating on NetGalley of the three books (5 out of 5 stars average with 31 reviews) so my decision to put it last may be completely misguided.

Here is what I discovered:

  1. Alpha and Omega—I absolutely loved this book and gave it 5 stars! See my full review here.
  2. Storm Rising-I like this book more than the book below and gave it 3.5 stars. I think that military thriller lovers would adore this book. But me, eh. Here is the full review.
  3. Sign of the Cross—An okay read but there was not much original content here. It suffered by comparison with The DaVinci Code. The protagonist is even a Harvard professor (talk about sticking close to the “source: material). See what I really thought here.

Overall, not too bad. I’ll give myself 3 stars because I flipped the last two books.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

Sign of the Cross
July 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Sign of the Cross is a tense religious actioner that is perfect for fans of the DaVinci Code.

Cal Donovan, a Harvard professor of religion and archaeology, is called by the Pope to investigate an Italian priest’s stigmata. The stigmata is bleeding at the points where the nails entered Jesus to crucify him. Another group is also looking for the priest hoping to make a horrible weapon that promises to start the apocalypse.

It is hard not to compare Sign of the Cross to the Dan Brown books. The hero, Cal, has the same job. The reason for the task is religious. However, the DaVinci Code’s quest is both more complex and more interesting. But I’ve already read the DaVinci Code multiple times and I wasn’t very thrilled with the later books from Dan Brown. To be fair, this is a good book. The hero, the priest, the Nazis and neo-Nazis villains are mostly believable. The prose and pacing are fine. I would totally read another book by this author. However, this one was a bit too derivative for me. 3 stars!

Thanks to Black Thorn Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Storm Rising
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

There is a Storm Rising in the Middle East that may indicate the End Times have arrived.

Iskra, aka Viorica, is a trained assassin tasked with retrieving an ancient text called the Book of Wars in Israel. So is ex-SEAL Leif and his team provided by the US government. Both need to work together to seize it from Rutger Hermanns, a ruthless German businessman and part-time archaeologist, who has snatched it from Israeli scientists.

The Book of Wars has some lethal secrets best kept away from foreign powers. The book is mentioned in the Bible as being prophetic by sharing information about future wars.

Storm Rising is a typical military thriller. It has an American team of misfits from various nations and religions. There is the usual romance, mysterious back stories, and good-natured joshing of fellow team members. The initial opposition is by a lone assassin, who must get the book to save her life after one too many screw-ups in the past. However, it soon becomes apparent that Leif may have to team with Iskra to prevent the German villain from using the book for his nefarious plan.

Storm Rising is about the fight between Christians and Muslims leading into Armageddon. Muslims are clearly the enemy. Jews aren’t even mentioned. Therefore, this book is recommended only for secular and Christian readers.

The plot was good but there is not much originality here. The characters are the best part. You definitely want the heroes to win. Plus the combat scenes were intense and set the reader right in the middle of the fight. Unfortunately, there are an overwhelming number of characters plus a cliffhanger ending, which I detest. It still earns 3.5 stars! It will be even higher if you are a fan of military or action thrillers.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Children, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Kindle Poolside Reading
July 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

This four-day weekend I’m challenging my book selection skills by pre-rating three apocalyptic thrillers, reading them, and seeing if I was right in my initial assessment.

I choose my books on NetGalley and Edelweiss+ through what interests me at the time. Some I select months in advance of the publishing date and others right before. I try to mix in different types of books so I don’t have an entire week of cozy mysteries followed by a week of domestic thrillers. However, this week I have a trio of apocalyptic thrillers. Here’s the rundown.

Religion and Nazis are key plot points in Sign of the Cross by Glenn Cooper. It is published by independent Black Thorn Books. Out July 4th.

The king of alternate historic fiction, Harry Turtledove, takes on the End of Days in Alpha and Omega. Published by science fiction and fantasy publisher, Del Rey Books, this book promises dirty bombs, other signs of the apocalypse, and a startling discovery during a dig under the Temple Mount. Out July 2nd.

Finally, I have Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig released by Bethany House, a Christian publisher. A centuries old manuscript carries the key to stop the End Time scourges that are erupting worldwide as foretold in the Bible. Also, out July 2nd.

So based on an idea by fellow WordPresser, Shanah at the Bionic Bookworm Blog, I’m going to guess which book I will like best and worst with one in between. Then next week, after reading and reviewing all three books, I’ll report on my results. This should be fun! Here is my initial scoring:

  1. Alpha and Omega—it promises the twisty plot and surprising conclusion that I enjoy.
  2. Sign of the Cross—it sounds like The DaVinci Code in the end times, which is a good thing. I loved that book!
  3. Storm Rising—I read a review on NetGalley saying it was a military thriller, which is not my favorite, for sure. However, it has the highest rating on NetGalley of the three books (5 out of 5 stars average with 31 reviews) so my decision to put it last may be completely misguided.

Wish me luck and let the reading begin…

Posted in Challenges Tagged with: ,

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
April 23rd, 2019 by diane92345

I started by reading just the first chapter of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World to see if it was something I would enjoy. I then spent every waking moment where I wasn’t driving, working, or taking a shower, reading it until it was over.

The world is ending with a whimper. Seventy years previously, mankind stopped being fertile and multiplying. Griz is one of the few teenagers left. Living with his family on a remote island off the coast of Scotland, Griz’ friends are his two dogs, who are siblings Jip and Jess. Jess is a rare female dog in a world where dogs were eaten for food.

Griz’s family includes his father, his brain-damaged mother, his older sister and brother. When a stranger, world-traveler Brand, lands on their island, he is welcomed suspiciously for the possibility of trading food for a much needed windmill motor. However, when Brand leaves like a thief in the night, he takes Griz’s beloved dog, Jess, with him. Griz decides that that act is his line in the sand that no one should cross. He takes the family’s boat to give chase to Brand and bring Jess home.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is more Homer and less Walking Dead. There are no zombies in sight (thank goodness). It is a first-person coming of age quest novel. While I mentioned Homer, it can also be compared to several of the superhero movies so popular right now. There are clear heroes and villains. Griz is focused on his goal and is willing to put up with any challenge to achieve it. The ending is excellent too. While this has a rather slow pace, it is never boring. However, it has more of a literary fiction vibe and so may not be a good fit for thriller fans. In addition, the foreshadowing was annoyingly obvious. But it is definitely worth the time invested. 4 stars!

Thanks to Orbit Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

The Last
April 9th, 2019 by diane92345

An isolated hotel in Switzerland after multiple nuclear bombs are detonated is the setting of The Last.

Jon, an American historian at the hotel for a conference is the book’s narrator. After the bombs drop, the Internet soon fails. Most of the hotel’s guests drive or walk to the city and its airport. By the tenth day, only five staff and fifteen guests remain in the hotel. They are waiting for help that never arrives.

When Jon and two of the staff find a body in the water tank on the roof of the hotel, Jon decides to find the murderer. As their food supplies dwindle and the weather turns colder, the survivors turn on one another. The group must decide how to administer justice and how to run their government.

I was so excited to read this book. The Shining and Agatha Christie in a Walking Dead setting? Yes, please! Those are some of my favorite books. Of course here comes the however, heavy sigh. However, The Last is much closer to The Road.

The Last is a slow-burning philosophical trip into the meaning of life and how a worldwide disaster would force or allow us to act. Would we still care about anything other than our own survival? Would we still have our humanity or would we devolve back into animals? Would we be more religious or fully convinced God had forsaken us?

II you are a thriller or mystery fan, look elsewhere. The mystery here is an afterthought at best. Even with its slow pacing, I felt compelled to read it in one day. I would recommend it only for literary fiction fans. I took one star off for the ending, which I don’t want to spoil, leaving it at 3 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Echo Room
September 12th, 2018 by diane92345

Rett and Bryn continually awaken in the apocalyptic future in the Echo Room.

Step 1: Rett wakes up in a locked metal room with no memory of how he got there. He has blood on his clothes and hands. Soon he sees Bryn, who is also locked in the room with no memory of how she got there. As they talk, they discover they are both from the government-run shelter for abandoned youth, Walling House. Rett tries to discover a way out of the room.  He finds a broken lock on one door.  He finds hidden doors to two other rooms.  However, there is no food or water immediately available—just a bin filled with empty water bottles and another with strangely glowing green tubes. The only clue is the phrase “SCATTER 3” on one of the walls.

Step 2: Explore. Get scared. Repeat Step 1. Rett and Bryn learn a bit more with each repetition.

The mystery is intriguing. The setting in a wrecked near future world is eerily unsettling. Even though it’s marketed as young adult science fiction, the Echo Room works well as an adult thriller too. While the pacing slowed a bit in the middle, the plot kept the reader engaged. The book will make a great movie someday. It is perfect for fans of puzzles and intriguing situations like in the Maze Runner.

A sequel is hinted at toward the end. I’m looking forward to that book. This one deserves 4 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Tor Teen, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Severance
August 19th, 2018 by diane92345

A literary take on a post-apocalyptic novel sure to be nominated for a literary award or two.  Severance is the story of Candace, a Chinese immigrant and millennial, who is trying to just live her dull life when a real apocalypse hits.

At first, Candace is in denial and continues to live in an eerily empty NYC.  Eventually, she leaves in an old NYC taxi and collapses by the side of the road.  A group of other NYC survivors take her on a trip to the Facility, where the nerdy leader, Bob, says he has a crash pad perfectly suited to the apocalypse he knew was coming thanks to gaming and Internet conspiracy sites.

I enjoyed the beautiful evocative prose of this novel the most.  The plot works but some of its satirical aspects seem forced.  I get that Candace’s life is an endless repetition of the same tasks with no knowledge gained from them.  Why does the epidemic have the same symptom?  It is like getting hit over the head with her point. Also, I would have liked characters other than Candace to be more fully fleshed out.  Most seem like stereotypes like Bob the nerd.  It is hard to care if something bad happens to a stereotype.

While I don’t think this will appeal to most Walking Dead or World War Z fans because it is too slow as literary fiction often is, it will be a fine change in setting for literary fiction fans. Since I am more the first choice, I give Severance 3 stars. I wanted more horror or more satire. However, your star rating may vary depending on your genre preference.

Thanks to the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Humor, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: , ,

Maze Master
July 17th, 2018 by diane92345

Da Vinci Code + World War Z + Jurassic Park divided by the Bible = Maze Master.

The LucentB virus is 100% deadly and is moving outward from France. Anna enlists the help of Christian professor, Martin, to find “Marham-i-Isa, the legendary healing ointment created by Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead”—perhaps the only hope for humanity. While searching the Middle East for the ointment, Anna is also looking for her former mentor, the famed geneticist Hakari. In a parallel plot, Hakari is being driven mad by visions of shapes and his belief that he is the second coming of Christ. Wars break out as the virus spreads and nations look desperately for a cure. On battlefields, huge “angels of light” are spotted. Have the end times prophesied by the Bible arrived? Or is it something inherited in our Denisovan pre-historic genes that started the virus and the rest is pure human folly?

I loved the Da Vinci Code back in the day but I adore this book even more! It has the genre mashup that I like so much. It’s apocalyptic and scientific. With its factual underpinnings, it could actually happen. The setting and characterization are well done. It moves at a lightning pace. Overall, it is highly recommended for thriller readers. Open-minded fans of horror, science fiction and Christian fiction might also enjoy it. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advanced copy.

Posted in Christian, Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: ,

Zombies
July 20th, 2017 by diane92345

Interesting plot but illustrations are not easy to interpret.

 

This is a graphic novel about a zombie apocalypse. I have read many books with this topic and 25 volumes of The Walking Dead graphic novels previously so I wasn’t expecting much innovation. However, this book’s plot surprised me with its setting in the Pacific Northwest and its simple but plausible zombie solution. I enjoyed the humor in having one of the heroes be basically a Canadian Bruce Campbell who tried to sound the alarm beforehand but was dismissed as being just an actor. I wasn’t that happy about some of the stereotypical characters (I.e. crazy Montana rednecks and conceited scientists) but that didn’t impact my enjoyment of the main plot.

 

My main concern was that the illustrations were very dark and many of the male characters looked similar. The third, and last, chapter alternated between several different groups of humans traveling and fighting their way across the United States. Rather than just labeling the state or city, the illustrator used different color palettes; green, blue and brown; for the different groups. Unfortunately, it took me a third of the chapter to figure this out so I ended up restarting the chapter so I could see the progress of each group.

 

The plot is complete within this single volume. I would recommend it to hard-core zombie apocalypse fans but not to most graphic novel readers due to the poor illustrations though the plot was interesting.

 

Thanks to the publisher, Insight Comics, and netgalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: ,