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25 August 2010

Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3)

Mockingjay is the final book in the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In my opinion this is one of the best dystopian series ever written.

It is difficult to describe the storyline of Mockingjay without giving away spoilers from the first two books - so this entry will be more about the overall series and feel of the novel.

Katniss Everdeen of District 12 in Paneem is a character who will give her life to save her sister, she will battle foes to the death, she will learn to love, and she will be the face of a revolution.

The Hunger Games were devised by the Capitol to keep the 12 districts in line. Each year two tributes, a teen boy and girl, are chosen to represent their district in a fight to the death on live television. In book one when her sister is chosen, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Through an amazing turn of events and circumstances, Katniss survives the Hunger Games.

In the second book, Catching Fire, because it is a 25th anniversary of the Games and the rebellion they are meant to remind people of, there is a twist. Contestants who won in the past will be put back in the arena to fight again. But the games do not end the way that the Capitol has written.

In Mockingjay, the rebellion that the games are meant to keep suppressed can no longer be contained. By the end, either the rebels will be forced back into their near-slave roles they have been assigned, or they will take over the whole of Panem and create a new government.

Suzanne Collins is a genius. This series is amazing. Readers who like suspense, action, great writing, compelling characters, and more would do well to run to the bookstore or library right now and start reading the series!

Collins, Suzanne. (2010). Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic.

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24 August 2010

Foreign Influence (Scot Harvath #9)

Foreign Influence by Brad Thor is the ninth book in his Scot Harvath series.

Harvath is a counter-terrorism agent who started his career with the Navy SEALs, but his current position is with a private agency that contracts with the Department of Defense.

When a string of terrorist attacks across Europe point to an old adversary of Harvath's named Nicolas, he is sent to meet with the man. While following the trail back to the people who are trying to frame Nicolas, Harvath will find an even greater schedule of terrorist attacks in the works.

Harvath and the Carlton Group fly around the globe trying to stop the attacks before they kill any more civilians.

Thor is a master of the espionage / special forces thriller. He is a must read for any fans of high action intensity that will keep them up all night finishing his books.

Thor, Brad. (2010). Foreign Influence. New York: Atria Books.

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22 August 2010

Everyday, Average Jones (Tall, Dark and Dangerous #4)

Everyday, Average Jones is the fourth book in Suzanne Brockmann's Tall, Dark and Dangerous series.
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Harlan "Cowboy" Jones was part of the SEAL team that rescued Melody Evans from the US Embassy in a country that was in the middle of being taken over by their military. After the rescue Cowboy and Melody spent six days together.
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Seven months later, Cowboy is assigned to Virginia and is finally close enough to go see Melody. Though Melody says she does not want to see her, Cowboy travels to see her anyway to change her mind. He is shocked to see that she is seven months pregnant.
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Though Cowboy has been thinking of Melody since he last saw her, he takes the approach that he is going to "do the right thing" and asks her to marry him. She is offended that he even asked.
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In order to convince her that they would be great together, Cowboy requests leave and camps in Melody's backyard.
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Though the plot is thin, based on an idea whose time has passed, the characters and writing are excellent. Brockmann is a master of romance and romantic suspense.
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Brockmann, Suzanne. (1998). Everyday, Average Jones. New York: Silhouette.

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19 August 2010

Frisco's Kid (Tall, Dark and Dangerous #3)

Frisco's Kid is the third Tall, Dark and Dangerous book by Suzanne Brockmann - the master of romantic suspense featuring Navy SEALs.

Frisco wanted to be a SEAL since he was eleven years old. Through hard work and determination he became one. Then, five years ago, he was hurt on a mission. Now his doctor says he will never recover enough to go back to active duty. In fact, his doctor is surprise he can even walk.

But without the SEALs, Frisco - Lt. Alan Francisco - doesn't know who he is or how he will go on. The day after his doctor kick him out of the VA hospital, his sister shows up with her five year old daughter and informs him that he has to watch Natasha while she goes to rehab.

With the help of his neighbor, Frisco will have to learn to do everything while using a cane. But the hardest lesson will be that it is okay to ask for help.

Tall, Dark, and Dangerous is the first set of books that Suzanne Brockmann wrote. While not as sophisticated as her Troubleshooter series, they are well written and fun to read. If all romance writers were at talented as she is, there would be no negative stereotypes about the genre.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (1997). Frisco's Kid. New York: Silhouette.

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18 August 2010

The Breach

The Breach by Patrick Lee combines military adventure and science fiction.

Travis Chase is trying to lose himself in Alaska. He was a cop who when to prison and is now trying to figure out the rest of his life. On a hike in the middle of nowhere, designed not to cross paths with anyone, he stumbles across the unbelievable.

The second morning after a fierce thunderstorm, Chase wakes up on the edge of a deep canyon ready to make coffee and enjoy the quiet. When he looks down the hill he see a crashed 747. At first he doesn't believe his eyes - how can a 747 crash without a team of small planes and helicopters searching for the crash site?

Fifteen minutes later, he has packed and raced down the side of the mountain. The plane is mostly intact; it lost one wing and has a couple of splits in the fuselage. When he enters one he sees that it is not a regular passenger plane and everyone on board has been shot.

Following the trail leading away from the plane, following a note left by someone on the plane who died slowly enough to leave it, Chase must find the people who murdered the team on the plane, rescue or kill the hostages, and call someone with the codename Tangent.

Lee has created a plausible scenario where an Ion Collider has opened a rip, or breach, to another place. Through that breach pass technologies far in advance of current Earth society. Tangent has been created to study the things that come through, put some into use and protect others from falling into the wrong hands. Travis Chase will unwillingly become a part of the current Tangent project and it may mean the end of his life.

Lee, Patrick. (2010). The Breach. New York: Harper.

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17 August 2010

Predator's Gold (Hungry City Chronicles #2)

Predator's Gold is the second book in Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles - a futuristic steampunk adventure series.

Taking place two years after the first book, Tom and Hester have been traveling around the north on the airship Jenny Haniver.

While fleeing from the Green Storm, a radical splinter group of the anti-traction league (a group that wants cities to stop moving around the world on tracks, settle down and re-green the planet), Tom and Hester land on the small city of Anchorage.

Anchorage is making its way across the ice, around Greenland, in an attempt to make it to the Dead Continent of America - all based on the book of an alternative historian.

Together with the people of Anchorage, Tom and Hester will fight the Green Storm, fight ice pirates, and run from the larger city of Arkangel, all in an attempt to survive.

Reeve is a master storyteller who has created a fascinating and believable future with compelling characters and a thrilling plot.

Reeve, Philip. (2003). Predator's Gold. New York: EOS.

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15 August 2010

Dragon's Kin (a novel of Pern)

Dragon's Kin by Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd McCaffrey is one of the many wonderful books that take place on the planet Pern. Anne began the series in 1968 and Todd joined her in 2003.

Kindan, the son of a miner, lives with his father and siblings in the new mining camp of Natalon. If the mine proves successful, it will become a viable hold and part of the holds, forts, and weyrs that make up the civilization of Pern.

Kindan's father and his watch-wher, a cousin to dragons, help in the mines to keep the miners safe. A watch-wher can see i the dark and is useful for sniffing out bad air and communicating it to his or her human.

When an accident leaves Kindan an orphan he move in with his teacher, the Harper, to learn the way of becoming a Harper. Though he is of course sad about the loss of his father and brothers, he never wanted to be a miner so this may be the chance to change his future. But the accident also left the mine without a watch-wher, which puts the miners in greater danger.

In this tale of helping your community versus pursuing your dreams, the McCaffreys have created another tale that fans of Pern will devour. The entire Pern collection is made up of great storytelling, fantastical creatures, and endearing characters. It is a must read for all fantasy and science fiction fans as well as those who just love a great story.

McCaffrey, Anne and Todd. (2003). Dragon's Kin. New York: Del Rey.

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13 August 2010

Mastered by Love (Bastion Club #8)

Mastered by Love is the final book in the Bastion Club series by Stephanie Laurens.

Dalziel has spent the last sixteen years serving his country as the master of a spy ring that helped to best Napoleon. At the end of a stellar career, his only failure is to capture the last known spy. After trying more than once he has to face facts that it is time to go home and reclaim his place within the upper class of English society as Royce Varisey.

Before he can finish packing his office, he receives word that his father has died making him the Duke of Wolverstone. Royce races home to attend to his father's funeral and take over Wolverstone. After a sixteen year absence, he will need the help of his father's chatelaine, Miranda Chesterton.

Miranda has lived at Wolverstone since she was six. Her mother was Royce's mother's best friend. The Variseys took her in and raised her as a daughter. Miranda made a promise to both of Royce's parents on their death beds - she would see him become the next Duke of Wolverstone, including finding him a wife as his position requires.

This final Bastion Club novel has the suspense and romance of all of the others. It is the culmination of eight previous books - the leader of the men in books 1 -7 now has to find his own wife, but not a typical wife of the era - he want a partner to share his life with.

Laurens, Stephanie. (2009). Mastered by Love. New York: Avon Books.

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10 August 2010

Mortal Engines (Hungry City Chronicles #1)

Mortal Engines is the first book in Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles. Though the series takes place way in the future, it has the feel of a steampunk novel.

In the future, cities move about. They are on huge tracks and the travel to find resources - meaning smaller cities, suburbs and town they can overpower and incorporate into themselves. It is a time of Municipal Darwinism.

Tom is a low level apprentice in the Historian guild in the city of London. His parents died when he was younger and since they were historians he is being raised to be one. When London overtakes a smaller town, Tom is sent to the Gut to make sure any artifacts with possible historical significance are given to the Museum to process.

In the Gut he runs into the city's Head Historian, the archeologist (and Tom's hero) Thaddeus Valentine and his daughter Katherine. When a young woman who has been captured with the new city breaks out of line and tries to kill Valentine, Tom stops her and the runs after her to capture her.

In the chaos both Tom and the girl he was chasing, Hester Shaw, end up down a garbage chute and dropped below the city into the Out-Country - sea of mud and huge caterpillar tracks from passing cities. Now London is steaming off to the horizon while Tom and Hester have to find a way back, Tom back to the only city he has ever lived in and Hester to avenge the killing of her parents.

Reeve is a master of imagination and plot. Mortal Engines is the first book in a six book series that will delight fans of adventure, science fiction and steampunk. After reading his Larklight trilogy, I vowed to read all of Reeve's books -and am looking forward to every page of the Hungry City Chronicles.

Reeve, Philip. (2001). Mortal Engines. New York: EOS.

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09 August 2010

The Midnight House (John Wells #4)

The Midnight House by Alex Berenson is the fourth book in the John Wells series - a CIA agent with a specialty in counter-terrorism and Al Qaeda.

After taking some time to himself to recover from his last mission, John is called back to the agency to find a killer. Someone is killing members of a secret interrogation team. The ten-member team was set up deal with the toughest jihadis caught by the US. The team, 673, could use any means necessary to extract information - as long as it did not leave marks.

Now four members of the team are dead and one is missing. Wells and his boss Ellis Schafer have been asked to look around, outside of the official FBI investigation.

Berenson has created an espionage, terrorism, political thriller with so many twists and turns you will need to wear a seat belt to read it. His main character is someone readers will hope is really out there working on our side.

Berenson, Alex. (2010). The Midnight House. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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06 August 2010

Without Warning (After America #1)

Without Warning by John Birmingham is a story of what would happen if the United States disappeared.

In 2003, on the brink of war in Iraq, a wave of energy hits the continental United States - covering all of the country except the North West corner of Washington State. Most of Canada is hit East of Edmonton and the wave extends south almost to Acapulco. Cuba is covered except for the area around the Guantanamo Bay base. And everywhere within the wave life has stopped. The people and animals are disappeared.

Two minutes after the wave struck, electronic surveillance is back up. Cameras in cities across the continent show an astonishing number of car accidents, planes and trains begin to crash, and the rest of the world is in shock. People outside the edge of the wave can see a wall of energy that extends into the sky.

In the blink of an eye, millions of people cease to exist and the protector/bully of the planet is no longer in a place to ensure peace or stability. The US dollar now has nothing backing it and become worthless.

Birmingham's look at a world suddenly without the US is a science fiction masterpiece. Regardless of your feelings about the role the US plays in international relations, it cannot be argued that is has a heavy influence on the behavior of people around globe. This fascinating novel is set off your imagination in a way that is hard to recover from once you finish the book. Luckily, the second book, After America, comes out this month.

Birmingham, John. (2009). Without Warning. New York: Ballantine Books.

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