Tuesday, July 26, 2011

MetaGame, by Sam Landstrom

Barnes & Noble

Life is a game, literally. Winners earn immortality, while losers are condemned to aging and death. D_Light, a gifted player, knows this all too well and he’s willing to do anything to win—even kill. It is no wonder then that when given the chance to enter a MetaGame—an exclusive, high-stakes, anything goes contest—he’s quick to jump at the opportunity. The MetaGame starts out well enough for D_Light, the first quest being to hunt down a dangerous fugitive, but through his own ambition, the tables turn and D_Light finds himself the renegade. 

I do not usually delve into the world of sci-fi and I am certainly not a gamer (much to my husband's chagrin), but I could not get enough of this book. Landstrom creates a world that seems all too plausible in the far (near?) future. The characters are realistic, and arrogant, and flawed, but you can relate to them. Their names consist only of handles you'd find on the internet. No "Jennifer" or "Joshua" plain vanilla names.

There were several "Oh no!" moments, and I couldn't read fast enough to read what happened next. I was disappointed when I got to the end of the book. I wanted to read more and find out what they did a few years later.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Girl in the Arena, by Lise Haines

Barnes & Noble

It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena

Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through.  Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family.

The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him...

I'd actually give this book 3.5 stars.

It kept me engaged throughout and the ending really surprised me. Some of the writing seemed a bit jarring and I had to re-read pages several times to make sure I didn't miss anything.

If you're squeamish or troubled by the thought of violence, then this is not the book for you. It's not as in-your-face as The Hunger Games, but the entire book is based on the premise of the in-your-face blood-and-guts violence so prevalent in today's society. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1), by Rick Riordan

Barnes & Noble

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Is it wrong that I learned more about Greek Mythology from a YA novel than from all of my years in school?

This is such a great book for older kids and I wish I had a 8+ year old son to share this with. A lot of the "mystery" of the book was easy to figure out, but I'm a teensy-weensy bit older than the intended audience. That being said, it was a quick, fun read and I'm looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3), by Dan Brown

Barnes & Noble


Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object - artfully encoded with five symbols - is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation...one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon - a prominent Mason and philanthropist - is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations - all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

This was an okay read. I was in love with it until the last dozen chapters. Then it kind of petered out.

My biggest pet peeve was the lack of correct geography. As someone who grew up -- and still lives -- in the DC area, I wondered how there could be such little effort in doing a quick Google Maps search.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Playground, by Ray Bradbury

Barnes & Noble (unavailable)

The Playground: Ray Bradbury's terrifying short story, one of the great stories of childhood-as-nightmare, appeared originally in Esquire in October l953; it first appeared in book form in the Ballantine first issue of his famous novel, Fahrenheit 451. 

Charles Underhill, seeking to protect his young son from the agonies of schoolyard bullying in the playground makes a deal with the playground's mysterious manager but only at the end discovers the true nature of the pact.

Ray Bradbury has an amazing way of painting a picture for the reader.

In this short story, he depicts what a Playground might look like from a different (scary) perspective.

Crushed Seraphim (Seraphim #1), by Debra Anastasia

Barnes & Noble

How does a foul-mouthed angel end up as the last hope for all of Heaven and Earth?

When Seraph Emma is maimed and tossed from Heaven by a rogue angel who's taken charge, she fears she'll never be allowed to return. Tasked with the impossible job of showing the self-loathing (and not even human!) Jason his worth, Emma is sure she's doomed to fail.

Meanwhile, having wormed his way into Heaven, the corrupt Everett has trapped God in Hell and has designs on unleashing evil everywhere. Fortunately, if there's one thing Emma can't do (in addition to minding her language), it's give up. Determined to save Jason and get back to Heaven--even if it means going to Hell--Emma's plan is simple yet impossible: trick the Devil to save God.

What she doesn't count on is the devotion and, well, humanity she finds in Jason; the spirit, hidden compassion, and raw sex appeal within the Devil; and the vulnerability of her own heart. With the help of two unlikely allies, she'll wage the battle for Heaven. But will Emma be sidetracked by a new sort of heaven along the way?

What's truly more dangerous?

Falling from Heaven, or falling in love?

I read the unpublished (read: fanfic) version of this story and absolutely loved it. It was thoughtful, inspiring, funny, and had a kick-ass heroine. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno #1), by Sylvain Reynard

Barnes & Noble

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption. When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide. An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, "Gabriel's Inferno" is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man's escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible...forgiveness and love.


I read the "unpublished" (read: fan fiction) version of this story when it was really popular and contained characters I already knew and loved (or hated, as the case may be).

I'm rating it only two stars because I lost interest in it for the following reasons:

  1. The protagonist has no redeeming qualities and it's hard to relate to someone who treats people with no respect. 
  2. I like reading about strong female characters. This heroine comes across as needy. 
  3. The writing is beautiful, but it comes across as pretentious.