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Before the Storm – Review

Title: Before the Storm
Author: Sean McMullen

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 262
Originally published: 2007

Genre: Science fiction, Time travel
The dice landed on: 5
Did I finish?: Yes.
Do I like the cover?: It’s OK

Fox and BC travel through time from the distant future to 1901. Elite cadets in the Imperial Army, they are young, handsome, well-mannered … and now, mutineers. They have journeyed into the past to save the opening ceremony of Australia s first parliament from being bombed. If the cadets fail, thousands will die, sparking a century of total war. However, to change the destiny of the world, the young warriors will need the help of three ordinary teenagers …

Well, this was fun!

The three ordinary teenagers are: Emily, bright, very proper, and quite bossy. Daniel, her younger brother, bossed by his sister and very easily distracted by both real girls and those in “French postcards”…..sold by Barry the Bag, street-wise, enterprising and Daniel’s good friend. Meeting Fox, and the injured BC, changes their lives in many ways. They must all do things they’ve never done before, and Emily must challenge all the restraints on a girl from a proper family in 1901. The soldiers from the future also turn out to have some unexpected sides to their personalities.

Even though the situation they all find themselves in is quite serious, this is a fun book. I love the way you get to know what goes on in Emily’s and David’s heads, and sometimes the things going on in there are very funny. Barry the Bag is also a very entertaining figure, and turns out to be much more important to the outcome than one might expect.

So, if you want an easily read book with great characters, funny dialogue, and some unexpected twists…. This is it.

Book Beginnings on Friday – Before the Storm

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.

This week I’m enjoying myself with Before the Storm by Sean McMullen. It begins like this:

FoxS3 cowered in the darkness, and there was such silence around him that he believed he had lost his hearing. It was as if someone had slammed a door on the battle where he had been only a moment earlier. The air had the reek of rotting things, and even this was beyond his experience. The smell of charred bodies was nothing unusual to a warrior cadet like Fox, but in all of his short life he had never smelled rotting vegetables. He was still holding his wounded commander, BC, and had a plasma lance rifle slung over his shoulder. He removed his sunglasses, and as his eyes adjusted to the gloom he saw that he was in a narrow alleyway.

Blood Red Road – Review

Title: Blood Red Road
Author: Moira Young

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 464
Originally published: 2011

Genre: Dystopia
The dice landed on: 4
Did I finish?: Yes.
Do I like the cover?: It’s OK

Short summary: Saba’s brother Lugh gets kidnapped and Saga, followed by their younger sister, sets out to rescue him.

Saba is an interesting heroine. Brave, strong, short tempered, unfair, infuriating, afraid and crazy determined. Saba and several other people in this book are worth getting to know. The villains are also rather interesting and really, really bad. Jack, the young man Saba meets on her journey, is someone I hope we get to know better as the series move along.

It took a little time getting used to the language in this book. The spelling of some words are changed to make it plausible that Saba is telling the story. There’s also a lot of dialog, but no quotation marks, something that took a little while to get used to. As soon as I got used to it I liked it. It fit the way an uneducated young woman might write.

So, I liked this book, but not as much as I wanted to. Frankly, it reminded me too much of The Hunger Games. The world isn’t the same, but it had some similarities. So does our young heroines. And The Huger Games are better. But, Blood Red Road is the first in a series, and the series might grow to be very good, and a lot different from The Hunger Games, as it goes along.

So, it’s an exciting read. It’s certainly not even close to being bad, and it might be the beginning of an excellent series. We’ll see.

Book Beginnings on Friday – Blood Red Road

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.

My beginning this week is from Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

“The day’s hot. So hot an so dry that all I can taste in my mouth is dust. The kinda white heat day when you can hear th’earth crack.

We ain’t had a drop of rain fer near six months now.  Even the springs that feed the lake’s startin to run dry. You gotta walk some ways out not to fill a bucket. Pretty soon, there won’t be no point in callin it by its name.

Silverlake.”

I’m just about half-way through it, and so far it’s very good.

Trapped – Review

Trapped by Michael NorthropTitle: Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Published: 2011

Genre: YA
The dice landed on: 3
Did I finish?: Yes
Do I like the cover?: Yes, very much.

One-sentence summary: 7 high school kids are caught in their school while the snow keeps piling up outside.

It starts snowing in the morning. As the hour go by Tattawa High School decides to send the students home. When everyone else either get picked up or get on a bus home, seven kids stay behind expecting to be picked up later on. That doesn’t happen.

Scotty tells the story. He stays behind with his friends Pete and Jason. The other students staying behind are Krista, Julie, Les and Elijah. A teacher also stays behind, but he soon leaves hoping to get somewhere he can call for help. They never see him again. Days go by and the snow keeps falling.

First I want to compliment Phil Falco who created the book design. The cover is very good, but the pièce de résistance is the way each chapter starts. The bottom part of the page is white, representing the snow on the ground outside a window. The top of the page shows snow falling. As the book goes on the fallen snow gets deeper and deeper while the falling snow occupies less and less of the page.  During the last third or so the snow on the ground occupies the whole page. It’s great.

This story has every potential of becoming really good, but it didn’t. I never felt really close to any of the characters, maybe apart from Scotty. The author didn’t really manage to convey how bad the situation was becoming. I understood it on a theoretical level, but I never really felt the fear. I liked the ending though, it had some of the qualities the rest of the book was lacking. All in all it’s not a bad book, but it could have been so much better.

Brainjack – Review

Title: Brainjack (or Brain Jack, I’ve seen both.)BrainJack by Brian Falkner
Author: Brian Falkner

Publisher: Random House
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 368 s.
Originally published: 2010

Genre: Science fiction
The dice landed on: 5
Did I finish?: Yes
Do I like the cover?: So, so…

One-sentence summary: Sam Wilson is a hacker who hacks into The White House and get involved in a world of cybercrime and danger of war.

We are a few years in the future. Las Vegas is a radioactive waste land, destroyed in a terrorist attack. Technology has moved forward and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Now you don’t have to wait for your slow fingers when you are online. Sam Wilson is a teen hacker, he can’t afford a neuro-headset, but he wants one dearly and uses his hacking abilities to get one. The hack brings him to the attention of some powerful people and the US’ cyberdefense authorities. He’s also starting to worry about the neuro-headsets. If  any computer system can be hacked, what happens when people’s minds are linked to the system?

This is a fast moving and exciting story. There’s lots of action, both in “real life” and online. For example, when Sam is working online and hacking into something he’s creeping, running, hiding… In parts there’s so much tecno-babble that I get a bit lost, but this is not a big problem as the author is careful to use anologies to make it understandable to non-hackers too.

I could have wished to know a few of the other characters than Sam a bit better, and sometimes I’d liked the whole story to slow down a bit. Also, I’m not really sure that I like the ending, but I sort of like that I don’t know if I like it. That sounds weird I guess, but I don’t feel that ambiguity is necessarily a bad thing.

All in all BrainJack is a good book for anyone who likes to read a full on action book, and I was caught up enough in it to give it a 5.

Book beginnings on Friday – Blink & Caution

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.
On my way to work this morning I started reading Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones. It starts like this:

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-JonesLook up at the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light. Count the floors – take you pick.

You’re wearing the Blessed Breakfast Uniform: the Adidas, sparkly white; the tan Gap cargos; the yellow Banana Republic polo; the red cotton hooded full-zip. Lifted, all of it, from a gym locker at Jarvis Collegiate, where the posh children drift down from Rosedale on shining bikes or are disgorged BMW’s. You picked a boy about your size. You followed him to school one day, which was against the rules. It’s never hard to find a locker room; your nose shows you the way. These fine clothes of young master Rosedale were doused with Eternity when first you put them on, though that fragrance has been lost with repeated wear.

I sense a lot of desperation in this beginning. Wearing stolen clothes to get a breakfast, doesn’t sound like his circumstances are too good. I’m about to start chapter 3 and isn’t disappointed so far.


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