Monday, May 31, 2010

Wayback

Wayback is an adult Christian fiction sci-fi novel by the first time author Sam Batterman. (ISBN: 978-1-933204-87-1, VMI Publishers, 2009, $14.99)

It all begins with the discovery of a strange and super-powerful futuristic weapon that has been hidden since the fall of Hitler and his Nazis. He had a horrific plan to use it's abilities to transport its user to any time period in the past. Now, a group of handpicked scientists, adventurers, and geniuses have been recruited to put this machine to use as a tool for understanding the true age and history of the world. What they find and the time period they enter proves to be dangerous and eye-opening for science, so-called established facts, and religions.

So, in Wayback the machine takes this group to the time of the Flood and Noah's arc in biblical times. I'm not a big fan of biblical fiction, but for those of you who are interested...

The writing is of a pretty high level. I felt that Sam Batterman wrote with lovely imagery and descriptions that didn't bore but, instead, enhanced the story. I personally didn't feel a connection with any of the characters, but I could see how a reader interested in this sort of literature could come to enjoy their personalities and their discoveries in this B.C. world, which is full of danger and unpredictable situations.

I wasn't really blown away, nor disappointed. As I said, Wayback is not really my personal bibliophile taste, so I don't feel that I really have a right to say if it was good or not.

If Wayback had used the same plot device, but transported the characters to a more recent time period and didn't focus on the religious aspects quite so much, I may have been more entertained and invested. In saying that though, I feel that I should point out that I found some of the theological discussions to be fascinating - but again, not escapist enough for me personally. We all have our tastes, and this just isn't one of mine. ;)

I wouldn't necessarily seek out more novels by Sam Batterman, but I do feel he is talented and that many readers who love this sort of Christian fiction will become big fans.

On a different note, the cover of Wayback is appealing to me with it's cleanliness (I know that sounds odd, but it's just so clear and uncluttered) and seems to suggest some level of science fiction. It isn't as eye-catching as it could be and certainly doesn't really represent any scene of the book, but it does its job well enough.

SO - does the premise of Wayback intrigue you? Because, if so, don't take my word for it! Go check it out! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Runaway

Runaway is the third and final book in the Airhead YA trilogy by Meg Cabot.

Here I am sounding like a broken record again - but please, please, PLEASE do not read the review of this book if you haven't yet read Airhead and Being Nikki - it will have all sorts of spoilers for the uninitiated!

Anyway, Runaway starts shortly after Being Nikki left off - the recently-revealed-psycho Brandon has Em held hostage, basically, because he has threatened to tell his father, president of Stark Enterprises, where the real Nikki is (and that she's alive in another girl's body) if Em doesn't go along with his crazy plan to get whatever info Nikki has that made her killable in order to take down his father (because he doesn't like him anymore than Em does). Oh, yeah, and his oh-so-great plan to force Em to pretend to be his girlfriend.

Doesn't get more insane than that. Especially for a guy as dumb as Brandon.

From there, some pretty darn exciting stuff starts happening. Stuff that I don't want to spoil by hinting at here. I'll just say that Em certainly doesn't take her hostage situation lying down - and romance is not dead - though it might be highly frustrating (but when is it not?)! Runaway is as stock full of hot guys as the last two books in the series, which is never a drawback.

If you've already read Airhead and Being Nikki (and you better have if you are reading this!), then you certainly don't need me to convince you to read it.

It's as laugh-out-loud funny, entertaining, spooky, and suspenseful as the last two - with a massive twist near the end to tie the whole thing into a big bow of love to the fans.

Though I was sad that the trilogy was over, I was happily satisfied with the end. Of course, I wouldn't have said no to a few more pages. But that's a common complaint of mine when a book I really like/love is over.

There were a couple of plot lines I saw coming - but the thing about Meg Cabot's writing is, it's so fun that the destination isn't even the best part - it's the great characters, romance, and zippy lines that scream, "MEG CABOT!".

What are you waiting for??? Go read Runaway!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Missionary

The Missionary is an adult fiction novel, co-written by William Carmichael and David Lambert. (ISBN: 978-0-8024-5569-7, Moody Publishers, 2009, $13.99)

American missionary David, his wife Christie, and four-year-old boy Davy are living in Caracas, Venezuela, helping to rescue homeless, sick, and starving orphans on the streets - of which there are many. The only problem is that David begins to find his work to be almost pointless - for every child they take in at Hope Village, there are dozens more still out there. He desperately wants to do more. And when an opportunity presents itself, David finds himself participating in a dangerous attempt to change the Venezuelan government - an attempt that puts his life, as well as his wife's and son's, at risk and causes him to become an international fugitive.

So, I thought the premise sounded pretty good - and it is. Plus, the cover is nice and eye-catching. There's a slow build in momentum, and the action does pick up. At times I felt like the narrative was being stalled by the characters, whom I never really came to be all that attached to. Not that they are not likable, they are... I just didn't feel there was enough character development... Something just seemed to be missing as far as their personalities go. Parts of the novel seemed repetitive at times - and I kept expecting the plot to pick up more speed.

Don't get me wrong - it was by no means a bad book! There's a lot for anyone who is into espionage, government thrillers, and missionary suspense to enjoy. I just felt that compared to other books I've read of a similar nature, that The Missionary didn't quite have the oomph to really power me through the pages. But once David was on the run, I did become more invested in his escape - I was nervous for him. The Missionary definitely offers up a scary situation - one that is not all that hard to believe either!

Some of the religious questions posed were a bit too obvious to me, personally... I like a bit more subtlety in my novels. But I recommend The Missionary to any of you bibliophiles who like Christian fiction! It had some fun surprises and twists that I didn't see coming, which is always good. ;)

I was never bored, but I admit to skimming.

Though I wouldn't actively seek out another book by William Carmichael and David Lambert, if I came across one I would certainly give it a chance.

Just like you should read The Missionary for yourself if it sounds interesting to you, and not just take my word for it!!! Never, ever do that! That's advice from me, your Bibliophile Support Group leader, to you. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Crimson Thread

The Crimson Thread is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, written by Suzanne Weyn, in the Once Upon a Time series published by Simon Pulse.

I personally love this series. I’m behind a few, but I absolutely adore retold fairy tales. I still have fun watching old Disney movies. I just love the whole fairy-tale genre, to tell you the truth. From the sweeter and romantic to the darker and magical, to all variations in between. Honestly. Lol.

Anyway, my favorites in the Once Upon a Time series are The Storyteller’s Daughter (Cameron Dokey), Snow (Tracy Lynn), and The Rose Bride (Nancy Holder) – but I love them all in varying degrees.

The Crimson Thread takes the tale of Rumplestiltskin (one of the creepier stories for me as a kid, I’d say) and twists it into a story of an Irish immigrant family in New York in 1880. The main character’s name is Bridget (though so not to confuse you if you read the back of the book, she changes her name to the more Americanized Bertie) and her family realizes before long that employers aren’t welcoming the Irish too happily. In order to make ends meet, Bridget takes a job as a seamstress for a tycoon’s family. And when, after her father’s reckless boasting, she is tasked with creating beautiful gowns to help save her employer’s business – the enigmatic, mysterious Ray Stalls (who also lives in the more down-trodden area her family resides) helps her do so with an old spinning wheel. But what will be his price?

Okay, so you already know that I enjoy fairy tales – but this, like Suzanne Weyn’s other Once Upon a Time offerings, takes a lot of elements of a different, real-world time period and incorporates an almost too realistic setting to an old, creepy fantasy tale. However, I found that it actually worked.

I really liked Bridget’s character and I quickly found myself caring for her and her family. Ray Stalls came across much more human than I would have expected, yet I liked the portrayal. The story moved at a swift pace and I was never once bored.

In the end, I found The Crimson Thread to be a clever (loved the last two paragraphs), witty, and page-turning retelling with a nice, subtle magical element. And even though I tend to like my fairy-tales to have more, well, fairies… I highly recommend Suzanne Weyn’s different, refreshing approach in The Crimson Thread.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Golden Girl


NOTE: For some reason the cover of Golden Girl is flipping out (just like the cover of Emperor Dad), please click one of the links at the bottom of the post to see a pic of the cover as it is supposed to look.

Golden Girl is yet another novel from Henry Melton, an author I’m beginning to think should be on a lot more bibliophile bookshelves!

The synopsis of this YA sci-fi novel is thus: Debra is just another teenage girl with a bit of a rebellious streak towards her not-quite-sure-how-to-be-a-dad dad, when she’s suddenly torn from her bed and told she’s in the future. Not exactly the best wake-up call, right?

Well, things don’t turn up from there. Her lab-suited abductors quickly tell her that things are pretty bad in the future and it all comes down to a huge asteroid impact, which they believe she can prevent by making only a few small changes to her present day (ya know, the one they tore her from before she had changed out of her nightgown).

Just as Debra is convinced of most, if not all, that they’re saying, they send her back to her time to do what she’s agreed to do to save the planet.

Only one problem… Instead of finding herself back in bed, she’s two hundred years in her past! Apparently time travel hasn’t been perfected in the future.

And as Debra erratically jumps back and forth through different time periods she learns more and more. Some of which leads her to the conclusion that she may have been lied to…

Now for what I, your humble Support Group leader, thought: Whoa.

That’s right. Whoa.

I was (and still am) flabbergasted at the absolute creativity and intricacy that Henry Melton put into Golden Girl to make time travel seem innovative and new and… awesome!!!

Without giving away anything to ruin or even slightly taint your own reading experience, I will say that Henry Melton added elements of true surprise to the theory of how time travel would work exactly, and what the effects would be.

The plot shoots right out of the cannon in the first few paragraphs – you’re thrown directly into the action along with Debra, a highly likable and relatable main character.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be turning pages quite frantically, excited in unraveling the layers of what exactly is going on.

What I think I loved most about Golden Girl was how much it allowed me to use my brain, yet didn’t overload me on technicalities. I really appreciate how carefully Henry Melton must have mapped out the storyline, because everything just comes together so perfectly, I was amazed. Honestly.

The mature, yet very entertaining, tone to Golden Girl makes for an excellent novel and fantastic reading. There were even unexpectedly touching moments, not something you always expect from science fiction – but Henry Melton doesn’t go the conventional route, does he?

Yet again, Henry Melton staggered me with his twists and reveals – totally unpredictable – and left me feeling satisfied, nevertheless wanting more.

What more can a book addict ask for?