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Archives for: June 2011

06/30/11


Categories: Book Lists

Booklist’s Top Ten Science Fiction/Fantasy Books

The summer is warming up and it's a great time to do some summer reading. Here are some more recommendations from Booklist magazine. Enjoy!

All the Lives He Led by Frederick Pohl

Summary: Two thousand years after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii is a popular theme park eagerly awaiting the celebration of the great anniversary. But Vesuvius is still capable of erupting, and even more threatening are terrorists who want to draw attention to their cause.

The Best of Larry Niven by Larry Niven

Summary: A six hundred page book that collects twenty-seven stories from over three decades of writing by one of the best known names in Science Fiction.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness

Summary: Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos.

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb
Summary: Centuries had passed since dragons last roamed the war-torn world of the Rain Wild River. But as peace once again settled upon the land, a lost generation of sea serpents-ancient, half-starved, and weary-returned to cocoon, certain that they would be reborn as the beautiful and powerful dragons of legend. But their arduous journey exacted a heavy toll, and the proud serpents emerged as sickly, half-formed beasts, unable to fly or hunt . . . or thrive. For years now they have been trapped on a swampy riverbank between forest and river, hungry and barely alive, reliant on humans to provide for them. With their survival at stake, fifteen dragons-among them the wise golden Mercor, the haughty and dazzling silver-blue queen Sintara, and the delicate copper beauty Relpda-have set off on a dangerous trek into the unknown, up the Rain Wild River, in hopes of rediscovering the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra, the lost haven for dragons and Elderlings alike. The dragons are accompanied by a disparate group of human keepers, rejects from Rain Wild society. They, too, yearn to find Kelsingra and create a home of their own, one in which they may make their own rules and decide their own fate. But is Kelsingra real or merely a fragment of a glorified past buried deep in the dragons' shared memories? No map exists to guide them, and the noble creatures find their ancient recollections of little use in a land changed by generations of flooding and seismic chaos. As the dragons, the humans-including the strong and defiant Rain Wild girl Thymara; the wealthy dragon scholar and Trader's wife, Alise; and her companion, the urbane Sedric-and their magical supply barge, captained by the gruff Leftrin, forge their way ever deeper into uncharted wilderness, human and beast alike discover they are changing in mysterious and dangerous ways. While the bonds between them solidify, starvation, flashfloods, and predators will imperil them all. But dragons and humans soon learn that the most savage threats come from within their own company . . . and not all of them may survive.

Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Andersons

Summary Only the most desperate colonists dare to make a new home on Hellhole. Reeling from a recent asteroid impact, tortured with horrific storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and churning volcanic eruptions, the planet is a dumping ground for undesirables, misfits, and charlatans; but also a haven for dreamers and independent pioneers. Against all odds, an exiled general named Adolphus has turned Hellhole into a place of real opportunity for the desperate colonists who call the planet their home. While the colonists are hard at work developing the planet, General Adolphus secretly builds alliances with the leaders of the other Deep Zone worlds, forming a clandestine coalition against the tyrannical, fossilized government responsible for their exile. What no one knows is this: the planet Hellhole, though damaged and volatile, hides an amazing secret. Deep beneath its surface lies the remnants of an obliterated alien civilization and the buried memories of its unrecorded past that, when unearthed, could tear the galaxy apart.

Midsummer Night by Freda Warrington

Summary: AA sensuous, suspenseful modern fantasy of love, betrayal, and redemption Decades ago, in a place where the veil between our world and the world of the Aetherials ”the fair folk ”is too easily breached, three young people tricked their uncle by dressing as the fey. But their joke took a deadly turn when true Aetherials crossed into our world, took one of the pranksters, and literally scared their uncle to death. Many years later, at the place of this capture lies a vast country estate that holds a renowned art facility owned by a visionary sculptor. One day, during a violent storm, a young woman studying art at the estate stumbles upon a portal to the Otherworld. A handsome young man comes through the portal and seeks shelter with her. Though he can tell her nothing of his past, his innocence and charm capture her heart. But he becomes the focus of increasingly violent arguments among the residents of the estate. Is he as innocent as he seems? Or is he hiding his true identity so that he can seek some terrible vengeance, bringing death and heartbreak to this place that stands between two worlds? Who is this young man? The forces of magic and the power of love contend for the soul of this man, in this magical romantic story of loss and redemption.

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Summary: Condemned and shunned for black magic, Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the annual witches’ conference and clear her name, or be trapped in the demonic ever-after . . . forever after.

But a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car going across the country? Talk about a recipe for certain disaster, even without being the targets for assassination.

For after centuries of torment, a fearsome demon walks in the sunlight—freed at last to slay the innocent and devour their souls. But his ultimate goal is Rachel Morgan, and in the fight for survival that follows, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her.

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

Summary: Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief. But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. Like a king.

Thirteen Years Later by Jasper Kent

Summary: While the Oprichniki's primary reason for journeying to Russia is to stop the French, one of them takes a different path. For he has a different agenda, he is to be the nightmare instrument of revenge on the Romanovs. Now the time has come: it is 1825.

What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz

Summary: In the late summer of a long ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy. Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, recreating in detail Blackwood's crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family - his wife and three children - will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer. As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return.


06/27/11


Categories: New Books, Book Lists

Booklist’s Top Ten Science Fiction/Fantasy Books for Youth

Booklist magazine has published its 2010/2011 top ten Science Fiction and Fantasy titles for youth. Check these out:

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Summary: In the early twentieth century in Swampsea, seventeen-year-old Briony, who can see the spirits that haunt the marshes around their town, feels responsible for her twin sister's horrible injury until a young man enters their lives and exposes secrets that even Briony does not know about.

Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey

Summary: In 1888, twelve-year-old Will Henry chronicles his apprenticeship with Dr. Warthrop, a New England scientist who hunts and studies real-life monsters, as they discover and attempt to destroy the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh.

The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Summary: Twelve-year-old September's ordinary life in Omaha turns to adventure when a Green Wind takes her to Fairyland to retrieve a talisman the new and fickle Marquess wants from the enchanted woods.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
Summary: After being kidnapped and barely escaping, sixteen-year-old Jack goes to London with his best friend Connor, where someone gives him a pair of glasses that send him to an alternate universe where war is raging, he is responsible for the survival of two younger boys, and Connor is trying to kill them all.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary The Capitol is angry that Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice, stirring unrest by having defied the rules, and President Snow has made it clear that she, her family and friends, and the people of District 12 may all be held accountable.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Summary: As a world-ending war surges to life around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions, questioning all they have ever known as they try to step back from the darkness and find the best way to achieve peace.

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Rigg has a secret ability to see the paths of others' pasts, but revelations after his father's death set him on a dangerous quest that brings new threats from those who would either control his destiny or kill him.

The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud

Summary: Wise-cracking djinni Bartimaeus finds himself at the court of King Solomon with an unpleasant master, a sinister servant, and King Solomon's magic ring.

Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi

Summary: In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley

Summary: From the age of seven when she became scullery maid in a castle, Molly has seen visions of the future which, years later, lead her and friend Tobias on an adventure to keep Alaric, the heir to the throne, safe from a curse.


06/05/11


Review: Battle Royale Ultimate Edition

Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 1 by Koushun Takami.

May's Review: If you are fan of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, chances are you have already heard of Koushun Takami's Battle Royale, a dystopian-themed book that was originally published in 1999 and also deals with teenaged kids killing each other in a government-sponsored, gladiator-style competition. While a number of people have commented on the similarities between the two books, my review will focus solely on the manga adaption of Takami's book.

First of all, if you are even a bit squeamish about explicit violent acts and/or graphic depictions of sex, then this is not the manga for you. There is a reason why this series comes with a "parents advisory" warning label and let's just say, this story is not for the faint of heart. Within the first 100 pages in the first volume, there were already 3 deaths/murders along with a very unsettling panel depicting a rape scene. The story just comes at you like a sledgehammer with one violent encounter after another that you barely have time to process what is happening, let alone who to root for (note: there is at least 5-6 main characters in the story which gets kinda confusing sometimes because of the similarities in some of the kids' names).

Rather than be disgusted by what I was seeing and reading on the pages, I found myself drawn further into the story as the author and the illustrator carefully inserts mini-stories that examines some of these minor characters' lives before and during the competition. You cannot help but feel intrigued. One thing I noticed is that almost nobody in the story seems to have a happy life with loving parents or other family members. All the kids seem to be "running wild" and engaging in all sorts of criminal activities that was it any wonder that this class of students was picked to participate in Battle Royale?

This book is simply a gory and disturbing blood fest that is hard to put down. You simply want to read more just to learn what would turn your stomach and force you to put this book down. So far, I have finished volume 3 and it looks like I have a very strong stomach for these type of stories.

Here are the rest of the books in the ultimate series (combines the manga volumes in larger sets):

- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 2

- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 3

- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 4

- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 5