Friday, October 30, 2009

Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

Dracula The Un-Dead cover

Dracula The Un-Dead
by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

Hardback: 432 pages
Publisher: Dutton
First Released: 2009

Source: Unrequested review copy from publisher.

Back Cover Description:
Family secrets, unfinished business, and an evil unlike any the world has known.

Twenty-five years have passed since the band of heroes destroyed Dracula at his castle in Transylvania. Since then, Jonathan and Mina Harker have raised their son Quincey into a fine, if at times naive, young man, even while their once happy marriage disintegrated. Dr. Seward, the brilliant physician, is plagued by drug abuse and mania. Arthur Holmwood, the brave and dashing fiance to Lucy, is now full of anger and regret. And Van Helsing, leader of the brave band, is a sickly old man.

When Quincey leaves law school to pursue his dream of acting, he stumbles upon a troubled production of the play Dracula. This play, with its oddly familiar characters and directed by one Bram Stoker, plunges the young man into the world of his parents' terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he meets evil that rocks him to his core. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived and is seeking revenge all these years later? Or is another far more sinister villain at work who will put anyone associated with Dracula, including Quincey, in grave danger?

Dracula The Un-Dead is a historical horror novel set in 1912 in France and England. It is a "sequel" to the original Dracula novel written by Bram Stoker. Overall, I enjoyed this fast-paced novel and thought it well-written. The world-building was excellent with historical details that brought the novel alive in my imagination.

If you don't know anything about the original Dracula, a short summary of what happened in that book is given in the form of a letter at the beginning of this one. There were notes from the authors at the back describing where and why they decided to depart from the way things were in the original story. I've never read the original Dracula and never watched the movies, but fans of the original book seem to be reacting badly to the changes made.

If you loved the 'band of heroes' from the first book, then I can see why you wouldn't like this novel. The heroes weren't portrayed very nicely (Seward was a morphine addict, Jack was an alcoholic and frequented prostitutes, Mina was sexual unsatisfiable and loved Dracula, Arthur wanted to die, etc.), and they don't have happy fates in this novel.

I never really liked the main characters enough to bond with them or care if they died, which decreased the tension a little. I did think they were interesting and complex characters, though, and I understood the authors were trying to show the toll their adventure had taken on them.

Semi-spoiler paragraph: At the beginning, it was stated that all vampires are evil. Near the end, however, several vampires stated they weren't really evil--that God, not the devil, created vampires, and that each vampire chose whether to be good or evil. Dracula thinks he's a totally misunderstood good guy. I'm not certain if the reader was supposed to trust this "revelation," especially since these characters were seeking to justify their evil actions.

There was slightly explicit sex in the book (including adultery, rape and lesbian sex). The violence and gore were much more explicit and there was a lot of it. God was treated as a real being (for the most part), though believing in him didn't seem to do anyone any good. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I think anyone who hasn't read the original, who likes modern vampire novels, and who doesn't mind gore will probably enjoy this one.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Oceans of Love, Lucy.

The inscription was the only thing Dr. Jack Seward could focus on as he felt the darkness overtake him. In the darkness was peace, with no harsh light to illuminate the tattered remains of his life. For years, he had devoted himself to fighting back the darkness. Now he simply embraced it.

Only at night could Seward find peace with the memory of Lucy. In his dreams, he still felt her warm embrace. For a fleeting moment, he could go back to London, to a happier era, when he found meaning through his place in the world and his research. This was the life he had wished to share with Lucy.

The early morning din of milk wagons, fishmongers' carts, and other merchant vehicles rattling hurriedly across the cobblestone streets of Paris intruded on Seward's dream and thrust him back into the harsh present. Seward forced his eyes open. They stung worse than fresh iodine on an open wound. As the cracked ceiling of the stale Parisian flophouse room he had been renting came into focus, he reflected on how much his life had changed. It saddened him to see all the muscle tone he had lost. His bicep sagged, resembling one of those hand-sewn muslin tea bags after it had just been removed from a teapot. The veins on his arm were like rivers on a tattered map. He was a shadow of his former self.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo

Tell Me Something True cover

Tell Me Something True
by Leila Cobo

Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
First Released: 2009

Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description (from publisher website):
Gabriella always loved the picture of her mother kneeling in front of a bed of roses, smiling, beautiful and impossibly happy. But then she learns that her late mother hated gardening; that she no longer wanted the house in the Hollywood hills, the successful movie producer husband, and possibly, her only daughter. When Gabriella discovers a journal--a book that begins as a new mother's letters to her baby girl, but becomes a secret diary--the final entry leaves one question unanswered: the night her mother died, was she returning to Colombia to end an affair, or was she abandoning her family for good?

Tell Me Something True is a well-written and compelling novel with complex characters and a realistic plot. The novel was set in Cali, Colombia, and the details about the culture and city brought the scenes alive in my imagination. I read late into the night to discover what happened next. But it's a difficult novel to describe. The closest I can get is that it's about learning there are real, life-changing consequences to your actions and just because you think you can get away with something, you might be wrong and maybe you shouldn't do it.

The book was written with two main, alternating viewpoints: Gabriella's third person, present tense viewpoint and her mother's diary written in first person, past tense. I barely noticed the use of present tense, perhaps helped by the chapters being short and alternated with those in past tense.

I didn't really like Gabrielle or approve of her choices. She's self-centered, drinks socially at parties until she's drunk, occasionally uses drugs, purposely dresses provocatively, casually sleeps with her boyfriends, and so on. The other characters also had a tendency to do selfish things and try to justify them to themselves and to others. Still, I felt sympathy for the pain they were going through, and I could understand why Gabrielle and Angel were drawn to each other.

The ending was a bit sad but realistic.

There was some Spanish used in the novel, but either it was translated or a simple word or phrase that was easy to figure out from context and which wasn't critical to understanding what was going on. There was a minor amount of bad language. The sex (pretty much all of it outside of marriage) was not graphic/explicit. Overall, I'd recommend this well-written, fairly clean novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The air feels sweet and moist and just the slightest bit warm when you get off the 9 p.m. flight to Cali. It clings to your skin, but in the faintest, most tenuous way, like the sheerest of gauze blouses touching but not touching your arms as you breathe. When Gabriella tries to explain the sensation to her friends, they just don't get it.

"How can you feel or smell any air," they always ask, "if you arrive into an airport terminal?"

"It's not a real terminal," she is forever responding. And it isn't, to her at least. It's a building with open windows and no air-conditioning, and if it's raining, drops of water sweep in, like mist, and it makes her feel as though she's arrived somewhere real and tangible and alive, so far from a carpeted airport terminal you feel like you're in another world.

Her friends from up there never come down here. They're afraid of getting killed, or worse.

"I don't know what's wrong with these people," she complained to her father as he watched her pack the night before. "It's extraordinary, really. They go to Singapore, to Turkey, to Peru! But Colombia is too dangerous."

Her father didn't say anything, because he's as guilty as they are, absent from her trips for over a decade.

Read more of chapter one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Vault by Peter Lovesey

No Cover Available

The Vault
by Peter Lovesey

Hardback: 332 pages
Publisher: Soho Press
First Released: 1999

Source: Bought from my library's book sale

Back Cover Description (modified):
Bath is a town layered in history: Roman, Medieval, Georgian. Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is a buff, old-fashioned policeman. When he is presented with a skeletal hand, found in the vault under the Pump Room where a church graveyard used to be, he assumes it is merely of archaeological interest. But when the bones prove to be modern, Diamond must dig further. His inquiries cross those of a visiting American academic in pursuit of the diary of Mary Shelley, whose Frankenstein was written in the house that used to stand over the vault (before the house was demolished so the Pump room could be expanded). And now unknown paintings--illustrations for Frankenstein--are showing up on the market. Can Frankenstein have anything to do with a modern murder...or murders?

The Vault was an enjoyable, but not really memorable, mystery set in the 1990's in Bath, England. The main character, Peter Diamond, was interesting, but a bit bluntly rude and overbearing when dealing with people. I did enjoy his low-key humor and word-play jokes, though.

Peter Diamond was neither exceptionally smart or stupid. The reader always had more information than Peter Diamond, so we had the satisfaction of feeling smarter than him because we could figure out parts of the mystery before he did. However, he made good use of the missing information the moment he got it. Since he was the boss of the investigation and knew all the information, he had his turn at looking smart in front of his peers.

The pacing was very good, and the details about the town and history of Bath were interesting. There was a minor amount of swearing and some British cussing. There was no sex. Overall, I'd rate this book as enjoyable, fairly clean fun.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Some weird objects are handed in a Bath Police Station.

WPC Enid Kelly, on desk duty this afternoon, sneaked a look at the Asian man who had brought in a pizza box. She was sure of one thing: it didn't contain a pizza. She just hoped it wasn't a snake. She had a dread of snakes. "How can I help you, sir?"

The man had the black tie and white shirt of a security guard. He lifted the box up to the protective glass partition.

No airholes. Officers on duty learn to watch out for any container with holes punched in the top. But there was a bulge. Something bulkier than a pizza had been stuffed inside. Bulkier than two pizzas.

"This I am finding at Romans Baths."

"What is it?"

The man glanced at the other people in the waiting areas as if they might not wish to hear. Leaning closer to the glass, he said, "Can I pass through?"

"Just a moment."

Enid Kelly turned for support to the sergeant filling in a form at the desk behind her. He came to the glass.

"What have you got here, sir?"

"Some person's hand, I am thinking."

"A hand?"

"A hand I said."

"It was in this box?"

"No, no, no. My lunch was in box. Tomato and mushroom pizza. This was best thing I could find to carry hand in."

"Let's see." The sergeant unfastened the security panel and the box was passed through. It felt too heavy to be a hand. But how can you tell how much a hand weighs on it's own?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

On Basilisk Station cover

On Basilisk Station
by David Weber

Mass Paperback: 422 pages
Publisher: Baen Books
First Released: 1993

Author Website

Source: My personal library. I think I originally checked it out of the library, then bought it from

Back Cover Description:
Having made him look a fool, she's been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her.

Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship's humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station.

The aborigines of the system's only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens.

Parliament isn't sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling; the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called "Republic" of Haven is Up To Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn't work to police the entire star system.

But the people out to get her have made one mistake. They've made her mad.

On Basilisk Station is one of my favorite science fiction books. There are mysterious happenings to figure out as well as a tense space battle at the end. The pacing is very good, the world-building is excellent, the characters are complex and engaging. I love how Honor Harrington is determined to do what is right and honorable even when it'd be much easier not to.

There is no sex and no bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel to sci-fi and fantasy readers as well-written, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The fluffy ball of fur in Honor Harrington's lap stirred and put forth a round, prick-eared head as the steady pulse of the shuttle's thrusters died. A delicate mouth of needle-sharp fangs yawned, and then the treecat turned its head to regard her with wide, grass-green eyes.

"Bleek?" it asked, and Honor chuckled softly.

"'Bleek' yourself," she said, rubbing the ridge of its muzzle. The green eyes blinked, and four of the treecat's six limbs reached out to grip her wrist in feather-gentle hand-paws. She chuckled again, pulling back to initiate a playful tussle, and the treecat uncoiled to its full sixty-five centimeters (discounting its tail) and buried its true-feet in her midriff with the deep, buzzing hum of its purr. The hand-paws tightened their grip, but the murderous claws--a full centimeter of curved, knife-sharp ivory--were sheathed. Honor had once seen similar claws used to rip apart the face of a human foolish enough to threaten a treecat's companion, but she felt no concern. Except in self-defense (or Honor's defense) Nimitz would no more hurt a human being than turn vegetarian, and treecats never made mistakes in that respect.

She extricated herself from Nimitz's grasp and lifted the long, sinuous creature to her shoulder, a move he greeted with even more enthusiastic purrs. Nimitz was an old hand at space travel and understood shoulders were out of bounds aboard small craft under power, but he also knew treecats belonged on their companion's shoulders. That was where they'd ridden since the first 'cat adopted its first human five Terran centuries before, and Nimitz was a traditionalist.

You can download the book for free from Baen's Free Library.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In Search of Honor by Donna Lynn Hess

In Search of Honor cover

In Search of Honor
by Donna Lynn Hess

Trade Paperback: 166 pages
Publisher: Bob Jones University Press
First Released: 1991

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description:

Young Jacques Chenier, caught up in the anarchy and terror of the French Revolution, finds himself living a precarious existence as one calamity succeeds another. But even worse to bear are the worry about his mother and the heavy load of hatred he carries--hatred for the Comte de Guiche and his son.

While the French Revolution rages throughout Paris, Jacques struggles to free himself from the prison of his own bitterness and to find the true meaning of honor.

In Search of Honor is a fast-paced historical fiction set during the beginning of the French Revolution (1787-1793). It has injustice treatment, a prison break, historical figures, the Revolution, and other excitement.

While the characters were not precisely likable, I could fully understand and sympathize with why they did what they did. I certainly wanted to know what happened to them and read the book through in practically one sitting. I especially enjoyed the world-building as the excellent historical detail about the time, place, and Jacques' job as a sculptor was interesting and brought the story alive in my imagination.

I honestly don't know if non-Christians would enjoy the book for not. It had a very definite Christian influence and quotes the Bible in several places, but only one character was actually Christian and I think non-Christians could relate to Jacques' attitude and desires.

Though not labeled a YA book, I think both teens and adults would enjoy it. There was no sex and no bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this as well-written, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The revolution began for me the day my father was murdered. Though it was years ago, memories of that day have faded little. His death is still difficult to think upon and harder yet to write about, and I would not, were it not for the fact that the circumstances of his death reveal the temper of the times.

It was early one afternoon. My father and I were in our shop as usual. I was bent over the fire, stirring up a new batch of molding max while he was busy carving on yet another marble bust of the great Rousseau. He had done many such busts that spring, for Rousseau, like Voltaire, had become an idol of the rich. Requests for his image seemed endless and were not limited to sculptured busts. The wealthy wanted the face of this dead philosopher on buttons, snuff boxes, shaving bowls, and inkwells. Indeed, for several months it seemed that everywhere I looked, a Rousseau was staring back at me.

There was one thing, however, that intrigued me about those myriad faces that my father created: no two were alike. I have since come to realize that such diversity is the mark of a great artist. My father was a great artist, and I freely admit that any success I have achieved as a sculptor I owe to him.

Read the prologue and more of chapter one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

The Tudor Rose cover

The Tudor Rose
by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: SourceBooks Landmark
First Released: 1953, (re-released 2009)

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
One woman holds the key to England's most glorious empire.

Elizabeth, the only living descendant of Edward IV, has the most valuable possession in all of England—a legitimate claim to the crown. Two princes battle to win Britain's most rightful heiress for a bride and her kingdom for his own. On one side is her uncle Richard, the last Plantagenet King, whom she fears is the murderer of her two brothers, the would-be kings. On the other side is Henry Tudor, the exiled knight. Can he save her from a horrifying marriage to a cut-throat soldier?

Thrust into the intrigue and drama of the War of the Roses, Elizabeth has a country within her grasp—if she can find the strength to unite a kingdom torn apart by a thirst for power.

The Tudor Rose is a historical fiction set in fifteenth century England. While I enjoyed the story, it was mainly as an enjoyable history lesson rather than as an exciting novel.

I cared about the characters and what happened to them. The world-building was very good with small historical details bringing the time period alive in my imagination. The author also introduced an element of mystery to the story (what happened to the princes?) that kept me reading to see how she would handle it.

However, Elizabeth never had much political influence, so she was a rather passive character. With two notable exceptions in the novel, she was usually doing what others told her to do or reacting to events rather than shaping them. Also, a lot of time was spent with the author telling or the characters discussing what the movers and shakers were doing. Basically, the pacing felt a bit slow because there wasn't much action.

There was no explicit sex or bad language. Overall, those interested in learning more about the War of the Roses and the parents of Henry VIII would probably enjoy this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
A long-drawn sign of feminie ecstasy filled the room as the white velvet was lifted from its wrappings. Its folds hung heavily across a lady-of-bedchamber's outstretched arms so that every jewelled rose and fleur-de-lys stood out and sparkled in the morning sunlight. Other women, on their knees, reached eager hands to spread the embroidered train. Young Elizabeth of York, standing in her shift and kirtle, shivered with excitement as the dressmaker from France slipped the lovely material over her shoulders; for, princess or no princess, it is not every day that a girl tries on her wedding-dress.

"Oh, how beautiful!" breathed her English attendants.

"Comme elle est ravissante!" eachoed the dressmaker and her underlings.

Because she was not sure whether such spontaneous compliments referred to the dress or to herself, Elizabeth, the king's daughter, called for a mirror.

"But, Bess, it makes you look so different!" complained her younger sister, Cicely, who had been allowed to watch.

Different indeed, confirmed the metal mirror. Where there had been a slip of a girl who still studied her lesson books, there now stood a stately stranger who might one day become Queen of France. The slender immaturity of her body made her look quite tall, the excited colour in her cheeks became her. Being a Plantagenent, Elizabeth had always been casually aware that she was beautiful--but never, surely, so beautiful as this!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Summer Promise by Robin Jones Gunn

Summer Promise cover

Summer Promise
by Robin Jones Gunn

Trade Paperback: 161 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
First Released: 1988

Author Website

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description:
As fourteen-year-old Christy leaves her family's Wisconsin farm to spend the summer at her wealthy aunt and uncle's beach home in Newport, California, she realizes this could be the best summer of her life. Her aunt is bending over backward to see that Christy's every wish is granted, the popular beach crowd is actually talking to her, and she catches the attention of a cute surfer named Todd.

But the Summer doesn't turn out as Christy hoped. Suddenly, she is faced with choices she's never had to make before, and the safe world that she's always known comes crashing down around her. Through it all, Christy struggles to keep her promise to her parents not to do anything she'll regret. But will she stop at nothing to get Todd, to be accepted, and to force her summer to give her everything it promised?

Summer Promise is a Christian novel for teens. It realistically portrays the temptations and pressures a teen faces when they want to fit in and be popular. The characters are likable. I enjoyed the book, but I felt like it really was written for teens rather than both teens and adults. (I bought the book for my 12-year-old goddaughter. I'll tell you what she thinks of it after she's read it.)

I don't think non-Christians would like this book. The Christian elements arise naturally in response to events in the novel, but they could come across as a bit preachy and confusing to those not familiar to with "Christianese" (short phrases Christians use to refer to larger concepts but which make little sense to those who don't already understand them).

Christy feels like her life is becoming a series of ups and downs and going out of control. She has grown up in a Christian family and always gone to church, but mostly it's a social activity. Now she has to decide whether to try other ways or make her relationship with God her own choice, a personal relationship, and surrender to doing things His way.

There was no explicit sex and any bad language was of the "he cussed" variety. Overall, I'd recommend this to Christian teens as well-written, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"I hate you! I hate you!" Christy Miller shouted at her reflection in the closet-door mirror. With a wild "Grrr," she wadded up her beach towel and heaved it at the mirror, watching it wobble and distort her lanky proportions.

"Christy darling?" came a shrill voice from the hallway. "Are you back from the beach so soon?"

"Yes, Aunt Marti." Christy grabbed a brush and pretended to be untangling her long nutmeg brown hair.

Her aunt, a slim, stylish woman in her forties, opened the guest-room door and looked around. "What was all the commotion, dear? Who were you talking to?"

"Nobody. Just myself." Christy answered calmly, trying to suppress the volcano of fiery emotions boiling within her.

"Why aren't you out on the beach, dear? It's a gorgeous day, and here you sit in your room, talking to yourself!" Aunt Marti dramatically pointed her acrylic fingernail toward the door. "You should be out there enjoying yourself!"

Christy bit her quivering lip and didn't answer.

"This is California! Live a little! We didn't fly you all the way from Wisconsin so you could spend the summer hiding in your room. Get out there and make some fiends."

Suddenly, the internal volcano erupted with great force, spewing words with hot tears. "I tried, all right? Christy choked. "I tried to get in with some of the beach kids, but they're all a bunch of snobs! I can't stand them! They're rude and mean, and they laughed at me."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Author Quirks: Hugh Howey

Next up is Hugh Howey, author of Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue. I asked him:

What's a quirky or little-known fact about yourself, your writing, and/or one of your novels? (For example, you can tell us about a non-standard pet you have, an unusual way you do your writing, a strange real life incident that inspired a scene in one of your novels, or so on.)

Hugh Howey's answer:

I find it impossible to write unless my feet are elevated. My computer desk is unusually high (more of a craft table than a standard desk), so I sit at it with my feet way up in the air and my chair turned to the side. I wrote my first two books like this, and it took a few weeks to realize how bad this would be for my poor neck. The crick was so deeply ingrained, that I couldn’t get it to go away -- but I couldn’t stop writing either, so I endured it.

It drove my wife crazy to see me in agony, especially since it was so avoidable. She would come in and arrange my monitor, or try to get me to sit up properly, anything to lessen what she knew would be a future source of misery (mainly to her poor eardrums, as I was fond of complaining about my self-inflicted injury).

We were in Staples one day, after many an argument over where and how I should sit to do my writing, and came across an inexpensive monitor arm. My lovely wife insisted I purchase the thing and install it at I did. For a few weeks, my monitor hung off the side of my desk, right in front of me as I laid back in my office chair with my legs up. It was delightfully comfortable. And absolutely impossible for me to write like that.

So I moved the arm to the back of my desk, which makes it hold the screen about where the stand did before. I’m a week or so into the draft of book number three, and the writing is proceeding apace.

And, in order to look to my left, I am back to rotating at the waist and complaining about the crick in my neck.

Thank you, Mr. Howey, for sharing this quirky story about yourself.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Through the Fire by Diane Noble

Through the Fire Cover

Through the Fire
by Diane Noble

Hardback: 248 pages
Publisher: Guideposts
First Released: 2007

Author Website

Source: Checked out from the library

Back Cover Description:
When Kate and Paul Hanlon leave their home in San Antonio to take over the pastorate of Faith Briar Church, they are excited about embracing the small town way of life. But when they arrive in Copper Mill to see their new church in flames and evidence shows that the fire was not an accident, Kate sets out to discover who is behind it. As she investigates, she makes friends in town, and threatening phone calls, mysterious packages and a life-and-death chase only make her more certain she is on the right path. Meanwhile, Paul struggles to keep the wounded church together. How will they rebuild? Was moving here a big mistake? As they seek God's wisdom, the folks of Copper Mill discover that hope can rise out of ashes and lead to glorious new life.

Through the Fire is a fun and charming cozy mystery. I liked that the mystery, for once, didn't involve a dead body.

The characters were entertaining and good humored. Kate and her friends weren't unusually clever, but they definitely were determined! The pacing was very good, and I loved how the author depicted small-town life. It reminded me of my little town. :)

There was a lot of Christian stuff (Bible study, prayer, God talk, etc.) in this book, but it wasn't preachy. I liked that Kate and Paul had a close relationship with God that was much like mine.

A few very minor nit-picks: The author's notion of what's involved in visiting someone in jail (even in a small town) was very inaccurate. Also, Ms. Noble never did actually explain how someone could send Kate an e-mail with no "From" or origin information. (To my knowledge, that isn't possible, but I admit I could be wrong.) Also, the bell went through a fire so intense that it burned the building to the ground and then the bell dropped the distance of the bell tower. I'm pretty certain the bell's structural integrity would be damaged and, at the very least, it wouldn't maintain the same tone as before the fire. I'll admit it made for a poetic ending, though.

There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as enjoyable, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Kate Hanlon smoothed her skirt, straightened the buttons on her periwinkle cardigan, and adjusted the silver drop-pendant at her neck. With a sigh, she flipped down the visor mirror and fussed with her strawberry-blonde collar-length hair in an attempt to tame the frizz brought on by the mist outside the car.

Her husband, Paul, who was driving Kate's Honda Accord, grinned. "I can tell how close to Copper Mill we're getting by how often you do that."

"The sighing or the primping?"

He laughed. "Both."

"As my mother used to say, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression."

On either side of the narrow road, thick stands of hickories, hemlocks, ashes, and maples were just beginning to turn vibrant oranges, reds, and browns. Since dawn, when they first turned off the main highway into the hill country, a light fog had wrapped itself around the trees, causing the leaves to drip and the scent of damp, loamy soil to drift into the car.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue
by Hugh Howey

Trade Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: NorLightsPress
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Author on Twitter

Source: ARC from author

Book Description:
When Molly gets kicked out of the Naval Academy, she loses the only two things that truly matter to her: the chance to fly in the Navy like her father had and her training partner, Cole. A dull future seems to await until a her father's old starship turns up halfway across the galaxy. It, like her father, has been missing for a decade.

Molly and Cole set out with the seemingly simple task of retrieving the starship but it quickly turns wrong. They run from one danger into another, picking up a crew of alien misfits and runaways along the way and leaving chaos in their wake. Together, they forge a whole new future.

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue is an exciting, fast-paced YA science fiction adventure with elements that will appeal to both males and females. The characters were interesting, and the world-building was very good.

The writing was very good overall, but there were a number of "huh?" points that confused me while I was reading. For example, until about halfway through, it appeared that the navigator only ran the weapon systems and the pilot guided the ship. It took me some time to get it through my head who "the navigator" or "navigator's seat" referred to because giving this title to the weapons officer didn't make sense to me.

Also, there were a number of continuity problems. I kept going back to re-read sections to see if I'd missed something only to find out I hadn't. For example, the hyperdrive wires were soldered to four rods in the drive room and the wires needed to be removed and properly grounded to the ship's chassis. Yet everything was apparently fixed even though Molly only deals with one rod and walks away without grounding the wires. Or Cole has an improvised metal dagger in his hand one second and then he's punching a dangerous enemy the next with no mention of him losing the dagger. Or Cole loses his Navy badge in the first half of the book only to suddenly have it with him again at the end. I found this very distracting, but luckily it didn't happen that often.

People have asked me to mention covers. When I got this ARC, one thing that bugged me was that it seemed to be Cole and Molly on the cover yet they're both supposed to be 17 years old. The Cole on the cover is obviously much older than that. Then it hit me that the Cole on the cover is the author. I wondered if that meant the character of Cole was going to be a "Mary Sue" for the author. If so, it wasn't terribly obvious, and I decided to forget about it after reading for a bit.

The book ended with a mild cliffhanger, but everything in this book was resolved (well, except the last sentence on page 108). There were aliens. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd rate this book as fairly well-written, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Molly floated in the vacuum of space--no helmet on, no protection at all. In the distance, a starship slowly drifted away. It was her parents' ship, and they were leaving her behind.

She swam in the nothingness, trying to keep them in view, but as always, she spun around, facing the wrong direction. It was the only torment the old nightmare possessed anymore. After years of waking up--screaming, crying, soaked in her own sweat--she'd whittled it down to this.

She tried to relax, to give up her fight for another glimpse. They were out there, even if she couldn't see them. And as long as she stayed asleep, suffocating and alone, her parents remained among the stars. Alive.


A voice pierced the dream. She cracked her eyes and blinked at her surroundings. Beyond the carboglass cockpit loomed a scene similar to her dream, but filled with a fleet of Navy ships.

"Gimme a sec," she mumbled, rubbing her lids and snapping her visor shut.

"Take your time. Your shift's not up for another ten."

Molly turned in her nav chair to face Cole Mendonca, her pilot for the last two years.