Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Apocalyptic Review: Apollyon (Left Behind #5) by LaHaye and Jenkins

Apollyon (Left Behind #5)
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

As the world's thousands of believers gather in Jerusalem for a stadium rally, the Tribulation Force struggles with their own personal crises. Newspaper reporter Buck Williams and his wife, Chloe, question whether or not they should have a child when the future of the world is so uncertain. Meanwhile, Rayford Steele discovers the shocking truth about his wife, Amanda.

Nicolae Carpathia continues his rise to power, forcing believers underground. But Nicolae isn't prepared for a plague of scorpion-like locusts tormenting his followers—with a pain so horrible that men try to kill themselves but aren't allowed to die.

My Review:
Pretty good, odd ending. The locusts were, um, interesting. At least I know what the title means now.

As with the others in this series, the folks who will likely enjoy it best are Christian readers. Others might enjoy it for literal take on the biblical apocalypse.

Overall I liked it, but it's not as exciting as some of the others.

I borrowed the paperback of this book from a friend.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

About the Authors:

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins. He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins.

He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American novelist and biographer. He is best known as co-author of the Left Behind series of books with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 185 books, including mysteries, historical fiction, biblical fiction, cop thrillers, international spy thrillers, and children's adventures, as well as non-fiction. His works usually feature Christians as protagonists. In 2005, Jenkins and LaHaye ranked 9th in Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary list of Hall of Fame authors based on books sold at Amazon.com during its first 10 years. Jenkins now teaches writers to become authors here at his website. He and his wife Dianna have three sons and eight grandchildren.

Books in this Series:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sci Fi Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

My review:
Fantastic book! Kind of a high tech Willy Wonka.

For me, the 80s pop culture and video game stuff was fun and interesting. It was funny how all these gunters (egg hunters) basically had to learn and master everything Halliday liked, no matter how obscure, all for a chance to find the unfindable easter egg in the Oasis.

I also liked that this wasn't just Wade against the world. He finds allies of a sort, and that not only adds some more interesting characters, but also makes him more likeable. The story does slow down in the middle as Wade gets stumped and then distracted from the hunt, but when it picks back up again, it just doesn't stop.

Particularly interesting is the description of the technology and the cleverly interspersed glimpses of the real world it was created to hide.

Overall, I loved this story. I'd strongly recommend this to people who enjoy 80s culture, video games, sci fi and dystopians. 

I bought this book for my son and borrowed it from him to read after he'd finished with it.

About the author:
ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

Author Links:
Author Page

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fairy Tale Review: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine

How can a fairy's blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy's gift -- the "gift' of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse -- once and for all.

My Review:
Ella Enchanted provides a new take on the old Cinderella story. In it the fairy godmother isn’t the only fairy in Ella’s life. The other is Lucinda, a foolish fairy who gifts her with obedience. It’s more of a curse than a gift, but Ella isn’t about to let a little thing like having to obey hold her back.

This book was a lot of fun. Ella’s workarounds and spunk had me laughing, but I also felt for her plight. I also thought the step-sisters were a lot more entertaining than the ugly ones in the traditional fairy tale. The extremely self-interested one and the not so bright demanding one.

Despite having seen the movie beforehand, I didn’t know what would happen. It was obvious from the start that the movie and the book are mostly the same in spirit. I loved both, but they are different.

Overall, I loved this story. I’d recommend it to folks who enjoy quirky fairy tale retellings.

I borrowed Ella Enchanted from the library.

About the Author:
Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and began writing seriously in 1987. Her first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Fairest; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction book Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and the picture book Betsy Who Cried Wolf, illustrated by Scott Nash. Gail, her husband, David, and their Airedale, Baxter, live in a 1790 farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.  

Author Links:
Author's Webpage

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Science Fiction Review: Speaker for the Dead (The Ender Quartet series Book 2) by Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead (The Ender Quartet series Book 2)
by Orson Scott Card 

In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: The Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War.

Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens' ways are strange and frightening...again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery...and the truth.

My Review:
Speaker for the Dead continues Ender’s story some 3000 years after the conclusion of his fateful game. Since that time, Ender has traveled the hundred worlds learning about and speaking for the dead. Now a new alien race has been discovered: the seemingly harmless, but intelligent piggies of planet Lusitania. Harmless until an unprovoked and brutal murder at their hands draws Ender’s attention.

For those who’ve read Ender’s Game, this has the same feel and builds on that distant past, but it is a wholly new and different story. This is not only a murder mystery, but a xenobiological one. Almost as much time is given to the stories of the dead and their survivors as there is to the mystery of Lusitania’s flora and fauna. But these aren’t the only lifeforms explored.

I found this book hard to put down. It’s science fiction at its finest. Believable, flawed characters, both human and not, and intriguing science based on both imagination and real theories. No battles, but plenty of struggle. In short, it was a delight.

I guess the one thing I must warn about is the author’s preface. I started reading it and quickly (well, several pages in) realized it was going into quite a bit of detail about the story I hadn’t yet read. Interesting, but there are spoilers.

Overall, I loved it. I’d recommend this to folks who enjoy science fiction that really delves into the science, without forgetting the humanity behind it.

I borrowed this from the library after reading Ender’s Game.

About the Author:
Orson Scott Card is best known for his science fiction novel Ender's Game and its many sequels that expand the Ender Universe into the far future and the near past. Those books are organized into the Ender Quintet, the five books that chronicle the life of Ender Wiggin; the Shadow Series, that follows on the novel Ender's Shadow and are set on Earth; and the Formic Wars series, written with co-author Aaron Johnston, that tells of the terrible first contact between humans and the alien "Buggers." Card has been a working writer since the 1970s. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s, Card's first published fiction appeared in 1977 -- the short story "Gert Fram" in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelette version of "Ender's Game" in the August issue of Analog.

The novel-length version of Ender's Game, published in 1984 and continuously in print since then, became the basis of the 2013 film, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin. Card was born in Washington state, and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he runs occasional writers' workshops and directs plays. He frequently teaches writing and literature courses at Southern Virginia University.

He is the author many sf and fantasy novels, including the American frontier fantasy series "The Tales of Alvin Maker" (beginning with Seventh Son), There are also stand-alone science fiction and fantasy novels like Pastwatch and Hart's Hope. He has collaborated with his daughter Emily Card on a manga series, Laddertop. He has also written contemporary thrillers like Empire and historical novels like the monumental Saints and the religious novels Sarah and Rachel and Leah. Card's recent work includes the Mithermages books (Lost Gate, Gate Thief), contemporary magical fantasy for readers both young and old. Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, He and Kristine are the parents of five children and several grandchildren.

Source: http://us.macmillan.com/author/orsonscottcard

Find more books by this author on Amazon.