Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Apocalyptic Review: Assassins (Left Behind #6) by LaHaye and Jenkins

Assassins (Left Behind #6)
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

The members of the Tribulation Force face their most dangerous challenges. As international fugitives, they struggle to find supplies for safe houses around the world. In despair over so many lost lives, Rayford Steele and Buck Williams make plans to dethrone Nicolae Carpathia and expose him as the Antichrist.

Meanwhile, Carpathia has been busy rebuilding roads, airports, and a cellular/solar satellite phone system—all designed to help him become the supreme ruler of the world. Many believers want him stopped, but who will fulfill Scripture and help bring about the Antichrist's death?

My Review:
It's pretty good. Not quite sure who actually does the job in the end. The Christians are rather murderous in this, too.

The whole story is leading up to the demise of the anti-christ, who is supposed to be taken out at a very specific time. His death is the mark of the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

One of the things I like about these stories is that even though the Tribulation Force has an idea what's coming from studying Revelations, the way things actually play out is always a shock. It pulls you along.

Overall, recommended for folks who like Christian reads, apocalyptic stories, and literal interpretations of the bible.

Borrowed my copy from a friend.

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.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fantasy Review: Racing the Dark (Spirit Binders #1) by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Racing the Dark (Spirit Binders #1)
by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Racing the Dark is set in a land of volcanoes and earthquakes, plagues and typhoons, of island nations bound by fear of the spirits they imprisoned to control their volatile environment. Lana, a teenaged girl on a nameless backwater island, finds an ominous blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power, setting in motion events that drive her away from her family and into an apprenticeship with a mysterious one-armed witch.

My Review:
Starts off a bit rough with a little TMI, but all within context of the world building. Follows a couple of main characters, primarily the girl who has been sold to a witch as an apprentice and her ex-teacher who ends up taking on the responsibility of guarding the prison of a dangerous spirit. 

I most enjoyed the world building. The islands, the cultures, the magic and spirits all blend together into a fantastically unique and interconnected tapestry. The death (a character) was super interesting.

Overall, this is a very good story. I would recommend it to folks who like fantasy with more of an epic feel. 

I picked this up at some point while it was on a free promo.

About this Author:
Alaya (pronounced ah-lie-ah) lives, writes, cooks and (perhaps most importantly) eats in New York City. Her literary loves are all forms of speculative fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional highbrow novel. Her culinary loves are all kinds of ethnic food, particularly South Indian, which she feels must be close to ambrosia. She graduated from Columbia University in 2004 with a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures, and has lived and traveled extensively in Japan.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

ARC Review: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (The Risen Kingdoms #1) by by Curtis Craddock

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (The Risen Kingdoms #1)
by Curtis Craddock

Expected publication: August 29th 2017 by Tor Books

A polymath princess and her faithful musketeer must unravel the plot of a thousand-year-old madman in order to save a foreign kingdom from a disastrous civil war.

Caelum is an uninhabitable gas giant like Jupiter. High above it are the Risen Kingdoms, occupying flying continents called cratons. Remnants of a shattered world, these vast disks of soaring stone may be a thousand miles across. Suspended by magic, they float in the upper layers of Caelum's clouds.

Born with a deformed hand and utter lack of the family's blood magic, Isabelle is despised by her cruel father. She is happy to be neglected so she can secretly pursue her illicit passion for math and science. Then, a surprising offer of an arranged royal marriage blows her life wide open and launches her and Jeane-Claude on an adventure that will take them from the Isle des Zephyrs in l'Empire CĂ©leste to the very different Kingdom of Aragoth, where magic deals not with blood, but with mirrors.

My review:
An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors caught my eye first because of the cover and second because of the description, and I must say that I very much enjoyed it.

My favorite part is that Isabelle and Jeane-Claude are both awesome leading characters. Isabelle is a fantastic heroine, headstrong and smart, but in a patriarchal society that would have her killed should she reveal her secret studies into science and math.  Jeane-Claude is a king's musketeer whose sole mission is to protect Isabelle, but he hides behind the guise of a drunken exile so no one takes him seriously. The story follows each of them in turn, and though the story is in third person, I still felt a strong connection to these characters.

Besides the well-developed characters, the action and the danger they face insert just the right amount of tension into the story, and add to that the mystery and the political intrigue, the fights and the narrow escapes, and even a little bit of romance, and you have one excellent read.

And, the ending is satisfying. No spoilers here, but I wasn't able to guess the outcome, and when it came, I closed the book feeling like it couldn't have ended any other way. I'd love to read another book in this world, but this one looks like a standalone.

Anyhow, overall this book was awesome and I loved it.  I strongly recommend this to folks who enjoy high adventure, magic, and intrigue with a touch of steampunk.

I received the review copy of this book from NetGalley.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sci-fi Thriller: The Rainbow Virus by Dennis Meredith

The Rainbow Virus
by Dennis Meredith

It's the weirdest bioterrorism attack ever!

Loner scientist Arthur Lupo at first seems the most eccentric bioterrorist of all time. After vanishing from his lab at a biotech company, he releases viruses that only turn their victims a palette of colors. But then his chief pursuers—disgraced FBI agent Bobby Loudon and obsessive CDC epidemic-tracker Kathleen Shinohara—discover a horrifying fact. The brilliant Lupo has stolen the world's most lethal viruses from the Army's bioterrorism center.

Lupo reveals that his first viruses were only a test. He dramatically proves their infectivity by transforming the terrified citizens of Denver into a rainbow of colors. In a chilling declaration, he announces that he will now release an unstoppable artificial virus whose spread will decimate the world's population.

Loudon and Shinohara must race against time, a mysterious assassin, and a secret government faction to find Lupo and stop him.

The Rainbow Virus is a gripping, realistic bioterrorism tale that launches readers on a harrowing adventure with the flips and plunges of the wildest roller coaster.

My Review:
This one is an easy five stars for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed this from the start to the end. The main character is a flawed, but likable FBI agent who's paired with CDC agents to track down a missing scientist.

For a scientific thriller, this one was rather exciting with plenty of dangerous situations, along with a very interesting social side story. The villain has created a virus that targets human pigmentation, turning unsuspecting victims into a rainbow of colors in more and more widely targeted attacks. It seems mostly harmless, though life changing for the victims, except it becomes apparent the scientist is using the rainbow virus to perfect delivery of a deadly cocktail of stolen viruses.

As for the science itself, it's very well researched, but through the eyes of the FBI agent, a non-scientist, it's explained so any reader can get the important takeaways. Folks familiar with the science will dig the authenticity, though.

Overall, loved it. It was a great read. Fans of thrillers will likely dig it.

I picked this up while it was on a free promotion day.

About the Author:
Dennis Meredith brings to his novels an expertise in science from his career as a science communicator at some of the country's leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the University of Wisconsin. He has worked with science journalists at all the nation's major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

He has served on the executive board of the National Association of Science Writers and has written numerous articles and guidebooks on science writing and science communication. He has also served as a judge and manager for the NASW Science-in-Society Awards and the AAAS Science Writing Awards.

He was a creator and developer of EurekAlert!, working with The American Association for the Advancement of Science to establish this international research news service, which now links more than 4,500 journalists to news from 800 subscribing research institutions.

In 2007, he was elected as a AAAS Fellow "for exemplary leadership in university communications, and for important contributions to the theory and practice of research communication." In 2012 he was named the year's Honorary Member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

He holds a B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Texas (1968) and an M.S. in biochemistry and science writing from the University of Wisconsin (1970).

He is currently writing science articles, non-fiction books and science fiction novels. He also develops and conducts communication workshops for researchers seeking to enhance their communication skills, both professional and lay-level. He has developed workshops for researchers at universities, research foundations, and government agencies and laboratories.

Author Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/dennismeredith
Author Website: http://www.DennisMeredith.com
Twitter @explainresearch: https://twitter.com/explainresearch

Find more books by this author at Amazon.