Monday, April 30, 2012

Hush, Hush Saga

Hush Hush, Crescendo, and Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

I am thinking that fallen angels and Nephilim are the new vampires.  There are a whole slew of books out there, especially in the young adult fiction world, that involve angels, archangels, fallen angels and Nephilim.

This is the story of Nora, a high school sophomore in Maine whose father was recently murdered.  She and her mother are trying to make their lives work with just the two of them and everything seems to be going fine.  Then, one day, Nora's biology teacher decides to make a change to the seating chart so Nora no longer has her best friend as a partner, she has a mysterious new transfer student named Patch.

Soon, Nora learns that when God first created humans, he put angels on the earth to watch over them and protect them.  Some of the angels lusted for the human women and when their children were born, Nephilim, the archangels of heaven ripped the wings from these angels and they became "fallen".    Still roaming the earth, the fallen angels do what they like.  Fallen angels have some of their angelic gifts like mind control but they can't feel.  They have emotions and they can see and hear but they don't taste and they don't have the sense of touch.  From the moment their wings were ripped from their backs, they wanted nothing more than to have the human sensory experience.

Two weeks a year, during the Jewish time of Cheshvan, fallen angels have to ability to possess the body of another.  Human bodies are weak and often die within a week but the bodies of Nephilim are strong and can easily last.  The downside of this possession is that the spirit of the Nephilim is still in the body when the fallen angel is but the Nephilim has no control at all - they are a helpless bystander in their own body.  The Nephilim are forced to swear an oath of fealty to the fallen angels so they have no choice in the matter of possession.

Needless to say, only two weeks a year isn't enough for many fallen angels and they are always searching for another way.  The Book of Enoch supposedly tells of how a fallen angel can become human by killing his Nephilim.  The Nephilim are immortal though so things get complicated and involve killing a human progeny of the Nephilim when she is sixteen.  At the same time, the Nephilim are tired of being vassals for the fallen angels and are planning a way to stop the process before the next Cheshvan.

Nora and Patch slowly unravel mystery after mystery.  This is a young adult novel so there is the teen romance aspect even though Patch appears to be a couple of years older than Nora but is really hundreds of years older.  The frustrating aspects of teen romance, such as not communicating, are very present and affect more than just the romance - of course.  This is an entertaining series thus far and book 4 which is titled Finale? is scheduled for release in late October of this year.  I will probably read it just to finish the series.  I can see a spin-off series ensuing from this but I am okay not reading any more than just the four books.  The world of fallen angels is an intriguing one but not compelling enough to read much more.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

This book supposes that Genesis 6:5 is a record of how angels of heaven mated with human women and children were born.  These children were Nephilim and they walk the earth still.  God tried to cleanse the earth of the Nephilim during the Deluge.  One of the Nephilim killed Noah's son Napheth and used magic to appear to be Napheth.  After the flood, the sons of Noah spread across the land to repopulate.  Napheth and his family went to Europe.  All children of Napheth after this time were actually Nephilim.  These children were more ruthless than the human children that had been born to the real Napheth.  The Nephilim were more war-like and devious and had a tendency to be more financially and politically benefited in their lives.

Throughout time a group of humans called angelologist have been at war with the Nephilim.  They spend their time scouring ancient texts for clues of the family lines of Nephilim.  They are determined to stop at nothing until they can destroy all Nephilim on the planet and keep them from ruling over and manipulating the humans.

This books weaves Mythology, Legend and Biblical tales to create a thriller in modern day New York.

I found the basis interesting although it was really hard to get into the book at first.  I didn't really like the ending although I understand Trussoni is probably going to write more books in this series so it did set up for another.  If you want a thriller that is different from most, this is definitely it.  This is historical fiction in that it recounts some pretty ancient scenarios of biblical scholars alleged to be angelologist in the book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This is book 1 of the Maze Runner series.

Lately there has been a bunch of hoo haw on-line regarding whether the movie The Hunger Games (rated PG 13) is appropriate for elementary students. The book was extremely violent and dark and was all about the government forcing 12-18 year old kids to fight each other to the death.

The Maze Runner is of the same ilk. It is young adult fiction and the youngest kid involved in this particular scenario seems to be about 13 but no one actually remembers exactly how old they are or where they came from. They remember their name and that's it for personal information.

The book begins as Thomas wakes to find himself inside of some sort of metal box and it seems to be moving up. He can't remember anything about himself, save his name, and he's pretty freaked out about the whole thing. After awhile the box stops moving and the ceiling is pried open. A bunch of boys ranging in age are peering down at him. After they hoist him out of the box, their leader, Alby, barks orders at Thomas and the others and Thomas is left in the care of Newt. Thomas has a million questions but no one is answering them. It seems as though telling someone too much, too soon, results in death but this is never really explained.

Thomas learns that he is in a place they call The Glade. It is surrounded by a Maze. Small lizard robots keep an eye on everything and make sure no one is breaking any rules. The rules aren't spelled out, they have been deduced over the past two years as kids who break the rules, die horrible deaths. Thomas makes a friend of Chuck, the newest arrival prior to Thomas. Chuck seems extremely like-able although hapless. The inhabitants of The Glade are all boys age ranging from about

Thomas is frustrated by the fact that eve

The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

If my book club hadn't just read The Paris Wife, we wouldn't have selected this book and I wouldn't have finished it either.

The basic gist of the book is of a group of friends who travel from Paris, France to Pamplona, Spain for the festival of San Fermin and the bull fights. 
The bigger picture is that of a group of people who are mostly residing in Paris as expatriates (from the US and Great Britain) and they travel to Pamplona.  They are not necessarily all friends.  There is one woman who is married and trying to get divorced.  Her current fiance as well as an ex-lover/boyfriend (Hemingway's character) are on the trip.  Also there is a friend of the narrator (Hemingway) who lives in the US.  Another man tags along much to the chagrin of everyone else.  He is engaged to another woman but is hopelessly in love with the woman in the story.  He had a brief fling with her and has convinced himself that she must love him back as he loves her.

The complex relationships made this a rather difficult book to read because I just wanted to slap everyone for behaving badly and stupidly.  Also, they are drunk almost the entire book which does not help their behavior. 

There is a brief period in the beginning of the trip when Hemingway's character and his friend from the US go off fishing in the lower Pyrennes.  The descriptiveness of this part of the book was very enjoyable to read.

Once all the characters gather in Pamplona, the relationships and emotions and drunken behavior cloud the rest of the story.  The descriptions of the bulls, the corredo and the fights themselves are very nice to read.  Hemingway definitely excels in writing about action and the outdoors.  He is not very good in describing people or writing dialogue or emotions.  I found much of the dialogue unrealistic.  Perhaps the ex-pats of the time, a.k.a. the lost generation, really did speak in a forced "hipster/beat" fashion but it didn't feel real to me.

During The Paris Wife, this particular trip was described and it actually seemed much worse than the portrayal in The Sun Also Rises.  Perhaps the difference was perspective.  The Paris Wife was a novel written in his wife's voice based on her writings and correspondence.  The Sun Also Rises was written from his perspective.  Hemingway wrote the novel just after they took this trip and the biggest change he made was that he left his wife out of the book.  There is one particular situation that happened to his wife but he had it happen to the other woman on the trip instead.  Even though he dedicated the book to his wife and son, the fact that she was left out of the book must have been a huge slap in the face for her.

If you are a huge fan of Hemingway, you will probably read this book.  It is definitely not his finest work but then it is his first novel so that may also have something to do with it. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Face of the Earth

Face of the Earth by Doug and Linda Raber

This is a modern medical/spy thriller. It is currently only available as an e-reader.

This was a fairly fast paced and interesting thriller. It combines politics, military and medicine very well. I was impressed, and sometimes disturbed, by all the excerpts from actual government documents - all of which are cited at the end of the book.

I don't want to give anything away so here's a very brief blurb. What a doctor in the four corners area thought was chicken pox, was actually small pox. This book is a story of how it happened and what happened afterwards. The book addresses what our government policy is in certain situations and what might happen if that policy is not followed.

The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

This is book 1 in the Kane Chronicle series.

What Rick Riordan has done for Greek Mythology with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, he is also doing for Roman Mythology in the series The Heros of Olympus. Now, he's embarked into Egyptian Mythology with the Kane Chronicles.

Carter and Sophie Kane are siblings who have been raised apart the past 6 years or so. After their mother died, an apparent custody battle ensued. Their maternal grandparents took Sophie to live with them. Their father, Dr Julius Kane, took Carter. Carter was home-schooled by his father while they traveled all over the world. Dr Kane is an Egyptologist. Their mother had been an anthropologist specializing in ancient Egypt.

On a rare 2 hour visit to the British Museum, Dr. Kane promises his children that he will "make things right." Just after that, everything seems to go very wrong. After their father becomes imprisoned in a golden sarcophagus that sinks through the floor, the children are taken in by their fathers brother - the Uncle they didn't remember that they had.

Magic and Mythology combine in this fun story in which children must save the earth from Chaos. This series covers the basics of Egyptian Mythology and explains why the gods and goddesses have differing relationships depending on the story and time. This is a great way for kids to learn the basics of Egyptian Mythology including some of the magic that was used.

I would recommend this book for kids about 12 and up. Sophie is age 12 in the book and Carter is 14. There are some scary situations that could be a little much for younger children even if they are able to read the text.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Dance With Dragons

A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

This is book 5 in the series A Song of Ice and Fire which is most commonly known as The Game of Thrones series. Apparently George Martin is planning 7 books for the series. Considering that this last one took 6 years to write and get published after book 4 was published, Martin will probably die before he finishes the series. If he does die, a bunch of people are going to be really annoyed myself included.

This series is a HUGE saga that begins in the fictional land of Westeros. The land has been peaceful for a few years but now war is back and there are many different people who think they are the rightful heirs to the throne. On top of war, Winter is coming. This is a land where the four seasons come and go in a year but there are also periods of Summer where every year is mild and even the winter season is not too cold. During the periods of winter, it is cold and bitter and many people die all the year. Along with the normal issues of winter, the dead rise and come back to kill and make more dead. There are other things of concern this particular Winter. Things referred to as The Others but not yet explained other than to say that old grandmothers would tell children tales of The Others to frighten them in to behaving properly.

This book ranges far and wide and encompasses many characters (494 characters are featured on the Shelfari listing for the book). There are 182 settings many of which are in Westeros but others are across the sea and far east into other countries. Keeping some people and places straight can become difficult so I just kept reading and clues would come up that would remind me of who these people are/were or where exactly things were taking place. The books have a map drawn but I read these on my Kindle and the maps are too small to actually be able to read anything to be of use.

As book 1 of the series proved, Martin has no problem killing off his characters. He kills off good people, regular people, bad people and really evil people. Often, the person you most want dead doesn't die but the person you start to like the most does. I am hoping he is more expedient in writing and finishing books 6 and 7 but I'm not going to hold my breath.

As far as fantasy and adventure these books are great. The fact that HBO picked up Games of Thrones as a series should be a red flag to those who have issues with violence, sex and language because these books have it all and Book 5 is no exception.