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text 2018-09-19 18:40
The Alex Rider travel-fest
Snakehead - Anthony Horowitz,Dan Stevens
Crocodile Tears - Anthony Horowitz
Scorpia Rising - Anthony Horowitz
Never Say Die (Alex Rider) - Anthony Horowitz

As I mentioned, I've spent the last 12 days on a road trip. The route was:


Morrisville, TN - Nashville, TN - Memphis, TN - Clarksville, AR (lunch with a dear friend) - Elk City, OK - Albuquerque, NM - Phoenix, AZ (my parent's house) - The Grand Canyon (amazing) - Kingman, AZ - Las Vegas, NV - Reno, NV - home.


This was a loooong trip. To keep ourselves occupied on the trip, the three of us (husband, self, 18-year-old son) ended up having an Alex Rider-fest, which was great. We ended up listening to the final four books in the series.


Snakehead: as our recent introduction to Alex (we'd all listened to the earlier books YEARS ago, so I was partially guessing when I decided where to start with this trip), we really enjoyed Snakehead. Alex, as always, is dragged unwillingly into helping out a spy agency, in this case, the Australian version of the CIA. The book starts with him plummeting back to earth after fighting the villain from Ark Angel on a space station. It goes from there, with trips to Bangkok, an illegal organ harvesting hospital in the Australian outback, a preposterous kayak ride down a river, a major betrayal, and, finally, reunification with Jack Starbright, his "housekeeper" slash best friend slash caregiver.


Crocodile Tears: This one has Alex escaping from a murder plot at a house party in the Scottish Highlands, and then getting into big trouble at a school trip to a place that does genetic modification of plants. He manages to figure out a plot involving a fake charity, and is ultimately kidnapped, taken to Africa, nearly fed to crocodiles, and foils a plot to commit mass homicide for cash. 


Scorpia Rising: Scorpia is back, and they are plotting against Alex. MI-6 and Alan Blunt fall for the trickery hook, line and sinker, and Alex is dispatched to a fancy school in Cairo, Egypt. He is captured (again), as is Jack Starbright, who has accompanied him to Egypt. The downside of this book is that it takes a long time to set it up - Alex doesn't make his first appearance until almost 40% of the book has gone by. Far too much time is spent with the two villains. It also has quite a shock ending.


Never Say Die: Based on the ending, and the six year gap between Scorpia Rising and the final book (to date), Never Say Die, I think that Horowitz intended Scorpia Rising to be the final book in the series. Someone must have persuaded him otherwise, because Alex is back, and tougher than ever. He is still dealing with the surprise ending of Scorpia Rising living with the Pleasure family in San Franciso when he receives a mysterious email that takes him right back into the shadowy world he thinks he has left forever. The last uncaptured members of Scorpia are at it again, with a ridiculously convoluted plot to make millions of dollars.


By the end of Never Say Die, there are no surviving members of Scorpia. Horowitz sets up the next stage in the series with a meeting between Mrs. Jones and Alex, where she points out that once he turns 16, he can be openly employed by MI-6, and a final tease about a new criminal organization that has started operating, Nightshade. Nightshade, the title for the 12th Alex Rider, is scheduled for release next year.


The series owes a lot to Fleming's James Bond series. The villains are always coming up with wildly implausible plots, and they cannot restrain themselves from telling the entire plot to Alex once they capture him. Instead of simply putting a bullet in his head, they come up with convoluted methods of killing that give him an opportunity to escape. One of my favorite characters, Smithers, is the analogue to Q, and is always coming up with great gadgets for Alex, disguised as things a school boy might naturally carry. Everyone loved the Rider-fest, and it made the miles disappear!


I used my wild card on Horowitz, since there aren't enough categories to really fit these books into, and filled four squares on the bingo board with Alex: Genre Suspense, Free Square, Shifter (wild card) and Doomsday (wild card).

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review 2018-09-18 00:52
Red Rising (Red Rising #1)
Red Rising: Book I of the Red Rising Trilogy - Pierce Brown

Beneath the surface of Mars human mine gases that will eventually lead to the terraforming and colonization of the red planet, but they have been lied to.  Red Rising by Pierce Brown is a dystopian young adult novel following a member of the lowest caste in humanities future attempting to position himself within the highest caste to lead a future rebellion for the betterment of all.


Darrow, a member of the lowly Reds, within days sees the end of his dreams of family and success in mining in his colonial town underneath the surface of Mars and is ready to die only to be dug up and shown the surface of Mars full of cities and vegetation that was said to be centuries away.  Feeling betrayed by his society not only for the injustice against himself but his people as well, Darrow agrees to undergo numerous surgeries to appear as a member of the highest caste in society, the Golds.  Through training and education he is able to pass the entrance exam of The Institute of Mars where young people of the caste compete to prove their potential as leaders so they can govern the Society in the future.  Darrow makes friends only on the first night is forced to kill one or be killed himself in The Institute’s first test.  What follows for the rest of the book is not only Darrow but every Gold at The Institute learning what it means to rule the Society that has lasted for centuries, but through he makes mistakes Darrow learns and is able to become a leader amongst the students and eventually is able to emerge as the competition’s victor in an unorthodox manner especially as outside forces attempt to have another student win for personal pride.


After waiting years to read this book, it was about 40% into the book that I realized that Red Rising was essentially “The Hunger Games in space” with elements of Divergent and other young adult dystopian series thrown in for good measure by the time I finished.  I realize that authors borrow elements from other authors, but Brown rips off of The Hunger Games is so blatantly bad that it hurt.  Frankly the mixture of so many things from other series could have worked if they were written well, but in this book it wasn’t.  On top of that, what Darrow goes through to appear as a Gold seems to be stretching credibility especially since the Society’s “Quality Control” performs tests on him, including blood which has DNA that should show he wasn’t born a Gold.  Though the action in the book was the best feature, the plot just didn’t live up to the hype especially after realizing how much is borrowed and not written in an interesting way from a new angle.


Red Rising might be enjoyed by numerous readers, but I’m not one of them and frankly while I got through the book I’m not interested in seeing what happens next.  So I’m selling this book and the other two books in the first trilogy to a friend who is really into young adult dystopia and hope he enjoys it more than myself.

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review 2018-09-10 12:05
Wolf Rising by Paige Tyler
Wolf Rising - Paige Tyler

***ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley***

SWAT Officer Jayden Brooks has his hands full. First, he has to keep his recently injured pack member, Zane, from possibly quitting and leaving the pack. Second, he has to deal with a locked-up werewolf hunter wanting to share information. Then there's the new drug lord in town cleaning up the gangs and selling his drugs in the form of energy drinks...Brooks certainly doesn't have time for a woman, even though she might prove to be the elusive The One.

Unfortunately, he hasn't much say in the matter, since first he has to save her from getting shot by a gangbanger...And then they both have to deal with the pesky little detail that she's obviously turning into a werewolf.

Having read the blurb, I was really looking forward to this story, especially once it was known Brooks's mate is an Omega. Unfortunately, the book ended up being quite a disappointment.

I still liked the action sequences; the drug busts, the saving of hostages and even the full-on assault on the SWAT compound (though those hunters are becoming rather boring). It was the romance that left me cold and severely slowed the pacing of the book.

Is it just me, or are the situations between SWAT members and their Ones starting to be repetitive? They meet under stressful situations, she either turns into a werewolf because of it or remains human, they have sex, he tells her the truth about him (and possibly her), she bolts, talks to whomever happens to pass by at the moment and blurts everything, then she's in danger and calls the werewolf, they make up, have some more sex, someone attacks them, and they all have the BBQ at the end.
It's always a variation on the same theme, and though sometimes the variation is rather nicely developed, this one came across as generic template.

I didn't particularly like the heroine. I didn't dislike her, but I didn't like her either. I felt as if Brooks was relegated to the role of window dressing on this one, since everything turned out to be about Selena (ending up in a slight retcon as to just what sort of werewolf one of the SWAT is—rather convenient, if you ask me)...Their romance was simply meh, but it did slow the pacing down.

I ended up skimming their scenes together and concentrated more on the action sequences. Which were also rather repetitive, but at least something happened. And the mole inside the DPD was so obvious, it was painful.

The slight foreshadowing at the end sent my teeth on edge as well with the newest member of the SWAT team, Rachel, letting one of the hunters go after both of them staring at each other strangely (although the fact she might mate with one of the hunters does offer quite a few nice plot possibilities and bucket-full of angst).
I do hope, Zane's story is next, though. Maybe he'll meet a nice California girl/werewolf while on assignment. He sure deserved a happy end.

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review 2018-09-09 21:54
Esperanza Rising
Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising is a book about a young girl named Esperanza who lives with her family in Mexico but a sudden tragedy forced them to flee to California during the Great Depression. Esperanza's life was turned upside down and forced to work to help support her family through the situation. The text displays her struggles and how she overcomes them. When I read this book I felt connected to it. It reminded me of how strange and out place I felt when I moved to the US as a little girl. This book could be used successfully while teaching about immigration and the Great Depression. It could also be introduced while discussing point of view in the classroom.



5-8th Grade

Fountas and Pinnell: Level V




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review 2018-09-02 20:59
good book and characters
Dark Rising: Book Two of the Archangel Prophecies - Monica McGurk

The Angels-Raph, Enoch, and Michael looked at Hope who had set off with the Angels to Istanbul -Turkey- a day ago. Henri was Hope’s Guardian Angel. Nothing had gone right since Michael had come into Hope’s life in Atlanta. Hope had thought she made a new friend after she filed for change of custody from her dad too her mother. Hope was in a new school where no one knew about her being abducted as a child. Nobody knew about the mark that had materialized upon her neck during her disappearance. The mark designated as part of a ancient Prophecy - she was the Bearer Of The Key to Heaven’s Gate and being the Bearer Of The Key who according to the Prophecy, from whose hands the Fallen would get the Key to unlock Heaven’s Gate and allowing the Fallen  to overturn Heaven. Michael couldn’t love Hope when he may have to kill her to prevent that from happening. Unless they found the key and destroyed it before the Fallen Angel found it.The Fallen Angels were Michael’s rivals as Michael lead Heaven's Army. That’s why they went to Vegas to talk to Enoch who was Heaven's Librarian- an angel who had once been human.They had been playing a dangerous game talking their way into gambling with the Chinese Syndicate that was responsible for the human trafficking ring that took Hope’s friend Maria from her home in Mexico and ended up in Vegas. Hope told Michael s humans. he would willingly go to Vegas to look for the key if he would help her find and free Maria. Lucas was the chief of the Fallen. Lucas mistakenly  believed Hope was the Key.Hope had new powers of intuition that had transferred from Michael to her. Hope’s new powers helped her find and free Maria but that also revealed to Hope that the Key they were looking for wasn’t a literal key, it was the rock Cain used to kill his brother Abel. It was because Cain killed his brother that so any Angels turned against humans. It was Michael protecting Cain that so many Angels hated Michael. Hope’s intuition is getting better and she goes to an antique dealer and he explains how the Westerners raided his lands during the C and they Crusades and they tolke all religious relics when they left with them. Michael comes up with two possibilities and shows Hope two pictures of places and Hope is drawn to the second one so they go to Ireland and they make it to Skellig Michael - the monastery. They don’t find the key- the rock- but they do find Michael’s sister Gabrielle and there is a message for Hope about the Prophecy and what it now means for her.

I liked this book and will look for the third book to this series. This was a little predictable . I advise you to read the first book in this series for a smoother read. I don’t think hope was very smart taking off in Istanbul when she knew there was the possibility that the traffickers could be after her and she knew the Fallen wanted to get a hold of her. I really liked the mystery in this book . I didn’t guess what was going to happen most of the time. I loved the twists and turns in this book. I liked  Michael and Hope together how it is really not acceptable but they can’t help what they feel. I loved their determination to find the key/ rock even with all the pain God was inflicting on Michael for being disobedient. I also liked the mythology and religion in this book. I liked the plot and pace. I didn’t care for the as I felt it was more of a cliffhangers and we all know how I hate them usually and this wasn’t an exception. If it wasn’t for that it would have been a higher score. Like a 4. But with that and a few other things it came out a three but I am glad I read this and want to find the next one

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