May 27, 2012

The Reading Files - To review (again)

Actually I planned on starting another chunkster to have something to brag about in my next Tea & Books Reading Challenge update, but then I realized that 1) I've got quite a few books for review gathering dust and 2) the month ain't over yet and if I start on the heavy tome next week I can still plow through it before my next post. That said ... here's what I read this week!

After The Snow (S.D. Crockett)
Source: from Pan MacMillan
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic

I'm gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house. Waiting. And watching. Ain't nothing moving down there.
The valley look pretty bare in the snow. Just the house grey and lonely down by the river all frozen. I got to think what I'm gonna do now that everyone gone.
But I got my dog head on.
The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me.
The house look proper empty – don't it dog?
You just sit quiet in these rocks Willo.
Set in the haunting and barren landscape of a new ice age, After The Snow is the story of fifteen-year-old Willo, a "straggler" kid who loses his family in the opening pages. Completely alone, he is immediately flung into an icy journey of survival, adventure, friendship and self-discovery – with only the dog spirit inside his head to guide him. Meanwhile, across Britain, outlawed followers of survivalist John Blovyn are planning an escape to the fabled Islands talked of in a revolutionary book ...

Title & Cover: Yes, a crow appears somewhere in the book. No, it doesn't make much sense putting it on the cover.
Story: A boy and its dog-coat (don't ask) trying to find his family in a world covered with ice.
Narrative: Think Blood Red Road. A milder version though.
Characters: Loved Willo, yet the rest of the cast could have used a bit more depth.
Thoughts: That was a bit of a mixed bag. I loved the "colloquial" narration and the POV which really carried the story. Too bad that it takes a while (up until the last third of the book) to finally get what's going on in this world. And when you finally get the gist everything barrels along much too fast.

Tempest (Julie Cross)
#1 Tempest
Source: from Pan MacMillan
Genre: YA Thriller / Science Fiction

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy ... he’s in college, has a girlfriend ... nd he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies—nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors—it’s just harmless fun.
That is ... until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit ... or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly ... and possibly the entire world.

Title & Cover: Pretty, but so misleading.
Story: Boy can travel through time and tries to prevent his girl-friend's death. Easier said than done.
Narrative: Suspenseful and, oddly enough, quite the page turner.
Characters: Average, all of them. Yet I loved the interaction between Jackson and his diseased sister, and I wish the author would have taken this relationship as an example of how to build up the other characters.
Thoughts: I thought this would be a paranormal read, and then I found myself in the middle of some kind of spy-novel with a touch of sci-fi. Definitely not what I expected, and certainly not appreciated. Too much of a James Bond undertone, and all the potentially promising threads in the story didn't really lead anywhere.

The Ultimate Survival Manual (Rich Johnson)
Source: from NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / Self Help

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence. The people who survive are those who know what to do . . . they have their earthquake kits packed, their travel essentials saved, their family prepared, and their cars gassed up and ready to go. Everyone wants to believe that they are that person—the one who would prevail whether they found themselves facing a tornado, an angry bear, or a revolution in a third-world country. Filled with clear, concise instructions, helpful diagrams, essential checklists, and inspirational first-person stories, this book is a fascinating armchair read that might just save the reader’s life. Sprinkled throughout are real-life “extreme survival” stories of amazing feats (“I Punched a Tiger in the Face!”) that inform and entertain. Even if the most terrifying thing you’ve ever survived is a traffic jam on the 205, this book is a must-read. This book will feature disaster survival scenarios in a number of international situations.

Title & Cover: To survive you need an axe. Obviously.
Story: What to do when you're being mauled by a bear or how you can live through a workplace shooting. And always remember the most important rule - Stay Alive!
Narrative: Informative and fun  ... no harm in keeping the spirits up with some jokes, right?
Characters: Everyone and everything that can make your life (and survival) a challenge.
Thoughts: Now I'm ready to survive the next Zombie Apocalpse. Just kidding. Maybe. I like how you get insights into what to do (or what not to do) in certain dangerous situations. Oh and, playing McGuyver is usually not a good idea.

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