Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

Henry Holt and Company NY
                                          On sale August 2010

“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” p176

The Reapers Are the Angels works a little differently from your run-of-the mill “zombie” story. It has been 25 years since the disease that brought down civilization struck. Zombies have been roaming around long enough for Temple never to have experienced a different world. At the age of 15 she has become a lone warrior, fending for herself, wise and mature beyond her years.

“She tells the woman that she has been traveling all her life that’s worth remembering, and that her mind feels almost filled up already, with people and sights and words and sins and redemptions.” P189

Humanity has managed to hang on and struggle to survive in the face of devastation. It can be found in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the world. Temple is a well rounded, mature character at the tender age of 15. She is the face of new civilization, struggling with a past that haunts every decision she makes. More afraid of herself than of the “slugs” or “meatskins” that have brought down society, she becomes a loner, certain of an evil that lurks inside.

Nevertheless, when she stumbles across a helpless mute by the name of Maury, she sees her chance to right some of the wrongs that she perceives in herself. Setting off across the southern states with Maury in tow, she has bigger problems than the “slugs”.

Moses Todd is hot on her trial set on revenge that can only be achieved by her death. But underlying this twist in the plot is the relationship that forms between Temple and Moses. They have an underlying affinity, understanding the new world and its code, seeing eye to eye, a shared vision. Moses is perhaps the only living person to truly understand Temple.

Moses serves Temple as both her would be murderer and as a surrogate father figure. It is a strange yet inspiring relationship. Maury also plays a significant role in showcasing Temple’s iron will, her kindnesses, and at times reveals the young girl inside.

The story is engaging and very different from what I expected. The Reapers Are the Angels is both well written and engaging. Strong prose mixed with unforgettable characters and an underlying sense of hope for humanity make this book a triumph. This is a book that focuses on human relationships, the struggle to create order out of chaos, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. I would recommend this book as both an individual read and as part of a book club.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In My Mailbox, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, And the History of the World From the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean

Received from Hachette Book Group


Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I,53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

The periodic table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

Why did a little lithium (Li, 3) help cure poet Robert Lowell of his madness? And how did gallium (Ga, 31) become the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?* The Disappearing Spoon has the answers, fusing science with the classic love of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time.

*Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal with a unique property: it melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. So a classic prank for scientists is to fashion gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch as guests recoil when the Earl Grey makes their utensil disappear.

Shadows in Summer: A Novel in Six Voices by Crescent Varrone

Received Through Bostwick Communications

Synopsis  (from back cover):

The house was older than the other homes in the area, and more exposed. While they were hidden, protected by ivy, hedges, walls, #18 was on display. No gates, and not even a fence, just a few tall trees on the left-hand side and a handful of shrubs. Even its innards were laid bare in a huge picture window; though from where I was standing on the opposite sidewalk, all I could see were reflections of the gray clouds behind me.
The house disclosed nothing......

When injured ballet dancer Katrina Nielsen and her American husband, Richard, purchase Sound House, they hope that the charming home will ease their transition from New York to Copenhagen. Katrina was just nineteen when she fled gloomy Denmark, leaving behind her mother, Ingrid, and her grief over her father's death. Seven years later, she returns home to face the ghosts of the past. Yet when weird events begin to occur at Sound House--inexplicable smoke and footsteps, a ghostly face at the window--she starts to think she is being haunted by the ghost of Karl Damsgaard, the original owner. After she's "attacked" by an unseen force, Katrina becomes convinced that something is trying to drive her out of the house...or out of her mind.

Shadows in Summer: A Novel in Six Voices is told by multiple narrators who keep readers reassessing whether the haunting is real, psychological or the result of purposeful manipulation. Inspired by actual events, this deliciously scalp-prickling tale will haunt readers long after the final page.

The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown

Received through Bostwick Communications


An ancient scroll has been unearthed....
Nineteen hundred years after the Essene Jews hid their most precious scrolls in the caves at Qumran, a Catholic priest working on the Dead Sea Scrolls Project discovers a text that describes the final edict of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but hides it in fear of the heresy it contains. When a prominent archaeologist Frank Tones unearths a reference to the hidden scroll, he wonders if this scroll could be the long-lost Gospel of James, or even of Jesus himself. But before he can act, those who know of the scroll's existence become mysteriously silent or dead, leaving only a father and son team to find the scroll and tell its secrets to the world. In an epic, multigenerational story that spans the globe, they must outwit the Mossad, the CIA, and the Vatican's secret weapon--the Italian Mafia--to bring the truth to light. No matter the cost.

The author of two books of comparative religion, MisGod'ed  and God'ed, physician and religious scholar, Laurence B. Brown provides a thrilling read, while at the same time reviving critical religious controversies. Powerful and revealing, this book makes you think, feel, react and wonder--what if we knew the truth about Jesus.

The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge by Patricia Duncker

Received through Librarything's Early Reviewers

Synopsis (Barnes and Noble):

The thrilling tale of a secret European sect and the musical mastermind at its center, from a critically acclaimed novelist at the top of her form.

The bodies are discovered on New Year’s Day, sixteen dead in the freshly fallen snow. The adults lie stiff in a semicircle; the children, in pajamas and overcoats, are curled at their feet.

When he hears the news, Commissaire André Schweigen knows who to call: Dominique Carpentier, the Judge, also known as the “sect hunter.” Carpentier sweeps into the investigation in thick glasses and red gloves, and together the Commissaire and the Judge begin searching for clues in a nearby chalet. Among the decorations and unwrapped presents of a seemingly ordinary holiday, they find a leather-bound book, filled with mysterious code, containing maps of the stars. The book of the Faith leads them to the Composer, Friedrich Grosz, who is connected in some way to every one of the dead. Following his trail, Carpentier, Schweigen, and the Judge’s assistant, Gaëlle, are drawn into a world of complex family ties, seductive music, and ancient cosmic beliefs.

Hurtling breathlessly through the vineyards of Southern France to the gabled houses of Lübeck, Germany, through cathedrals, opera houses, museums, and the cobbled streets of an Alpine village, this ferocious new novel is a metaphysical mystery of astonishing verve and power.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Bought this at Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (The Passage Website):

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

And now......

Last time I posted It's Monday I was reading The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo and Happy Hours by Michele Scott both of which I have finished.  I have received so many good books that it is hard to decide where to start next.

I have Based on Availability by Alix Strauss sitting next to me and I may start The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (Zombies!) just to change things up. I am also going to pick up Parting River Jordan by ML Barnes so I can add a little fun to the mix.

It should be a fun week, drama, zombies, and fun! I promise to not let the projects get in the way. I am planning a beach day tomorrow weather permitting. That means some good reading! I am also going to post those reviews!

Monday, July 5, 2010

In My Mailbox and It's Monday! What are you Reading?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what others are reading.
This week I received these books for review:

Vexation by Elicia Clegg


For him power and glory are not enough, immortality is the only possibility. His vanity consumes him, forcing his actions to capture, control, and twist her very reality. He will make her like him, in this he will not yield. Welcome to Devin Sinclair's world... A world where each move is watched, each move is carefully controlled, and trusting your eyes can be a fatal mistake. She is alone, terrified of even her own deteriorating sanity. She must find the truth which hides in the book, the book that reviles what really happened the few months she was held captive, locked in a game he directs. Devin must unravel the truth and learn to trust her mind if she is ever to find freedom for her and her fellow captives.

Duckegg & Persons of Interest by NovaMelia


A Small Town Goes Mad

A large pharmaceutical company begins operations in a small outlying community in New England. Interdependence, intrinsic distrust, confused rumors and local ethics all become part of the mix. A local school teacher leads a group of concerned citizens who are suspicious about the research being conducted by the company. Honesty and morality and a menagerie of animals become part of the debate.

There are the weak and the strong and sometimes there is bullying in the Company and among townspeople. In all of this Duckegg moves between his sense of not belonging to his often dysfunctional family and the pride of being a hero. He is honest with himself but sometimes blatantly dishonest with others. He suffers the sorrow of loss and the shame of unintentional harm done by him.

The balancing act between the Company and the Town's people, the personal conflicts and the clashing of personalities, the bullies and the bullied, the clever and the not so smart; the conniving and the innocent, ultimately culminates in a town gone mad, at least for a day.
These books sound so interesting. I am looking forward to reading them. Yea Me! I won a book this week. Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand! I am excited. I will let you know when the book arrives. Thank you Lucie at http://luciesbookreview.blogspot.com/

So that is my week. I haven't gotten much reading done as I was working on completing some projects: knitting a baby blanket for my first grandchild expected in August. I am too young to be a grandma but I am very excited. I also am completing a plastic canvas tote just for fun. Next up a crocheted produce bag. I love new projects and new books. I will be furiously reading over the next few weeks. I also have several completed books that I need to write up and post the reviews. Sorry for the delay. Hope your July 4th was awesome.

Last time I posted It's Monday I was reading A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George and Happy Hour by Michele Scott. I stated that I was getting ready to start The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo.

 I finished up A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George and did started on The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo. I am still working on Happy Hour by Michele Scott I just got distracted by projects as stated above.