Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Review: "Hunger" by Michael Grant- Also, Special Sneak Preview of "Lies", Book 3 of the "Gone" Series

It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.

Three months since all the adults disappeared.


Food ran out weeks ago... Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.

Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town.  It's the normal kids against the mutants.  Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms.  The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ.  Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.

The Darkness has awakened.  And it is hungry.

My Review:

Many of you know that I absolutely adore Michael Grant.  I had read "Gone" before having the opportunity to meet him, and after hearing him speak about the entire series,  I was even more hooked.  I absolutely could not wait to read the whole series.  

The thing about reviewing "Hunger" is that if you have not read "Gone" or at least my review of it, I am not quite sure of what you will get out of it.  That said, if you have you will surely follow along.  Whether you have or have not, I strongly suggest you read the entire series, as I am personally dubbing it one of the best YA series out there.

So, a very short re-cap of "Gone" first.  One day, all the kids of Perdido Beach, CA are going about their business when all of a sudden all of the adults (and soon to find out anyone over 15) just disappear.  Poof!  Gone, as the title would suggest.  Where they are, nobody has a darned clue.  What happens next is somewhat of a "Lord of the Flies" situation, where 2 groups, the Perdido Beach kids, and the Coates Academy (private school in the same area) start facing the problems of having no adults, no guidance, and the threat of each other.  Besides all of this, there seems to be a "barrier" surrounding most of Perdido Beach that no one can either exit through, or apparently enter through.  Basically, they are trapped.  Ok, there's a hint of what "Gone" was about so you at least have a leg to stand on for "Hunger".

By the time "Hunger" starts, its 3 months later.  The Perdido Beach kids, led by Sam have been sort of segregating into groups of kids who have mutant powers, and those who don't.  The Coates kids, led by Caine (Sam's long lost fraternal twin), who are sort of the villains in the story, are pretty much the same pains in the butt they were in the first book, having both mutants and "normals" as well.  The one thing they both share, is inevitably....Hunger.  Food is really low.  Nobody had thought ahead that at some point, being entrapped in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone as it was dubbed) food would become scarce.  The kids are basically living off of canned food, which is also running out at an alarming rate.

While the scarcity of the food is more than enough to cause conflicts to occur, people to start to lose their mind, there is another danger.  The "gaiophage" (or the darkness) as it likes to call itself is also very hungry.  The gaiophage is some sort of being, still not sure what the heck it is, it is hinted that it was some type of alien matter that had arrived 13 years earlier by catching a ride along a meteorite that struck right near the local power plant.  This "being" has plans of it's own.  It needs to feed, which turns out to be on Uranium.  It has taken control of some of the kid's minds and has them "working" for it and controlling their thoughts as well.  This is not good.  If fed, it has figured out a way to gain an actual shape, a form that is, and go out and be the most powerful being anyone has ever seen.  Indestructible.

While the kids are trying to figure out what to do about food, there are a few other problems.  Caine and his crew have broken into the power plant, cut off electricity, therefore light to Perdido Beach, as well as obtained some of the Uranium to feed the gaiophage.  I'm not going to talk too much more about the gaiophage, as if I continue, I will give away what happens at the end, and that is somewhat huge....  Back to the problems at hand... no electricity, food scarce and to the point of even fields of crops are really not able to be used because of mutant worms that around a foot long, have razor sharp teeth and thousands of legs.  These "zekes" as they are called stay within the confines of the crop fields, but dare try to go in there and pick a cabbage let's say and you have hundreds of them swarming at you with their teeth chomping their way through you leaving not much behind.  So, for now... no food in the fields.  Next we have this little problem amongst the Perdido kids.  Some of the "normals" or kids without any powers are forming their own little group against the mutants, or kids with certain, different powers.  They feel that the freaks are treated better and they will not stand for it anymore.  

Here comes the typical rest of a "Dave" review.  I will end it with some questions for you to think about.  What happens between the freaks and the normals?  What happens between the Perdido beach kids and the Coates kids?  What do they both do for food, electricity? What happens to the gaiophage?  Does it get it's Uranium, which will allow it to take over anything it wants?  Who dies and why?  (plenty of kids do die, and stay dead too :o) What the heck does that mean????)  What new powers are discovered amongst the kids?  Are there any more clues as to what in the world the FAYZ actually is and why all the adults just poofed? What the heck is going on?????

Well, I hope you can appreciate what I have and have not given to you in this review.  Like I said in the beginning, this is a tough book to review for those of you who have not read "Gone" yet.  Still, I hope that I have given you enough to at least want to go out there and try it.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  As a matter of fact, as promised I will give you the synopisis that is on the back cover of the ARC I just received of book 3, "Lies" which I believe is due out in May (or maybe a bit sooner) so those of you out there who are already "Gone" series fans have an idea what is next.  Also, I have already started it and have permission to review it as soon as I am done.  I will wait to hear some responses to this review before I do.  I want to know who out there has read either of the first two books and your thoughts.  It would be neat if we could actually have a discussion under this posting about the FAYZ.  If you have read them, you know that a discussion is definitely something that is doable.  

For all you "Gone" series fans out there, there is something I happen to catch a glimpse of when just scanning through "Lies" and I really want to share it with you.  It is not a "spoiler" at all, just something that I KNOW you have wondered about as I have many, many times throughout the first 2 books, and have been given NO clue about either.  Also, keep in mind that I just scanned a few pages in the middle of the book before starting it, so if I'm off, or what I'm about to tell you is just someone's dream in the FAYZ, and I didn't read far enough, I apologize.  None the less, I happen to flip to a chapter and see that it appears that outside the FAYZ, outside the dome, people are aware of the FAYZ.  They do not know "what" it is, but they do know "that" it exists.  Sam's mom is one of the spokespeople supposedly for the families of those who have children in the FAYZ.  The only knowledge they have is from, believe it or not, the twins from "Gone".  It does mention something about a prophetess in "Lies" being able to communicate with the people on the outside, but I didn't read on to know find out more about that interesting fact.  Somehow, when they (twins) "poofed" they landed outside in safety.  Now, that's all I really saw.  I don't know if anyone else appeared on the outside after they poofed.  I didn't want to read on.  Actually, I did, but I decided it would be better to start from the beginning and get to pg. 110 when it was really time to get there.  Anyway, I know that didn't spoil anything as I have no idea what is really going on, but I have been wondering this whole time if people on the outside knew anything about the FAYZ.  I don't know if they can see in, don't know if anyone else comes out and tell stories about what goes on inside, but I know they know of it's existence and the fact that no matter what they did to try, (and they tried EVERYTHING), they can not get inside.  Also, keep in mind, that the twins poofed early on, so there was not much they could actually tell.  Again, if anyone else poofed out, which I have no idea, they would be able to tell what has gone on to the point they left.  I will tell more about this when I review "Lies" soon, but I was super excited (and lucky) when I happen to randomly turn to that page when I was scoping out the book.  It was just one of those questions that was lingering in my mind the WHOLE time and I hope you are satisfied if that was on your mind as well..... Without further delay, here's the preview of "Lies", book 3 in the "Gone" series:

It happens in one night: A girl who died now walks among the living; Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach; and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most: Drake.  But Drake is dead.  Sam and Caine defeated him along with the Darkness (gaiophage)- or so they thought.

As Perdido Beach burns, battles rage: Astrid against the town council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake (Caine's lieutenant).  And the prophetess Orsay and her companion, Nerezza, are preaching that death will set them all free.  As life in the FAYZ becomes more desperate, no one knows who they can trust.



"Sunday Scoop" The Gang's Weekly Column- By Mara


Hi Everyone! I have the pleasure of writing the Sunday Scoop this week. Dave normally does it, but he asked me to contribute my thoughts this week. It is going to be a brief one, mainly because the previous post has brought everyone up to speed on what we have been up to, and things to come.

The girls have been busy with their school work and extra circular activities. Sami had the opportunity to go to a bowling party last weekend, which she LOVED! It even inspired us to take the whole family bowling the following day! Dave was an avid bowler growing up, and enjoyed knocking down the pins again. Who knows, maybe he will join a league soon. Then this past weekend, Lauryn went to an iceskating party. She had tons of fun there, and can't wait to go back. Next weekend we are off to NYC, there is an event at The American Girl Place. This will be a very long week for Lauryn and Sami! The girls are so excited to go, and truth be told I am too! Dave and I love seeing their faces light up when they enter that store.

Lately a lot of our energy has been devoted to our newest addition to our family, Bella our three month old puppy! She is a Shih Tzu, and such a beautiful, intelligent, and loving dog. Gee, I sound like a true Mommy! She has brought us such joy and happiness, something I never could have predicted. Bella is my first dog, as my Mother is allergic to pet dander, so we never had a pet growing up. Both Lauryn and Sami are great "Big Sisters" helping out with all the responsibilities, even the ones that aren't so exciting! In addition to their American Girl Dolls, they now can dress up their dog! I must say, Bella is definitely a Daddy's Girl. She loves David tremendously! She greets him with tons of kisses when he gets home from work, everyday! With that said, we are in heaven now that Bella has joined our home. If you are considering getting a dog, I highly recommend it. I read two fantastic books, Training Your Shih Tzu and Shih Tzu's for Dummies. They have both helped me understand a lot about the breed, and how to correctly raise Bella. I definitely recommend these series for anyone looking to gain some knowledge or advice on their new animal.

Next, I'm sure you have all seen the devastation Haiti has gone through since the earthquake. The next morning, I wanted to help out, but did not know where to begin. I immediately texted Haiti to 9099, but I felt that wasn't enough. I decided to go through all of our closets and donate clothes and shoes that are in good condition, but aren't being worn by us anymore. I saw on Good Morning America that there was a shoe shortage over there. I contacted our local Red Cross, and they are going to pick up our donations and arrange to have them shipped and dispersed. I am saddened when I see the pictures of the rubble, and people in despair. I hope they can begin to recover soon. If you are interested in helping out by donating, you can contact The Red Cross online, or through your local chapter. I feel that they are the most reliable and honest organization we have to reference.

I also wanted to mention something regarding our contest that ended yesterday, January 30. It was brought to our attention by one of our active followers that an oversight on our part was made. A requirement was made of posting both on the review of ICECORE, and the interview. Unfortunately this guideline was not met by one or more of the winners. As you all know, we are pretty strict with our rules, and generally catch any error prior to the contest end. We are human, believe it or not, and it slipped by us this time. At this point we are not going to change the winners, but in the future we will make sure not to let this error occur again. Please make sure you are following all contest rules when entering and posting going forward. As always, we appreciate your support and input on our website.

Have a wonderful week, happy reading!



The Lateiner Gang is officially BACK!!!

OK LAURA, YOU WIN...  Here ya go... I've been planning our "return" for a little while, but I just got a little inspirational email that told me to get on the site NOW, and get workin again, so.... back by popular demand (or at least by L.B.).... Here's an OVERLOAD OF "STUFF" for you all!

First of all, we have been MIA for a week and a half.  Better to leave some questions as to why and where and what have you been doing unanswered.  Let's just say sometimes life throws you some curveballs, and we have hit them far, and are ready to play here again!  Here's some of the good stuff that's been going on while we were on a "mental vacation"....  We have solidified a triple threat with Frank Beddor, author of "The Looking Glass Wars" series as we have discussed before.  Frank has some really cool things he is planning to give away.  We are just waiting on the interview, and we are all set to go.  Second, we are also waiting on the interview from Becca Fitzpatrick, so we can build up to the finale of the Nook Contest, which ends soooo soon! (yeah! super excited about that!!!!)  Also, we have our winners for the "ICECORE" Contest sponsored by Matt Whyman and our friends at S&S, and I suppose now is as good a time as ever to announce the winners!!!


L.J. Boldrev
Carol M.
Peter Lewis

I will send you all out an email so I can get your info to send you your copy of "ICECORE" which I KNOW you will totally enjoy!

OK, next order of business...  Here is some AWESOME NEWS!!!!  This past week TLG was contacted by a journalist at The New York Times Blog (I didn't get her permission yet to mention her name, so I'll keep it quiet for now) who had asked so kindly if we would like to be interviewed!  Ummm... what blogger would not want the honor of being interviewed by the NYT?????  YES, THE NYT!!!  OK, sorry.... had to get the excitement out.  We will be meeting with our mystery journalist (and now favorite journalist in the whole world!) this coming week.  If that is not inspiration to get back to work here, I don't know what is (except of course, again, my friend LB who has been one of the most supportive friend's ever!).

HOW ABOUT SOME STINKIN REVIEWS LG???  OK...OK.... Some reviews... Well, let's see.  Here's what you can expect TODAY, as well as later on this week.  Today, Mara will be reviewing "The Everafter" by Amy Huntley.  I will be reviewing "Hunger" by Michael Grant.  Remember that at that author panel with our #1 guy Dashner, we had the opportunity to meet Michael Grant, who is just super cool.  Well, since I was beside myself when I got this in the mail this week... (for the silly new legalities... "Lies" was a review copy provided to me by Harper Collins.  I have received no monetary compensation to review it, just the AWESOME copy itself!)

I knew that I was going to read it like NOW, so I have to get my review of book 2, "Hunger " up today! Also during the week, I will be reviewing another awesome title provided to me for review by Harper Collins in which I have already reviewed book 1, "Wings"....

"Spells" by Aprilynne Pike!  I know that these 2 books are highly sought after and I know that I was especially lucky to get them.  Thanks A.H. at Harper for always hooking us up with the coolest!  I also have some of those neat "Asimov" titles that I'd like to review this coming week as well as a few more.  For some reason, we were bombarded with books this week from a slew of publishers.  It seems that there are a ton of hot new releases that are coming out over the next few months and many of them seemed to arrive at our door!  We also have Lauryn and Sami (yes, they are back too!) who each have a book or 2 ready for review!

MORE NEWS!!  On Feb 12th, I will be participating in a blog tour for Sourcebooks.  It is a bit different than I have done before, but it is a book by a very famous sports caster that I grew up watching.  He used to do a segment on TV that I remember watching every week with my uncle called "Spanning the Globe" showing the best sports highlights of the past week.  Len Berman has written a book called "The Greatest Moments in Sports" and having grown up with him, I couldn't resist.  So it is a bit different, but hey, it's all about having fun, and I can't wait to tear through his book and share it with you guys!  (Once again... a review copy of "The Greatest Moments in Sports" has been provided to me by Sourcebooks for review purposes only.  There is no monetary compensation involved what so ever for the review, just the coolness of the book!)

Ok...  I think I have blasted you with some tidbits of good stuff.  I have more, but I need to save some stuff for tonight's Scoop, right?  Check back in a few hours for those couple reviews and included in my review of "Hunger" for all you "GONE" fans, I will give you the synopsis for "Lies", the 3rd book, which I have been given permission to review later this week even though it is not due out until May.  This is good news, because as you guys know, my reviews will tell you plenty without really telling you much at all.  Also, permission for "Spells" was given as well, so it's on the list for coming up soon too!

Thanks to all of you for sticking in there while we took a break.  Sometimes when life takes some unexpected turns, you have to roll with them.  I am deeply sorry we have been MIA for a little while, and it has been very tough on me, as you all know that TLGBRS is my baby, and how much I enjoy writing for you guys.  It has been tough on me, but necessary. Regardless....  We Are Back and ready to rock-n-roll with a ton of stuff on our plate for you guys!  See you soon!

P.S.  Bella is doing great and she is sooo big (well, not really but she has at least doubled in size) and Mara will put up some pics of her in the Scoop tonight so you guys can see our little baby!


Monday, January 18, 2010

"Sunday Scoop" The Gang's Weekly Column


Hey Guys!  Long time, no post.... Where the heck have we been?

This week, the Scoop is going to be written by me- Dave, as I have some things I'd like to share with you, both good and well, not the best news in the world.

As many of you have probably been wondering, "Where has the Gang been??  No postings for a week?? What's up??"

Here is what has happened, and thank goodness everything seems to have been worked out, at least so far...  This past week, my dad became ill.  Well, it is something we were already aware of, something we had already dealt with, but thought was corrected and not an issue any more. Yes, the very same dad who guest posted last weekend.  I will not bore you with the details, but towards the latter part of the week, he ended up in the hospital, undergoing emergency surgery.  As of today, he is getting better.  It has been a difficult week, and all of my duties (i.e.- work, TLGBRS, family life) have been halted and most of my time has been spent at his side.  Again, good news is he is doing better.  That is why TLGBRS has sort of been MIA.

Now, to lift some spirits back up to where we normally get them, I have some announcements to make and then I want to tell you some good that had come out of my time spent beside my father that I also want to share with you guys as it involves a whole bunch of reading I did.

As far as announcements, and I want to thank him in advance for his patience.  I have made mention to this before, but I want to clarify a bit.  I am honored to have the pleasure to run a "triple threat" with author Frank Beddor, creator of "The Looking Glass Wars".  I will be conducting my interview with Frank tomorrow and then from there, we are going to discuss the "CONTEST" part of the triple threat.  We are not sure if we are going to be giving away a book of Frank's or perhaps something else.  From my understanding of what I know of Frank so far, he seems to be quite a creative guy, so keep your ears open and look for an announcement about what he will have in store for all of us.

Next order of business, our super duper awesome friend Becca Fitzpatrick (you know, the best selling author who is away a Nook with the Gang!!) will also be receiving her interview questions shortly.  She is touring the next week, but at some point soon be able to give us one heck of an interview.  Becca has been overly kind to us ever since our first interaction, and she is also super excited to be an intricate part of the Ginormous Contest we are running.  We have about 3 weeks left to go in the SuPeR NOOK GiVeWaY, so if you have not yet started to spread the word about it, now would be a good time to start. It doesn't hurt that you can get a TON of extra entries for doing so.  If I'm not mistaken, you get +5 for each person you refer to us that mentions you sent them and an even more whopping +20 for purchasing your own copy of "Hush, Hush" and emailing us the receipt.  Time is a tickin away, so if you haven't already, get all the extra entries you can!  Lastly, on the front of "Contests" don't forget that we are also giving away 3 copies of that awesome book "ICECORE" as a part of our triple threat that was hosted by author Matt Whyman.  I want to thank Matt again for agreeing to the interview we posted, and since our interview, I have had a chance to read an ARC of the sequel to Icecore- "GOLDSTRIKE" which was just as awesome as Icecore!  I plan to review that this coming week, perhaps even as early as tomorrow night.

A New Discovery For Dave

Like I mentioned above, this past week has been spent hangin with my dad and basically doing a lot of sitting around, as he really was not able to leave his bed.  On Monday, when my Mom called me to come over and spend time with him while he was laying in bed (hence the "guest post" by my old man), I had first stopped off at Barnes and Noble.  I met one of the book sellers there, coincidentally name Dave, whom I have spotted there before but never really had time to talk to.  I kind of approached him while depressed about my pops and said that I was looking for something "different" to read.  When he asked what I meant, I told him that I had been reading a lot of YA lately and a bunch of "newer" books as I ran a book review site and always wanted to keep up with what was new and fresh out in the market place for you guys.  I had told him that I wanted to read something  I usually don't read to take my mind off of things and anticipating the time I was going to have to spend with my dad over the next week, something I can read and enjoy without having to think about reviewing it.  Something I can get into and just plain out enjoy with no strings attached.  When he asked me what I thought I would enjoy, I thought of the "sci fi" section that I always take a quick glance at, but never really consider doing much about, except for a few rare, solemn occasions.  Once he heard that his eyes seemed to have lit up, almost like I just told a kid that he had won a half hour shopping spree in Toys-R-Us!  Considering me a Sci Fi "Virgin" for lack of better terms, he quickly suggested I start with what he said was the founding father of all Sci Fi, Isaac Asimov.

Having no clue who Isaac Asimov was, I figured if he was that excited over this guy, (I literally had to jog to keep up with him to reach the shelf he knew exactly where to find this guy on) I'd be happy to give it a try.  He had explained that Asimov had written like 30 novels over a 40 year time frame (never mind the hundreds of short stories and other publications I later came to find out about).  He also said that through time, he had gone back and actually put into chronological order his work that was written definitely in no sort of consecutive time effort.  Basically, he wrote many books, than over the years went back and filled in space in between with additions to his series'.  I found this interesting, but also very confusing to a "newbie" like myself.  Never fear, Dave was there to help.  He gave me a book and told me to start with it called "The Caves Of Steel" and if I liked it to call him back and he would further assist me.  Needless to say, I immediately fell in love with Asimov almost immediately and decided to give ol Dave a call.  To my amazement, he said that he absolutely knew I'd be calling and had taken the time to arrange a list of most of the books in the exact chronological order they were meant to be read, had the next few waiting for me, and the rest on order!  What was even more surprising is that I didn't hesitate to shoot down there, pick the next few up, and tell him to call me as soon as the other ones arrived!

Now, I know that some of you are younger than me (I'm 33) and some of you are older, but regardless, I assumed that many of you had not heard of Isaac Asimov, as had it not been for super bookseller "Dave" I know I had never heard the name before.  Most of you know how passionate I am about reading, reviewing, interviewing, and the whole "book" thing in general.  You know that I also always share my feelings with you guys.  I had contemplated sharing this with you as I didn't want to sound all weird about "Sci Fi", but I totally found another of what is now becoming one of my favorite all time authors.  I mean, this guy seriously raised the bar in my mind by A LOT!  The funny thing is that the stories I started with were written in the 50's and 60's, but they were set sooo far in the future that it made no difference whether written in 1952, 2052, or 2552!  His work is absolutely amazing.  His work goes waaayyy beyond Sci Fi.  I mean like discussing civilization, love, deep friendly relationships, and at the same time kept the "sci fi" background the whole time.  An overly deep author, each book was filled with so much meaning and passion that I enjoyed every single page.  I was so impressed with him that I immediately understood why book seller "Dave" had lit up like a light bulb that was just plugged into a 10,000 watt outlet!

I think that I might take the chance and review some of his work here.  Hopefully that is ok with you guys.  Please understand that it is not a flashy new YA novel involving vampires or some other titles that are hot off the press.  These are classics.  Books that every literature enthusiast should indulge in regardless of their preferred "genre" or current "phase" they are going through.  I am surprised I did not learn of Isaac Asimov growing up in any of the literature or other English classes I had taken.  He is definitely in my eyes considered a pioneer.  I can tell for sure that many sci fi authors that have followed have definitely been inspired at some point by his work.

So far this past week while keeping my dad company, (and he did sleep quite often, so I had a good chance to get into these books) I have read what I consider 3 of the best books ever written- "The Caves of Steel", "The Naked Sun",  and "The Robots of Dawn", which make up most of "The Robot Novels".  I just tonight on my way home from my parents stopped at B & N to pick up the next 4 or 5 of the next series, entitled "The Foundation Novels" which are basically known to every Sci Fi enthusiast worldwide.  I also had about 4 or 5 more ordered for me for when these are done!  I apologize for rambling here, but I was very pleased (as pleased as I could be while reading under the circumstances I was) with "Dave's" help and I now must say that I share the same excitement he did when I first met him.  Without a doubt, books I will read many times over my lifetime.  

That's basically what's been on my mind that I wanted to share with you guys.  I hope you all understand my lack of attention to the site this past week, but for the good of all "reading" in general, I will say that I was very pleased with my discovery.  Like I had said, I think as long as it is ok with you guys, I'm going to take a shot at sharing at least one of his books with you in a review, possibly the first 3 in the Robot Novels I have read so far.  This is something I have never done before as many of you know.  I have never reviewed more than 1 book in a series, nor have I reviewed any books by the same author, or in the same series back to back.  There is no doubt in my mind that if anyone deserves the honor of my first, it is Isaac Asimov.  Here are some pictures of the first 3 books I have read so far.  Incidentally, I am willing to bet a good buck that most, if not all of you have seen Asimov's work without knowing it was his.  2 of his books have been released in "movie" form and have hit the big screen hard.  "I, Robot" starring Will Smith, and "Bicentennial Man" with Robin Williams were both books originally written by Asimov, and from what I understand, not too far off from the movie depictions.  I am going to guess that a whole bunch of you (who have toughed it out and read this far in the Scoop are saying to yourselves right now, "No kidding!  I had NO idea!" (Sorry, had to amuse myself on that one as it is what I said when I found that out!)  Ok, here are the covers of the 3 I have knocked out so far in order of their chronology:

See Ya Soon!


Monday, January 11, 2010

SPECIAL GUEST REVIEWER!! Review of: "The Murder of King Tut" by James Patterson

"The Murder of King Tut"
James Patterson

A Secret Buried for Centuries

Thrust onto Egypt's most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut's reign was fiercely debated from the outset.  Behind the palace's veil of prosperity, bitter rivalries and jealousy flourished among the Boy King's most trusted advisors, and after only nine years, King Tut suddenly perished, his name purged from Egyptian history.  To this day, his name remains shrouded in controversy.

The Keys to an Unsolved Mystery

Enchanted by the ruler's tragic story and hoping to unlock the answers to the 3,000 year-ol mystery, Howard Carter made it his life's mission to uncover the Pharaoh's hidden tomb.  He began his search in 1907, but encountered countless setbacks and dead-ends before he finally, uncovered the long-lost crypt.

The Clues Point to Murder

Now, in The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence-- x-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages-- to arrive at their own account of King Tut's life and death.  The result is an exhilarating true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all.

My Review:
First off.....

Who is this "guest reviewer"???  What gives him the right to review at TLGBRS???  Why would he review a book on "King Tut"???  Those answers will follow, but first, let's see what he had to say....

James Patterson's book, "The Murder of King Tut", deals with an unsolved mystery over 3,300 years old.  As a mystery, this easy-reading book kept me quite riveted throughout the entire book anticipating the known facts and the historical fiction used to sew the story together.  

The fun part was the bouncing back and forth from Tut's life to Howard Carter's search to prove the existence of the Boy King. Having a long time interest in ancient Egypt, I realized that Patterson really did his homework on the known Pharonic order from Tut's grandfather to his successors after death.  I also got a really good sense of ancient Egypt and the world of archaeology in the early 1900's.  

The book climaxed with the death of Tut and the historical find of the tomb, which was practically undisturbed for over 3,000 years!  As for Patterson's detective work and theory on "who did it"... (the "meat" of the book) well, you will just have to read the book to find out :o)  For the truth, perhaps some day, an Egyptologist will unearth evidence to support or deny Patterson's theory.  A well written book, my hat is off to Patterson for his thorough accounts of the Gift of the Nile.

Ron Lateiner

To answer the questions posed before the review, the guest reviewer is Ron Lateiner,  Dave's "old man", which basically gives him the right to review here (for if it were not for him, technically TLGBRS would not exist).  In all seriousness, Ronny has been an avid fan of "Ancient Egypt" for many, many years.  Having read hundreds of books on the subject, he probably could even write his own book.  When the book arrived for review, I thought it would be interesting to have him read it and to get his opinion.  Many different stories of King Tut have surfaced over the years and I wanted him to read Patterson's, knowing very well that Patterson was an all-star in the industry, but not in this genre.  It was very nice to get the "extended" version of the review and hear what pops had to say.  Hopefully, we can put him to work and get him to read some of the fun stuff you guys are used to!



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

**TRIPLE THREAT CONTEST** Up For Grabs- 3 Copies of "ICECORE" by Matt Whyman


In the previous post, we posted the review of "ICECORE" and the interview with author Matt Whyman.  Now, to complete our "Triple Threat", here is the contest!

Thanks to Matt and our friend's over at Simon and Schuster, we have 3 copies of ICECORE to give away!

We are going to make this a fairly easy one for you guys.



+2 For Followers PRIOR To This Contest (Membership Had Its Benefits!) AND YOU MUST READ AND COMMENT ON THE REVIEW AND INTERVIEW

+1 For Newly Following After This Contest Has Begun (AND YOU MUST READ AND COMMENT ON THE REVIEW AND INTERVIEW

+2 For Blogging About The Contest On Your Site And Providing The Link (tweets, facebooking, and everything BUT blogging are excluded from this contest.  Only blogging will count!)

+3 For Every New Follower That Joins Our Site And Says That You Referred Them

+5 For Going To The Top Right Side Bar And Signing Up To Receive Our Posts Via Email Through The 2 Links Provided (Since we just added this and a few of you have signed up already, new and old are welcome BUT keep in mind, we can also track who signs up, so please make sure you sign up AND confirm through the email that will be sent to you!)

+5 For Grabbing Our Button and Putting It Up On Your Site (only for people who newly grab our button AFTER this contest has started!)






**TRIPLE THREAT** "ICECORE" By Matt Whyman (Review, Interview, and Contest!)




Carl Hobbes is no criminal mastermind.

He's a seventeen-year-old British computer hacker who penetrated the security systems at Fort Knox for a laugh.  But the American government was less than amused.  Since his prank, gold bars have been landing in the hands of terrorists across the globe.

Now, Carl has found himself in a military prison deep in the Arctic and far off the grid.  He's been caged alongside the world's most notorious terrorists, with no one to trust and no end in sight.

Carl Hobbes may not be a criminal mastermind, but if he wants to escape this subzero prison with his life, he'll have to start thinking like one.


Well, I had mentioned this one in a previous "Scoop" and warned you guys that this was coming! Let's see, some words that come to mind when I think of Icecore... Action (non-stop), Adventure, Excitement (serious excitement!), Great Characters, Page TEARER (surpasses page turner!), Fast Paced (not a dull moment), BBBRRRRR!

Right off the bat, I'll tell you that hand's down, one of the best books I have read in a long time. From cover to cover, I was hooked.  What I LOVED was that Matt changes up the scenery a few times and brings your mind to different places.  From an unbelievable plane ride to mentally being in Fort Knox during the whole hack to some where waayyyy cold in the middle of east bumble-fudge <--- curbed for our "PG" rating :o)

I'm going to give you an abridged version of a "Dave" review because I really want you guys to read this one.  The good news is that in the CONTEST we will be holding as part of our "triple threat", we have 3 COPIES of Icecore to give away thanks to Matt and our friends at Simon and Schuster. (Thanks Guys!!)

So, in the beginning of the book Carl, 17, our main character (whiz kid/hacker/Commando-like)is telling us how he goes from a typical day at school to ending up getting minorly interrogated about hacking into Fort Knox, the largest gold supply in the world.

The next thing I knew, Carl was on a "ghost flight", meaning it wasn't registered as an actual flight with anyone.  Since I wont tell you anything else about the plane, I'll leave it at this... let's just say his company on the plane wasn't the Mickey Mouse Club.

Fast forward...We are somewhere in the Arctic Circle on a remote corner of a strip of land surrounded by freezing ice/ocean and several miles long forests.  Basically, nobody would be able to find this place even if you did know that it existed, which not too many people do.  Carl finds himself locked up and there for "questioning" and then he is supposed to be on the next plane home, back to his normal life.  Well, there wouldn't be much of a story if we let Carl just hop on home after hacking into Fort Knox, would it??  See, the thing is that even though Carl only hacks into there, horrible things have taken place due to his fiasco involving some stolen gold bars all the way to terrorism financing.  Carl has this tiny problem that due to a certain little southern belle, his interrogators are not 100% sure Carl is telling the truth about the extent of his involvement.  Problems like this can sort of delay your return trip home.

Now, the next part I don't want to tell you much about because if you think we have hit "action" yet, we haven't even scratched the surface.  Here's the short of it... Carl is not liking the treatment he is getting by his guards too much.  This seems to be a problem until one of his fellow "inmates" as I will refer to them as, decides to go renegade on the compound and basically take over.  Problem here is that it's not just a simple "take over" but more like a clean sweep/leave NOTHING standing sort of deal.  Now, Carl is faced with an entirely different the heck to make it out alive.  The guards, the interrogation...that's all child's play from this point on.  

The rest of the book which I refuse to tell you any more is just action, action, action mixed with some creative thinking and a slight touch of what seems like it could possibly form into a romance for Carl (remember the southern belle??  But who the heck is she??)  She has closer ties to Carl than he could have ever imagined, that's for sure. 

What I found was great writing by Matt was how he took the mind set of a "computer hacker" and utilized that thinking to apply to real life situations (actually way beyond real life), not just messing around in some chat room with a bunch of other hacker geeks thinking about stealing your face book login info and changing your profile pic.

There are a ton of deaths, near deaths, and artillery contained in this book.  From an agent who feels the sympathy of Carl to a double agent who is thought to be one of the world's most dangerous, wanted men, this book has it all.  I would tell you to run out and buy the book, but you should probably wait until the contest is over to see if you are lucky enough to win one.  Remember, we have 3 copies to give away!  You will learn a bit more about the book in the interview following this review that I was fortunate enough to get with Matt.  Overall- fantastic, riveting, and goes up on my shelf of top of the top.  One I will read again for sure and suggest for a long time to come.  The good news for me is that I was lucky enough (again, thanks to my friend's at Simon and Schuster) to get an ARC of "GOLDSTRIKE", which is the second book of the series.  I can tell you this, and this should give you a clue about how much I liked "Icecore" if you haven't already figured it out... I WILL NOT sleep tonight until "Goldstrike" is done.  That's a promise!



TLG: Matt, "Icecore" was a book that I honestly grabbed off the shelf at first because the cover was super cool. Once I read the back cover, I knew I had to buy it! There is a very intense story line here that you make very simple to understand. Where in the world did the idea of "Icecore" come from?

MW: I was always interested in the concept of hacking, and the fact that it appealed to young minds. Finding a way inside places that are supposedly off limits can be a kick- in the real world as much as in cyberspace- even if the only goal is to prove that it can be done. I knew I wanted to write a book about a teen hacker- my previous books are always about young people living against all odds. Then events in real life opened my eyes to the wider implications. The ongoing case of British hacker Gary McKinnon is well known in both the UK and the USA. Here was someone idly poking about in American military computer systems, unaware that if alarm bells ring, as they have, the consequences can appear to far outweigh the crime.

I had McKinnon in mind while writing "Inside the Cage" (the UK version of Icecore). What's happening to him could happen to many, many other amateur hackers, regardless of their age or intention, and from that moment on they're on their own. In the case of the book's teen narrator, Carl Hobbes, accused of virtually breaking into Fort Knox in a bid to fund terror operations, he finds himself in a kind of Guantanamo of the Arctic. Here, subzero conditions outside are as deadly as the breakout that occurs among the mercenary inmates. Somehow, Carl has to use his skills in accessing restricted areas in order to stay alive. The question is this: is he safer on the inside or the outside?

TLG: The story is about a 17 year old boy, Carl Hobbes who is technically brilliant and hacks into the systems at Fort Knox. With very detailed accounts in the book, how did you do your research on "hacking", or is it a question better left untouched? :o)

MW: I researched the subject extensively. Early on, I realized that only a fraction of a hacker's skill concern coding software nobody else could understand. Largely, you have to be an excellent con artist. It's said that the weakest point in any computer system is always human - in that they can always be talked into revealing their password, which is where Carl's skills lie.

I aimed to keep the technical side to a minimum, but to be sure of my facts I turned to a systems administrator for advice. The trouble is he thought I really was trying to get info in order to hack his system, and so fed me misinformation. Fortunately, we cleared that up before the novel went to print!

TLG: How long did it take you to write "Icecore" from start to finish and what were some of the road blocks you encountered?

MW: I only start writing when I'm all fired up, and from there on out it's pretty quick. Four months intensive, perhaps? I wanted this book, and the sequel, to be proper page-turners and that can only be done with energy behind the keyboard. The key is to have the plot all worked out beforehand.

TLG: I've noticed on your blog site ( you have what seems to be a cool, but unique photography hobby. Tell us a little about that.

MW: Ha! Yes, I do. I only picked up a camera a couple of years ago, but having then taught myself the dark arts of Photoshop it's become a liberation. My work tends to feature people peering down from impossibly high chasms- often above the clouds. I love the sense of vertigo it creates. The challenge is to make it look totally convincing. In the last few years I've been commissioned to create canvases, and now a selection of my work is represented by Getty Images, which is really thrilling. You can see my stuff here:

TLG: When you are not writing or creating art out of pictures, what do you enjoy doing most?

MW: I own a white german shepherd. She's kind of like a white wolf, and needs a LOT of exercise. It's a good way of getting me away from my desk and into the woods- which is where I do my thinking about plot and character etc.

TLG: Every author has their own little "story" about how they came to be published. Share with us a bit of your experience with getting published for the first time.

MW: Well, my first books were actually teen advice titles. This is because for the last fifteen years I've been the "Agony Uncle" for a popular teen girl's magazine in the UK called "Bliss". It was the same publisher who took my first novel, and things snowballed from there.

TLG: When sitting down to start a new book, do you have the whole thing from start to finish mapped out in your head already, or do you kind of create as you go along? Basically, before you write a story, do you know the beginning, middle, and end before you write or do you let your imagination run wild?

MW: With a plot driven novel like ICECORE, it's vital that you know how to get from A-Z. Sometimes, the characters go off in unexpected directions, but I effectively have a map- much like a video game, which I put together before I write a single word. In ICECORE, you'll find the map at the front of the book.

TLG: Can you share with us some of your favorite books and/or authors? Possibly anyone who might inspire you. What do you love to read?

MW: Recently, I've been blown away by Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", but to be honest it's the first work of fiction I've read in ages. I'm one of those authors who steers clear of novels just to stay true to my own voice. I tend to read non-fictopn about subjects that inform the books I'm writing.

TLG: Tell us something about yourself that practically nobody knows. It can be anything in the world, just something that is not known to many.

MW: OK. Well, I'm heavily tattooed. A picture of my back piece even features in a book about the world's finest tattooists, but you wouldn't know it's me. Nor would your mother know I have any ink if we were introduced. It's all under the sleeves and the collar. This is between us right? ;o)

TLG: As you all know, we always end every interview with our signature question... What would you, Matt Whyman, author of "ICECORE" do for a Klondike Bar??

MW: As a Brit, one who has never heard of such a thing, I imagine I would look it up on Wikipedia first of all. If it turned out to be chocolate, I'd threaten to eat your liver and spleen unless you handed it over!


Matt, I want to thank you for a few things.  First of all thank you for the interview, as it was a real pleasure to work with you.  Secondly, thank you so much for giving me the pleasure of reading "ICECORE" as I truly loved it!  I would hope that many of our readers not only take my advice and pick up a copy, but have also been intrigued by the review and your interview.  Keep in mind that in a separate post we will conclude our "triple threat" with 3 copies of "ICECORE" to give away to you guys!  Also, if you love ICECORE as much as I did, Matt has the sequel, "GOLDSTRIKE" due out at the end of February.  And, last but not least, I think as a favor to Matt, we should direct him to and show him what he has been missing over there in the UK for so long! So, Matt...a taste of the GOOD OL' USA!