Monday, July 21, 2014

Book 35: The Colossus Rises

The Colossus Rises by Lerangis is the first book in the Seven Wonders series which I picked up to preread as a possibility for my picky 10 yob, who has finished reading the Percy Jackson series. Jack McKinley has grown up as an ordinary boy until one day he collapses in the middle of the street and is whisked away to a strange island hospital run by Professor Bhegad. He is told that he and the other three kids at the hospital have a genetic trait inherited from a prince of the lost city of Atlantis which will kill him in six months. The only chance for a cure lies in finding seven magic Loculi stolen long ago before the fall into the wrong hands and returning them to their original location which is also currently unknown.

An interesting premise, I enjoyed the first book enough to give the next two currently available in the series, but I haven't decided if I'll pass them on to the kids yet. I would say the books are appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Book 34: Iron Kissed

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs is the third book in her Mercy Thompson series. After the loan of fae weapons for hunting vampires in the previous book, Mercy owes her friends Zee and Uncle Mike a favor. A series of murders on the fae reservation with no magical traces left behind has the local fae council stumped, so they ask Mercy to come check the scents at the various sites to try to identify the killer. Mercy successfully identifies the intruder as the human guard who had let them onto the reservation; but when Zee and Uncle Mike go to his home to confront him, they find him dead, and Zee is arrested for his murder. The gray lords who rule the fae seem content to let Zee take the blame to quickly close the case, but Mercy is convinced that he is innocent and is determined to prove it. She soon discovers that several fae artifacts were also stolen from the homes of the victims and focuses her sight on a human group who are against the fae looking for an accomplice to the murderers and turns to the werewolves for help when she finds herself outmatched.

As with the previous books in the series, a well written fun summer read that I would recommend for ages 18 and up.

Book 33: Blood Bound

Blood Bound by Briggs is the second installment in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy's vampire friend asks her to accompany him to deliver a message to another vampire. The new vampire turns out to be a sorcerer turned vampire, and the body count is starting to rise so the wolves and vampires join forces to hunt him. The hunters become the hunted and disappear. The head of the vampire seethe asks Mercy to go with another of her vampires to hunt the sorcerer and find the missing wolves and vampire because coyotes are supposed to be natural vampire hunters.

Another fun read that I would recommend for ages 18 and up.

Book 32: Moon Called

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs is the first book in her Mercedes Thompson series. Mercy is a shapeshifting coyote who grew up with a pack of werewolves before moving to Washington state and working as a mechanic. Her back fence neighbor is the local alpha. Her former boss and friend is Fae, and she's fixing an old VW that belongs to a vampire. Then a new wolf shows up on her doorstep looking for work. Mercy protects him when some strange wolves and humans come to her shop after him and introduces him to the local alpha explaining how he had been attacked, changed, caged, and injected with experimental drugs. That night the house of the local alpha Adam is attacked. Mac the new wolf is killed, Adam wounded, and his daughter Jesse kidnapped. Mercy takes the matter to Bran the Marrok, who sends his son Samuel to help. Together they try to find Jesse and figured out who is behind the experimental drugs.

An excellent, fluffy, fun read that I would recommend for ages 18 and up.

Book 31: On the Prowl

On the Prowl is a collection of four short stories by different fantasy authors.

"Alpha and Omega" by Patricia Briggs is the launching point of Brigg's Alpha and Omega series of books with a deeper focus on the werewolf community than her Mercedes Thompson series. Anna, an abused werewolf in the Chicago pack, decides to call the Marrok, the head of all the wolf packs in North America, to report that she had seen a missing teenager from a recent newspaper article at her alpha's home. The Marrok, who had already been made aware of the situation, directs her to meet his son Charles at the airport and leaves Charles a message to stay with Anna and protect her while investigating the events in Chicago. The results of which will change her life forever.

The other stories include "Inhuman" by Wilks, "Buying Trouble" by Chance, and "Mona Lisa" by Sunny. I completely enjoyed Briggs' story. It was well written with enough plot twists to keep it interesting and sufficient character development to catch my interest enough to read the next book in the series. The three other stories were so-so. The characters didn't really catch my interest and the world in which those characters lived were more confusing and not as well developed. None of them caught my interest enough to try the later books. I would recommend reading just the first story as a precursor to enjoying Briggs' Alpha and Omega books, but wouldn't recommend bothering with the other stories.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Book 30: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Collins is the second book her the Underland Chronicles series. Although Gregor's father has returned home, life at their New York apartment is far from normal. His father is too ill from his time in the Underland to work, and the expenses related to his medical bills have pushed the family into a very tight financial position. Gregor has taken a once a week job assisting his neighbor Mrs. Cormaci, who gives him an old pair of boots that were just laying around and never fails to send him home without food for his own family. Shortly before Christmas, Gregor takes his youngest sister Boots sledding in Central Park, but in one unwatched instant she disappears. He quickly realizes that she has been taken back to the Underworld by some crawlers, calls his father to let him know what has happened, and heads after his sister. Ares finds him and flies him to Regalia where he reunites with his sister. The crawlers explain that the rats were after Boots trying to kill her because they believe that the prophecy of Bane means that her death will lead to their triumph. Gregor agrees to set out in search of the Bane, which is supposed to be a vicious, ten foot white rat, capable of leading the rats to victory over the people of the Underland. Gregor and a crew set out by boat to hunt for the Bane in the labyrinth. Before they even reach the labyrinth, they encounter giant squid, a whirlpool, flesh eating mites, and massive serpents and suffer both injury and loss. In the end the group becomes separated, and Gregor and Ares must finish the quest alone.

An excellent follow up to the original book Gregor the Overlander, my boys and I completely enjoyed Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane together as a read aloud and are looking forward to starting the third book in the series this coming week. I highly recommend this book for ages 7 and up.

Book 29: The Perfect 10 Diet

The Perfect 10 Diet: 10 Key Hormoes That Hold the Secret to Losing Weight and Feeling Great Fast! by Aziz proposes that many of the problems plaguing the health of individuals today can be traced to poor dietary habits that cause an imbalance of various hormone levels. The hormones that he focuses on include: insulin, glucagon, leptin, thyroid hormone, HGH, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The basic diet advocates a balance of 40% carbs, 40% fats, and 20% proteins; the elimination of refined foods, sugar, and trans fats; a focus on eating 3 meals a day with breakfast being the largest meal; and of course drinking plenty of water. He divides the plan into 3 stages including 3 weeks of no grains or alcohol followed by the addition of 1 to 3 whole grains per day while still losing weight, and then 3-4 servings of grains in the maintenance stage. He also advises exercising 3-4 days per week and includes sections dealing with common questions, diets for various medical issues, and sample meal plans and a few recipes for each stage.

Overall I found the arguments well-stated and intriguing, and I would say that the overall premise is sound. I found his information on dairy somewhat contradictory. He states that dairy is unnecessary and should be limited, yet at the same time he advocates cooking with butter and includes cheese, yogurt, and sour cream in many of his meal ideas. I'm also a fairly picky eater, so it's going to take some work to figure out how to make this work. Still if I could lose weight just eating my current foods, I wouldn't need to research a new diet. The book also lacks information on portion sizes. I found that information online in a bonus chapter. I also found a nice cheat sheet on a blog that looks really helpful. I would recommend this book for adults looking to eat healthier or lose weight.