Book Review: Resonance by A.J. Scudiere

Resonance by AJ Scudiere

Resonance by AJ Scudiere

I love sci-fi thrillers. I’ve read a majority of Michael Crichton’s novels. Even picked up some Robin Cook books in my younger years. My husband and I get a kick from watching disaster movies. I was excited to read a new to me author of sci-fi/disaster novels.

Resonance by A. J. Scudiere starts off with series of events that seem unrelated but of course they are. There are frogs with four hind legs and bees that are flying in columns. Soon, CDC Drs. Jillian and Jordan discover that people are suddenly dying due to magnetic “hotspots.” Biologist Dr. Becky and geologists Dr. David learn that the Earth’s magnetic pole are shifting, an event that occurs every 65 million years. Together the team of medical doctors and scientists attempt to track down the cause of the deaths before it’s too late.

(Ok, if you’re not a science fiction reader, that sound pretty far fetched. I know. Just remember that it’s fiction with little bits of truth in it. It’s the possibility of the events that makes it fun.)

The first half of the book drew me in. I couldn’t get enough as we followed different scientists and doctors travel all over the United States to chase down magnetic hotspots and prevent more people, even herds of animals, from dying. I thought that the dynamic between Drs. Jillian and Jordan was realistic. There was even a little bit of sexual tension between them, which became a more complex when Dr. David entered the scene. I was on the edge of my seat as their research became increasingly dangerous, even life threatening.

Then the book took a left turn to “What the hell?” for me.

SPOILER ALERT. In fact, there will be several.

About two-thirds of the way through the book, the magnet shift happened. Earth’s poles switched. At 484 pages, this was not a short book. With so many pages left, I wondered, where will the story go next? IS there a next after a magnetic shift? After all, the novel’s geologist intimated that the previous magnetic shift might have killed off the dinosaurs. The entire human population goes into a comatose state as poles reversed, including our esteemed researchers. Some people wake up and some never do. Dr. Jillian is one of the first to wake from her coma, but she also has a relapse. When she wakes up the second time, she is face to face with someone that she recently pronounced as dead.

As it turns out, when the poles swapped places, the Earth split into to two realms (what the book called it). Like parallel dimensions. Jillian and David are the only ones that can “move” between the two realms. The people that did not wake up or died in the first realm are actually alive and kicking in the second realm. (Still following?) Turns out the newer, second realm has no lawyers or CIA agents, but plenty of cops and preachers.

The last section of the book is barely scientific and starts to veer towards a little bit of evangelism. There’s lots of talk about God and prayer. I’m not against religion in my books but it just came out of nowhere and didn’t fit with the first part of the novel. In fact there was no mention of God until after the shift occurred.

I was so disappointed in the ending that I ranted about it for a full five minutes with my husband. After reading a few reviews on GoodReads and Amazon, I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one. It really had so much potential. I was even considering reading other books by A. J. Scudiere.

Have you ever felt this way about a book you’ve read?

Book Review: The Unseen by Katherine Webb

The Unseen by Katherine Webb

The Unseen by Katherine Webb

Earlier this summer I received a copy of The Unseen, courtesy of William Morrow Books.  I was really excited about this particular book, as it had all the makings of something I would love:  England, a little dabble in the occult/supernatural, history, and some mystery thrown in for good measure.

From the back cover, here is a quick synopsis:

From Katherine Webb, the author of the acclaimed international bestseller The Legacy, comes a compelling tale of love, deception, and illusion

A vicar with a passion for nature, the Reverend Albert Canning leads a happy existence with his naive wife, Hester, in their sleepy Berkshire village in the year 1911. But as the English summer dawns, the Cannings’ lives are forever changed by two new arrivals: Cat, their new maid, a disaffected, free-spirited young woman sent down from London after entanglements with the law; and Robin Durrant, a leading expert in the occult, enticed by tales of elemental beings in the water meadows nearby.

Quickly finding a place for herself in the underbelly of local society, Cat secretly plots her escape. Meanwhile, Robin, a young man of considerable magnetic charm and beauty, soon becomes an object of fascination and desire. Sweltering in the oppressive summer heat, the peaceful rectory turns into a hotbed of dangerous ambition, forbidden love, and jealousy—a potent mixture of emotions that ultimately leads to murder.

The pace of the book is slow, but that’s to be expected with a historical novel.  I found, at times, that it was a little too cumbersome for my personal liking.   Things picked up considerably towards the end of the book.  I am never sure how I feel about that – packing all the excitement into one third of a novel.

The presence of the occult was very understated – so if you’re looking for a book that focuses on that as a central them, this isn’t it.  I was absolutely fascinated by the whole Cottingley Fairies back story from which this book draws its basis.  It was only a peripheral part of the book, though.

The characters were fairly well developed, and easy to empathize with.  Ms. Webb is a good storyteller, and this really was a compelling read despite its slow development.  Unfortunately I was not as enamored with it as I wanted to be.  It wasn’t a quick read…the plodding pace made it difficult to get through.  The P.S. Insights, Interviews, and More section at the end redeemed the book a bit.  I definitely plan to look into some of the suggested further reading and really enjoyed the story behind why Ms. Webb wrote the book.

Quick Facts:
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (May 22, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062077880
ISBN-13: 978-0062077882

What Makes a YA Book Young Adult?

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert

NPR recently published their list of 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels as determined by a poll of their readers. A friend posted the link in a book chat Facebook group I belong to. I was curious, so I took a look at the list.

Confession: I don’t read YA books very often.  It’s not because I don’t like it, it’s because I love my adult fiction. If I read a book a day, I would never get through all the adult fiction books I want to read.

The first time I learned of the YA genre was when Stephanie Myer’s Twilight series became popular. Then of course The Hunger Games (of which I wasn’t a big fan). I read the latter because I wanted to see the movie so I read the book first. I prefer a well developed fantasy like The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (loved it! Review soon)

When I perused NPR’s YA book list, I was shocked to see that classic sci-fi fantasy books I loved were on it. Titles such as

Sure, I read those books in high school, but never thought of them as young adult fiction. The themes in Dune are very adult. I’ve read it over ten times and each time, I get something new out of it. As a teenager, I missed most of the novel’s nuances.

I asked my librarian friend for her definition of it. The YA genre is new and still evolving. There were no young adult shelves in my library when I was growing up. I frequently brought adult books to the checkout desk, hoping the librarian there wouldn’t “catch” me reading books I wasn’t supposed to. As far as I can tell, the books I mentioned above are now on high school reading lists. Now they’re considered young adult fiction.

So here’s my question for you, my readers. What do you consider a YA book, besides the publisher’s designation of the book as such? Is it due to the main characters’ age? What’s your thoughts on these older, classic sci-fi/dystopian novels being classified on YA?
If you’re a fan of YA books, check out Teen Lit Rocks
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Blog Tour: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (w. Giveaways!)

Ready Player One Cover

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Today starts From Left to Write’s very first blog tour! For the next week and a half, our bloggers will share their reviews on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. For us, ahem, older readers, Ready Player One pays homage to the 1980s. Younger readers will enjoy the contrast of 2044 Earth’s dystopian world and its happier virtual world.

Here’s a brief description from the publisher:

 It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.  Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Ready Player One (Broadway) by Ernest Cline is available on paperback starting June 5, but e-book versions are available now. Some of our bloggers are also giving away a copy of the book, so make sure you visit each one to maximize your chances (you can only win one copy of the book, no matter how many giveaways you enter).  We’ll update the links each day so you can click directly to the post.

Monday, June 4

Jennifer Miller from Ramblings of a Semi-Conscious Mastermind Mommy (Giveaway ends 6/11)
Ariane Trelaun at The Force Expansive   (Giveaway ends 6/19)
Tracy Turrson of Tracy’s Nook

Tues, June 5
Amy Brown from  What a Life
Dannie Mclain of Dannie Speaks

Wed, June 6
Christina Yother at hooey!critic (Giveaway ends 6/12)
Rebecca Pallack of Life Of An Army Wife (Giveaway ends 6/18)

Thurs, June 7
Catherine McNiel from everyday epiphanies
Melanie Myatt at reviews from the crib (Giveaway ends 6/14)

Friday, June 8
Taylor Usry of The Quiet Moments, Page 2 (Giveaway ends 6/13)
Bay Staley from Queen Mother blog (Giveaway ends 6/17)

Monday, June 11
Michele McGraw at Scraps of My Geek Life (Giveaway ends 6/18)
Robin Elton of simple. green. organic. happy (Giveaway ends 6/17)