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The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1-5)
Douglas Adams
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
S M Boyce
Jeremy's Choice (The Peeling, #1) - Iain Rob Wright Update after reading the four books in the series.
Each independent book is more like an individual chapter of one larger book. Unfortunately, four chapters isn't enough. Each is told from the point of view of an individual dealing with the incredibly lethal plague known as "The Peeling". It is a detailed account of the fall of humanity - even if you survive the plague itself, you then have to be Leary of other survivors.

It is a shame that there wasn't more of this story. It was very good, and I would probably give the series as a whole a four star, but there was just too much missing from each independent book. Perhaps the author might someday compile them all, give some answers, and also an ending. That would truly be a great book!


Original review for book 1

For some reason, even though there were no zombies in this story, it reminded me of 28 Days Later. Maybe it was because it was set in Great Britain. Maybe it was because the army trucks were everywhere with soldiers killing the infected. Maybe because the infected in this story seem just as gruesome and tragic. Good thing I liked that movie.

This book, at least 3/4 of it, is told from the perspective of Jeremy. Essentially a 'day in the life of'. The final 1/4 is told from the perspective of the Prime Minister who has the disease but in his possibly last day on Earth, he finds out who unleashed this plague, presumably.

I probably would have enjoyed it more if it were a bit longer detailing more of what did and will happen. Thankfully, I will get to learn more as there are three additional books. As Douglas Adams called one of his collections, it's a trilogy in four parts.
Patient Zero (The Peeling, #4) - Iain Rob Wright I liked this one more than the others in the series. It gave a bit of an explanation as to how the plague started, but far from a full explanation. I'd certainly love to know more.
Warriors (The Peeling, #3) - Iain Rob Wright The third instalment follows a military unit...apparently one of the only ones that still believe their job is to protect civilians. They find themselves in a grocery store fighting off a renegade military unit.
The Stadium (The Peeling, #2) - Iain Rob Wright Written in the same style as the first in this series, this one follows Brett who ends up in a football stadium with many other civilians. The civilians are being "guarded" by the military, which quickly turns into "being held captive" by the military.
Through the Ever Night - Veronica Rossi I love YA books, especially when they're written as well as this. It seemed to get off to a slow start and I thought it might be like so many other trilogies where the second book (and sometimes the third as well) just isn't as good as the first. It wasn't long before I was wrapped up in this world again and loving it. Some of the questions I had at the end of the first book were answered, like where the aether came from, but others are still there. Many others are still there. I can't say much more than this for now. Aria and Perry are still mid-journey in saving their people. I wonder if this won't also be a journey to save humanity and their planet as well.
The Plagiarist - Hugh Howey Good story. Very "Inception"esque.
Miranda - John R. Little WOW......really, WOW. That was great. My only, and I do mean only, problem with this book was that it ended. It was so good, I could have read it all night.

This is the story of Michael who begins his life at his death. Sort of along the lines of Benjamin Buttons, except Michael's life is completely normal....but in reverse. He is "born" in a hospital bed having just had a heart attack. He spends his first six months of life (to everyone else it was his last six months) learning to understand what people were saying and how to speak himself, as everything was said backwards. It goes on from there to tell the story of his life.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It really was fantastic!!
erinyes - Scott McElhaney I was really looking forward to reading this book – it had such potential. People in cryostasis being revived and cured of the diseases that would have killed them in the 21st century. Finding out they were on a spaceship that could jump into another galaxy. There was so much that could have happened in this book, but sadly hardly anything happened. The story that was given was OK, even though it was edited poorly (seems to be happening a lot lately) and seemed very rushed in the last quarter. It just could have been so much more. I’m not a fan of giving you a book report but for this one I will make an exception.

Here is the whole book:

A handful of cryogenically frozen people are woken up aboard a spaceship eons after they had “died”. They found out that a species from another galaxy had taken over most of the Earth, but in an H G Wells type of twist, a flu broke out and killed all of the invaders. Humans decided to space-jump to the invaders home planet and kill the rest of their species with this virus before Earth was recolonized…and that is what they did.
The end.
My Guardian Idiot ~ fantasy tales for your funny bone - Barbra Annino This is a short book of five independent stories. It only took me about an hour to read them all. The title suggests they are funny but I would describe them as cute.

The first is about a bumbling guardian angel. It tells how sometimes when bad things happen it can be a blessing in disguise.

The second doesn't tell you much at all. It was about a sex therapist. It didn't seem to have any point and no real story.

The third was about an idiot genie. This one was pretty good. I liked learning why he was inept.

The fourth was a little weird. A drive-thru funeral parlour? Not that I couldn't picture one...I've been to Vegas

The fifth was about the god Venus vacationing on earth with her son Cupid. I think it had more of an actual storyline than any of the others.
The Paper Menagerie - Ken Liu Sad. Heart-wrenching. Do not read this at your desk at work like I did. It was all I could do to keep the tears at bay.

It's the story of a boy who was born to an American father and a Chinese mother. Dad bought Mom from a catalog. As the boy grows up, he begins to feel like an outcast because of her. He doesn't want to know Chinese - he refuses to speak to her in anything other than English, which she cannot understand. He slowly becomes more and more distant from her until she dies. One day he discovers a note she has left for him written in Chinese and he has someone read it to him. I can't imagine that he didn't feel like the lowest form of life on the planet at that moment in time. Even I felt awful for him, but so much worse for her.

If you haven't read this already, then you absolutely must find it and read it.
We - Yevgeny Zamyatin, Clarence Brown This is not an easy read. Like most books written a century ago, there is a lot of descriptiveness that seems to run off in a tangent. It tends to make the story a bit more difficult to follow. This may be in part because it wasn't translated to English as well as it could have been. As I cannot speak Russian to compare, I'll never know for certain.

It was very similar to 1984. It ended almost the same way - score another point for Big Brother.
Forever After - David Jester Before I get further into this review, I would like to make it clear that I didn't rate this book higher not because it wasn't well written - it was, and not because I didn't like the characters - I did, and not because the story was boring - it wasn't. It was totally because of the layout of the plot...or in this case, plots.

This was the story of a grim reaper named Michael. Not 'the' grim reaper, but 'a' grim reaper. Turns out there are lots of them. They take the souls of the recently departed, turn them over to purgatory and collect their pay. He shares an apartment with a tooth fairy named Chip. They both live like pigs in a scummy town and aside from their work, all they do is drink.

Now I know this may not sound overly appealing based on what I just told you. It sounds very weird, and it was, but it was a surprisingly good story. My review will not do the story justice.

Michael agreed to become a grim reaper at his death, because who wouldn't jump at the offer for immortality when faced with their own death, but he has since grown to loath it. He doesn't understand what's going on and no one will tell him anything. He's lost in this existence. He is trying to understand things and also trying to regain some type of life for himself, but he seems to have lost almost all hope.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the story at this point. I thought maybe it would explore Michael slowly coming to understand what the grim reapers are for and more about the afterlife. Perhaps it would explore ways for a grim reaper to get back to real life again.
What did happen was someone came into the picture who was stealing souls before Michael had a chance to collect them. Ooh, getting exciting now. I like this storyline....but it also led me to why I didn't rate the book higher.

Clones were stealing souls of werewolves and they were controlled by a powerful immortal. Michael was given the job of finding them and the souls that were stolen, which he does but he doesn't meet the immortal who apparently knows who Michael is. While looking at a picture of Michael, the immortal says "You have made a powerful enemy".....then we hear nothing more about him.
This would have been a reasonable place to end the story since this is supposed to be a series. The second book could have continued answering the questions about who this immortal was, why he was stealing souls of werewolves, what he was doing with them. But this didn't happen. For whatever reason the author moved on to another storyline about some demon who thinks he's Santa Claus. Michael and friends help him out then turn him in. And that's where the book ends.

If the Santa Claus part hadn't been written and the first storyline continued, this would have been a great book. I can only assume it will continue in future installments. It just should have continued in this one or at least left off at a cliffhanger, the Santa Claus part took away from the book in my opinion.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente This book was incredible, fantastical, and loaded with adventure. This is the kind of book a child would read over and over. I almost felt like I was 10 years old reading it. I am wowed by the incredible imagination of CM Valente.

This is the story of September. A young girl who's Father has gone off to war and who's Mother has to work all day. Poor September is alone....until the Green Wind shows up and whisks her off to Fairyland. She befriends a Wyvern - not a dragon, which are sort of cousins to the Wyverary, but he is most definitely not a dragon! They head off, meet lots of different people and have great adventures. She learns of the great Queen Mallow whom everyone loved, her subsequent disappearance and the new ruler, the Marquess. She's not a very nice ruler - keeps Wyvern's wings chained up so they cannot fly and other such mean things. In the end, September learns the truth of the Marquess and what became of the good Queen Mallow. She fixes things, at least for now, but learns that even though it is time for her to go home, she must come back every spring. The adventure continues.
Gregor the Overlander - Suzanne  Collins Suzanne Collins sure knows how to write in a way that makes you feel like you're watching a movie. She did this with the [b:The Hunger Games|2767052|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)|Suzanne Collins|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1358275334s/2767052.jpg|2792775] and I think she did an even better job with this one.

Reminiscent of "Journey to the Center of the Earth", young Gregor and his toddler sister Boots find themselves in a large underground world. Somehow, the creatures that live here are gigantic versions of those that live above ground. Rats, bats, spiders and cockroaches are all around six feet tall. The only creatures that have retained their proper size are the humans that live there. Not long after Gregor meets these humans, we learn that Gregor's Father, who disappeared two years prior, was in the Underland held captive by the rats. There had been a prophesy that foretold of this and Gregor was the one foretold to be part of a quest to free his Father and in turn aid the Underworlders in peace.

It was a captivating tale and very enjoyable to read. A great book to share with your kids!!
Unwind - Neal Shusterman

4.5 stars

I started reading this book thinking that it had a decent premise but is a YA series and a lot of them, or at least a lot I have read, have been slightly disappointing as of late. This one did not disappoint. The more I read, the more I liked it until towards about half-way when I couldn't stop reading it. The reason I didn't give it a full 5 star rating is simply for the unbelievability of the premise that coaxed me into reading it in the first place...plus the stork law - it seemed little too stupid but it was a small, almost insignificant part of the story as a whole. Then again, Harry Potter wasn't remotely believable and I liked that one too. Also, and very importantly for me at least, it was a full story - you will not end the book feeling like you have to get the next book to know how things end. I appreciated this and it is the reason I will undoubtedly get the second one

Here are the basics of what the book was about:
After a massive civil war war between Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers, it was decided that there would no longer be any in-vitro abortions. Instead, because of lack of organ donations, it was decided that children would receive their fundamental right to life but should they not live up to expectations (anger issues, not smart enough, not talented enough, etc), between the ages of 13 and 18 parents could opt to have their child unwound. This is an organ donation taken to the extreme with a mandatory 99.4% of the "donors" body having to be used. Naturally the children don't want this to happen and some successfully escape before being sent to the Harvest Camps. The story mainly follows three kids and their ultimate discovery of an "underground railroad" system set up by a man who is trying to make amends for a horrible decision he made years prior.

Here is what the book was really about:
Questions. Fundamental human questions that currently have no answers.
* When is one considered alive - at conception, at birth, or somewhere in between?
* Where does the conscience or spirit reside - is it a part of every cell, does it reside only in the brain and if so is it in just one specific part of the brain?
* Does anyone, even a parent, have the right to decide the true fate of another?
* Could a child be so fundamentally flawed that a parent would, could or even should choose to end their life under the premise of transferring that life via organ donation to others considered more worthy?
* Where would religion fit into this world? Is it bent to fit around the people or is it the other way around?

Unwind is a book that will stick with me like very few others have.

The House of the Scorpion - Nancy Farmer I almost didn't read this book. It has an ugly title with an uglier cover, but I read the synopsis and was intrigued.

The story takes place in the future when cloning technology has been perfected. The world described is not what I think of as futuristic though. There is abundant pollution, the drug trade is thriving and the rich prey on the poor. It's like now but worse. The protagonist is Matt, whom we meet when he is just a small boy. He is a clone of an incredibly wealthy and powerful drug lord, although he doesn't learn this fact until he is around six years old. Clones are despised in this world. Thought of as livestock, mostly for the fact that their brains are altered to keep them in a zombie-like state. They are around only for the spare parts they can provide to their owners. This doesn't happen to Matt. He is allowed to really live even if it's not supposed to be for long.

It's certainly a book for discussion. There are many topics that would be cause for arguments - religion, drugs, cloning, slavery. The author provides both sides of the argument in many cases. It's written quite well and I found it hard to put down. I might have to get the next book in the series soon. I really liked Matt and I'm interested in finding out if he's able to turn things around in his little part of the world.