Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Andrew Zollman

What I Read: The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: “Scientists thought we were safe from invasion. The distance between stars is so great that it seemed impossible for even the most advanced civilizations to send a large spaceship from one star system to another. But now, a species - a planet - other than our own has found a way.

An unassuming probe from another star system lands in an empty corner of New York City and drills into the ground underneath, drawing electricity from the power lines to jumpstart its automated expansion. When it's discovered, it injects nanodevices into those people unlucky enough to come near it. The devices migrate to the brains of the victims and influence their behavior, forcing them to perform tasks that will assist the probe as it prepares for an alien colonization. When the government proves slow to react, a NASA scientist realizes he must lead the effort to stop the probe before it becomes too powerful.”  – From the Publisher

What I Thought: I have to tell you first that I haven’t read many science fiction thrillers in the past. So, I have very little background knowledge I can use to judge this book based on what I have read in other titles.

The Orion Plan piqued my interest because of the real science research the author used to write the material around his story. I enjoy reading stories that use and twist real historical events to weave a tale either mundane or fantastical. The author does a very good job of sticking to the science used in the novel and applying it to the events that unfold. However, in doing so, the story does tend to drag in parts to provide an explanation of what is being discussed. When the action does start, the start moves quickly.

I wouldn’t call this book a thriller so much as an urban contemporary science fiction story with elements of history. General thrillers are sinister and dark and suck you into the conflict that is unfolding one piece of the puzzle at a time. The Orion Plan does propel you forward and guide you along a journey but it never truly sucks you in for the ride.

The adventure and dialogue are interesting and well put-together. The characters are believable and show the many faults of humanity and how we cope with both our everyday stresses and how people respond to insurmountable obstacles.

If you would like an interesting story involving science fiction themes, a good plot, and characters you can almost relate to, then this is your read. I would give the book three stars for the story and the breakdown of the content, but I could never really get into the characters and how the author used them in the story. I did find it to be a quick read and enjoyable to the end. Make your own assumptions about the book and enjoy the adventure.

Readalikes: Prey by Michael Crichton 

Or look this book up on NoveList!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Laurie Boone

What I Read: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: An unnamed young man is interviewing the vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac. The vampire recounts the story of his life before, during and after he was made a vampire by Lestat de Lioncourt in 1791 New Orleans.

What I Thought: I wanted to re-read this before reading the latest book in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat. This May 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Interview with the Vampire. I’m so glad I read it again because now I’m psyched to read the remaining four leading up to Prince Lestat. I have missed this kind of complex and gothic, yet luxurious style of horror writing. The vampires of the fiction sub-genre of paranormal romance have got nothing on Louis, Lestat, and Armand as they grapple with the nature of good and evil.

Readalikes: Luckily there are five books in the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Also add Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, which has been made into two movies and a London stage production.

Or look this book up on NoveList!


Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Legends Club by John Feinstein

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Jim Patrick

What I Read: The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry by John Feinstein

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Although John Feinstein’s career began with a classic basketball book, A Season on the Brink, these days the Golf Channel contributor more frequently writes about golf.  In The Legends Club, Feinstein returns to his roots with a nostalgic, bittersweet look back at the glory days of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball in the 1980s and beyond.

When Jim Valvano and “Coach K” took their head coaching positions at North Carolina State and Duke in 1980, Dean Smith had already established the North Carolina program as a perennial NCAA powerhouse.  Valvano and Krzyzewski had the ability and audacity to take on Dean Smith, but their early experiences were not very successful.  In fact, Coach K came very close to getting fired in his second year with the Blue Devils.  Today he’s still at Duke as the winningest coach in Division One history.

In addition to retracing Coach K’s journey to that pinnacle of coaching achievement, The Legends Club also includes many exciting game and tournament accounts, as well as fascinating stories about the sometimes contentious interactions among the three coaches.  John Feinstein is a Duke graduate and a personal friend of Mike Krzyzewski.  He openly admits a Duke “bias,” but he also writes movingly of Coach Valvano’s 1983 national championship, as well as his brave, public battle with cancer ten years later.  And he writes admiringly of Coach Smith’s brilliant basketball innovations and his unwavering loyalty to his players.

What I Thought:  Although John Feinstein’s The Legends Club is a very enjoyable sports book, readers should not expect an expose of big-time college basketball.  Feinstein points out personal quirks and foibles of the three coaches, but he is clearly an admirer of all three men, as well as being a fan of ACC basketball.  The book does drag a bit after Valvano and Smith exit the story—due to Valvano’s death and to Smith’s retirement and later death from Alzheimer’s complications.  The final few chapters recount recent Duke basketball history in a fairly perfunctory narrative that lacks the drama of the earlier chapters.  Overall, however, Feinstein gives the reader fine portrayals of these three legendary coaches and the high-stakes environment in which they competed so successfully.

Readalikes: Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four by John Feinstein;  Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship by Don Haskins.

Or look this book up on NoveList!