Saturday, November 18, 2017

Soonish | Kelly and Zach Weinersmith


Summary:

A thorough review of possible scientific innovations on the horizon, complete with the barriers in its development and possible side effects.

Review:

I picked this book up because I'm a fan of Zach Weinersmith's web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC). I actually pre-ordered the book because I liked his writing and non-fiction about technology is usually a big win with me. I was not disappointed!

The potential technologies brought up in Soonish were not just computer science based. They cover many areas of science including medical, world enhancements and energy. Many of the topics covered are ones I had no idea we were so close to. Programmable matter would be an incredible game changer in the world, for better and worse.

And that's something else that I really appreciated about this book. Each technology sounds like it would be an incredible boon to mankind. So the authors have made sure to include a "Concerns" section for each of these potential marvels. It is important that these exciting innovations are properly thought through and discussed. As much fun as it was thinking that Asteroid Mining could soon be a reality, what would be the actual economic effects? Being able to 3D print your own replacement heart valve or liver sounds like nothing but good news (and the authors do struggle to find a concern for this one) but how do we make it fair to those who may not be able to afford this marvel?

As much fun as the content is to read, the comics that they include are fun as well. Sometimes they're included to help drive a point home. Other times they're included to show the authors' sense of humor. For example, one comic shows Elon Musk walking on Mars and proclaiming "Finders Keepers" to talk about the legal issues of private companies driving the space program. Another comic shows one of the authors assuring Dr. Elvis they will not draw him as Elvis (though they totally do).

Overall, I'm glad I got this book. If you're looking for a science, non-fiction with a good sense of humor, you'll enjoy this. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

In the House of Five Dragons | Erica Lindquist & Aron Christensen


Summary:

Rikard was taken into Alterra, a different dimension, for 30 years to aid the Alterrans in their war. He has been returned, not aged a day, but with no idea as to how much his home has changed since he's been gone. So much so that he doesn't see how resentful his wife is at his return and what it means for the politics of the empire. Thainna is a Talon, a thief for the House of Five Dragons, trying to buy her brother a seat at the Crest of the House in the hopes that he can make everyone's life better. When she gets assigned to keep an eye on Rikard, she has no idea how to even start. But she must, if she wants to keep her brother alive.

Review:

I absolutely loved this book. It was such a delight to read! Don't get me wrong, I had predicted the big twist long before I could prove it, but I was still so drawn into this book, it's world and characters, that I almost cried while reading it. It may be a little simplistic, the good characters are good, the bad characters are bad, etc. but sometimes you really need a story like that. And the mechanics of the world this book takes place in are fascinating!

The VEIL Knights have a kind of blood magic that they can use to call upon the Alterrans to help them. The Alterrans live in a world without physical form; it's all emotions, memories and other thoughts. They literally use fear as a weapon, and a painful one at that. So when the VEIL Knights set up these deals using their blood, the Alterrans generally take emotion filled memories that they can use to fight off their enemies or create new forms. When Rikard, 30 years ago, agreed to whatever the Alterrans wanted in exchange for saving his men, he became the first Terran (physical) person to be taken into the Alterran realm. 

I love the authors' attention to the problems Rikard had coming back to the world of the physical after 30 years. He'd forgotten how to eat and drink. He'd forgotten what sleep was. He didn't know no one else could read thoughts like him. Thainna has to explain things to him like he was a child because he simply forgot, after three decades, some things that are so basic we don't even think about them anymore.

I'm not a fan of political maneuvering and whatnot, but I do like how the authors handle it. When Rikard, who has been celebrated as a self-sacrificing hero for 30 years suddenly shows up, he stirs up the muddy waters that has become the Empire. The Emperor dare not make him mad for the people love Rikard more than him. The House of Five Dragons needs to try to get him under control or risk their hold on so many political and military officials. The VEIL Knights themselves, whom he leads, need to purge themselves of their bad element and show the people of the empire they are there to protect them. 

That being said, I really don't blame Rikard's wife, Laurael, for putting their son's political status above her husband. She, herself, said that the first day she met Rikard was their wedding day and were only together two years before he disappeared. I'm actually quite understanding of her desire to kill her husband to assure her son, Gaius, his spot as the Emperor's heir. The only thing I do fault her for is having an affair with the Emperor in the first place. The rest of the "bad guy" characters, though, they had it coming.

To reiterate, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were enjoyable (I absolutely loved Stumble). The world has some very interesting mechanics that I'd love to see more of. Ultimately, this was a very good read. 4.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                     Hoo

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Verax | Pratap Chatterjee, Khalil

*Image and book provided via NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

This non-fiction graphic novel follows Pratap Chatterjee's investigations into NSA surveillance and their connections to failures in the use of drones in warfare. 

Review:

Probably the best thing I can say about this book is that it is really good at explaining and making sense of everything. When the Snowden story hit there was a flood of information and I never really figured out the full effect of what was going on. This book has been incredibly helpful in getting that situation sorted out in my mind. I've also heard many reports of US Army drones killing and terrorizing innocent civilians, but never knew the full extent. This book does a masterful job of focusing the information and making it manageable. Which, sadly enough, seems to be the same problem the drone program is having, too much information, not enough focus. This book does a wonderful job of making these statistics more than just raw data to blend in to the background noise of our daily lives. There are a lot of human stories that should be getting more attention. I've made sure to adjust my news feeds so that I can pay better attention. 4 hoots.

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge | Paul Krueger


Summary:

Bailey Chen had her life all figured out in high school. Then, after college, real life kicked in. She has to move back home and get a job as a bar back at the Nightshade Lounge, a bar owned by her friend's uncle. When she makes herself a screwdriver using some secret vodka, she discovers the literal magic of cocktails. Then she discovers that bartenders don't just mix drinks for people, they also use these magical cocktails to protect patrons from creatures that feed off a human's life force. She now needs to survive the creatures, the in-fighting of the bartenders and her family's insistence that she get a "real job".

Review:

I do so love when a book almost makes me laugh out loud on the bus. That is the sign that I'm having a great time with a fun read. This book made me do this not once. Not twice. But three times! I absolutely loved this book and the world it takes place in. I want to more books like this! I also want to know what magical abilities my favorite drink, a Scurvy Medic, would grant me! 

It's not often that I read a New Adult book, but I was interested in this one by some of the book trailers from QuirkBooks YouTube page and decided to give the book a try (seriously, look them up. They're really cool!) There were so many good characters, too. Bucket and Vincent were, hands down, the best two characters in this book! I kinda wish they were main characters, but then, that might take away some of their charm. Seriously, Vincent almost had me crying and Bucket almost had me crying tears of laughter. You gotta love it!

And the story was not predictable to me. It was very well thought out and well paced. There were plenty of non-forced or plot-hole-driven twists that kept me guessing about the outcome. This story and this world are wonderful to read and I really want more!

So, here's why it only gets 4 hoots, not 5. Relationship drama. Every time the main character did something stupid, it was because of relationship drama. She wasn't even that interested in Zane until she found out he had moved from his crush on her high school and gotten a girlfriend. This aspect of the story literally had me putting the book down a few times and completely kicked me out of the book. If it weren't for the other characters and the interesting world, I may have not liked the book at all.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. A lot. That's how awesome the rest of the cast of characters are. That's how interesting the world is. I absolutely love that bartenders are protecting their patrons and baristas are healers to the bartenders. Coffee really does cure all that ails you. So, if you can get past the relationship drama, I highly recommend this book. Be forewarned, though, it may make you want a drink or two. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Ghost in the Closet | M. K. Theodoratus | Mini-Review


Review:

This short-story was a pleasantly optimistic read. When the story started out with main characters who were moving into a mansion remodeled into a women's shelter, I was very worried this was going to be a story of depression and abuse. What I got was a group of women who turned their curses into blessings. When the shelter gets contested and they're told they have to leave now, Turner challenges this saying "I know how foreclosures work. Been through enough of the damn things." Even Dumdie, the one who's lost so much because of her ability to see ghosts, is able to turn it for good. Despite some grammatical issues, this was a delightful short story that I encourage you to pick up. 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

                Hoot!Hoo

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Nanoshock | K. C. Alexander

*Image and book provided via NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Riko's cred is still draining. She's losing more allies than she even knew she'd had. She's gaining more enemies than she thought possible. With the price on her head going up, she's having trouble focusing on her mission of getting proof that MetaCorp set her up and is trying to weaponize Necros. 

Review:

I have been waiting for this sequel for a while. I never forgot my joy at reading the first book. When I saw this one available on NetGalley, I jumped on it. I was not disappointed! Riko is back, doing and saying things that would make a sailor blush and living up to the title "Splatter Specialist" the whole way. And I loved every minute of it.

This isn't a book for everyone. It is incredibly NSFW and has a lot of fight scenes that made me cringe. That said, if you're okay with some gruesomeness and a lot of foul language, you'll probably appreciate the humor that permeates throughout the book. You will probably want to read the first one before you read this. There's a lot of important backstory there.

I'll admit, there were a few times when Riko's attitude and act-first-think-later personality began to get annoying, but the author wonderfully seems to know when this is happening and has another character call her out on it. This really helps with balancing Riko's obtuse nature keeping the reader from burnout. There were times it was difficult to figure out what was going on, then again, since we're reading from Riko's perspective, and she's not the brains of any operation, it kinda makes sense. 

Then, there was the ending. I'm going to avoid spoilers by not telling you a thing about the last chapter. All I will say, when I finished this book, I had a big smile on my face that only got bigger as I thought more and more about how well the ending fit. This book was an exceptional follow up to the first one and I couldn't be more pleased with it.

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Read-A-Thon - Closing Survey

This was a fun Read-A-Thon. I co-hosted for the first time ever. It was a bit of a trying experience. I had to learn to put aside my need to read all the things so I could properly man the twitter feed. I hope I didn't overdo it. Had a lot of fun hosting the mini-challenge. I got introduced to some new books that I need to look up. Here's my final survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I'm torn between Hours 6-8 (when I co-hosted) and Hours 22-23 when I nearly fell asleep.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!
Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha! Ha. I read one book. Soonish. The rest of the time I read the web comic Schlock Mercenary. 

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?
Calvin & Hobbes, all the way.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?
I dunno, I was smiling quite a bit already with this one.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?
I've already signed up! See you in April.