Saturday, September 16, 2017

ActivAmerica | Meagan Cass

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

Summary (From Publisher):

Drawing from fairy tales, ghost stories, and science-fiction, the stories in ActivAmerica explore how we confront (and exert) power and re-imagine ourselves through sports and athletic activities. A group of girls starts an illicit hockey league in a conservative suburb. A recently separated woman must run a mile a day in order to maintain her new corporate health insurance. Children impacted by environmental disaster create a “mutant soccer team.” Two sisters are visited by an Olympic gymnast who demands increasingly dangerous moves from them. Sports allow the characters to form communities on soccer fields and hidden lakes, in overgrown backyards and across Ping-Pong tables. Throughout the collection, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results.
Review:

Let me start by saying, each of these stories were good. They were well written, interesting and I can see why they were included. There were a few stories where I sincerely hope the authors are continuing to practice their writing and honing their skills."Night Games" was an interesting story of learning to take control and learning your limits. "ActivAmerica" showed how getting even just one thing going right in your life can help the rest.

The problem I have with this book is that, after a while, the stories all kinda start sounding the same. Don't get me wrong, they're all different stories, clearly. Stories are told from different perspectives, have different main characters, take place in different dimensions. But the vast majority of the stories had a lot of common themes that were not part of the description. So many of the stories had parents divorced or on the brink of it. Families that would smile and pretend nothing was wrong. An alcoholic mother. A cheating spouse. A parent who genuinely tries to connect with their child and fails. Daughters becoming their mothers despite all attempts otherwise. Hawthorne, NY. I know, you'd think with this many different themes there'd be enough diversity of stories, but when so many of them have one or more of these elements, it gets kinda boring.

This is one of those situations where the contents are genuinely good, but you have to read something in between the stories. This gives each one the opportunity to be fresh and new to you so it can be the great story that it is. If you try to read it all at once, it'll get boring, depressing or both. And I'm not saying I need all stories to have happy endings. I'm just saying, in this anthology, with this many different voices and styles, I was able to predict just about every short story's progression.

So, I'm gonna give this book 3 hoots, but also warn you to read with caution.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Shadow Ops: Control Point | Myke Cole



Summary:

Lieutenant Oscar Britton has just had his magical ability awaken. Unfortunately his magic is in a prohibited school meaning he is going to be sentenced to death. Naturally, he runs. After he is caught, however, he learns that he will not be put to death, provided he follows the rules and doesn't try to run again. Instead he's been recruited to a secret base in the home of magic, called The Source. Here he must learn to control his magic while trying to figure out just whose side he's on.

Review:

I've been a fan of Military Sci-Fi for a while now so I figured I'd give Military Fantasy a try. This, maybe wasn't the best book for the transition.

The world this takes place in is amazing. It's very easy to get into the swing of things, figure out the way things are, etc. Even the magical world of The Source was very well thought out and intriguing. The indigenous people, nicknamed Goblins, have entire histories and mannerisms that I would love to learn more about. The clear and blatant racism that the Goblins have to deal with daily was heart-wrenching.

Then there was the classism between those who agreed to use their magic to serve their country and the Selfers, people who refused to take the oath. Selfers were treated like dangerous criminals even after they'd learned to control their magic. They were not allowed to go home, by all accounts they were dead. Their only choice was to either be treated like a prisoner and watch propaganda videos or take the oath to serve those who had put them into this situation because of reasons beyond their control. No one can control if or when their magic will manifest, nor in what way it will manifest. But, if you show signs of magic, you're drafted, one way or another.

And these situations provide wonderful ethical debates about freedom and treatment of prisoners of wars and more!

The problem I have with this book is the characters. I repeatedly called Britton an idiot. And yes, he did most of his stupid things for good reasons (he didn't want to die, he didn't want his friend to die) but I still felt like he deserved every hit he took. And he takes a lot of hits. At the end of the book a lot of people are dead because of him. Whether they were the good guys or not, that doesn't justify their deaths, nor how they died. He, himself, points out a few times what his biggest flaw is, his pride. If he could've learned to just shut up once in a while, he might have been an okay main character.

The other characters in this book are rather one dimensional, their motivations defining who they are and what they do. Even the bad guys, on every side, are very straight forward. Almost comically so. Britton's motivations keep flip-flopping so it made it even more difficult to like him. Therese and Marty were the only characters that I actually care about what happened to them.

In the end, though, I have to give this book 3 hoots. At no point did I feel like I needed to stop reading it and, when all was said and done, I have to say I am tempted to buy the next book. It has a different main character and the author had more experience under his belt when he wrote it. If it goes on sale, I'll buy it. In the meantime, this first book of the series gets 3 hoots!

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Future War | Robert H. Latiff

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

Summary:

Retired U.S. Air Force major general Robert H. Latiff has written this book to inform the public about current, pending and future technologies used in war. He has also written a plea to the American public to pay attention to these technologies, their uses and users and to debate the possible consequences.

Review:

The first part of this book showed me just how close we are to the military Sci-Fi books I love becoming a lot less Sci-Fi. This both thrilled and terrified me. In the Sci-Fi books, the technologies are already common place and the errors minimized. We're still in the testing phases and the full ramifications are not yet thought through. 

The technologies that we are looking at are amazing developments, if they can be perfected. We've seen videos of amputees controlling robot actions with their mind. There are news stories about technological advances allowing for faster healing. We're even getting closer to being able to delete bad memories. These technologies are amazing. But they're not always good. What are the psychological side effects of knowing that a lost limb can be regrown or replaced? If you don't remember the bad things, even horrors, that you've done, are you still responsible for them? 

There are even questions to consider about robots being brought into war zones. We've already seen in real life how algorithms do not always go as we think they will, as we plan they will. Artificial intelligence is still in rough stages. Being able to beat humans at games is one thing. Being able to make the right call on the battlefield is another. And what about the soldiers who serve alongside these robots? How will it affect their behavior? Their calls?

This book does a wonderful job of presenting the technology, presenting the questions that need to be asked, and giving the common citizen a good place to start their own research and education on the topic. Latiff laments the chasm that's been steadily forming between US Troops and US citizens and pleads for citizens to educate themselves and start closing that gap. After reading this book, I have expanded my daily news topics and will be looking up a number of the books he lists in his notes. 

If you have any interest in the future of technology, the current or future state of warfare, how to support our troops more effectively, this is the book for you. If you have any interest in joining the US Armed Forces, you will want to read this book as well. I highly encourage any and all US citizens to pick this up and learn more about what is involved when politicians talk about sending out our troops.

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                     Hoo

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Outriders | Jay Posey


Summary:

Captain Lincoln Suh has trained his entire career to be the best of the best. Despite this, he's been passed over for promotion time and time again. When he is non-select for a program he trained for months to be a part of, he's not sure what to do. Then he gets recruited for an even more elite, and less well known, program: 301st Information Support Brigade. Before he has time to catch his breath, Lincoln and his new team are sent on a mission to try to stop the looming war between Earth and Mars.


Review:

Back in June I reviewed the sequel to this book, Sungrazer, and loved it so much I immediately bought this one. I was not disappointed. I'll admit, I kinda wish I had read them in order, and recommend you do too, but I gotta say, each of them are good enough to stand on their own.

Probably my favorite part of this book is that it fills in some of the gaps in my understanding of characters and greatly helped my understanding of the technology. In the second book I thought the armor was impressive. In this first book, where we get more exposition on it, I was practically drooling over the armor, it was just so cool! And the characters who were fun to read in Sungrazer became even more endearing in Outriders because we got to know more about who they are and where they come from. 

And the dialogue! Holy wah the dialogue is so entertaining! Even when it's full of exposition it's told in such a way that you're more intrigued than bored. Especially when 'One-Time' Mike is talking. Seriously, every group has to have a  clown and he more than lives up to the role. He even had Master Sergeant Wright, one of the most stoic women I've ever read, trying not to laugh out loud while hiding her smile. The dialogue always feels so natural, especially when the characters are all so intelligent.

Each and every character brings something to the table. I don't think there's any wasted information or dialogue. I was never left wondering what happened with this or that. I was never caught of guard by something out of left-field, yet the book is not predictable. This is a well thought out plot with a well thought out characters. I'm gonna see about rereading Sungrazer and then start bugging the author and publisher for the next book in the series. I really like the books on their own, but as a series, they're wonderful reads! 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Under the Pendulum Sun | Jeannette Ng

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

Summary:

Catherine Helstone has gone to Arcadia, land of the Fae, in search for her brother Laon, a missionary who has failed to follow up with her or his church in some time. Considering the mysterious death of the previous missionary to the Fae Lands, she is anxious to find him. Unfortunately, her long stay in Arcadia is riddled with riddles of a dangerous variety. She must find a way to navigate them while holding onto her own soul. 

Review:

Let me start out by saying: Holy wah. Holy wah! Holy WAH! This book was an amazing read! I can't remember the last time I was tempted to take a day off work just to finish a book! There were so many things to think about and work through! I generally highlight parts of a book that make me think, or to look up later, or that might be clues for the overall story. Usually I highlight just a few things overall. I swear I highlighted almost half the book just because there was so much that struck me! 

You can tell Jeannette Ng has done the research on this. Not just because she has her Master's in Medieval and Renaissance studies (by the way this book takes place in 1800's) but also because of her mastery of the language. She uses the terminology these characters would have used in their time, in their place. My favorite part was that the Fae tell how long it takes to get somewhere, not with time or distance, but stories. For example, the Pale Queen commented to the Salamander that it had been too long since they'd last seen each other.
The Salamander bowed deep, her wet-seeming scales glistening. "It has been as long as it takes to tell a tale, neither long nor short."
And this really gives you an insight into the Fae mindset. If one doesn't measure time by seconds and minutes or distance in feet or meters, it really affects your interpretation of the world around you.

The best part, for me, is that everything ended up making perfect sense. When I got to the end of the book and saw the full scope of this story my jaw dropped in awe. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I will say that the Mastermind of it all has much more power, influence and insight than I had EVER thought to give them credit for! I was floored by how little I had comprehended! Don't get me wrong, the story's only told from Catherine's perspective, but still! I ended up falling into the same thought trap that she did and I almost never do that! I was so caught up in this story that I was unable to predict, unable to see, except as hindsight. IT WAS AWESOME!

I'll admit, the dark, gothic fantasy genre isn't for everyone. If you are interested in true fairy tales, like the original dark Brother's Grimm stuff, you'll probably like this. There's a lot of theology mixed with mythology that does such a wonderful job of tickling one's curiosity.

I am so in love with this book that I'm pre-ordering it (click the picture above to go to the book's page). I happily give this book 5 hoots and look forward to more books from Jeannette Ng!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Actually. Best. Jokes. Ever | Chantelle Grace

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

Review:

This was a cute little book of knock knock jokes, tongue twisters and puns, definitely meant for a younger audience. A lot of the jokes I had heard before, but I still got quite a few chuckles out of them, as well as several groans of annoyance from my husband when I read them out loud. I do wish the book had more illustration or more to it than just a long list of words, but that's a personal preference. If you're looking for a cute little joke book for a younger child, this is a nice choice. 3 hoots!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Mirror Empire | Kameron Hurley


Summary:

The star of Oma is rising for the first time in two thousand years. As a result, many who were considered ungifted are finding their magic. At the same time, a new enemy has been terrorizing the Saiduan to the North. They look like the Dhai, but that is all they have in common. This book follows many characters in their attempts to understand and survive in the time of Oma.

Review:

Even before I finished this book, I knew I was going to buy the next one. Or at least add it to my wishlist in case someone wants to buy it for me (Fluxxdog?). This book was bloodier than I thought it would be, but that's what happens when you have characters who can use blood magic. At the same time, it was so very, pleasantly different that I kept reading and enjoying myself.

I absolutely loved the fact that there is no one standard for "civilized society" in any of the countries represented in this book. The Dorinah are very strictly matriarchal (it's actually very dangerous for a man to go outside by himself). The Dhai are less strict on gender roles and even have five different pronouns that you can choose from for yourself. The Saiduan are more patriarchal and you will have your gender pronoun assigned to you from the three options.

As nice as those sound, the men in Dorinah are highly uneducated and are possibly even lower than the dajian (enslaved Dhai). In Dhai society the new Kai is covered in the blood of the old Kai while a feast is made from her entire body. And The Saiduan find glory in death.

There is so much of this world to learn and all of it is incredibly interesting. It wasn't just politics, either, which was my absolute favorite part of this book. The world it takes place in has very actively carnivorous plant life. There are riddles. There are magics based on the ascendance of stars and technologies and medicines built off of them. There is so much to this world and there is clearly so much more to see! This is why I need to get my hands on the next book.

Additionally, I appreciated that I never felt the need to smack sense into a character. The main reason these characters do something stupid or naive is because they've had information withheld from them. The new Kai, Ahkio, is never given the full account. Roh is never told about one of his most potent abilities. Lilia is made purposefully ignorant of her homeland. I read these characters and I think they're doing the best with what they're given.

This is a longer review than I was expecting and I still haven't said everything I want to say. To sum up, this is a great book full of dark fantasy and amazing world building. I'm very interested in seeing where this world goes. 4.5 hoots!

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

The New Voices of Fantasy | Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman

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

Summary:

A collection of short stories written by some of the best new talent in the genre. Edited together with forewords written by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman. Topics and stories range from a humorous story of a vampire trying to blend in to a dark story of a woman who lives off of other people's negative thoughts. 

Review:

Probably the biggest compliment I can give this anthology is that I can no longer say there's always one story in every anthology that I don't like. I greatly enjoyed every story in this collection. Every. Single. One. That has never happened before! 

This is an eclectic collection of fantasy, though I will say that, with one or two exceptions, these are all more Urban Fantasy than anything. The tones and moods of the stories, though, are delightfully all over the map. You have silly stories. You have scary stories. You have serious but heartwarming stories. I really feel there's a story for any fan of Urban Fantasy, maybe even all Fantasy fans.

I have added so many new authors to my Goodreads list. Admittedly, these are all short-story authors so I may have to consider joining up with Tor.com to get more regular access to them. If you know anything about Tor.com, please let me know in the comments below.

This anthology was a delight to read and I highly recommend it for fans of the Urban Fantasy genre. More general Fantasy fans may enjoy it as well. There are a couple of stories more up your alley. Fans of the Supernatural genre will also find plenty to enjoy in this collection. For me, I happily give it four hoots!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cake Flavored Books Tag


Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've done a tag post and I found a very nice one over at Pirates and Pixie Dust: The Cake Flavored Books Tag! Now, she took a couple liberties with the tag that I won't be following, but I will make some changes to the original. I like that this tag can change with your tastes. See if you can spot the differences. I'm also adding a bit of a challenge to myself in that I'm only selecting books I've read in 2017.

Chocolate Cake - A Dark Book

I've read several dark books. They're not my favorites. But one dark book that I genuinely enjoyed, that got me to cringe and cry, was United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas. This book starts out dark and does not stop, though there was the occasional humor. 


Vanilla Cake - A Light Read

For me a light read is something that may not be particularly engaging, but is still enjoyable and kinda short. For this, I'm going to pick a more recent read, Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge. Definitely a pleasant read with a lot of charm.


Red Velvet - A Book That Looks Good

Gotta give this one to Clockwork Dynasty. The cover was a big part of the reason I chose to request the book from NetGalley. I'm a sucker for the steampunk design and it is drawn so well!


Cheesecake - A Book You'd Recommend to Anyone

Earlier this year Fluxxdog asked me to read his new copy of Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, based on the web comic Schlock Mercenary. Though I had never read the comic (working, very slowly, through it now) I really did enjoy this book. It is pretty self contained, you don't have to know the comic to be able to enjoy it and it's full of a lot of good advice and even more humor.


Themed Birthday Cake - A Book That Was Made For You

If I could go further back, I'd say Icon of Earth by Demethius Jackson. For 2017, though, it's gotta be Sungrazer by Jay Posey. This book had everything that I love. Military Sci-Fi, amazingly cool technology, intelligent and engaging characters, and more. It was so much my kind of book that I went ahead and bought the book that came before it as well. Don't worry, Sungrazer is definitely a stand-alone sequel. I'm reading the first one for fun more than for filling in plot holes.


Coffee Cake - A Book That Made You Fall Apart

There have been a few books this year that have made me cry (new record!) but I'm using many for other categories, so I'm going to give this one to City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. While it didn't make me cry as much as others, the ending was just so beautiful and perfect. It was a great way to end things. 


Carrot Cake - A Collection of Short Stories That Totaled a Great Book

Yes, I had to change this one. My husband LOVES carrot cake because of all the different flavors and textures. As for this category, I'm going to say The Sea Is Ours edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng. A collection of steampunk stories from Southeast Asia that introduced me to a lot of new authors. While there's always one story in every anthology I don't like, the remainder of the stories in this were more than enough to make this a great read.


Cupcakes - A Series With 4+ Books

No question, I give this one to the Lives of Tao series by Wesley Chu. I had started with a later book last year and I caught up with almost the entire series this year. I still need to read The Days of Tao which is a novella that takes place between the last book of the original trilogy and the first book of a new trilogy within the same world. I cannot tell you how much I've loved this series. It's made me laugh and cry and I'm a fan for life.


 Fruit Cake - A Classic That Surprised You

I haven't finished any classics this year but I am in the process of reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I'd never read it before and it's nothing like I had thought. I blame Disney!


Marble Cake - A Book That Gave You Mixed Emotions

Hands down, this one goes to The Rebellion's Last Traitor by Nik Korpon. I can see why some people would think it would be a happy ending. I can see what the author was going for. But there was a lot of...collateral damage (trying to avoid spoilers) that left me feeling less than enthused.


Hummingbird Cake - A Book Outside Your Usual Genre That You Loved

I'm not usually a murder mystery reader, but Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente was quite the gem! The "who" was kinda easy to figure out. The "how" was so much fun to read about. I don't normally read murder mysteries, but I really loved this book.


So that's my take on the Cake Flavored Book Tag. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Have you done this tag too? Let me know in the comments below!


Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Alchemy of Stone | Ekaterina Sedia


Summary:

Mattie, one of the very few automatons intelligent enough to warrant emancipation from her creator, Loharri, has been asked by the Gargoyles to user her alchemy to help them from turning to stone in the sunlight. At the same time, the city is feeling major unrest with the current political system. The peasants are being forced into mining work since The Mechanics replaced them with automatons in the fields. The Alchemists have worked hard to gain political favor, at the cost of the lower classes and immigrants.

Review:

I'm really not sure where to begin with this book. It is a good book, don't get me wrong. The city is interesting, though I do wish we could've gotten more information about the world. The characters were interesting, though I found it hard to empathize with any other than Mattie and the Soul-Smoker. 

I truly did feel for those characters. Mattie's relationship with Loharri was so abusive and controlling that I was truly disgusted. The lengths that man went through to make sure Mattie could never truly leave him was beyond creepy. He had essentially programmed her to always think of him when she needed help. He held onto the one key that she needed to keep herself wound. He literally held her life in his hands.
"You were ill," he said, "because you went went against your desire to see me. I told you that you always must do so. Didn't I?"
Then, Ilmarekh, the Soul-Smoker, cursed to carry the souls of the dead that refused to pass on. Forced to use opium to keep them all happy. Forced to always be listening to all of their stories and needs, never a moment alone, yet always alone because the living feared him so much. The only time he can quiet the dead is when he stops taking opium. Then he has to deal with the withdrawal which is made all the more difficult by living completely alone and being completely blind.

What little lore we got on the alchemy of this city, and even less the alchemy of the world, was interesting. I do wish we could've gotten more of it. Then again, I'm always a bit of a geek for the technical stuff. It was clear a lot of the technology of this world was steam based, but very little detail went into it. The book focused a lot more on the political unrest and drama-based relationships, which are not my favored books.

This was an engaging read. I had no problems reading through the whole thing rather quickly. Never felt I needed to put the book down. It was good, just not quite great. If you're interested in steampunk drama, by all means give this book a try. For me, I'm giving it 3 hoots.

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Uploaded | Ferret Steinmetz

*Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In the future, death is not a problem. The human consciousness gets regularly copied onto servers so that, once you die, you can join Upterlife, literally a virtual utopia. Of course, there are rules. You cannot get in to Upterlife if you are a suicide, if you are a criminal or if the dead judge you to be unworthy. You prove your worth by serving the dead, who have the greatest political say since there are many more of them than there are living. The living have to suffer through soul crushing work and being under constant surveillance by the dead. Amichai, however, has other plans for his life.

Review:

For being based in a world where the dead are connected to everything and the living can connect with each other easier than ever, this book is all about disconnection. The dead no longer have to breathe, eat or sleep so in the many years they've been dead, they've lost touch with the needs of the living. The highly educated director of Amichai's orphanage has several degrees in adolescent psychology but has no clue how to deal with actual teenagers. The living care more about their Upterlife demo time than they do connecting with other living humans. The Neo-Christians are divided into more sects than contemporary Christianity and do not communicate openly as a precaution against involuntary brain scan interrogation. It's really hard not to see parallels to today's real world concerns. 

I'll admit, there were a few tropes in this book. It takes a rebellious teenager to really set things in motion. You have one guy who's the leader of dead and who is willing to sacrifice the living to meet his goals. You have a mentor who is actually more invested in the rebellion than the main character thought. You even have a love triangle. 

Where this book diverges, however, is much more important and poignant. I actually made a comment on Twitter about how where most books would have ended and set up for a sequel, this book just keeps on going (in a good way). The end of this book is a true ending and I'm not wanting this to have a sequel, for all the right reasons. I really feel that this story line is complete. There are no loose threads or questions that still need to be resolved. I thank the author for this; plot holes and loose threads are pain. 

Best of all, this was a very engaging book. I accidentally had a couple long lunch hours because I just needed to keep reading. The characters are well thought out in their personalities and philosophies. It was really easy to feel for them. The world of this book is easy to get into and understand. Heck, one of the villains from this book was so good he kept catching me off guard because I kept underestimating him.

I really enjoyed this book and, if you're a fan of dystopian books, a fan of books about society, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this one. 4.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                    Hoo

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Darkness Upon the Deep | Hristo Goshev | Mini-Review

*Image is from the story's webpage here.

Review:

I was asked by the author, Goshev, to read this short story and provide an honest review. Honestly, this was a good read with a better ending than I thought it would have. The pacing is strong, the twist is kinda predictable, but to be fair, you can only do so much with a short story. The setting made me think of a mix of Lovecraft's alternate dimensions with Sci-Fi technology. Again, the ending was better than I thought it would be. There was a peacefulness to some of those lines that were a compatible contrast (if that makes any sense) to the madness of the earlier part of the story. I give this short story 3.5 hoots and highly encourage you to give it a look. Again, this story can be found at this link.

                   Hoot!

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                    Hoo

Saturday, July 15, 2017

WBI: Witches Bureau of Investigation | Richard Capwell


Summary:

Nate and Herman's mom has been gone for several months. The police have given up and their dad is a shadow of his former self. When the boys help an eccentric woman, Mrs. Weatherby, who claims to be a witch, she offers to help them out. Unfortunately the location of their mother is hidden by a Malignancy Shroud which can only be set up by a bad witch with a very powerful relic that was supposed to be locked up. Mrs. Weatherby and the boys must find this bad witch if they are to find the boys' mother.

Review:

This was such a good read. It really reminded me of the adventure books I read when I was a kid and was interesting enough to hold my attention as an adult. I have to agree with some others who have read this book that this would be a good one for grandparents to read to their grandkids. Mrs. Weatherby's personality is a great balance to the 11-year-old twins'. They're each reflective of their generation without it being insulting or overly silly to either party.

The magic of this world was very interesting. It integrated easily with technology and was usually meant more for practical things. I definitely want my own version of Mrs' Weatherby's license plates, "they're very special plates...There's always a parking spot exactly where I need it." And Doris' ability to mix her crystal ball with the Internet was a wonderful blending of science and magic that I'd love to read more about. I also liked that there were different animals as familiars with different strengths of their own. One of them was a giant praying mantis! I'd never heard of a praying mantis as a familiar before!

I really enjoyed this book and will be looking to get the second one. It's a book of clean fun that's good for all ages. If you like light-hearted stories about magic in the real world, pick this up and enjoy! 4 hoots!

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Code Breakers: Alpha | Colin F. Barnes


Summary:

Gerry has officially won the lottery! He now has seven days to settle his affairs before he is put to death. When he is kicked out of the building he used to work at, he is found by Gabriel who claims that his AIA, the chip in his head that connects him to the entire city's network, is infected. By a demon. And he needs to get it exorcised. What follows is an adventure that combines dystopian futures, Mad Max meets the Matrix. 

Review:

This book made me think of made-for-tv movies that are entertaining enough to keep your attention and are worth putting up with the ads for, but not really something you get really invested in. I put this book down several times because the pacing was kinda off for me. At times it felt like it was going too fast, other times too slow. Yet 90% or so of the book takes course over just a few days, I think. 

The characters were interesting enough, if a little predictable, but I just couldn't bring myself to get invested in their story. Again, this may be a pacing issue. I certainly can't blame the world building. The world of Code Breakers is easy enough to see and understand. I even appreciate the diversity of types of survivors, even if some of them are a bit stereotypical. I do wish more of the technology used was a little bit better explained. As it was, a lot of it felt more like it was magic than technology (and yes, I know the quote). 

The ending was also very reminiscent of a made-for-tv movie. I read and thought "really?" 

The e-book only costs 99 cents and that's a good deal for its entertainment value. I probably won't pick up the second book though. 2.5 hoots.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Paradox Bound | Peter Clines

*Book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Eli Teague is waiting for someone. He's met Harry twice, when Eli was in elementary school, then again when he was 13. Each time, Harry's never aged and has always shown up in a Model A with an engine that runs on water. Each time she's been followed by the Faceless Men. When Eli, all grown up, finds out Harry is in danger, he heads out to warn her and gets caught up in history traveling (not time traveling) quest for the American Dream.

Review:

This book is very different from other Clines books that I've read. He has a reference in it to the world of two of his other books (14 and The Fold) which I appreciated. But other than that, this is a very different book. I'll admit, it's not my kind of book, but I still enjoyed it. I'm not usually one for historical fiction, but this book was kind of like National Treasure but with history travel (again, not time travel). I appreciated that the ending was different enough from what I as predicting. There's also a strong sense of humor throughout and the two main characters don't fall in love by the end of the book. All things I enjoy reading. Overall, it was a nice step outside my usual genre. 3 hoots!

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Science of Monsters | Matt Kaplan


Summary:

This is a non-fiction book of anthropological, psychological, biological and paleontological (and more) theories behind the origins of the various international monsters. Many of the monsters are from western culture (Minotaur, Medusa, Frankenstein's Monster, etc.) But there are a number of global monsters as well.

Review:

I was immediately drawn to this book. Monsters have always fascinated me, even when I was too scared to watch monster movies. Some people may look at this book like a magician revealing his tricks, but I look at it as a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction scenario. The idea that dragon myths may have originated because of pockets of methane triggered by ancient miners is one that thrills me. I genuinely enjoy the scientific explanations of mythological and supernatural ideas. 

The fact that Kaplan presents these theories in an easy-to-read format with a sense of humor and his own sense of wonder is a wonderful bonus. This is a non-fiction but Kaplan does a wonderful job of keeping the book from being dry and boring. His footnotes have good supplementary information and jokes for the reader to enjoy. 

I really feel this book was well researched and well written. There was a lot of intriguing information about how the human perspective of the world has changed throughout the ages and continues to change. The theories on why the roles and histories of monsters have changed through the years make sense and give a new appreciation for the monsters that survived so many generations. Seriously, though the role and history of Medusa has changed, she has survived through millennia to still be part of human culture. That is amazing!

If you're looking for a non-fiction that will appeal to your love of fantasy, this is a great pick. If you're even just mildly curious about some of the monsters you love and where they come from, this is a great book to pick up. I really enjoyed reading this and encourage you to pick it up. 4.5 hoots!

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ten Dead Comedians | Fred Van Lente

*Book received from NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Nine stand-up comedians are invited to join Dustin Walker, one of the most legendary names in the comedy business, at his island home to partake in a project. When they arrive, however, they are told by Walker's introductory video that he's brought them all to the island to die. Then the video shows him hanging himself. Sure enough, one by one, the remaining comics begin dying off. With no hope of rescue, they must figure out how to survive, if they don't kill each other first.

Review:

I genuinely enjoyed this book. It was a nice change of pace for me. I normally don't read murder mysteries, especially not ones that take place in the "real world". This book, however, was pleasantly entertaining. I had figured out the "who" kinda early on, but the "how" was so much more interesting than I thought. 

The book is a little dark. With so many deaths in so little time, what can you expect? You also get to see the darker side of the comedy show biz life. Despite there being so many comedians, there was quite a bit of drama and very few redeemable traits. And while there was a lot of death, it wasn't as gruesome as it could have been. Though you do get a fair amount of clever and funny dialogue. Heck, I was actually rooting for a couple of the comedians to survive because they were good at what they did and were smart about trying to survive. 

The ingenuity of the killer, however, that was the major selling point of this book. Sure their reasons for doing everything made me think of them as a whiny, overly sensitive, insane person. But I gotta give it to them, they really knew what they were doing. They had everything planned to precision. It was wonderful to get an intelligent villain. 

Despite not liking murder mysteries in general, I really enjoyed reading Ten Dead Comedians. It is intelligent and funny with just the right amount of dark humor. 4 hoots!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

RunLoveKill Vol. 1 | Jon Tsuei, Eric Canete and Leonardo Olea | Mini-Review



Summary:

Rain has been on the run for a couple of years now from an organization called Origami. She has to run again because soon construction of the walls around her current city, Prygat, will be finished and she'll be trapped. 

Review:

For such a small book, RunLoveKill has a lot to offer. This was one of only a few graphic novels that where I found myself studying some of the tiniest details in the panels. This world is incredibly intriguing to me. Despite there being completely sentient and sassy robots, the technology of this world screams biotech to me and I would LOVE the opportunity to learn more about it. I totally agree with the Mature rating on this one. There is a lot of violence and blood. But if you're interested in a lot of action, a runaway from a military style organization and science fiction technology, I highly recommend this book. I really wish there was more to this series. There are so many places this world could have gone! 4.5 hoots!


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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sungrazer | Jay Posey

*Book received from NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Lincoln Suh leads one of the most secret special forces teams. They get called in to investigate the disappearance of an even more secret government weapon named Sungrazer. Their investigation takes them to Mars where every move they make could either get them killed, start a war between the two planets, or both.

Review:

I don't have the best of luck with "standalone sequels". I often feel like I really needed to read the previous book(s). Sungrazer, however, is one of those wonderful books where, had I not been told it was a sequel, I wouldn't have guessed until at least a third of the way into the book. Definite kudos to Posey for writing this book so that, not only could I easily get into this world, but would also make me want to read the first one. 

Let me tell you, this was a really good read! I loved the characters. I loved the dialogue. I loved the world it took place in. I want to know more about these people and their world. I want there to be a next book just as much as I want to go back and read the first one. This book was incredibly easily to get into and at no point did I feel a disconnect for not having read the first one.

The characters in Sungrazer are all so interesting and dynamic. There were one or two tropes, but overall their interactions felt so natural and real. Doesn't hurt that one of the characters reminded me so much of my husband. Seriously, look for the mischievous one. At the very least, he will make you chuckle. And Elliot's intelligence and ability to think on his feet, without resorting to using a gun, was a phenomenal breath of fresh air. I love it when characters can outsmart their opponents without resorting to force. 

And then there's the technology! The armor that Lincoln's team wears for most of the book fascinates me. Their "drones", their weaponry, their simulators, this is why I read sci-fi books. The technology is so amazing and I want to learn more about it and its applications. 

Overall, I really liked this book and happily give it 4.5 hoots! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go see about buying the first book.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Jam | Yahtzee Croshaw


Summary:

In Brisbane, Australia, Travis and one of his flatmates, Henry, start to head out of the apartment. As soon as they open the building door, however, Henry gets eaten by a flood of jam. Not covered in jam, literally dissolved into it. The week goes downhill from there. Travis, his other flatmate Tim, the and their neighbors Don and Angela, are faced with an apocalypse. Then they're faced with the other survivors, broken into two camps: the ironic Plastic People and the cubicle workers from Hibatsu. 

Review:

There were a lot of enjoyable elements to this book. An amiable main character. Realistic, and therefore hilarious, dialogue and character actions. A goliath birdeater spider. What's not to enjoy? 

Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me. I'm used to Croshaw giving a different but better ending than the one I think I want, but in this case, the ending was disappointing. I get that, in apocalyptic situations people are going to break in different ways, but I did not like Tim's break. I was genuinely disappointed by that development. I also wasn't a fan of the Plastic People and their constant need to be ironic without fully comprehending what that meant. Then again, that could be a testament to Croshaw's writing that he made them so easy to dislike. 

I did get a number of laughs throughout the book. I found it absolutely hilarious that a character who said he had no fear doing something immediately responded to the situation with "OH JESUS MONSTER TRUCK DRIVING CHRIST THIS WAS A TERRIBLE IDEAAAAAAAAAAA". I also appreciated the references to Mogworld, Croshaw's previous book. Even Travis not being the brightest bulb in the box was kinda funny (though that did get old after a while). 

Overall it's an okay book. It had a lot of good moments, but it ended up leaving me feeling like there could've been more. Maybe it's just me. I still give 3 hoots for all the laughs.

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