Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fool if You Think It's Over | Jo Thomas



Summary:

Elkie seems to have everything she's been wanting. She got Ben out of the Institute and Dave locked in. She got the girls to a safe place with their father. She's even been getting along better with her mother. Unfortunately, other people's plans for her keep getting in the way. Roar, the head of the Valemon company, believes her to be sent from Odin to answer his prayers. Ben and the Greywolves believe her to be an obstacle to their happiness. David believes her to be a traitor to her species and their friendship. Yeah, she's gonna have a rough time.

Review:

I'm not gonna lie, this book gave me a serious emotional hangover. I couldn't pick up another book for a long time because of how this one ended. And I mean that in a good way.

When we got introduced to Roar and his beliefs about the magic provided by faith in the old Norse gods, I was worried that this world was going to go over the top with the fantastical elements. Fortunately, this does not happen. Yes, we get a lot more magic, but it is world developing instead of world changing, if that makes sense. Because we only get Elkie's perspective, and she is more of a skeptic, we get a more controlled inclusion of these elements.

What surprised me was Elkie's strong return to violence. Yes, self-defense was the primary reason, but with the new elements of the world it ended up taking a bit more of a sinister turn. Fortunately Elkie is still the kind of person who doesn't forget she is human and she is affected by this as much as I was, if not more. She's not a mindless killing machine. She's a human who's reaching her breaking point. It ended up making me feel even more sorry for her.

While this wasn't as humorous as the previous books, I still found it to be a fitting end to the trilogy. The kind of ending that makes you realize just how much you enjoyed having a character in your life and how much you wanted to keep reading about them. This trilogy as a whole was a wonderful adventure and a testament to one's ability to find contentment with their lot and the strength to keep moving. I am so glad to have read this trilogy and this book helped me realize that even more. 5 hoots.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Genius Jokes | Frank Flannery | Mini-Review

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

Review:

Good news! I'm evidence that you don't actually have to be a genius to enjoy these jokes. Some of them were a bit on the dryer side of funny. Others literally made me laugh out loud. The topics cover science, history, politics, and more. My favorite part, I actually learned things! The explanations of the jokes in this book are well written and concise. They are clearly meant to educate without being boring and they succeed. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for anyone who wants some fun filled, quick learning. 4 hoots!

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Pack of Lies | Jo Thomas


Summary:
Elkie Bernstein is having werewolf problems of a different kind. The kind that involves long-term strategy and paperwork, neither of which she's very good at. She needs to get Ben (and maybe David) out of the Institute and away from Olsen who seeks to use Ben to find more werewolves. She needs to keep her farm going after her partnership with the Williams' family dissolves. Most importantly, she needs to protect a couple of young were-pups from the hands of those that would use them.

Review:

This book does pretty much everything that I want a sequel to do: it expands upon the world of the original in a way that makes sense. In the first book we were pretty much as "stuck" as Elkie in the middle of nowhere in Wales and we didn't get any sense of werewolves being known in the world. In this book, not only do we get to see a sliver of Norway, but we also get to see a werewolf pack. Well, we get to see that such things exist. In all honesty, I'm glad we still get to focus on Elkie and her struggles as opposed to side trips to the perspectives of others. 

Elkie remains one of my favorite female protagonists. She is very down-to-earth, self-aware, and kind hearted. I love that she openly admits to being a bad chess player and how that translates to her real life (I often have very similar frustrations). I love the fact that, even with everything stacked against her, she focuses on finding ways to make it work. She gets anxiety and I think some depression, but she keeps moving. I love that in a main character. She reads like a very well rounded character who is making the most of what she's been given in life and is finding contentment in it. Well, she would be if others would give her the chance to actually be content, but that's the cost of being a protagonist. 

While the book doesn't have more characters than the last one, the characters that are in this one last a lot longer so it feels like there are more, in a good way. Thomas does a wonderful job of keeping them well balanced. I'll admit, May's character wasn't as well played out as the others, but maybe that's the idea and she'll play a bigger role in the third book (which I'll be looking to get my hands on). I also liked that, while there are little kid characters, it rarely, if ever, reads like the little kid tropes. They're were-puppies who have distinct personalities and are learning to love books. What's not to love?

As the summary suggests, there wasn't nearly as much action in this book as there was in the first. There are still some werewolf fights, but the vast majority of the book is more strategy and positioning than actual fighting. Which makes sense. Elkie doesn't enjoy killing werewolves and only ever does out of self-defense. In this book there are few situations where she finds herself in need of defense. I can't say that there's more drama than I usually like because, well, Elike's personality and Thomas' sense of humor really keep it from feeling that way. That's quite the feat considering we get a lot of Elkie and her mom talking about Elkie's long lost dad and family issues. 

In case you can't tell, I enjoyed this book. Elkie is a wonderful, relatable character whose independence (stubbornness) and enjoyment of the simple things in life (hazelnut spread) make for an engaging read. In fact, I've already purchased the third book. This world, these characters, are very interesting to me and I'm loving finding out more about them all. 4.5 hoots!

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Hoo

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Atomic Aardvark | Ryan Guy | Mini-Review


Review:

Sometimes you want a book that will take you through the full gamut of emotions. Other times you want a story about animals given hyper intelligence and abilities from the residue of a chemical company, the strike of a meteor and a flash of lightning, under the light of a full moon. Holy wah does this book deliver on that! I had so much fun reading this book that I was on the edge of my seat in the last few chapters and I am really hoping for a sequel someday. Aardy the Aardvark and Surly Skunk getting their understanding of humans from such different angles was delightful. The fact that Surly adopted his understanding of language from the classics made him all the more fun to read, and he truly made for a wonderful "villain". Marissa and Conley were actually pretty enjoyable to read despite being humans. They actually did a really good job of keeping the story going and glued together. If you're in the market for a relatively quick and definitely silly yet interesting read, I highly recommend Atomic Aardvark. I really hope we get a sequel! 5 hoots!

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Villains Rule | M. K. Gibson


Summary:

Jackson Blackwell has worked long and hard to become famed Shadow Master, villain of villains. He is the most villainous of all not because he is cruel and crushes peasants under his boot. Rather he travels through dimensions, profiting off of other villains. He's made quite the name and career for himself. So when he is betrayed and left with minimal power in a fantasy realm, it catches him a bit off guard. Now he must (shudder) gather the heroes of the realm and get his power back.

Review:

I had so much fun reading this book. I cannot tell you the number of times I almost laughed out loud. More than that, though, because Jackson is a top tier villain, he is incredibly intelligent and intriguing to read of. We are fortunate to get to read the book from his perspective and, I have to say, he makes for a great narrator. Especially in his more human moments. That being said, he is still a villain who knows the angles to play for the most profit for himself. Several of his actions I wouldn't have agreed with, but he has no scruples about using them himself. After all, a true great villain knows how to abuse the rules to their fullest extent.

Another benefit of reading all of this from Jackson's perspective is, when he never sees something coming, neither do we. This book genuinely kept me surprised and intrigued. Because Jackson is such an intelligent character he picked up on a lot of stuff other characters wouldn't. This led me to not question his assumptions the more I read. So when he was caught off guard it was genuine and exciting. 

The rest of the cast of characters is delightfully well rounded. Jackson finds heroes who have their own "sins" from their pasts. Except for Carina. Her only "crime" was being a female half-breed in a group of elite, and elitist, male warriors. Everyone else Jackson is able to discern some sin or bad deed. He actually spoke out against the entire Elven race as the xenophobic, technophobic, stifling creatures they are. Then again, there are characters like Lydia that don't bother to hide who they are. I never would've thought she'd be into using knives for bondage play.

Also, fair warning for any fantasy fans who read this, be prepared to have the genre made fun of. A lot. Several of Jackson's comments revolve around the wish for air condition or even basic indoor plumbing. 

Really my only complaint about this book is the number of grammatical errors. I counted seven, though I know that doesn't cover all of them. And this may not seem like a lot, but when you read something like "I felt bone piece my heart" it's gonna throw you out of the book a bit.

That being said, I still loved this book. I'm actually planning on listening to the audio sample and, if I like it, buying that to listen to at work. I rarely buy audio-books, so that should tell you something about how much I enjoyed this story. I happily give 4.5 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Catching Stardust | Natalie Starkey | Mini-Review

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

Review:

Starkey takes us on a complete tour of all things comet and asteroid. From their chemical makeup and physical appearance to their probable roles in our past and future. There are chapters dedicated to the mining of asteroids, protecting Earth from asteroids, and missions from space stations around the world landing on comets and collecting their dust for study. I now know so much more about comets and asteroids than I did. I even got a bit of a chemistry and geology refresher. It was definitely written at a level for casual readers and I greatly appreciate that. This is definitely a good book for any amateur astronomer or anyone wondering why comets and asteroids are so important. 3.5 hoots!

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Apocalypse Nyx | Kameron Hurley

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

Summary:

Nyx, the main character, is a former belle-dame, elite of the elites in war. After she got kicked out she turned to mercenary work, alcohol and sex. Her team learns quickly that she will sacrifice any and all of them to get the job done. Naturally, this doesn't lead to a happy life. Then again, in a world ravaged by war where all men and women are required at the front, only the super rich First Families can expect a happy life.

Review:

I had no idea, going into this book, that I was going to be reading a collection of short stories from an already established series. That being said, you don't need to have read the other books to enjoy this one.  

This is an incredibly interesting world. Because all native men are required to be on the front for several years while the women are only required there for two years, it makes sense that the majority of the characters are strong women. When there are men, more often than not they're foreigners not required to sign up for the draft. There is bug-based magic and technology which, honestly, makes sense given how many bugs there seem to be. And the logic of the world feels very consistent. 

Nyx is an incredibly kick-ass character, better at shooting than talking her way out, which is one of my favorite kind of protagonists. It's not that she has a heart of ice, rather she has a very calloused heart after all that she's had to see and endure. Her sniper, Anneke, is more of a wild kind of crazy, complete with a drug problem. Her magician, Rhys, is a Chenjan man who only puts up with Nyx because Chenjans don't have many options, but he maintains his religious devotions. Her tech, Taite, is a scrawny Ras Tiegan teenager. Her shifter, Khos, is a rather large Mhorian who is just about desperate for work. Together, they make for an entertaining team to read about.

Fair warning, this ain't a book for the faint of heart. It's a world where there is constant war, frequent sirens warning of bombardments, and bodies regrowing limbs just to be sent back to the front. And the way those limbs are regrown are somewhat stomach upsetting. This book has plenty of fun moments, but it is has a lot of darker ones. That last chapter ended on a heart-wrenching note. 

That being said, I'm still gonna look into the other books of the series. 4 hoots!

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