Saturday, September 14, 2019

10 Women Who Changed Science and the World | Catherine Whitlock & Rhodri Evans | Mini-Review

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

Review:

This book is an engaging collection of mini-biographies of 10 women who made significant contributions to science. Not only does it talk about them, it also gives a lot of context for their work and situations. This means we also get a lot of information about the world at the time as well as the science they were doing and how it fits into our understanding of science today. I genuinely appreciate how deeply these mini-biographies went into the science. Most of the stories are pretty well balanced between the history, biography and scientific information. Henrietta Leavitt's section focused mainly on the works of others but a lot of that could be because there was so little information about her available. It's a good collection overall, definitely of interest to those who are interested in the actual science that these women did. 4 hoots!
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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Zed | Joanna Kavenna | Mini-Review

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

Review:
 
This book was promoted as a sci-fi dystopian where everyone's lives are dictated by algorithms, with a strong philosophical and dark comedy bent. I'll be honest, I get why it's listed as science fiction, but it's really more of a drama than anything. I will give Kavenna full credit, this is the first time I've read a book about a dystopian society falling apart from the perspective of those running the dystopia. That was a very nice change of pace and I greatly appreciated that. A lot of the book focuses on the philosophy/ethics of monopolies. Things like people can always choose to not opt into the algorithms. Of course, if they don't, they'll never get into college, will never get employed anywhere and will have to live in squalor, but it's still their choice. The fact that dissenters get drowned out or have some minor criminal activity brought to light is purely coincidence. And, honestly, to me that covers about 80% of the book. It was an okay read, a nice little stretch into the philosophical and, at times, the absurd. 3.5 hoots!


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Differently Morphous | Yahtzee Crowshaw | Audiobook



Summary:

Alison has just had her heart broken. She's been told she doesn't have a magical ability and was admitted to the magic school by mistake. The reason for the mistake is that she has an eidetic memory and her perfect standardized test scores indicated a magical ability. Instead of sending her home she's brought in to work for the Ministry of Magic, specifically as an assistant the...unique character of Diablerie. Soon after she joins, a magical serial killer is on the loose and she must discover, is Diablerie the villain or just a madman?

Review:

I read the ebook version of this before I bought the audiobook. Since then, I've listened to the audiobook the full way through at least twice. That's how hilarious and well written the book is. I also love Croshaw's narration and his ability for voices is amazing. I'm very glad to have listened to the audio because otherwise I never would've known how to pronounce a lot of the character names.

This is a very well written story with interesting characters. Each person has their own take on the "political correctness storm" that comes in when the Fluidics enter our dimension seeking asylum. From the "social justice warriors" to the "Shoggoths are dangerous" the entire spectrum is well represented. And as much flack as Dr. Pavani gets for thinking that people possessed by the Ancients should be referred to as "Dual Consciousness" I give her full credit for putting her all into what she does. She never backs down and even confronts a lot of fears that those around her do not. At the same time, I love the character of Mike Badger, a former freelance bounty hunter for the Ministry who regularly killed Fluidics. He honestly goes with the flow pretty well and, when he learns that Shoggoths are sentient and protected creatures, he finds other things to do to earn money. You get quite a range here and I love how these characters play off of each other. A lot of them are, essentially, good people who just want to do their best. Some just play better by the rules while others break/create the rules.

The Fluidics/Shoggoths are absolutely adorable. Croshaw plays the reaction to them just right. Because they are so utterly inhuman and talk with a cute lisp ("We would wike to wequest asywum") humanity utterly adores them and goes out of their way to chastise any who would endanger them. Meanwhile, the possessed humans get a lot less sympathy because they are so very human in appearance. The "YouTube video comments" sections of the book are so spot on. From the public feeling that Dual-Consciousness are spoiled kids to people who "identify as Fluidic-kin". You get a lot of almost too real reactions.

The murder mystery itself is a delight! It's another case of Croshaw leaving all the clues there for you to see but you (or at least I) don't notice them or put them together quite right until the reveal. There were no gaps or leaps in the conclusion. There were no "what did I miss?" moments. It's all right there but Croshaw's story is so engaging, you don't notice the little things so easily. So when the killer is revealed, you are surprised in a good way and never feel cheated.

I absolutely loved this book. I've read/listened to it many times now and it still makes me laugh. Some of the humor is a bit dry, but holy wah, the story and characters are so engaging. I'm really hoping Croshaw writes a sequel to this one, he left more than enough to go on. I happily give 5 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy.

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Imaginary Corpse | Tyler Hayes

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

Summary:
 
Detective Tippy is a Friend in the StillReal. That means he's an Idea, created by a real Person, that was loved enough to become Real himself, but then was rejected by his Person. Every Friend and Idea in the StillReal has their own reasons for being there. Some were TV show ideas that never got green-lighted. Some were forcibly rejected by their Person because they became connected with bad memories. It happens. But there's one Friend the citizens of the StillReal can turn to when they need help and that's the triceratops detective himself, Detective Tippy. What started as a simple case of a lost nightmare Friend needing a home becomes the most dangerous, taxing, world-breaking case of Tippy's career and could mean the end of the StillReal.
Review:
 
This book ran me through the full gamut of emotions. For a while I thought it might be like "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" but for adults. Nope. Don't get me wrong, it's not for kids, but it's also not NSFW levels of "for adults". Hayes does an incredible job of blending all the different levels of depth that go into the Ideas and making it possible for the reader to seamlessly go from Playtime Land to Big Business without any real disorientation. Probably because Tippy, the narrator, is so used to this stuff by now and does a wonderful job of describing the process.
 
You still get a lot of stuff that's just flat out adorable. Tippy's drink of choice is root beer because his Person, who watched all the detective shows as a kid, thought that's what beer was. And Tippy's favorite way to relax? Going for a spin in the dryer! And the Friends that were created by kids have a lot of kid-like qualities. Even a nightmare like Spindleman talks like a little kid and it's freaking cute as heck! But it's also that reasoning and mentality that can really pull at your heartstrings. And Hayes does not hold back. 
 
There were times when I was in tears because, yes, this isn't a book for kids. The primary villain of the story is so monstrous and able to break so many rules of the StillReal, (and I gotta be careful here because I don't want to give any spoilers) because he is based on a real world monster. He's faster, stronger and more dangerous than any Friend has ever thought possible. He's genuinely very, very scary! Especially when you get glimpses into what he is in the real world. It's heartbreaking. 
 
I felt everything a book could ever put me through. Fear, laughter, horror, intrigue, anxiety, relief, and then-some. This book was such a full experience.  I've been out of blogging for a couple of months now because I just couldn't really bring myself to write more. Then I read this book and I HAVE to share it with the world. I HAVE to spread the word about this book. The world, the characters, the emotions, the storytelling, it's all so engaging and amazing. This book is worth 5 hoots and all the love. I'm looking forward to more from Hayes.
 
 
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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Ash Kickers | Sean Grigsby

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

Summary:
In this sequel to Smoke Eaters, Tamerica Williams is bored with how things have changed. Instead of slaying dragons, the Smoke Eaters are just capturing them so their blood can be used as medicine. Unfortunately, her wish for "action" gets granted and she learns to be careful what you wish for. Now Tamerica has to deal with a never-before-seen phoenix that burns hotter than any dragon. Not to mention the legal trouble and civil unrest that she now has to incorporate into her daily WTF List.

Review:

I was a beta reader for this book so I was very curious to see what changes, if any had been made. I can't tell you what changed from that read to this one, but I can say, both readings put me through the emotional wringer, and I mean that in the best possible way. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book, especially after the second reading.

Though this is a sequel, I don't think you have to have read the first one to understand what's going on. It would certainly help, but this book almost feels like a world of its own. Almost all of the main characters we meet are ones from the last book so it would explain some of the relationships and stories.

My favorite part about this book is that we get to see so many new types of dragons and hear about so many more. Grigsby gets really creative with his dragons and their abilities. They range in size from a few feet to two-stories tall and everything in between. They range in their elements as well. We get to see an ice, water, fire, acid, flammable oil and more. Each one presents their own challenges and I loved finding out there's so many types!

Grigsby also does a nice job of incorporating contemporary concerns into this book set in the future. Since the dragonblood curate, Pantheon City's been getting an influx of people hoping for access to it for themselves and their families. Rather than embrace these fellow Americans, fellow humans, the PC First people decide to call them "rats" and demand they be removed from the city. They are very easy to hate and Grigsby does a wonderful job of making sure they are unsympathetic in every way and that every character we like knows that PC First are Nazi wannabes.

Then there's Tamerica (T), herself. She is an amazing character who goes through so much in such a short amount of time. She not only goes through the sudden responsibility of managing her own team, but she also has to take care of parents. On top of that, she endures the emotional pain of Survivor's Guilt while also enduring repeated physical pains of literally being burned by the hottest fire she's ever experienced. I was actually grateful when we got to see her break down once in a while because it really helped to empathize with her. She is human, an incredibly strong human, and Grigsby writes her as such.

This book was an incredible read into an ever expanding world. This series has been a wonderful adventure full of endearing characters that you want to see win the day. I happily give 5 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy!

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Radioactive Evolution | Richard Hummel

*Image and book provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Jared is a wanderer in the wastelands and, while not desperate for survival, he ain't living as easily as the rich people in the Floating Cities, high above the fallout. This changes when he finds an honest-to-god dragon and bonds with its baby. In bonding with the dragon, Scarlet, he uncovers a long lost plot from the cities, furthering the divide between those in the clouds and those on the ground. Between Scarlet's growing size and abilities and Jared's newfound powers, they have the means to bring justice for the long-lost dragon races as well as the civilians on the ground.

Review:

This was certainly an entertaining read. There was a lot of adventure, a lot of quick-thinking as well as strategy fights. There is a nice blend of action, comedy and even horror, and I'm not talking about the number to times Jared had to find new clothes because his were covered in giant rat guts.

If you're a fan of gaming, you'd probably enjoy several aspects of this book. If you're a Fallout fan, you'll definitely get some fun with this, as well as some of the horror. It gives some actual mechanics to a character's level-up and not needing to eat. It was actually pretty clever how Hummel set that up.

Unfortunately the editing appears incomplete. The telepathic conversations between Scarlet and Jared are identified with her voice in bold and his voice in italics. Throughout the book, or at least my copy of it, there were a lot of mishaps with this. The pacing of the book felt a little disjointed, but that could be Jared's need to sleep through his "power ups". The video game references and comparisons, while occasionally fun, did end up making it feel less genuine.

So, if you're a gamer looking for a foray into books or know of a gamer who's interested in trying some science fiction, this wouldn't be a bad book to start them out with. As for me, it was a nice book but I probably won't be picking up the sequel. 3 hoots!


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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Immortal | Nick Lloyd

*Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

The aliens have come, and they weren't subtle about it. Worldwide, every telecommunications device displays the same message: We are 'Aliens' You must obey us in full to survive A Gamma Ray Burst will arrive in 164 Earth days. Humans have no way of verifying the danger or the intent, but they can verify the signal is somewhere past Neptune. The next several months are spent following instructions from the aliens, while still trying to determine their true motives. 


Review:

This book hit on a lot of my own personal worries and unreasonable phobias. We get to read about the risks of trading your personal data for free services, even if some of them are life-saving. And we get visited by aliens who are far superior to us in terms of technological capabilities. Yeah, this one hit a few of my fear sectors. 

 Almost the entire time I was secretly hoping it would end up being an elaborate hoax led by the characters MacDonald (an billionaire with a strong survival instinct) and his right-hand man, Charlie (a programmer who created code that makes NPCs in games capable of independent thought). Not much of a spoiler but, no, the aliens are real. Very real. And they've stationed hundreds of A-Gravs (think Space Storage Container) design to help humanity accomplish the goals of saving Earth.

Then we get the stories of Tim and Sam who developed a program called MIDAS that is capable of disseminating, analyzing and correlating data, in this case, personal data, right down to their DNA. Because she had been a victim of identity theft after her disabling car accident, Sam is very strict about making sure the data is anonymized (even if she never thinks it'll be enough). She even makes sure to set flags in place in case that anonymization is compromised. At the same time, they need to balance this out with MacDonald's demands. Tim keeps pushing Sam to 'play nice' so they can get paid the big bucks. She knows he wants that payout so she can get a surgery to give her back full control of her legs, but she's not willing to risk others going through what she did with the identity theft. It makes for a very interesting back-and-forth. 

I absolutely loved Sam, and not just because she's a gamer girl and we get to see advances in gaming. In this world, virtual headsets are commonplace, and NPCs are way more advanced (I love Skyrim NPCs, but dang they're dumb!). Sam and her team, called "Bruised and Broken Bitches" because they're an all female, all wheelchair bound team, are highly competitive in tournaments. They're even a top tier team. She also gets to show us about the ways disabled people are treated. Some see her in a wheelchair and immediately look for a leg cast, others treat her only with pity, others argue that if she's able to get around on crutches (even if for just a short time) she's not really disabled. And that, coupled with Sam's "screw you, I've got this" mentality makes her, in my opinion, the strongest character in this book. And that's even compared to Colonel Martel who is not someone to screw around with. 

To make things even more interesting and realistic, Lloyd gives us the multiple attitudes towards the aliens that we would expect. There are the people who believe that their arrival heralds a new religious movement. There are people who immediately think that the aliens are there to destroy everyone. He even breaks down the middle group into cautious pessimists and cautious optimists. It really helped to make everything feel more real. 

This book was a very nice read. A very human story in a book about alien arrival. I happily give 4 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy!

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