Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America | Matt Kracht | Mini-Review

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

Review:

This book was a laugh that I've been needing. There were times when I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. And, at the same time, it's genuinely informative! Kracht does a wonderful job of letting the humor and the facts shine through and it is a winning combination. There is a lot of strong language, so it's probably not a good book to share with your kids. However, if you or someone you know seems to have a vendetta against birds, this is a great book for them. If you're looking for a good place to start adding bird watching to your hobbies, this is a great book for that. It not only identifies common North American birds but Kracht also gives some genuinely good advice on starting your own bird watching journal, how to do bird watching in the different seasons, and even what kinds of bird feeders work best. I really enjoyed this book and am happy to give it four hoots!

              Hoot!Hoot!

              Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book of Ill Deeds | Phaedra Weldon


Summary:

Ginger Blackstone comes from a family of witches. She'd tried to do something else with her life, but ended up back home with her grandmother, Mama D, just in time for Mama D to be arrested on suspicion of murder. Over the next week or so, Ginger works to clear her grandmother and sister's names while trying to get a hold on the crush she has for the new doctor in town, and learning about this new black cat trying to become her familiar. 


Review:

This book was a lot of fun to read. It's got a lot of laughs. It's a short book so everything is straight to the point. Any and all history or world building is built into the plot. The reveal of who the murderer is isn't much of a surprise, but it was still a fun trip to follow.

I absolutely loved Ginger. She is a delightful main character whom I identified with on a few levels. I enjoyed the fact that she didn't have a full handle on her life but still knew how to be a competent adult. And Mama D! What a wonderful character to have in the mix! She is probably one of my favorite witch characters ever just because she is so good at what she does. David, the love interest, was a good guy, though his character presented a few more questions than answered. That being said, the chemistry between all the characters made for a fun read.

And let us not forget the familiars. Ginger starts out as a witch who's never had a familiar but through her initial interactions with Max and through Mama D's interactions with Bert, we learn a lot of what it is a familiar can do and does for their witch. And the importance of having a witch is something I've never thought of before but Max is very adamant about.

I think I may have to admit, I like Chick Lit. Specifically I seem to like Chick Lit with supernatural characters and a strong sense of humor. This is probably the third or fourth book I've read with the whole modern witch thing and I've enjoyed them all. So, yes. This is the book that gets me to admit, I like Chick Lit. As someone who regularly gives 5/5 ratings to books with giant robots and that are action heavy, hopefully that'll give you a good idea of how good this book is.

The world of Castle Falls is a very interesting one and, I'll admit, I'm interested in the other books in this series. As of writing this review the book itself is free on Kindle. The next book is $3 but I'm still very tempted. I happily give 4 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy.

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoot!Hoot!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Animal Lore and Legend | Ruth Binney | Mini-Review

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

Review:

This book had a lot of what I expected: Old Wive's Tales about animals, animal roles in mythology, how some beliefs about animals may have formed. I'll admit, I wasn't expecting the information on the mythological animals (though I should've guessed from the unicorn on the cover). I did learn several things from this book that I didn't know before. Unfortunately, it was kinda boring and was very Western Culture oriented. There were references to Japanese and Chinese mythology and an entire chapter dedicated to the Chinese Astrology, but they weren't very informative. The entire Chinese Astrology chapter was almost painfully basic. I got more from the Western Astrology chapter. Ultimately, it was an okay book but there's a lot of room for improvement.

               Hoot!Hoot!

                    Hoot!



Saturday, January 19, 2019

Batman: No Man's Land | Greg Rucka


Summary:

The novelization of the graphic novel story line by the same name, Batman: No Man's Land takes us through Gotham's fall and attempted survival. After a massive earthquake leaves Gotham in shambles, the United States Government decides Gotham isn't worth the many millions, if not billions, of dollars it would take to restore it. They officially cut off Gotham from all government aide and declare it No Man's Land. The only people left are those who are either forced to stay, due to economic situations, or who choose to stay for the sake of power, chaos or to try to help those left behind. But when Batman is a no show for three months, people begin to think he, too, has abandoned them.

Review:

I was introduced to this book because I expressed a love of novelizations of comic books (seriously, Hellboy novels are the best!!!) I am happy to say that this book did not disappoint. I'm not much of a DC fan, I'm more of a Dark Horse Comics person, but Batman is almost always the exception. And, in this case, I am happy to have made that exception and give this book a try. 

Because it's a Batman book, one shouldn't be surprised at how much death, blood, fighting, etc. there is. It isn't gory, by any means, but it's definitely not meant for a younger or particularly squeamish audience. Rucka does a wonderful job of keeping the darkness and grit of a true Batman story without going into extensive, unnecessary levels of detail. 

As someone who only occasionally reads Batman, there were a lot of characters I didn't know. That being said, I had no problems getting into the story. There were occasions when I wanted to look up characters, some of which I ended up remembering from the cartoon series, but for the most part, it's very easy to "get" the characters. You learn who they are through their interactions with others and when the story is told from their viewpoint. You don't have to be an avid Batman reader to enjoy the story or understand the characters' motivations. 

And there are a LOT of characters in this book. So many classic Batman villains, a character or two from another comic series (no spoilers beyond that), as well as the multiple iterations of Batgirl and Robin, and the Gotham City Police Department too. Because the novelization is based on an already written comic story, I'm not sure how much credit goes to Rucka for balancing the characters and how much goes to Jordan B. Gorfinkel, who wrote the original story. I may have to end up reading the comics to find out. As it is, though, we get several view points from several characters, but it never feels disjointed or convoluted.

I really did enjoy this book and was happy I picked it up. It's a dark and gritty tale that is fitting of a Batman story. If you're more of a fan of thrillers, this might be a good crossover book to get you interested in comics. If you're a comic fan, this might be a good book to get you interested in novels. Overall, I happily give 3.5 hoots.

              Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoo

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ghosts of Gotham | Craig Schaefer | Mini-Review

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


Review:

I've been trying to get some more Urban Fantasy or Urban Supernatural books into my reading. Ghosts of Gotham was a very nice step into an unfamiliar genre. It was a bloody step (lots of violence) but it was a good step as well. The overall story of a reporter trying to find real magic, and uncovering a lot of con artists along the way, as a way of finding out what really happened to him and his mother all those years ago is certainly entertaining and interesting. It was especially engaging to read Lionel's "conversion" from one reality to another, skepticism and all. The villain was clever and powerful. Maddie, Lionel's new teacher, was relatable (for someone as old as she is) and I loved how truly intelligent and innovative she was. Overall, this was an enjoyable read. The ending was predictable, but still a fitting one. I happily give 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoo

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Gates of the Dead | James A. Moore

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

Summary:

In this final installation of The Tides of War series, Brogan McTyre is ready to take on the gods. He has been granted the ability to physically touch them, meaning he can harm and kill them. Unfortunately, the journey to the land of the gods is long and treacherous. With what few allies he has, he must find his way there and face off against the many, many opponents in the way. The undying He-Kisshi, the army of Torema (or what's left of it), and so much more. 

Review:

When I finally get the time to sit down and reread this trilogy I am going to put on headphones and listen to heavy metal the whole time because I feel like that's the only thing that was missing. This book was a wonderful ending to the violent, no-holds-barred, sometimes stomach-churning trilogy that is The Tides of War. 

Moore has done a delightful job of keeping us informed about the fates of each character. Even some of the ones that I thought were more minor in the beginning ended up playing their role in the finale. Even the dead played their part! I was so happy about all of these story lines being completed, even if I wasn't always happy with how. 

I was also very intrigued by Myridia's story. Watching her relationship to her gods change throughout the trilogy has been an interesting read. The personal struggle she goes through between her faith and her will to survive as her gods prove themselves to be going crazy is delicately handled. The reactions her sisters have to her shakiness and her own realization of her doubts are well written. 

There are some "prerequisites" to reading this. You will need to have read the first two books. Additionally, it's not for anyone who gets squeamish easily. That being said, I don't know if I've been desensitized a bit or if Moore reduced the amount of blood and gruesomeness, but this last book didn't seem so bad. A lot of characters went through a lot of very descriptive pain, no question. But there just didn't seem to be quite as much in the torture aspect as the previous two books.

Of course, Moore's depiction of war is a very good read. He doesn't have the characters battle one enemy at a time. There's a swarm of enemies and the characters fight a swarm. It never feels like those scenes in a movie where a main character fights one enemy at a time. Stanna especially discusses the tactics involved in taking on a horde versus a single opponent. The fact that she's able to do both with her greatsword without having to sacrifice on dexterity is just incredible. 

This has been quite the trilogy. Gates of the Dead is a most fitting way to end it. I'm looking forward to rereading the trilogy with the appropriate background music and getting the full effect. I happily give 4.5 hoots!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoo

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Truth About Archie and Pye | Jonathan Pinnock

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

Summary:

In what seems like an unlikely series of coincidences, Tom has lost his job, his girlfriend, his flat and has become embroiled in a decade old murder mystery involving mathematicians and conspiracy theories. All in less than a week! When he decides to try to unravel the mystery he finds himself meeting old acquaintances, making new ones, learning mathematical concepts and trying to survive a deal with the Belarusian mafia. 


Review:

This book was so much fun to read! I'm not normally one for murder mysteries, they're just not my thing. But with a cast of likeable characters, a swirl of conspiracy theories, a lot of fun and several Gordion knot solutions, this book was a wonderful exception to the "no mysteries" rule.

Tom was immediately the kind of character you can relate to and empathize with. Even just his trying to get a quiet moment on the train and ultimately failing despite the multiple "quiet car" signs was all too familiar. You really get the sense of him as the underdog so it's very easy to cheer for him as he progresses through the story. And yes he does genuinely mess up a couple things (and maybe a few more) but the other characters are quick to call him out on it and he learns his lesson pretty quickly. 

As is the nature of conspiracy theories, they make so little sense from the outside. Pinnock does a wonderful job of making the intertwined theories more and more comprehensible as Tom delves deeper into them. It gets to the point where the even some of the most seemingly random things actually make perfect sense.

And if you're worried there's too much math involved, don't worry. Pinnock does a great job of explaining what math there is and keeping it as simple as possible. Seriously, the figuring out of Burgess' combination was equal parts educational, fun and absurd. I loved that entire scene.

If you're looking for a funny mystery novel, if you're the type of person who thought The DaVinci Code would've been good if it hadn't taken itself so seriously, this is a wonderful book for you to pick up. Pinnock's characters, circumstances and humor are definite winners. 4.5 hoots!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoo