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


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Golden Ratio | Gary Meisner | Mini-Review

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

Review:

A lot of this book had me feeling like I really didn't understand math or art. Meisner does a wonderful job at the beginning of explaining what the golden ratio is, what makes it so special, and what its history is. But the application of it to the artwork was less than clear to me. A lot of times it really felt like the software he designed to find golden ratios in artwork was just finding coincidence rather than purposeful use. Some of it, like the use of a canvas sized to match the golden ratio, does apply. Others it felt pretty forced. That being said, I do give Meisner full credit for including a section on the controversy of the golden ratio and how some people argue that it doesn't exist or doesn't have as much influence as others claim, etc. Overall, it was a good beginner's book for those interested in the golden ratio. 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoo

Saturday, October 27, 2018

City of the Shrieking Tomb | Patrick Rogers

*Free copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Rick is a photographer who's wandered the world photographing the most beautiful mosques in the world. He's in some of the more remote parts of India trying to get to Bidar to see their mosques. Unfortunately the engine of the bus he's on literally falls out and he's stuck in the town of Humayunpur, which he's never heard of before and has little contact with the outside world. While he's there, he's warned not to go near the tomb, don't even photograph it. A demon lives there and killed the village's imam who thought himself stronger than the demon. Rick's curiosity and skepticism get the better of him and he ends up staying longer than anyone in the village thinks he should.


Review:

This book scared me. I read it late at night with mood music and definitely wasn't going to sleep any time soon. Rogers does a great job of setting up the environment and describing the world. I could visualize everything that was going on and was easily spooked as a result. The vivid nightmares, the haunting noises that woke the entire town, the blood filled stories about the tomb's history. All were really well done.

It was also one of those books that energized me because I kept wanting to reach into the book and smack some sense into the main character. He's seen the scary stuff with his own eyes! He's heard it with his own ears! And yet, he's still driven to photograph the forbidden stuff and stay in the village. He even asks "but does that mean I should leave?" YES! I get that this revolutionizes his work and interest in preserving the masques, but still.

The ending of the book, though, I found really appropriate. I'm really trying not to spoil anything here, but it was one of those "what did you expect?!" kind of endings. In some ways it was heart-breaking, I feel really bad for Rick's friend, Awaz. In other ways it was pretty predictable, if still disturbing.

Really the only thing that didn't quite fit into the book for me was Rick's encounter with Rocket Rajan. He gives a lot of needed exposition but feels so very out of place. His sudden appearance and disappearance don't help and part of me wonders if he was actually a heat induced mirage with a spirit guiding it to give Rick information.

I'll admit, I'm sensitive to the spooky stuff so this probably won't scare those who are well-versed in the horror genre. But I really did enjoy the very different setting, the mystery over gore approach, and the mythology. It was well written and certainly an entertaining read. 4 hoots!


Hoot!Hoot!

Hoot!Hoot!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Child of Virtue | Hristo Goshev | Mini-Review

*This short story is freely available online and was reviewed at the request of the author.

Review:

This story takes place as humanity is trying to survive in hiding from a superior alien race. The humans have been found and must fight off the enemy forces long enough for their ship to prep for a jump to safety. The story is told from the perspective of Shinji Amagiri as he is focusing on fixing up their wounded and trying desperately not to worry about his pregnant wife, one of their best fighters. Goshev is very good with the short story format. He gets straight to the point while still giving you the world setting. This particular story did have some stuff not for the queasy, but there wasn't much. It was really more a story of surviving, finding reason to survive and persevering. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to more from Goshev. 4.5 Hoots!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoo

Friday, October 19, 2018

Monster Mash | Read-A-Thon Mini Challenge


I absolutely love giant monsters and mythical creatures. Whether it's the fantastical manticore or the gigantic kaiju, there's just something about them that makes me giddy. Seriously, nothing gets me more charged up than really good monster fight. You should've seen my reaction to "Rampage"!


But the geek in me will always wonder, which creature would actually win? Manticore vs. Griffin? Kaiju vs. King Kong? Fairy vs. Nymph? Puck vs. Kitsune? It gets you thinking about the ins and outs of what these creatures are fully capable of. 



So now I pose the question to you: What creatures would you like to read about going head-to-head and how do you think it would turn out? Bonus points for introducing me to new creatures!

Whoever's answer I would most like to read in a book will win a $5 Amazon gift card. Please make sure you leave some way for me to get a hold of you!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Libriomancer | Jim C. Hines


Summary:

Isaac used to be a field agent for the Libriomancers, magicians who can access magic to pull items (or creatures) out of books and make them real. After a mission gone very, very wrong, he's been relegated to a cataloger, a Libriomancer not allowed to use magic and is charged with identifying books with potentially catastrophic items to be added to the "locked up" list. Then he gets attacked by three vampires claiming the Libriomancers have started a war with their kind. He only survives with the helpful, if unexpected, arrival of Lena, a dryad who was created when someone accidentally pulled a magic acorn out of a book. Together they begin the search for the cause of all of this while trying to stay alive against monsters, known and unknown. 


Review:

This book really helped me snap out of a long-running reading slump. It had a wonderful blend of humor, action and magic. Isaac talking about how he discovered Libriomancy because of the magic he felt when he read books really helped to remind me of why I love reading. This book really captures the joy one gets when they're caught up in a book and it really helped me to get caught up in it. The fact that so much of it takes place in Michigan and I'm a native Michigander didn't hurt, either. Nor the fact that Isaac is a huge Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek. 

I've always loved books where the main character is a librarian and Libriomancer is no exception. When he put his librarian skills to use to find a name no one else could, I was cheering. 

I couldn't count the number of times I had helped patrons track down ancestors on genealogy sites or locate long-lost classmates, and I had found books with far less information than a character's name. I was a pretty good libriomancer, but I was a damn good librarian.

Hines does a wonderful job of making even the most fantastical characters feel real. Smudge, Isaac's fire-spider companion, was full of life and his own forms of fun. He couldn't talk, but he could clearly let you know when he was not happy. I'm not sure how many soot stains Isaac has on his clothes, but I'm guessing he has a lot of extras. And, I'm not gonna lie, I've never been comfortable with the combination of spiders and fire since the movie Arachnophobia, but Smudge was one of my favorite characters in this. Though I'll never know why he enjoys watching SpongeBob so much.

Add this to the fact that Hines balances the action, drama and scary parts with a strong, yet not overwhelming sense of humor, and you've got a winner. I'll never forget laughing out loud at a very dramatic moment when Isaac gets hurt and he thinks:

There was less pain than I would've expected but —
Oh, wait, there was the pain.
This book was quite the treasure and I do plan on reading the rest of the series. I had a fun adventure full of thrills, twists, and scares but also laughs, adorableness and rampant geekery. This book helped me remember the magic of reading and I am so grateful. I happily give 4.5 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoot!Hoot!

Hoo