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!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Iron Hearted Violet | Kelly Barnhill | Mini-Review


Summary:

Princes Violet is an only child, and not a pretty one at that. Rather she is incredibly intelligent and strong-willed and, as a result, well loved by her family and her people. Unfortunately there is an evil in the castle that plans on using her to get free by using the stories she loves so much against her. When her father leaves her and her mother behind to capture the last known dragon, everything goes downhill quickly and Princess Violet listens to the darkness' advice.

Review:

This is a middle-grade book that I picked up from a used-book store. It's definitely a book that I wish I'd had when I was younger. It's got plenty of tropes in it, yes, but I still found it quite enjoyable. I loved the fact that the evil talked to people through mirrors and played on their vanity and insecurities. I enjoyed the fact that the gods themselves admitted that they weren't perfect. Most importantly, though, I loved the fact that when Violet gets turned into what she considers the physical embodiment of "a true princess" she realizes how physically impossible it is to do anything! Floor length hair is incredibly heavy. Tiny feet make it difficult to balance. Dainty figures get tired out easily. The book continuously affirms that a true princess doesn't have to be beautiful of figure, but beautiful of heart and I commend it for that. Like I said, I wish I'd had this when I was a kid. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Old Man's War | Jon Scalzi


Summary:

John Perry is 75 years old, a widower with only an okay relationship with his only son, when he decides to join the Colonial Defense Force and fight to protect Earth's colonies from alien races. CDF is only interested in people his age, people with decades of experience in life. By the time he gets to boot camp, his entire world view has changed. Now he fights every day to save his life and the lives of his squad mates.

Review:

This book definitely wasn't what I expected. I was told I'd have a lot of laughs, and I did, but I didn't think I'd have so many other powerful emotions. This book didn't just make me laugh, it scared me, it mad me sad, it made me think, it made me wonder. This book was an experience that I was glad to have.

Because our main character is 75 when the book starts, we don't have to put up with a painfully naive, idiotic character. Don't get me wrong, he is naive when it comes to the alien menace he's going to go up against, but he's not naive enough to think of himself as invulnerable, unlike some of the other new soldiers. I did love the fact that all the new soldiers went completely nuts when they got their new bodies, but only one person was dumb enough to think they could fly. That's the kind of common sense that I like in my characters.

As well as Perry's sense of common decency. There were some diplomatic missions where he could've gone against orders and made a scene, but he knew it wouldn't be in everyone's best interests to do so. As much fun as it is to read characters who speak their minds, it's so much better when they have the wisdom to know when to keep their mouths shut. He didn't do so well with his first conscious encounter with the Ghost Brigades, but that was actually story essential.

And Perry isn't the only good character to read, either. Every member of Perry's initial group were so ingratiating that, at the reports of some of their deaths, I was genuinely saddened. It makes sense that not everyone would make it through, this is an interstellar war. But they were written so well and with so much gravitas that each loss was really felt. I was invested in the well-being of almost every character (the former politician, not so much).

Some of the scenes were kinda gruesome, but this is war. Fortunately there were only one or two scenes that went into full, gross detail. Those were usually scenes meant to instill fear in the new cadets or to let the reader know the extent of Perry's injuries. But it's these scenes that make the lighter moments all the lighter, more jovial moments more important and impactful. 

I can definitely see why this book has gotten so many accolades. They are truly well deserved and I will be picking up the next book. 4.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                   Hoo

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Discovery of the Saiph | P. P. Corcoran


Summary:

In the near future humans develop the technology to "fold" space in such a way that they can travel multiple light years in mere seconds. In exploring their first new solar system, humans discover several buildings that house ancient lexicons, full of information. These were left behind by a race identified as The Saiph. Using this information humans begin reshaping their technology, discovering new solar systems and finding potential allies and definite enemies.

Review:

I picked this book up because I love military sci-fi and Corcoran incorporates his own experience in the military with his books. 

That being said, I had to take a break from this book about half way through. I realized I wasn't enjoying it when they were having their first battle against the Others (enemy alien race) and I was bored. I took a long break from reading it, came back to it and then finished it. For me it didn't really pick up until the alliances with other species came into play. When it was just humans versus others, I didn't really care. It wasn't until we teamed up with other friendly races that I actually started caring. 

Part of the problem, for me, is the lack of character depth. I'm not saying the characters were one dimensional, I'm saying that we don't get to know the characters well enough to really care about them. A lot of times it felt like just saying someone's name and occupation was supposed to be enough to make me care about them. Other times it felt like there were so many names, ranks and occupations that it was hard to keep characters straight. 

Once the other races came into play, though, I was fully engaged. I'm not fully sure I know why other than that it felt like it was no longer just "us versus them". It finally felt like there were actually other worlds to learn about, other cultures to learn from, and more. 

I really appreciated Corcoran's sense of humor that came into play at good moments. I loved the contrasting ideas about "appropriate greetings" between the cultures. I really liked that economics and population were factors. There were plenty of technical aspects of expansion, exploration and war that were addressed that made it feel more real. My only problem is a lack of connection to the characters.

Overall, I can really only give this book a 2.5. I had to make myself finish it and it didn't pick up until late. I doubt I'll pick up any more books in this series.

                Hoot!Hoot!
                     Hoo


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake | Recipe Review


Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've done a recipe review. I was specifically asked by @p_j_foster for the recipe so here it is. It's actually a combination of two different recipes. The chocolate crust was from part of an AllRecipes.com recipe while the filling was from the Philadelphia Cheesecake website.

Crust:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C white sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/3 C butter (melted)

Instructions:

Mix ingredients together and press into the bottom and sides of the pan.

Comments:

This crust was actually pretty similar to a regular cheesecake crust, it just also has cocoa powder. The only other non-graham cracker crust I'd ever made was based on crushed Oreo cookies and it only turned out so-so. As a result, I was worried about how this one would taste. 



Filling:

Ingredients:

16 oz cream cheese
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 C chocolate chips (divided)

Instructions:

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Next mix in the eggs. Once the mix is fully blended, stir in 1/2 C of the chocolate chips. 

Pour the filling onto the crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 C of chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.
After it's cooled for a bit, refrigerate for 3 hours.

Comments:

I ended up having to bake this for about 10-15 minutes longer than the recipe called for. I'm not sure if it's because I used a spring-form pan while the original recipe called for a pie dish (pre-made crust). As a result, I kinda had to watch for it to get more solid in the middle. That being said, baking for 50 minutes probably would be a safe bet.


Taste Test:

Fluxx and I had similar opinions. Because I frequently use cream cheese in my frosting recipes, I thought the cheesecake tasted like chocolate frosting. Fluxx thought it tasted more like candy than cheesecake because of the chocolate chips. We both agree that it's not bad, but is at it's best when accompanied by a strong drink (i.e. coffee). I know Fluxx must have really liked it because, when there were leftovers on Monday he asked me to pack him a BIG slice to take to work. 

Overall, I think I'm gonna keep this recipe. 





Saturday, April 28, 2018

Dewey Read-A-Thon | Midway Survey

I have finished two books this Read-A-Thon. This is my most productive one in a while! Woohoo!

This Read-A-Thon I did make sure to schedule in some naps. I had the first one just now and it was a quick little catnap. Definitely helpful. How are y'all doing?

Okay, okay. Time for the mid-event survey!

1. What are you reading right now?
I just finished one book and next I'll be picking up The Feckin' Book of Everything Irish

2. How many books have you read so far?
I've read 2 books, totaling over 700 pages!

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I'm co-hosting tonight! From 11 PM to 2 AM Eastern!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
I did have a bit of a distraction when my Mom needed to chat with me, but it's all good.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
It's seems so quiet. Then noisy. Then quiet. Then noisy. We read in waves!

Dewey Read-A-Thon | Opening Survey

It's that time again! I've got my Readathon t-shirt, comfy socks, and Little Nike coffee mug. I've also got some new slippers to add to the regimen.


My loving, wonderful husband, Fluxxdog, has made up coffee (complete with a hint of cinnamon) and bisausegg! Isn't he wonderful?! He's even making up milkshakes later today! And for dinner he's cooking up chili mac n cheese dogs! I married the right man.

Okay, enough hyperactive gushing, time for the survey!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Ypsilanti, MI

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Old Man's War by Jon Scalzi! I'm in a bit of a race with a couple other readers. ^_^

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Hubby is making milkshakes using peach ice cream! :drool:

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I am forever socially awkward.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 
I'm actually scheduling naps! For the first time ever I'm planning on napping during a readathon!