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!

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Hoo

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha! | Bodhipaksa | Mini-Review

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

Review:

This book is a collection of 50 quotes commonly attributed to Buddha that aren't actually his. Bodhipaksa takes a look at the quotes and discusses their actual origins as well as whether or not they're things Buddha would've said or if they're in direct opposition to his teachings. I also appreciate Bodhipaksa's explanations for how and why quotes get misattributed throughout the years. And the book keeps its promise on teaching Buddhism by revealing fake quotes. I am more knowledgeable about the subject now than I was before I started reading. This is a short book, but I found it fun, educational, and encouraging of double checking quotes before we share them online. I do recommend this book and happily give 4 hoots!

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Hidden Sun | Jaine Fenn

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

Summary:

Rhia Harlyn is Shen noblewoman and a secret scientist in the hidden network of Shadowland Naturalists. She has to keep her scientific activities secret or face the wrath of the church. When she discovers a mission to rescue her wayward brother from Zekt she forces her way into the group to go with them, putting her life at serious risk. At the same time, Dej, a Skykin child, not yet given her transformation, is living in the creche with others like her. Well, they're not exactly like her. They were given parting gifts from their parents while Dej, and her best friend Min, were not. This makes them the subjects of quite a bit of ridicule which Dej uses as an excuse to be a sneak thief. When Dej is finally called to go to her transformation an even more difficult life begins for her as she finds out the consequences of not having a parting gift.

Review:

This book was an intriguing introduction to an interesting world. It is well written and has some interesting characters and plot developments. The travel from Shen to Zekt provided some insight into the differences between the Shadowlands and the Skylands, the Skylands are on plateaus and are dangerously bright and hot for Shadowkin. And these plateaus and flatlands are in a honeycomb kind of pattern. You never get two Shadowlands or Skylands next to each other.

In order to survive the Skylands, Skykin children must undergo a bonding ceremony and be bonded with what is called an animus. This changes their physical and psychological nature. It gives them a magical talent (i.e. pathfinding) and gives them the kind of scaly skin, muscles and reflexes needed to survive the creatures of the Skylands. And if you have a damaged animus, you have to join the clanless, the lowest caste in the Skylands. The clanless tend to live down to that reputation.

This book wasn't really easy for me to get into. I had problems visualizing the world.  I get it, but it was still difficult for me to visualize. I guess I was at odds with myself while reading because Rhia mentioned seeing a building built by the ancients and all I could think of was that this was a post-apocalyptic Earth or space colony and I was waiting for the big reveal. I accidentally made it more difficult on myself to get into the world.

That being said, I still liked the book. It's got an interesting blend of characters and three different, interesting, intersecting story lines. I really felt for Dej. I was encouraged by Rhia's scientific curiosity. I was intrigued by Sadakh's role in everything. I know there is more going on than meets the eye and it's well worth a read. 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Healing Power of Mindfulness | Jon Kabat-Zinn | Mini-Review

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


Review:

I picked up this book because I've recently been trying out mindfulness meditation to help with my anxiety and depression issues. It's been kinda working so I decided to read this book to see if I couldn't get more structure in my meditations and get some guidance. While there is some of that in here, the majority of the book is Kabat-Zinn's history with mindfulness in a professional medical setting. From helping patients undergoing treatment for psoriasis to working with psychologists to incorporate the meditation in their treatments. It was still a highly informative book and had several chapters on what I was looking for. The biggest flaw, however, is the number of paragraph long sentences. Several times I would read a sentence that went on for way too long only to have to re-read it because I couldn't figure out what Kabat-Zinn was trying to say. Maybe it would make sense in an audiobook, but reading it left my brain feeling frustrated. I never did figure out one or two of them, and I had context from the book. Overall, the book is okay and definitely informative. Kabat-Zinn just needs to tone down some of the wording. 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Daughters of Forgotten Light | Sean Grigsby

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

Summary:

The city of Oubliette, floating in space, had originally been meant to be used by the rich to escape the climate change. Once resources were diverted for the war, it became a women's prison city. The territory is divided into three gangs and there is a thin agreement to truce. Between a baby showing up in the one of the shipments to the city and the government wanting another option if they lose the war, things are about to get even more interesting, and bloody, in Oubliette. 

Review

Long story short, this is a book that shows multiple ways of being a bad ass woman. Each character perspective we get, Senator Linda Dolfuse, Lena "Horror" Horowitz, Sarah Pao, each of them is a bad ass in their own right. Admittedly Dofluse and Pao kinda need some time to grow into it, but when they get there, you're rooting for them. Lena is introduced as the leader of the gang Daughters of Forgotten Light, maintaining her cool when confronted by the other gangs, the Amazons and the Onyx Coalition. She's got your attention right from the start.

I'll admit, I thought the whole baby-triggering-maternal-instincts would be a worn out stereotype at play, but it really only ended up being a couple of characters triggered. Heck, for some of the women, the baby was just something new to break the monotony. The book does focus on women characters because there's an international war going on and all men, or boys sold by their parents, are shipped off to the military. That means women make up the remaining roles, government, business and other. 

Oh yeah, in this world, parents legally own their children. At the age of 11 they can have their children shipped off to join the military or to Oubliette. Some parents are forced to do this to pay their debts. Others do this because they can't handle the kid. One of the first cases we see of this is in the latest shipment of girls to Oubliette. A little girl who showed symptoms of autism. It was guessed she was shipped out because her parents couldn't handle raising her. Other times it's simply if the child does something the parents disagree with. Spangler knew his parents would've sent him to the military if they found out he was gay.

I have no problems saying that the world this took place in was incredibly interesting. Not just the dystopian stuff. In Oubliette, everything is made from glass. Their motorbikes (which run silent) are completely glass. Even their leather is made from glass! It's something different that I absolutely loved. Then there were the weapons that the gangs had, called rangs (short for boomerangs because the ammunition comes back to you). It was definitely something different.

I will warn you, this is not a book for the faint of stomach. It's not grossly detailed, but there is a lot of fighting, blood and cannibalism. Don't worry, only one gang consists of cannibals and the book does actually cover some of the health problems associated with that diet. But, yeah, be prepared for blood, foul language and violence.

In case you can't tell from how long this review is, I really did enjoy this book. And the ending is quite what I wanted, but I was very happy with it. 4.5 hoots!

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Hoo

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Only Dead on the Inside | James Breakwell


Summary:

A collection of survival tips as well as do's and don'ts for being a parent in the zombie apocalypse. 

Review:

I laughed so friggin' hard at this book I'm sure I got looks while I was reading it on the bus. But I didn't notice because I was laughing too hard. I've already bought a copy of this for my Mom! Yes, some of the jokes rely on sitcom family stereotypes (the "inept dad" stereotype being the predominant one). And yes, I don't have any kids myself. However, the humor of there is so much humor based in truth. Anyone who's spent any time with any kids knows the truth of the dangers of a temper tantrum!

My favorite part about this book is how it covers so many things that other zombie lore glosses over. The idea that disposable diapers will be a new form of currency rings very true. Plus, how many other zombie stories talk about how children are just inherently good at finding dangerous things? "It takes skill to make an inert wooden crib spontaneously burst into flames, but if anyone can do it, it's a six-month-old." That's why there are so many warning labels on toys. That's why being a parent in the zombie apocalypse is so dangerous for all parties!

But the book doesn't spend the whole time complaining. There's actually some good advice in here. Like how most guidebooks would tell you to remove a staircase and use a retractable ladder to keep the second floor zombie free. Breakwell reminds you that carrying a baby, plus loot, means you're not climbing up that ladder. He also talks about how escaping from zombies, with your family intact, is more about situational awareness than actual speed. Then there's the chapter on punishments where he talks about punishment only being effective if the kid understands why they're in trouble.

Some of the best parts of this book are about using your children to your advantage. Using their natural talent to create messes to make your house an obstacle course for zombie or looter. Using their smaller size to help you loot more places (not to mention their enthusiasm at getting to take home whatever they want). They also come with some very useful accessories, like strollers and toys that can be used as weapons. Like a mini-van that can still play DVDs even after the house has lost power. 

I absolutely loved this book. I shared some lines with my Mom and she wanted a copy. There are cartoons, charts and other visuals and the book is short so it's easy to stay engaged the entire time. I happily give 5 hoots!


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