Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cosmosis by Rainer Rey

Cosmosis by Rainer Rey is a novel about a scientist trying to save the world, Maddie, and a man on a path of vengeance, Jace, and their intertwining quests. Through a lot of heartbreak, action, sweat and tears, Maddie and Jace find themselves on a journey looking for an ancient source of energy, given to mankind by an alien race.

This book made it difficult for me to work my regular 9-5 job because every time I set it down, my brain would nag at me to pick it back up! Even when, after a particular scene* I needed to put the book down, my brain kept telling me "go back! There's more I need to know!" There is so much going on in this book but the pacing of the chapters keeps everything from getting overwhelming. At first I was worried that the constant back and forth chapters between the main characters, Maddie and Jace, would end up irritating, but it really does work for this book.

I found the characters to be very interesting. No one is one-dimensional not even Kit, the annoying ex-boyfriend**. And while there is a good amount of exposition, it is well paced and well spaced. I did kind of worry that the explanations from Jace and his friend Corey were too much for something to be told to the Vacnouver Sheriff, since it was something Corey could not tell the FBI or CIA. However it established the characters as honest people who were simply looking for answers. Each of the characters presented has their own depth, even Hans, who only speaks Swedish and we don't hear from much.

There are times when this book feels like a sci-fi DaVinci Code. You've got a male and female lead character, trying to solve a puzzle given to them by the female's recently deceased relative, the goal of which will change humanity's understanding of the past, and its future. Fortunately Cosmosis has plenty of factors to keep it separate. The puzzles seem a little easy to solve, but they had almost completely been answered by a coalition of scientists by the time Maddie and Jace inherited it.

Overall, Cosmosis is a fun ride that you don't want to put down. I'm looking forward to see how this book does.I give Cosmosis 4 hoots!


*Pg. 186 is all I will say. I really try not to give spoilers.
**Who reminds me so much of my own ex, I wonder if all ex-boyfriends are like him.
***This book was an uncorrected proof provided by Turner Publishing. These facts do not affect my review.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mini-Review: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Soon I Will Be Invincible takes place from two perspectives, the evil mastermind, Doctor Impossible, and the newbie superhero cyborg, Fatale. Doctor Impossible has been in the superhero game almost from the beginning. He's almost taken over the world several times and has been put in jail before he could finish every time. The book starts just before he escapes yet again with a new plan for taking over the world. Fatale is a woman who cannot remember her past since she got hit by a dump truck in Brazil and was saved by having all her missing parts replaced with robotics. Her introduction in the book is her starting a probationary term with the Champions, the worlds greatest superheroes, not in retirement. At the same time, CoreFire, the most powerful superhero on record, has gone missing and no one knows where he went.

I had high hopes for this book. It was entertaining enough that I finished it, but it fell kinda flat. There was just so much exposition. I get that it's necessary for world building, but that many flashbacks made me think of Dragonball Z. So much remembering and so little action. Ultimately, I can only bring myself to give this book 3 hoots. 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Video Game Review: Duck Tales Remastered

I'll admit, I picked this game for my first Video Game Review because I thought it would be easy. Now that I'm done with it, I have to say, if I had a swear jar, all my money would be in it by now. It's been so long since I've played a platformer game I'd forgotten a bunch of the mechanics. I'd definitely lost the thumb callouses I used to have and now my poor fingers are aching.

In the Duck Tales game, you play as Scrooge McDuck, originally rescuing his nephews and his vault from the Beagle Brothers. When you defeat the Brothers, however, you find their goal was a painting that had a hidden treasure map in it. Let the adventure begin! You have to fight your way through gorillas, giant bees, evil hockey players, Incan natives, giant spiders, and more to get each piece of the treasure. And only when you have all the pieces of the treasure do you get to the actual villains! 

For the levels when you're looking for the pieces of treasure, the game is challenging, but not frustrating. Everything is pretty straightforward and while it isn't easy (even though I had it on "Easy" mode) it's still fun. The creatures you have to fight are pretty creative in design. The maps are generally easy to read. And the bosses of these levels are pretty fun.

Then you get to your first real boss, Count Dracula Duck. I thought that you had to jump on his head to defeat him, but the first couple of times I tried, I got hurt. So I figured it was more of an endurance match. Five deaths and one rage quit later, I decided it was time to take a break before I threw the controller into the TV screen. I did a bit of research and found out that you do have to jump on his head, but I was going about it in the wrong manner. Look it up for yourself, if you wish to play :) 

When I finally got back to playing and defeated Count Dracula Duck, next came the race for the Lucky Dime. This also required me to look up what I was doing wrong before I got too frustrated again.* When I won the race, I made the mistake of putting the controller down. Let this be a warning to you, it ain't over until the villains are on their way to jail.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this is an exposition heavy game. It was modeled after a cartoon so you're going to have to have scenes where the voice actors can participate. It was interesting to revisit childhood memories of cartoons. I was happy to see Bubba play a part in the actual game play, he was my favorite :) Definitely more relatable than Webbigail. 

Overall, the game is good fun. Challenging, frustrating fun. I give it five hoots.


*FYI, my arms are still incredibly shaky.

Mini-Bloggiesta: Goal 1 Achieved!

So, my first goal for the Mini-Bloggiesta was to make my logo look more like the original picture, at least in terms of coloration. I have achieved this. Yes, the logo looks more cartoonish, but at least it no longer looks like faded pink with solid black. I like the cartoon look. What's most important, to me, is that it is still my drawing, design, etc. I've already replaced my Twitter picture with this.

1 goal down, 3 or so more to go!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters by Andrew Shaffer

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attack

Holy wah this was a fun read! I could barely put the book down to work! 

How to Survive a Sharknado is very reminiscent of when the CDC posted a page on their website about how to survive a zombie apocalypse. There was a lot of fun, but the main advice was sound and something you would need to do regardless of the type of disaster. Because of that, the general content of the book was a bit predictable, but the finer points were so hilarious I woke my husband up with my laughing at the good jokes and my groaning at the jokes so bad they were funny.

The SyFy Channel has given us plenty of bad movies over the years. In this book, the author and contributors take a look at each of them and apply survival techniques that may, or may not, have been used by the heroes of the movies. The advice is pretty sound, if sometimes over-the-top, and I gotta say, these people clearly did their research, even if the movie writers did not. One of my favorite pieces of advice was probably for the Sharknado Survival, "How to Wield a Chainsaw Like a Boss":
7. If you are positioned properly, you will cut the shark in two right down the middle. The two halves should land on either side of you, leaving you bloody but unharmed.
As someone who hasn't watched the Sharknado movie, I couldn't help but picture Ash from Evil Dead. Then there's a bad joke from a chef who used flamethrowers to destroy the Cyboars in the 2011 Boaricane "I set my flame-thrower to well done."

And the funny stories and one liners and bad puns JUST KEEP COMING! It is wonderfully hilarious and yet still informative! There is advice on how to deal with bee stings, what actually does and does not work to get away from bears, how to help set a tourniquet, and items you should pack up in a survival kit.* 

All in all, I love this book. It does get a little repetitive in that frakking seems to be the root cause of the majority of these problems and you expect some good advice with the comedy, but other than that, this book is amazing. I highly recommend you pick it up. I'm giving it four hoots!


*Though I'm not entirely sure the Chuck-E-Cheese tokens are as necessary as the regular cash and change.
**I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdays

Hello Everyone! I've been seeing a few Top Ten Tuesdays lately and decided I'd try to join in as well. Today's Top Ten is TV Shows and Movies. I'm opting to go with my Top Ten Netflix choices. There are the ten movies/shows I always go to when I'm not looking for something new.

1) The Finder
The Finder US poster.jpeg

Starring Geoff Stults and Michael Clarke Duncan The Finder is a short-lived series about Walter (Stults) who suffers a head injury in Afghanistan and wakes up with an incredible ability to find things people have considered lost forever. With his friend Leo (Duncan) to help him out, Walter is able to find people, food, even conversations. The reason I fell in love with this show is because of it's humor and charm. It's easy to laugh at and is a lot more fun for people who love crime shows, but hate blood and medical gore. Unfortunately, because the series was not given a second season, the last episode of the series will leave you feeling upset, sad, and even angrier at Fox. Avoid this episode, but revel in the others.

2) The Naked Gun

I have been watching this movie regularly for at least 20 years and I will never tire of it. It has the kind of silliness that is perfect for all ages, even if, as a kid, you don't get why it's so funnier to the adults. Leslie Nielsen plays a detective in Police Squad who upholds the law above all else, including common sense. The man makes so many bumbles it's amazing he hasn't died yet. Which is probably why it's still so funny. Everyone needs a nonsense funny every now and then. 

3) Leverage

Every episode feels like an amazing combination of Oceans 11 and Now You See Me. There is no episode where everything goes as planned and no episode where I can predict what's going happen. Watching the scenes about how they pull of their scams for the good of others is always a delightful treat! I'm still working on finishing season 2, but I'm having a lot of fun!

4) Numbers

I had watched a few episodes of this show before Netflix existed and I enjoyed it. With all of the episodes on Netflix, I am able to watch everything. I originally watched it on Netflix with my husband because he's such a math nut and was looking for something different. We now watch it with my brother-in-law while we eat dinner. We're just now getting to the last season and looking forward to seeing more ways math affects our lives. It's actually pretty funny to see all the ways math can and does affect us. It's even changed up how I see where I sit on the bus!

5) Phineas & Ferb

Okay, I'll admit, I do watch this more for Dr. Doofenshmirtz than I do the title characters. But can you blame me? The man is friggin' hilarious! It's why I'm subscribed to his YouTube channel! Though I do wish he'd put up more videos, I understand how his schedule is probably too busy. I also encourage people with kids to watch the show. It's always encouraging of creativity, curiosity, discovery, etc. And who doesn't love a secret agent platypus?

6) Airplane!

Yes, this is another Leslie Nielsen movie, but I don't see anything wrong with that. This is another zany comedy where nothing has to make sense and the puns never stop. It has my favorite interpretation of a drinking problem.

7) Futurama 

I have to admit, this show is mainly on here because of nostalgia. This was one of  the last TV series my family sat down to watch together before I went off to college and my dad had to go into a nursing home. I still find it funny and it a show that always there for me during college.

8) Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
Two little kids trick the Grim Reaper into being their best friend forever. The levels of insanity and silliness in this show reach near critical levels and I love it. I only wish they'd have the Christmas movie and the crossover with the Kids Next Door movie! I WANT MY CROSSOVER!

9) Sherlock

Do I even need to say why this show is so awesome?

10) Scrubs

I actually learned the hard way to never watch this show with a Medical or Pre-Med student. But, if you're ignorant of proper hospital procedure, like me, I think you'll enjoy how human these characters are. The show is almost completely character driven and that's probably why it's so easy to get carried up in their emotions, their stories, etc. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mini-Bloggiesta: To-Do List

On Saturday, July 19th, I will be partaking in my first Bloggiesta. Admittedly this will be a Mini-Bloggiesta, but all the better to get my feet wet. From what I understand, Bloggiesta is a time to do all the updates you've been wanting to do on your website/blog. While I have recently revamped everything for my blog, there are some updates I still want to do. So, here is my To-Do List for July 19-20, 2014:

  • Make logo look more like the original picture.
  • Decide on different styles for different types of reviews.
    • Book Reviews = ?
    • Recipe Reviews = ?
    • Puzzle/Game Reviews = ?
  • Figure out if I want to do Movie, TV, and Restaurant Reviews.
  • Finish a video game for review.
It isn't much, but I've only got two days and there are going to be challenges and a Twitter Party. These are things that have been bugging me quite a bit. Thanks +Bloggiesta B 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grimm Hearts by JD Fitzegerald

JD Fitzegerald
Grimm Hearts by JD Fitzegerald is the story of a 471 year old reaper, named Jonny, who is dissatisfied with his un-life. Unfortnately, because reapers only experience the emotional gamut of morose to merely annoyed, he's not entirely sure what to do or how to fix this situation. There are rumors in the reaper world of a reaper dying twice, by falling in love, you become alive again. But these are only rumors. The most he remembers of his life before being a reaper are flashes he gets when he eats food that would kill a living person. Then he sees a woman who makes the world around disappear and whose life force he cannot read. She is his polar opposite. And in this case, opposites attract. 

I'll admit, I picked up this book because I thought it would be more comedy than love story. I was proven wrong, but I still managed to get several good laughs. I finished this book in a matter of hours because I didn't want to stop reading. Admittedly a lot of it was more out of fascination for the reaper world and rules than to figure out what happens next; but if the story hadn't held together, the mechanics of the world wouldn't have been so interesting. 

The characters in the story are well developed and feel real to me. We all have this time in our lives when we feel like something is off, but we don't know what. Some people, like Jonny, go searching for answers. When we find our answers, the transition can be painful, but finally knowing helps to make peace with the pain of becoming alive again.

That being said, I did come across a bunch of typos. But as the book is still in production, it's not too surprising. Other than that, I have no problems with this book. 

It saddens me to hear that the publication of this book has been stalled. I get that Cat's Southern accent wasn't well represented, but to hear that people didn't like the ending? It was one of the most beautiful endings I have read in a contemporary book. It was not a surprise. No aspect of this ending came out of the blue. I LOVE this ending and shame on people for demanding a different one. Fitzegerald did a masterful job on bringing the book to a close in a beautiful, peaceful way. I give it 5 Hoots. And I recommend getting yourself a copy when it becomes available.


Disclaimer: E-Book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Inheritor by Tom Wither

To quickly summarize my reaction to this book, let me just say I found it agonizingly engaging. What I mean by this is that The Inheritor by Tom Wither left me shaking and jittery when I had to put it down because I wanted to keep reading it!

I was worried, at first, because I normally don't care for government agency books, but I was pleased to find an exception to this rule. Wither's methods for introducing the main characters was very well done. Some of the introductions were more pedestrian, Emily is starting out in the office, Agent Johnson is looking for a promotion. Then we get Lieutenant Matthews, called into a seemingly straight forward mission, only to be wondering right away what went wrong. All the while we get snippets of a man behind-the-scenes with a computer. 

There were times when I felt Wither was giving more of a treatise on American Government/Politics in his expositions. Some of the back stories seem more like an essay on "how things are" instead of pushing the story forward, but after the first few chapters this habit because significantly less needed and the writing focuses more on the here-and-now.

The story itself is quite interesting. Breaking down America's energy infrastructure without publicly announcing any hatred against the US until well after your plans have taken place. It's quite intelligent and meant that none of the intelligence agencies were looking for the bad guy. It was only through sheer serendipity that they get any information leading to The Inheritor, and even that is circumstantial evidence. Meanwhile you have a "ghost" of the KGB organizing and implementing The Inheritor's plans. 

On top of all of it, there are the natural emotional reactions to consequences of The Inheritor's plans. It doesn't help to read about one or two of the casualty's family lives. And with memories of terrorist attacks still in our memories, reading about people running towards the explosions looking to help and people walking around in shock are all-to realistic. There is also a lot of empathy for frustrated characters, "Cain could do nothing more than read about it and feel frustrated." We've all felt completely helpless when we hear of mass shootings, explosions, fires, natural disasters, etc. 

But along with this humanization of casualties, you also get to see a humanity behind the terrorists carrying out the work. Ahmad is first seen in his house with his wife and children. He does this for his religion, but also for them, "They would sleep in a safer world after today." He is also the first to tell us "warriors do not kill women" as he is selecting his targets for the random shootings. In fact, during that phase of the plan, no women or children were killed. There are also several passage that back up my assertion never to trust a rich a "holy man". 

Now, there are also several parts of this book that remind you that not all Muslims are terrorists. When Agent Johnson is in Saudi Arabia he is told, "You should see what our people are like while you are here." While few of the Saudi armed forces appreciate an American presence, an understanding of their culture does help. Johnson's informal request, that very nearly gets him fired, is greatly appreciated by Akeem, the Saudi who is working with him. Probably the most telling of the differences between American and Arab cultures is on page 259, with the explanation of the phrase "Insha'Allah", "if it is Allah's will". In the US, we very much like the idea of being in charge of our own lives. In the Arab world, lives are dictated by the will of Allah, and so you should not fret if things don't go how you wished, for Allah still has your best interests in mind. While I am not a Muslim, I do like this philosophy. 

Overall, I find this book to be very engaging, very real, and I highly recommend it. I give it 4.5 Hoots.


disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher