Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thinning the Herd | Adrian Phoenix

*This book was provided by NetGalley.

Summary:

In Eugene, Oregon, Hal Rupert seems like your average, everyday dog catcher. He is, however, the town hero (though no one acknowledges this so that his friends can stay safe from the bad guys). Hal is well known in certain circles of lycans (ruled by the moon) and yokai (ruled by the sun). He's the only human standing between shape-shifters and humans. 


Review:

This book was a fun read. It has a lot of elements that I love from my quick reads. There's a strong sense of humor, an oddball hero, a disinterested damsel, a silly puppy and a sassy cat (thought don't tell the puppy I called him that).  The characters in this book are quite interesting and I'd love to read more stories from this world. I found the dialogue to be quite natural and the progression of the story easy to follow. I loved how Hal, Nick (dog) and Galahad (cat) go from one investigation of missing hippies and fortune tellers and land in the middle of something so much bigger.

There were a couple things I didn't like. There were a handful of minor editing errors that took me out of the book. The biggest thing, however, was Hal's interest in Desdemona. I get that he doesn't realize "creep", "loon" and the middle finger are insults and legitimate "go away" signs, but he is genuinely stalking her. Though his intentions are pure, it goes from kinda funny and cute to creepy after just a few paragraphs. Also, I feel that the poor biker got a lot more than he deserved.

Still, I do appreciate that Desdemona is a strong character in her own right. I love that Hal has his own sense of reality when it comes to his work. I especially love Galahad and Nick and their interactions with the one-shapes (humans) in their lives.

This is a good book for a quick read that is almost guaranteed to get you laughing. 4 hoots!


                Hoot!Hoot!
                Hoot! Hoot!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge for 2016


A while back I calculated that I had over 200 unread ebooks in my kindle. I also have 10-15 unread books on my shelves. I was able to finish 100 books (some of them comics/graphic novels) so I have more than enough books to keep me occupied for a year or two. Also, given my reading habits for the past year I know that if I don't focus on these books that I'm just going to end up letting them continue to sit, unread. And no book deserves to be unread. 

So, I am taking up the challenge set by Estella's Revenge. I will #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks for 2016. I have so many genres and formats left unread that I should always be able to find something I'm in the mood for. The only thing I'm lacking is non-fiction books, so I will allow myself to request one a month from either NetGalley or my local library. I will also not discourage people from buying me books or getting me gift certificates for book stores (wink, wink). 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age | David J. Helfand

*Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

"From dissolving our fear of numbers and demystifying graphs, to elucidating the key concepts of probability and the use of precise language and logic, this book supplies an essential set of apps for the pre-frontal cortex while making science both accessible and entertaining." - NetGalley Summary


Review:

This is a book to be taken slowly. I have a relatively strong interest in math and science, but less than average ability, so reading large segments at a time proved quite difficult. My brain wandered significantly while reading.

I appreciate what the author is trying to do. He is using the first several chapters to try to train your brain for the final few where he presents science vs. pseudoscience. It's similar in structure to Portal where the first 13 levels are actually tutorial levels for the final 10% of the game. He's even given several sample problems in the appendix (and their answers) for further mental exercise.

So, if you're looking for a refresher in math, science and/or critical thinking, this is a good exercise. Be prepared to take it slow, though. Helfand says he understands that his audience probably hasn't doesn't these kinds of mental exercises in some time, but I still felt that he was overestimating my abilities. 3 Hoots!

              Hoot!Hoot!
                Hoot!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Seventh Bride | T. Kingfisher

*This book was provided by NetGally in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Arranged marriages are nothing new. They're actually the norm for Rhea's village. But when a lord asks for her, a peasant girl, to marry him, it's out of left field. Lords don't marry peasants. No one is really happy with this arrangement, but peasant's don't say "no" to lords. The wrongness of the situation is made worse when Lord Crevan asks her to come to his manor, alone, before they are married. 

Review:

This book was a lot more engaging than I thought it would be. It had a very well balanced story. The darker parts were balanced by moments of hope. The frustrating parts were balanced by humorous moments. The characters were well thought out and highly intelligent. 

I genuinely have nothing but praise for this book. It was like a fairy tale that was fully fleshed out. There is plenty of magic, and magical animals. And while the main character needs occasional rescue, it is not a matter of waiting for Prince Charming to show up. Rhea and the other wives are all strong in their own right. They aren't all supportive of each other, but you never feel that outside help is needed. 

Overall, I highly recommend The Seventh Bride. It's a good story with even better characters. 4 Hoots!

                Hoot!Hoot!
                Hoot! Hoot!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Whitechapel Gods | S. M. Peters


Summary:

Victorian London has been taken over by two gods, Grandfather Clock, whose law iron, and Mama Engine, whose law is fire. Anyone who acts against the gods is either destroyed by the Boiler Men, soldiers of Grandfather Clock who gave their souls for bodies of iron, or they are taken directly to Grandfather Clock and made a part of his machine. Even those who don't act up are infested with a disease that replaces human parts with machines or they choke to death on the fumes of the machines of the gods. A group is devising a way to kill both of the gods and free London, but there are humans going against gods. 

Review:

Overall, this was a good, engaging read. I certainly wasn't expecting it to be as dark as it was, but the feel fits the form. You could not write a world like this, where the sun is blotted out, and not have a dark story.

The characters in this world are quite interesting. I appreciated that intelligence was the order of the day with three of the main characters. Intelligent characters make for more interesting stories and at no point did I feel any of the good guys were being dumb. Most of the characters were level-headed enough to handle surprises and make sure the obvious was expected.

That said, the ending was a little predictable and there were a handful of typos that took me out of the story. But it was still an entertaining read.


                Hoot!Hoot!
                Hoot! Hoo




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Top Ten Funny Sci-Fi Movies | Sci-Fi Month

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Last week I posted about 10 Scary Sci-Fi movies. Today, I'm going to list 10 Sci-Fi movies that made me laugh, whether they intended to be funny or not. I have to admit, it was a LOT more difficult to find funny sci-fi movies than scary ones, so some of these may be a bit of a stretch.

1. Evolution: I feel like this movie doesn't get as much credit as it should have. My family watched this in theaters and had a great time. I do wish they had gone with the alternate ending, though.




2. Men In Black: As a kid, this was one of the very few alien movies that I could watch without getting scared. 




3. Eight Legged Freaks: This is a movie you have to go into with absolutely zero expectations in order to have a good time. But it is still a good time. ^_^




4. They Live: I don't know if the creators of this movie intended for it to be so funny, but I had a great laugh.




5. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: There may be some who argue that this isn't Sci-Fi, but the time-travel alone makes it count for me.



6. Wall-E: Okay, yeah, this is more "cute" than "funny", but I'm still counting it.




7. Weird Science: This is a more recent watch for me, but the humor in this seems to be ageless. 




8. Serenity: Again, probably not the first thing you think of for a "funny" Sci-Fi Movie, but Serenity (and Firefly) wouldn't be what they are without their strong sense of humor.




9. The World's End: Again, a more recent watch, but so much fun. I appreciate movies where you can tell the actors had fun making the movie.




10. Ghostbusters: I feel like this is an iconic Funny Sci-Fi Movie. In so many ways, this movie set the standard for those that came after. 




I know I've left out a bunch, so tell me, what are some of your favorite Sci-Fi laughs?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Apple Pie | Recipe

Today's post is going to be my attempt to recreate my Great-Grandma B's apple pie recipe. This is partially in preparation for Thanksgiving and Christmas when I am the main baker. Fortunately I have some of Grandma B's own tools to help me out! Starting with the rolling mat that she used every time she made pie crusts.



First step is to mix up the ingredients for the pie crust: 2c. flour, 1 tsp. salt, 3/4c. plus a little more lard/shortening (room temp). 1/4c. cold water. Then it needs to be rolled out. I'm actually using the same marble rolling pin that Grandma B used. And yes, it is quite heavy.



So, it's a good thing I'm getting some practice in because I've completely lost my instinct for proper water to flour ratios to keep the crust together without letting it get sticky. If you use too much flour, trying to keep it from sticking to stuff, it'll dry out and become weak. If you try to add moisture to it, it'll become very sticky and you won't be able to roll it out or get it from the mat to the pie pan.

As it is, I'm kinda running low on patience, so I'm just gonna piece together the bottom crust from what I rolled out. Use a bit of water here and there, and you can't tell.



Next up, slice up 4-6 apples (I'm going with granny smith) and mix them up with 1/2c. white sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/3c. flour until all the apple slices are covered. Then put them in the pie pan.



Next comes the top crust. I can't get away with piecing it together as much as I could the bottom crust, but I think I did an okay job for being so out of practice.


Then I bake the pie at 400degrees for 1 hour (or until brown & bubbly).



It doesn't look nearly as nice as Grandma B's, but the taste is spot on. It's a bit tart for Fluxxdog, but Veonoss absolutely loves it and I'm very happy with how it tastes. Still need to work on the crusts, though. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sci-Fi Month: Top Ten Scary Sci-Fi Movies

sfm15_5

Hello! I know that I don't usually do "Top Ten" posts, but in honor of Sci-Fi Month, I figured I'd do a list of Scary Sci-Fi Movies. Every movie and game in this list was, at some point or another, too scary for me to watch. A couple of them are still too scary for me. Please keep in mind, I used to be a lot more sensitive to scary stuff than I am now so some of these movies I wasn't able to watch until recently.

1. Jurassic Park: This movie came out when I was in 4th grade and I ended up having to leave the theater during the velociraptors in the kitchen scene because it was just too scary for me. My brother still hasn't let me live this down.



2. Alien: I've only been able to watch this movie in the past year or so. Fortunately I'd seen enough parodies and knew enough of the overall plot that it made it less scary and, therefore, more enjoyable for me.
Alien (1979) Poster


3. Event Horizon: Funny enough, this was one was never actually too scary for me. I've been able to watch this one since I was in junior high or high school.

Event Horizon (1997) Poster


4. The Thing: This was the first scary movie my husband used to try to help me get over my fear of scary movies. Funny thing about the clay/animation models they used for the horror effects, they're still incredibly creepy!
The Thing (1982) Poster


5. Dawn of the Dead: I watched this movie in high school and for years, literally years, afterwards, every building I went into I immediately assessed for if there was a sudden zombie outbreak.

Dawn of the Dead (2004) Poster


6. Resident Evil: This series wasn't quite as bad for me as it could have been. I still had to stop watching after the 3rd or 4th movie, but part of that was boredom.

Resident Evil (2002) Poster


7. 28 Days Later (still haven't watched): Fast zombies? No thanks. I learned my lesson from Dawn of the Dead.
28 Days Later... (2002) Poster


8. The Fourth Kind (still haven't watched): The ads from this movie kept me awake with a baseball bat all night. I could not sleep until I saw the sun coming up and even then it was rough sleep. I've had "issues" with alien abduction stories since elementary school.

The Fourth Kind (2009) Poster

9. Arachnophobia: I actually didn't have arachnophobia until I saw this movie. I used to be quite fascinated by spiders. Then I saw this movie.

Arachnophobia (1990) Poster


10. Mars Attacks: This movie scared the hell outta me. I still cannot even look at the Martians without feeling impossibly creeped out. I know it's supposed to be a comedy, but I was too freaked out to laugh.

Mars Attacks! (1996) Poster





So, I clearly don't care for alien and zombie movies. Funny enough, Predator has never scared me. What sci-fi movies scare you?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chimera (Book 1 of the Weaver Series) | Vaun Murphrey

*Picture and ebook provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Cassandra has been locked up in an empty room since she was 5 years old. She has no idea where she is or why she was taken and has only vague memories of her life before. At age 13 she starts hearing a voice inside her head promising her that she is not insane and he will get her out.

Review:

I almost didn't get through the first chapter. it was that rough for Cassandra, but I'm glad I pushed through. After the first chapter, the book is highly engaging. I have a history of not liking books with teenagers as main characters, but Chimera is an exception. Everyone in this world has their head on their shoulders and is able to think things through. 

Murphrey does a good job of keeping all parts of this world working together smoothly. There is a LOT going on, and there were a few moments where I wanted to go "really? Now this?" But at the same time, nothing seemed too out there for this world. 

The book is entertaining, but I probably won't be picking up the sequel. 3.5 hoots!

                Hoot!Hoot!
                Hoot! Hoo


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bisausegg | Recipe Review




I'll be honest, I can't remember if Bisausegg was one of my mom's ideas or one she got from my Uncle, but it's quickly become a family favorite. We have it every Christmas morning after the presents have been opened. It really doesn't take a lot of work or time to make.

The first thing you want to do is get a small container of Pillsbury biscuits (or generic if you prefer). Rip each biscuit in half and place at the bottom of a greased pan to form the crust.


The next step is to cook up 1 lb of sausage and set it aside.

Then whip up about 12 eggs with a dash of milk. Cook the eggs for a couple of minutes. Do NOT cook them all the way through.


Next, you pour the eggs over the biscuit crust and sprinkle the sausage on top.


Finally, add as much shredded cheese as you want.


Then you bake everything at 375ยบ F for 20-25 minutes.

Like I said, this is a pretty simple recipe that really doesn't take a lot of time. It's gonna be on the regular Saturday Morning Breakfast rotation in my apartment. Just look at my husband's response:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dataclysm | Christian Rudder

*Book provided by Blogging for Books.

Summary:

Christian Rudder, one of co-founders of OkCupid, uses data from OkCupid, Google, Twitter, and others to show patterns of behavior. Some of these patterns relate to romantic interests, but there are also chapters on stereotypes, prejudices, privacy concerns and other information related to living in the digital age.


Review:

I initially requested this book because I actually met my husband on OkCupid and was interested in seeing if our relationship had fit the norms gathered from the OkCupid data. When I started reading it, however, I was happy to be shown a lot of data with Rudder's interpretations. Statistics was one of my favorite subjects and a good portion of the book plays to that. If you have trouble with statistics, this book will show you what kind of practical applications the subject can have.

The majority of the book, however, reads like a set of personal opinion essays. I know that's not what they are; Rudder has a lot of data and has done his research. The subjects he covered were certainly interesting and relevant. For some reason, though, the second half of the book (give or take) just kinda fell flat for me. I lost interest quickly and had a hard time getting through it. I almost think I'd have had more fun just reading a book of statistics. Then again, I've always had problems reading about anything that involves contemporary politics, social life, etc. 

I do encourage you to pick up a copy if you're interested in what the raw data from the Internet says about the United States culture. It's just not for me. 

             Hoot!Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

City of Blades | Robert Jackson Bennett

*Image and eBook provided courtesy of NetGalley

Summary:

 General Turyin Mulaghesh has been called back from retirement, kicking and screaming. Though the gods have been dead for a while, there is a new material found in Voortyashtan that seems to be divine in nature. If it is divine, that spells trouble for Mulaghesh's country, Saypur, and her friend, the Prime Minister. Unfortunately she gets caught up in several conspiracies and near-death experiences that make even her false arm ache from overuse. 


Review:

Once again I find myself accidentally reading the second book of a series, and once again, I have to say "OMG! Why didn't I read the first book as well? This is so AWESOME!" I kid you not, the only times I ever had to stop reading the book was because I had to tell people how much I was enjoying it. I can't say that all the "plot twists" surprised me, but there were a few things that caught me off guard and even more things that me feel a connection with Mulaghesh. 

This book has an amazing story and even better characters. These characters got me laughing with them so much, but they also almost made me cry. Everyone had a story that was reflected in their actions. Where there was exposition it was almost always based on the Battle of Bulikov so it was certainly not boring. 

As much as I love this book, I do have to warn people that there is some very graphic violence in it. One of the side effects of being in the former city of Voortya, goddess of war and death. However, if you can get past that, you will get a brilliant story about survival, what it means to be a soldier, and, most importantly, making your life and actions matter. I happily give City of Blades 5 hoots and have already added City of Stairs (the first book in the series) to my wishlist. 

                   Hoot!
                Hoot!Hoot!
                Hoot! Hoot!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dewey Read-A-Thon | Closing Survey

Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Which hour was most daunting for you?

Funny enough, it wasn't my usual times. This time around I was "okay" until about 6 AM (Hour 23). That's when I started having the most problems staying awake.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I highly recommend Calvin & Hobbes, FoxTrot and the like.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I really can't think of anything right now.

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

The Twitter presence. 

How many books did you read?

5, but three of those were comic ooks.

What were the names of the books you read?

The Jedi Doth Return, Dataclysm, The First Book of Swords, Enormously Foxtrot, Jassorasic Park, and FoxTrot Sundaes. 

Which book did you enjoy most?

All of them. 

Which did you enjoy least?

I actually enjoyed all the books.

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

I feel like, at the later hours, the teams dissolve and it's just everyone supporting each other. At least that's how it felt on Twitter. 

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

You won't be able to get rid of me THAT easily! I did enjoy hosting my first mini-challenge so I know I'd be happy to volunteer for that again as well as cheerlead!

Dewey Read-A-Thon Mini-Challenge: BLANKET FORTS!

i will be in my blanket fort:

At the last Read-A-Thon I was living in a 1-bedroom apartment with 2 other people. I really didn't have a lot of space for myself and, during the later hours of the Read-A-Thon, I needed to keep my light and noise to a minimum. For some of the time, mainly when I was reading an ebook, I covered up myself and my laptop and made an impromptu blanket fort. It wasn't all it could be, though, and I got to wondering, what would make for an ideal blanket fort?

So your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with an ideal Read-A-Thon book fort! It's hour 23, so feel free to go silly. It doesn't have to be fancy:

Fort Triumphant


And can even be quite simple: 

couches,forts,there I fixed it

I will keep this going for three hours (though I will be passing out in a couple) and the winner will get their choice of a $15 gift card to either B&N or Amazon, though I may be open to gift cards to other locations. 

So, tell me in the comments below: What is your ideal blanket fort? How big or small is it? What materials would you use to make it? Would it be a fortress of solitude or would you allow others? Get creative!


Dewey Read-A-Thon | 3 AM (Begin Hour 20)

invader zim animated gif

Holy wah people have been dropping like flies! Some people were complaining about being too old for staying up so late. I have not yet admitted such a thing and I do not plan to for many years!

Also, in case you can't tell, I have been getting quite silly in my thought patterns and, as a result, less discriminatory in my tweets and blog posts. I actually had a few minutes where the last cup of coffee I drank must have kicked in because my eyes were almost bugging and my body couldn't tell if it was time to collapse or run around the apartment a few times. 

I am still enjoying Dataclysm and FINALLY broke 300 pages for this Read-A-Thon. For now, I'm going to do some cheering, run a load of dishes in the dishwasher, and then get back to reading. Though I may take some time to use the exercise bike. Make sure my muscles still work and whatnot. 

I must be careful with how I distribute my energy. 4-5 AM is notoriously difficult for me to stay awake through. I do plan on visiting Dunkin Donuts at 4:30 or so, though. If they're not open, contradictory to their reported hours, I'll just get something from 7-11. The walks in the cold seem to do wonders with waking me up.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey Readathon | 11 PM (Begin Hour 16)

Change places. this is the episode.

We are at hour 16! I just got back from a trip to Taco Bell in an attempt to see if Lava Sauce can help wake you up. It was a success! Unless that's the Mountain Dew. Or the walk in the cold weather. Or the combination!

So, Fluxxdog has finally decided he needs to sleep for the night so I've had to move my base of operations from the bedroom to the living room. Fortunately we have a comfy sofa and I don't have to worry so much this Read-A-Thon about keeping the lights low. 

I am currently working on my 3rd book of the Read-A-Thon: Dataclysm by Christian Rudder. The statistics geek in me is quite pleased with this read!

Also, I'm quite hyper right now! So I'm gonna put this energy to good use and do some cheering!