Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016's List of DNFs

This is a collection of books that I just couldn't bring myself to finish this year and have no real interest in trying again in 2017.

Wisconsin Vamp by Scott Burtress

I'll be honest, I was hoping this would be a funny, zany adventure and, maybe it gets there after the first 1/4 of the book. From what I read though, it was more like a slow Seth Rogan movie and I'm not that much of a fan of his. 

The Great Mathematicians by Raymond Flood

I had to struggle through so much of this book. I normally read non-fiction books much more slowly than fiction, but this book almost had me in tears because of how difficult it was for me to read. I know math is one of my weaker subjects, but I generally still enjoy learning about it. This book wasn't the case.

Rookie Privateer by Jamie McFarland

I honestly couldn't tell you why this book didn't work for me. It has so many of the elements that I enjoy, but after I finished the first chapter, I put the book down and never picked it up again. Never had any interest in picking it up again. 

There were a few more books that I didn't finish this year and probably will never finish but I wanted to promote these because, while they didn't work for me, they were sound enough books that maybe someone else could/would enjoy them, they just need to know that they exist.

So what are some of the books you couldn't finish this year? Please let me know in the comments. Hopefully there will be even fewer DNFs in 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Void | James Owen Weatherall

*I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.


This book is an overview of the definition of "nothing" from a mathematical and physical perspective over, pretty much, the entirety of human thought on the subjects. Most of the focus is on Leibniz, Newton & the invention of calculus as well as Einstein's relativity and the QED that followed. 


I always enjoy when a mathematics/physics/philosophy author has a strong sense of humor. The number of "side notes" I read regarding how mathematicians treat physicists and visa versa, was delightful and really helped to keep me interested in what I was reading. There was a little bit of skimming, I'm a little embarrassed to say, but for the most part I was quite intrigued. Heck, I even learned several (most likely watered down) aspects of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED). I will say that I recommend getting a physical copy of this book. Almost half of the book is Weatherall's notes and the ebook format that I received wasn't very good for going to the end note numbered and then back to where I was reading. Still, I really liked this one. 3.5 hoots!


                Hoot! Hoo

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Exorcism of Little Billy Wagner | Francis J. Flynn

*This book provided by the author for an honest review.


This satirical novel tells the story of the events before, during and immediately after Billy Wagner's exorcism. We read about how responsibility gets passed from the archbishop to his underlings and then to their underlings, ending in the hands of Father Leo, a nice guy who just wants to go back to preaching in Bolivia. 


The thing that I love most about this story is that, if you're paying attention to the details, you can see what is really going on. You may think you know, but all of the facts aren't brought in to play until the final few chapters. While reading this book, I missed one or two things, but overall, it was pleasant to really see the puzzle come together. It did get me to sidetrack once or twice, as Father Leo sidetracked, regarding whether or not Billy is actually possessed or if it's something else.

I really enjoyed Flynn's establishment of character personalities. There was a lot of exposition about them, but they were, generally, entertaining side stories. Each person who thought themselves "perfect" or at least "beyond reproach" was clearly overlooking something others would find objectionable. Really the only people in this book I felt got worse than they deserved at any point were Father Leo and Bishop Waller.

I am very glad this book was listed as a satire because, if I thought this author was serious, it'd be a disappointing book. Knowing it was satire made it a lot of fun to read. I'll admit, anything non-fantasy, non-sci-fi or non-science isn't my usual genre, but I was happy to read this. If you like more realistic fiction with a good sense of humor, you'll enjoy this book. This really was a fun read. 4 hoots!


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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Robota | Doug Chiang and Orson Scott Card

*This book was provided by NetGalley for an honest review.


A 2016 re-release of Robota, a book about a world where robots seek to extinguish all forms of organic life and intelligence. Caps, a human with no memory, joins the resistance and seeks to destroy the leader of the robots, Font Prime.


I should've picked up this book when it was first published in 2003. It's really easy to see why this is such a popular world. Chiang's art is incredibly beautiful and detailed. The balance between art work and story reminded me of Dinotopia, another series I loved. As it is, I know I'm going to need to buy myself  a copy of this book because electronic just doesn't do the artwork justice. I want to hold the book in my hands so I can get the best look at the world of Robota.

There were a couple of times where I felt that the plot made some skips and jumps. A couple aspects of character development, especially for the villain, kinda just threw stuff at the reader that didn't make a lot of sense, seemingly just so they could surprise the reader. I'll admit, if this is a strong example of Card's writing, I'm not sure I want to read more of his work.

Truly the gem of this book is the world, Robota, and Chiang's artwork bringing it to life. The artwork is so breathtaking and the world so full and developed that I do want a copy for myself. 3 hoots!



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Eye of the Storm | Frank Cavallo

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

Summary (from publisher):

"On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world. 
Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm."


Every now and then I will pick up a book that ends up leaving me wondering "is this fantasy or science fiction?" Eye of the Storm is one of those books. Cavallo does a very nice job of blending the two together so well that neither is truly the dominant genre of the book. It's a balance that I appreciate and enjoy reading.

For me, the only real disappointment was that the book was fairly predictable; nothing really surprised me. However, the characters and the world from this book were still quite enjoyable. I happily read the book without ever feeling bored or disinterested. There was enough to the characters that no one felt flat, though I'll admit when Slade said his first lines I was hoping he'd die right away and my opinion of him wasn't raised much higher than "okay, let him live."

My favorite part of this book was the setting. What gets the scientists to go looking for something in the remote regions was when they find a "fresh" Neanderthal body with materials that could only be from the Iron Age. This theme of mismatched historical timings is continued throughout the book in a delightful way. The natives of the strange world are well aware of dinosaurs and stay away from their island. There are anthropomorphic frog creatures. There are tribes of Neanderthals. There are ancient Greek Hoplites. At the same time, there are skyscrapers and structures clearly built by civilizations far more advanced than contemporary humans. There is a lot to the world of this book and, if there is a sequel, I'd love to read more about it.

If you're in the market for a blended sci-fi/fantasy book with a world that blends timelines, I do recommend Eye of the Storm. 3.5 hoots!


                Hoot! Hoo

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bless This Mother-effing Home | Katie Kutthroat

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


This book is a collection of some of Kate Kutthroat's funniest work. The juxtaposition of traditional craftsmanship with NSFW phrases makes for some good laughs. One of them made me laugh out loud because it was, at one point, a bumper sticker that gave my mom one of the biggest laughs she's ever had. This would probably make for a good gag gift for other cross-stitch specialists or good for a quick laugh. At the very least, I'm going to take a look at Kutthroat's Etsy shop. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Kid Zero | Conor Daniel

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Harriet is a student at a school where she is constantly made fun of by other students and punished for things she didn't do by the Headmistress. The only reason she's there is because her father got a job working on string theory. If it weren't for Bruno, the teddy bear her dad gave her, she'd have no one to talk to. In one of her escape attempts, she is accidentally brought with Bruno to his home dimension. Unfortunately, his home dimension isn't looking so good. The Hoohahs (elites) are so wrapped up in protocol that they either don't notice or don't care about the Orliks (a race of teddy bear like creatures) and their struggles to make ends meat. Nor do they notice that some among their ranks are very close to taking over everything in a quest for all the power.


Kid Zero really is a fun book to read. You've got flying pigs, a fat queen, a race of teddy bears and an intelligent main character. Seriously, for this being a middle-grade book and Harriet being so young, I was pleasantly surprised at how intelligently and maturely she handled so much of what came her way. Daniel does not allow her youth to be an excuse for lapses in judgement or plot holes. He's also created several types of characters. Admittedly they're kinda simple characters, but it fit with the whole story so it didn't bother me. 

This book was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. There were times it was a lot darker than I expected as well. I highly recommend that you not read this to anyone younger than middle school age. There is a war and some suggestive dialogue that had me raising an eyebrow and grew my concern for Harriet.

I'll be honest, I don't often read middle-grade books (I think this is the first one in at least 5 years or longer). I may have to start reading more because this was the kind of book that made me give my teddy bear of almost 30 years a great, big hug. This book was a great reminder of how important my favorite toys were to me when I was younger and, like Harriet, not in a good situation. 

Really the only thing I didn't like about this book was the cliff-hanger ending. I should've known given that it's "Part 1" but still. At the very least, this could be seen as a sign that I was so into the book that I was quite emotionally charged at the ending. So, I happy give Kid Zero 4 hoots and recommend it for anyone in middle school or anyone who wants to be reminded of why we hug our teddy bears so tightly. 


                Hoot! Hoot!