Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dewey's Read-A-Thon Mini-Challenge - You're Wearing That?

Image result for bookish outfits

I'll be the first to admit, I'm not that crazy about clothes. Does it fit? Yes. Is it comfortable? Yes. Then I'll buy it (give or take). Though I do often have a weakness for funny or bookish t-shirts and dark denim jeans. Other than that, I really don't care about clothes, especially fancy dresses.

With one exception.

Image result for elvenborn

In the book Elvenborn, Lady Lydiell shows up to a dinner wearing a dress that, at first glance looks like a simple sparkly, silver dress. Upon closer inspection, however, the dress is show to be made of chain mail with tiny plates hosting tiny diamonds. It was so well crafted another character wonders if it could turn a blade. The only fancy/pretty dress I will ever truly want.

In terms of more practical clothing, I love the armor from Jay Posey's Outriders. That stuff is so responsive and lightweight the main character feels it's like a second skin. At the same time, it's stronger than most futuristic bullets, can survive in low atmosphere, has food(ish) & water available, and has the ability to sense the coloration of its environment and adjust its camouflage accordingly! Tell me that wouldn't be cool to wear!


This gets me thinking: have you ever read about an outfit that you would want for yourself? Not just an accessory (i.e. an invisibility cloak) but a full outfit. 

Image result for what should i wear

In the comments section, let me know the clothing, the book it's from and why you want it. This is a free-for-all, no restrictions on genre, magical or not, etc. The description and reason for wanting it that I like the most wins a $15 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Nobles (winner's choice). Please also make sure you leave a way to get a hold of you. A twitter handle or an email address (i.e. username   @   domain   .   com). I'll even give you 3 hours to enter!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Read-A-Thon | Mid-Event Survey

Fun fact, I still have not finished my first book for the Read-A-Thon! I spent 3 hours Co-Hosting and keeping up with everyone on Twitter and lost precious reading time.

The interesting thing? Since I logged out of the @readathon account, I've actually been pretty zen. I'm not energetic, but I'm not tired. I think I'm pleasantly relaxed. This is good for me because it means I'm less likely to burn out and more likely to stay awake the full 24 hours. 

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?
Soonish by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith.

2. How many books have you read so far?
Zero!

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Finishing a book!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Well, to be fair, I kinda signed on to be a co-host, so all I could really do was go with the flow. ^_^

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I had fun co-hosting. Not sure I did well, and I'll only do it again if really needed, but I had some fun.

10 Years in 10 Books | Dewey Read-A-Thon Challenge

So, basically, the challenge is to submit one book recommendation from each year the Read-A-Thon was running (2007-2017). This is gonna be a challenge because I've only been keeping track of my reading for the past few years! Wish me luck!

2007 - Chimichanga by Eric Powell
2008 - Hellboy: The All Seeing Eye by Mark Morris
2009 - I Kill Giants by  Joe Kelly, J.M. Ken Niimura
2010 - How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
2011 - The Tower's Alchemist by Alesha Escobar
2012 - WBI: Witches Bureau of Investigation by Richard Capwell
2013 - The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan
2014 - The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
2015 - RunLoveKill by  Jonathan Tsuei, Eric Canete, Leonardo Olea 
2016 - Outriders by Jay Posey
2017 - Under the Pendulum Sun by  Jeannette Ng


I can verify that, to me, all these books were highly entertaining and engaging!

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - Hour 0 Opening Meme

Yes! We're getting ready to start! This'll be my 7th Read-A-Thon! I'm so excited and I haven't even had my coffee yet!!!!!


As is traditional, the Read-A-Thon begins with an opening list of questions. Here they are, with my answers:

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

Michigan! I'm using Read-A-Thon as an excuse not to go outside on a game day.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Soonish by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith. It JUST got published this week. I made sure to pre-order it.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Chocolate Belvita Crackers with coffee. I LOVE chocolate and coffee!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm 31 years old!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I'll be co-hosting today! From 1-4 EST I'M CO-HOSTING! Hold on a sec, I need to keep from hyperventilating!





Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon




Holy wah! Holy wah! Holy wah! It's that time again! Read-A-Thon is here!!! I love this holiday more than Christmas! These events are the two times a year that I am at my most social. Seriously, follow my Twitter account (@Silelda) and you'll see my feed just explode with updates and conversations. Or you can just follow @readathon or #readathon! 

In a twist to my usual routine, I will actually be co-hosting the Read-A-Thon! I've never done this before, so I hope you'll all be patient with me. I'll be posting hourly updates from Noon to 3 PM on the Read-A-Thon's website and manning their Twitter account during that time. And answering questions, etc. as they come up. Fingers crossed I have a relatively easy shift. 

Other than that, my schedule looks pretty standard. Wake up at 7 to prep and cook breakfast. Sometimes Fluxxdog offers to cook breakfast (or get it from Taco Bell) but that rarely works out, so I'll just plan on making it myself to be safe. I'm going to set a time for myself to get up and move every couple of hours. As much fun as it is to just sit and read, movement is important! And I've got an audio book on YouTube to finish in case I need to walk around more than I expected or have other chores to do.

I'm not sure what books I'll be reading. I'll probably only be able to really go through one or two throughout the day. However, at 3 AM I will be switching to Schlock Mercenary, a daily webcomic that is almost two decades old that I've been meaning to catch up on. Yeah. Wish me luck! 

As far as snacks and meals go, I'm not guaranteed to eat a the times I have listed below, and I don't even have any snacks prepared yet! I'll probably spend all day Friday cooking and shopping for all the snacks to get me through Read-A-Thon. I'm gonna try to be smart about my snacking and not just down a bunch of sugary stuff. That'll sour my stomach and make me go to sleep which I will NOT stand for! I WILL stay up the full 24 hours!

Anyways, this is my Read-A-Thon plan. There should still be time to sign up, if you're interested!

Schedule Outline

7 AM - Wake up & breakfast
8 AM - Start with [book name]
11:30 AM - Lunch
1-4 PM - Hosting the website & Twitter feed
4:01 PM - Back to reading!
6 PM - Dinner
12 AM - Snack
2 AM - Shower
3 AM - Switch to Schlock Mercenary
4 AM - Snack
8 AM - SLEEP!


Proposed Reading List
Verax by Pratap Chatterjee and Khalil
Rescue Road by Peter Zheutlin
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rubber Soldiers | Gary Neeleman and Rose Neeleman

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

Summary:

This book looks at the essential role Brazil played in World War II by providing the rubber that was needed for the war effort.

Review:

The first half of this book was riveting. I had no clue that Brazil was so essential to the war effort. I had no idea how many lives were lost getting that rubber to the United States. Heck, I didn't even know German U-Boats were active in the South Atlantic. It was very educational, and heart-wrenching, relaying the stories of the Rubber Soldiers and the conditions under which they worked. 

The second half of the book however, was almost nothing but the very bureaucracy filled letters that passed between the Brazilian and US governments. These letters are not good for general readers. They were written with politicians and, maybe, reporters in mind. I had to skim through several pages of technical and political lingo just to get to the authors' summaries that were significantly more effective at exposition than the letters. I get that the letters were needed, but they really dragged down the book for me, a non-historian. 

It really upsets me because this book has a very important and under-represented story to tell and point to make. And the first half of the book does that so very well! The problem comes when the authors rely on verbatim copies of the letters and telegraphs. My eyes glazed over quickly and I had to force myself to continue reading. I really feel like the authors were only including the letters to pad the page count. The letters may have been better off being included as an appendix with the authors writing up summaries in the main book. They are talented authors but these letters just kill the book for me.

If you're a history buff or have a very strong interest in the subject, you'll probably enjoy the entire book. If you're a casual reader, like me, whose curiosity was piqued, you'll probably only like the first half of the book. 2.5 hoots.

               Hoot!Hoot!

                    Hoo

Saturday, October 7, 2017

SonofaWitch! | Trysh Thompson

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

Summary:

A collection of six humorous short stories about magic spells gone wrong.

Review:

This was a fun book! All six stories are great on their own and almost had me laughing out loud on the bus! At one point I actually had to set the book down just to get a hold of myself and my laughing. I think the phrase "it seemed like a good idea at the time" can summarize almost all of these stories' spells gone wrong.

While most of them involved a love spell gone wrong (after reading this I recommend never even trying a love spell) there is enough diversity of style and other elements to keep them from sounding the same. Let's face it, wishing for someone loyal and loving and accidentally turn your dog into a human is far different from accidentally ensnaring your crush's soul into a poppet doll. And exchanging one curse for another is very different from accidentally changing your own gender. Seriously, don't mess with love spells!

But all of the stories were so good! I have six new authors to start looking up. My top two favorites were "Good Spell Gone Bug" and "A Matter of Perspective". Both very different, but so much fun to read. I absolutely loved the part in every story where you realized that these witches, who are characteristically well versed in magic, are not always so perfect. If you liked Neville Longbottom because he wasn't the best at everything, I think you'll like this collection. There are a lot of underdogs.

In all, I give this book 4.5 hoots! It's full of good humor, good characters and downright good fun.

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                     Hoo

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Which Card Suit Are You?


As many of you know, I'm married to a Gamer. Fluxxdog enjoys sharing aspects of Gamer culture. One of the things he shared with me is how play styles are, generally, organized into four categories, Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds. Admittedly no one only fits into one single category; neither Fluxxdog nor I do. 

After thinking about it for a while, I figured out how to transfer these play styles into reader styles. I've listed and explained them below. They're written in the order of what most to least reflects my own reading style.

(Fluxxdog here. For the record, these are generalizations used to easily coordinate various aspects of game design. Context matters and mileage will vary.)

1. Diamonds


I am a true diamond, not just in gaming but reading as well. In gaming, diamonds are the achievement hunters, the trophy winners, the show-offs and the braggarts. It's all about trophies and stats. 

In reading, this translates to readers who are very count oriented. They know how many books they've read and how many pages (yes, I have a spreadsheet). These are also the people who collect paraphernalia from different book events. Readers who collect author autographs/selfies. Readers who buy the boxed set on top of the individual copies of the books they've already read. Trophies and stats.

2. Hearts

I am secondarily a heart, again both in gaming and reading. In gaming, hearts are the community oriented players. They prefer playing with and enjoy helping others while creating a good atmosphere for all players, experienced or newbie. 

In reading, these are the readers who attend every book related community event they can. Whether it's simply going to a book club, joining in on a Read-A-Thon, or even going to conventions, expos, readings and author signings. These are the readers who enjoy talking about books and encouraging other readers when they're in a slump or during an event and they love to recommend good books to people.

3. Spades



I'm not as much of a spade as I once was or could be (but it's Fluxxdog's strong suit). In gaming, spades are the people who dig into the mechanics and lore of a game. They're the ones who figure out which armor combinations (regardless of looks) is the best for which boss. They figure out that the main character was secretly dead the whole time.

In reading, these are the readers who look into the mechanics of the world they're reading and the writing of the book they're reading. They understand what makes a world work and what doesn't. These are also the readers who will research the world, character names, etc. looking for even more meaning and depth. 

4. Clubs


This is the category I identify with the least. In gaming, clubs are the competitors. They thrive in a player vs. player environment. Whether they're looking for a challenging fight or asserting their strength over noobs, they enjoy the battle.

In reading, these are the readers who partake in debates over which book series was better or which character was the better choice. Team Edward vs. Team Jacob? Clubs. Divergent vs. Hunger Games? Clubs. And a lot of the time it will be just a friendly talk or debate about why you preferred this to that. I'm just not a very competitive person, at least not against other people (see Diamonds above).





So, those are my comparisons between the categories in gaming and reading. I know there's plenty of room for improvement in the gamer-to-reader translations. Let me know what you think and what order you'd choose for you!

(Fluxxdog here with one last note. Games try to appeal to all four suits, generally to varying degrees. I would think a good book does the same. Call me old fashioned, but I certainly think The Hobbit is one of those. What books can you think of that appeal to all?)
*Silelda's Note: I never could finish The Hobbit. Didn't appeal to me. ^_^

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Hidden Face | S. C. Flynn

*Book provided by the author for an honest review.

Summary:

Dayraven has been a prisoner in a foreign land for 15 years. The day of his return he is disappointed. His emperor is a feeble old man who is forgetting to set the empire up for the next passing of power. Every few centuries, Akhen, the sun god, takes the form of a human, revealing himself on their 30th birthday. The next "unmasking" is only 15 years away and there are those who would use the unmasked for their own purposes. Dayraven must join with Sunniva to solve the riddles and figure out who the next Face of Akhen will be before others do.

Review:

For such a short book, there sure is a lot of story in these pages. The PDF I received had the book spanning less than 200 pages (I'm not counting the snippet of the next book). Yet in that short amount of time, Flynn was able to write up an engaging, enjoyable book. The puzzles were an excellent way of building the world, the most culturally based ones being at the start of the book. The reader gets to learn about cultural icons and whatnot while Dayraven and Sunniva work out what they mean the puzzle context. 

The story doesn't leave a lot of time for character development so much as character establishment, which makes sense, it's the first installment. Every chapter is told from another character's perspective and include a lot of flashbacks relevant to the character and the situation. But throughout the book, we mostly get an establishing of character rather than character growth. Except for Twister, he gave me quite the twist! At first I thought he would be the Gollum of the story, but by the end of it I just wanted something, anything good to happen to the poor guy. I really appreciated getting his perspective of things.

Really my only complaint about this book is the love story between Dayraven and Sunniva. Then again, I've never been much of a fan of love stories, especially not when I'm reading an adventure and puzzle heavy book. I get why they get together and appreciate that even they recognize how quickly they're falling, but still, not my cup of tea. 

There were times when I wanted to compare the book to The Davinci Code, what with a secret kept safe by Guardians that were killed and only able to pass on the secret through a series of puzzles. But this book takes place in a very different world and has very different power dynamics. This is its own world.

I really had fun reading this book and am really looking forward to the next. If you're interested in a new adventure read, I recommend you pick up a copy (it'll be coming out November 25). 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Monsters Exist | Jesse Deadman & Theresa Braun

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

Summary:

A collection of creepy and scary short stories about monsters of urban legends.

Review:

This was an incredibly creepy and scary book. I thought this was just going to be a book of stories similar to what you tell around the campfire. Turns out, a lot of the stories are a lot more gruesome. The book covers monsters I had forgotten to think about. Like the monster under the bed, the reason you don't feel safe sleeping with your hands or feet exposed. There were monsters I'd never heard about and takes on old monsters/legends that Id never thought of. The stories are very intense and and almost always very gruesome. If you're looking for a scary story or looking for a refresher on urban legend monsters, I recommend this collection. 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoo

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Trials of Solomon Parker | Eric Scott Fischl

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

Summary:

It's the early 1900's and Sol Parker is as deep in debt as the bottom of the mine he's working, and digging deeper. He just can't resist the dice. After a tragedy strikes the mine and he loses his only son, Sol ends up taking one more gamble when Marked Face offers him what he desires most, another chance.

Review:

This was quite the book. It took a little for me to get into it, and there were some parts that, squeamish me, had troubles with, but it was a good read. Fischl had his work cut out for him when he started changing up the timelines, but he was able to pull it off. At no point did I lose track of the story or the characters. I did have a little trouble getting into the world, but that's my own misconceptions about when the transition from wagons to trucks happened. 

I really felt for the characters in this book. Even when they were in their worst timeline, you knew that this was the magic of the different timeline. All it takes is for one thing to have changed in the past. I did appreciate that the characters kept meeting up, kept finding themselves in Butte. The author, in his notes, compared Sol to Job, but for the duration of this book, I see him as Sisyphus. At least three times we see Sol, aging as he climbs the mined out mountain, only to have to do it again. Trying a different route or a different starting point. Each time, he gets another chance to try to do things right.

Mixed in with Sol's stories are those of Billy (Sagiistoo), a Native American trying to come to terms with his abusive heritage and the abusive Christian school he went to, and the brothers Maatakssi and Siinatssi whose tragedies led to the downfall of The People. Keep in mind, Maatakssi and Siinatssi is not an actual Native legend, Fischl told it in the style of a Native legend, but felt it wasn't his place to tell a true one. The combination of these stories make for an engaging tale about human frailty and the quest for redemption, the need to make things right. 

The book isn't for everyone. There's a lot of abuse, death and cruelty. But there's also the good aspects of humanity. The camaraderie of the miners, standing up to the company so they can work in safer conditions. The love of a father for the child of his blood and the child he adopts. The sacrifices people will make to do the right thing. 

In case you can't tell, I really liked this book. I'm not usually one for historical fiction, but Fischl's books have shown to be worth making an exception. If you're okay with reading a darker book and are interested in trying the historical fiction genre, I highly recommend The Trials of Solomon Parker. 4 hoots!


               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

ActivAmerica | Meagan Cass

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

Summary (From Publisher):

Drawing from fairy tales, ghost stories, and science-fiction, the stories in ActivAmerica explore how we confront (and exert) power and re-imagine ourselves through sports and athletic activities. A group of girls starts an illicit hockey league in a conservative suburb. A recently separated woman must run a mile a day in order to maintain her new corporate health insurance. Children impacted by environmental disaster create a “mutant soccer team.” Two sisters are visited by an Olympic gymnast who demands increasingly dangerous moves from them. Sports allow the characters to form communities on soccer fields and hidden lakes, in overgrown backyards and across Ping-Pong tables. Throughout the collection, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results.
Review:

Let me start by saying, each of these stories were good. They were well written, interesting and I can see why they were included. There were a few stories where I sincerely hope the authors are continuing to practice their writing and honing their skills."Night Games" was an interesting story of learning to take control and learning your limits. "ActivAmerica" showed how getting even just one thing going right in your life can help the rest.

The problem I have with this book is that, after a while, the stories all kinda start sounding the same. Don't get me wrong, they're all different stories, clearly. Stories are told from different perspectives, have different main characters, take place in different dimensions. But the vast majority of the stories had a lot of common themes that were not part of the description. So many of the stories had parents divorced or on the brink of it. Families that would smile and pretend nothing was wrong. An alcoholic mother. A cheating spouse. A parent who genuinely tries to connect with their child and fails. Daughters becoming their mothers despite all attempts otherwise. Hawthorne, NY. I know, you'd think with this many different themes there'd be enough diversity of stories, but when so many of them have one or more of these elements, it gets kinda boring.

This is one of those situations where the contents are genuinely good, but you have to read something in between the stories. This gives each one the opportunity to be fresh and new to you so it can be the great story that it is. If you try to read it all at once, it'll get boring, depressing or both. And I'm not saying I need all stories to have happy endings. I'm just saying, in this anthology, with this many different voices and styles, I was able to predict just about every short story's progression.

So, I'm gonna give this book 3 hoots, but also warn you to read with caution.

               Hoot!Hoot!

                  Hoot!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Shadow Ops: Control Point | Myke Cole



Summary:

Lieutenant Oscar Britton has just had his magical ability awaken. Unfortunately his magic is in a prohibited school meaning he is going to be sentenced to death. Naturally, he runs. After he is caught, however, he learns that he will not be put to death, provided he follows the rules and doesn't try to run again. Instead he's been recruited to a secret base in the home of magic, called The Source. Here he must learn to control his magic while trying to figure out just whose side he's on.

Review:

I've been a fan of Military Sci-Fi for a while now so I figured I'd give Military Fantasy a try. This, maybe wasn't the best book for the transition.

The world this takes place in is amazing. It's very easy to get into the swing of things, figure out the way things are, etc. Even the magical world of The Source was very well thought out and intriguing. The indigenous people, nicknamed Goblins, have entire histories and mannerisms that I would love to learn more about. The clear and blatant racism that the Goblins have to deal with daily was heart-wrenching.

Then there was the classism between those who agreed to use their magic to serve their country and the Selfers, people who refused to take the oath. Selfers were treated like dangerous criminals even after they'd learned to control their magic. They were not allowed to go home, by all accounts they were dead. Their only choice was to either be treated like a prisoner and watch propaganda videos or take the oath to serve those who had put them into this situation because of reasons beyond their control. No one can control if or when their magic will manifest, nor in what way it will manifest. But, if you show signs of magic, you're drafted, one way or another.

And these situations provide wonderful ethical debates about freedom and treatment of prisoners of wars and more!

The problem I have with this book is the characters. I repeatedly called Britton an idiot. And yes, he did most of his stupid things for good reasons (he didn't want to die, he didn't want his friend to die) but I still felt like he deserved every hit he took. And he takes a lot of hits. At the end of the book a lot of people are dead because of him. Whether they were the good guys or not, that doesn't justify their deaths, nor how they died. He, himself, points out a few times what his biggest flaw is, his pride. If he could've learned to just shut up once in a while, he might have been an okay main character.

The other characters in this book are rather one dimensional, their motivations defining who they are and what they do. Even the bad guys, on every side, are very straight forward. Almost comically so. Britton's motivations keep flip-flopping so it made it even more difficult to like him. Therese and Marty were the only characters that I actually care about what happened to them.

In the end, though, I have to give this book 3 hoots. At no point did I feel like I needed to stop reading it and, when all was said and done, I have to say I am tempted to buy the next book. It has a different main character and the author had more experience under his belt when he wrote it. If it goes on sale, I'll buy it. In the meantime, this first book of the series gets 3 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

                  Hoot!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Future War | Robert H. Latiff

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

Summary:

Retired U.S. Air Force major general Robert H. Latiff has written this book to inform the public about current, pending and future technologies used in war. He has also written a plea to the American public to pay attention to these technologies, their uses and users and to debate the possible consequences.

Review:

The first part of this book showed me just how close we are to the military Sci-Fi books I love becoming a lot less Sci-Fi. This both thrilled and terrified me. In the Sci-Fi books, the technologies are already common place and the errors minimized. We're still in the testing phases and the full ramifications are not yet thought through. 

The technologies that we are looking at are amazing developments, if they can be perfected. We've seen videos of amputees controlling robot actions with their mind. There are news stories about technological advances allowing for faster healing. We're even getting closer to being able to delete bad memories. These technologies are amazing. But they're not always good. What are the psychological side effects of knowing that a lost limb can be regrown or replaced? If you don't remember the bad things, even horrors, that you've done, are you still responsible for them? 

There are even questions to consider about robots being brought into war zones. We've already seen in real life how algorithms do not always go as we think they will, as we plan they will. Artificial intelligence is still in rough stages. Being able to beat humans at games is one thing. Being able to make the right call on the battlefield is another. And what about the soldiers who serve alongside these robots? How will it affect their behavior? Their calls?

This book does a wonderful job of presenting the technology, presenting the questions that need to be asked, and giving the common citizen a good place to start their own research and education on the topic. Latiff laments the chasm that's been steadily forming between US Troops and US citizens and pleads for citizens to educate themselves and start closing that gap. After reading this book, I have expanded my daily news topics and will be looking up a number of the books he lists in his notes. 

If you have any interest in the future of technology, the current or future state of warfare, how to support our troops more effectively, this is the book for you. If you have any interest in joining the US Armed Forces, you will want to read this book as well. I highly encourage any and all US citizens to pick this up and learn more about what is involved when politicians talk about sending out our troops.

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                     Hoo

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Outriders | Jay Posey


Summary:

Captain Lincoln Suh has trained his entire career to be the best of the best. Despite this, he's been passed over for promotion time and time again. When he is non-select for a program he trained for months to be a part of, he's not sure what to do. Then he gets recruited for an even more elite, and less well known, program: 301st Information Support Brigade. Before he has time to catch his breath, Lincoln and his new team are sent on a mission to try to stop the looming war between Earth and Mars.


Review:

Back in June I reviewed the sequel to this book, Sungrazer, and loved it so much I immediately bought this one. I was not disappointed. I'll admit, I kinda wish I had read them in order, and recommend you do too, but I gotta say, each of them are good enough to stand on their own.

Probably my favorite part of this book is that it fills in some of the gaps in my understanding of characters and greatly helped my understanding of the technology. In the second book I thought the armor was impressive. In this first book, where we get more exposition on it, I was practically drooling over the armor, it was just so cool! And the characters who were fun to read in Sungrazer became even more endearing in Outriders because we got to know more about who they are and where they come from. 

And the dialogue! Holy wah the dialogue is so entertaining! Even when it's full of exposition it's told in such a way that you're more intrigued than bored. Especially when 'One-Time' Mike is talking. Seriously, every group has to have a  clown and he more than lives up to the role. He even had Master Sergeant Wright, one of the most stoic women I've ever read, trying not to laugh out loud while hiding her smile. The dialogue always feels so natural, especially when the characters are all so intelligent.

Each and every character brings something to the table. I don't think there's any wasted information or dialogue. I was never left wondering what happened with this or that. I was never caught of guard by something out of left-field, yet the book is not predictable. This is a well thought out plot with a well thought out characters. I'm gonna see about rereading Sungrazer and then start bugging the author and publisher for the next book in the series. I really like the books on their own, but as a series, they're wonderful reads! 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Under the Pendulum Sun | Jeannette Ng

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

Summary:

Catherine Helstone has gone to Arcadia, land of the Fae, in search for her brother Laon, a missionary who has failed to follow up with her or his church in some time. Considering the mysterious death of the previous missionary to the Fae Lands, she is anxious to find him. Unfortunately, her long stay in Arcadia is riddled with riddles of a dangerous variety. She must find a way to navigate them while holding onto her own soul. 

Review:

Let me start out by saying: Holy wah. Holy wah! Holy WAH! This book was an amazing read! I can't remember the last time I was tempted to take a day off work just to finish a book! There were so many things to think about and work through! I generally highlight parts of a book that make me think, or to look up later, or that might be clues for the overall story. Usually I highlight just a few things overall. I swear I highlighted almost half the book just because there was so much that struck me! 

You can tell Jeannette Ng has done the research on this. Not just because she has her Master's in Medieval and Renaissance studies (by the way this book takes place in 1800's) but also because of her mastery of the language. She uses the terminology these characters would have used in their time, in their place. My favorite part was that the Fae tell how long it takes to get somewhere, not with time or distance, but stories. For example, the Pale Queen commented to the Salamander that it had been too long since they'd last seen each other.
The Salamander bowed deep, her wet-seeming scales glistening. "It has been as long as it takes to tell a tale, neither long nor short."
And this really gives you an insight into the Fae mindset. If one doesn't measure time by seconds and minutes or distance in feet or meters, it really affects your interpretation of the world around you.

The best part, for me, is that everything ended up making perfect sense. When I got to the end of the book and saw the full scope of this story my jaw dropped in awe. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I will say that the Mastermind of it all has much more power, influence and insight than I had EVER thought to give them credit for! I was floored by how little I had comprehended! Don't get me wrong, the story's only told from Catherine's perspective, but still! I ended up falling into the same thought trap that she did and I almost never do that! I was so caught up in this story that I was unable to predict, unable to see, except as hindsight. IT WAS AWESOME!

I'll admit, the dark, gothic fantasy genre isn't for everyone. If you are interested in true fairy tales, like the original dark Brother's Grimm stuff, you'll probably like this. There's a lot of theology mixed with mythology that does such a wonderful job of tickling one's curiosity.

I am so in love with this book that I'm pre-ordering it (click the picture above to go to the book's page). I happily give this book 5 hoots and look forward to more books from Jeannette Ng!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                    Hoot!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Actually. Best. Jokes. Ever | Chantelle Grace

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

Review:

This was a cute little book of knock knock jokes, tongue twisters and puns, definitely meant for a younger audience. A lot of the jokes I had heard before, but I still got quite a few chuckles out of them, as well as several groans of annoyance from my husband when I read them out loud. I do wish the book had more illustration or more to it than just a long list of words, but that's a personal preference. If you're looking for a cute little joke book for a younger child, this is a nice choice. 3 hoots!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Mirror Empire | Kameron Hurley


Summary:

The star of Oma is rising for the first time in two thousand years. As a result, many who were considered ungifted are finding their magic. At the same time, a new enemy has been terrorizing the Saiduan to the North. They look like the Dhai, but that is all they have in common. This book follows many characters in their attempts to understand and survive in the time of Oma.

Review:

Even before I finished this book, I knew I was going to buy the next one. Or at least add it to my wishlist in case someone wants to buy it for me (Fluxxdog?). This book was bloodier than I thought it would be, but that's what happens when you have characters who can use blood magic. At the same time, it was so very, pleasantly different that I kept reading and enjoying myself.

I absolutely loved the fact that there is no one standard for "civilized society" in any of the countries represented in this book. The Dorinah are very strictly matriarchal (it's actually very dangerous for a man to go outside by himself). The Dhai are less strict on gender roles and even have five different pronouns that you can choose from for yourself. The Saiduan are more patriarchal and you will have your gender pronoun assigned to you from the three options.

As nice as those sound, the men in Dorinah are highly uneducated and are possibly even lower than the dajian (enslaved Dhai). In Dhai society the new Kai is covered in the blood of the old Kai while a feast is made from her entire body. And The Saiduan find glory in death.

There is so much of this world to learn and all of it is incredibly interesting. It wasn't just politics, either, which was my absolute favorite part of this book. The world it takes place in has very actively carnivorous plant life. There are riddles. There are magics based on the ascendance of stars and technologies and medicines built off of them. There is so much to this world and there is clearly so much more to see! This is why I need to get my hands on the next book.

Additionally, I appreciated that I never felt the need to smack sense into a character. The main reason these characters do something stupid or naive is because they've had information withheld from them. The new Kai, Ahkio, is never given the full account. Roh is never told about one of his most potent abilities. Lilia is made purposefully ignorant of her homeland. I read these characters and I think they're doing the best with what they're given.

This is a longer review than I was expecting and I still haven't said everything I want to say. To sum up, this is a great book full of dark fantasy and amazing world building. I'm very interested in seeing where this world goes. 4.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                    Hoo

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The New Voices of Fantasy | Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman

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

Summary:

A collection of short stories written by some of the best new talent in the genre. Edited together with forewords written by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman. Topics and stories range from a humorous story of a vampire trying to blend in to a dark story of a woman who lives off of other people's negative thoughts. 

Review:

Probably the biggest compliment I can give this anthology is that I can no longer say there's always one story in every anthology that I don't like. I greatly enjoyed every story in this collection. Every. Single. One. That has never happened before! 

This is an eclectic collection of fantasy, though I will say that, with one or two exceptions, these are all more Urban Fantasy than anything. The tones and moods of the stories, though, are delightfully all over the map. You have silly stories. You have scary stories. You have serious but heartwarming stories. I really feel there's a story for any fan of Urban Fantasy, maybe even all Fantasy fans.

I have added so many new authors to my Goodreads list. Admittedly, these are all short-story authors so I may have to consider joining up with Tor.com to get more regular access to them. If you know anything about Tor.com, please let me know in the comments below.

This anthology was a delight to read and I highly recommend it for fans of the Urban Fantasy genre. More general Fantasy fans may enjoy it as well. There are a couple of stories more up your alley. Fans of the Supernatural genre will also find plenty to enjoy in this collection. For me, I happily give it four hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cake Flavored Books Tag


Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've done a tag post and I found a very nice one over at Pirates and Pixie Dust: The Cake Flavored Books Tag! Now, she took a couple liberties with the tag that I won't be following, but I will make some changes to the original. I like that this tag can change with your tastes. See if you can spot the differences. I'm also adding a bit of a challenge to myself in that I'm only selecting books I've read in 2017.

Chocolate Cake - A Dark Book

I've read several dark books. They're not my favorites. But one dark book that I genuinely enjoyed, that got me to cringe and cry, was United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas. This book starts out dark and does not stop, though there was the occasional humor. 


Vanilla Cake - A Light Read

For me a light read is something that may not be particularly engaging, but is still enjoyable and kinda short. For this, I'm going to pick a more recent read, Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge. Definitely a pleasant read with a lot of charm.


Red Velvet - A Book That Looks Good

Gotta give this one to Clockwork Dynasty. The cover was a big part of the reason I chose to request the book from NetGalley. I'm a sucker for the steampunk design and it is drawn so well!


Cheesecake - A Book You'd Recommend to Anyone

Earlier this year Fluxxdog asked me to read his new copy of Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, based on the web comic Schlock Mercenary. Though I had never read the comic (working, very slowly, through it now) I really did enjoy this book. It is pretty self contained, you don't have to know the comic to be able to enjoy it and it's full of a lot of good advice and even more humor.


Themed Birthday Cake - A Book That Was Made For You

If I could go further back, I'd say Icon of Earth by Demethius Jackson. For 2017, though, it's gotta be Sungrazer by Jay Posey. This book had everything that I love. Military Sci-Fi, amazingly cool technology, intelligent and engaging characters, and more. It was so much my kind of book that I went ahead and bought the book that came before it as well. Don't worry, Sungrazer is definitely a stand-alone sequel. I'm reading the first one for fun more than for filling in plot holes.


Coffee Cake - A Book That Made You Fall Apart

There have been a few books this year that have made me cry (new record!) but I'm using many for other categories, so I'm going to give this one to City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. While it didn't make me cry as much as others, the ending was just so beautiful and perfect. It was a great way to end things. 


Carrot Cake - A Collection of Short Stories That Totaled a Great Book

Yes, I had to change this one. My husband LOVES carrot cake because of all the different flavors and textures. As for this category, I'm going to say The Sea Is Ours edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng. A collection of steampunk stories from Southeast Asia that introduced me to a lot of new authors. While there's always one story in every anthology I don't like, the remainder of the stories in this were more than enough to make this a great read.


Cupcakes - A Series With 4+ Books

No question, I give this one to the Lives of Tao series by Wesley Chu. I had started with a later book last year and I caught up with almost the entire series this year. I still need to read The Days of Tao which is a novella that takes place between the last book of the original trilogy and the first book of a new trilogy within the same world. I cannot tell you how much I've loved this series. It's made me laugh and cry and I'm a fan for life.


 Fruit Cake - A Classic That Surprised You

I haven't finished any classics this year but I am in the process of reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I'd never read it before and it's nothing like I had thought. I blame Disney!


Marble Cake - A Book That Gave You Mixed Emotions

Hands down, this one goes to The Rebellion's Last Traitor by Nik Korpon. I can see why some people would think it would be a happy ending. I can see what the author was going for. But there was a lot of...collateral damage (trying to avoid spoilers) that left me feeling less than enthused.


Hummingbird Cake - A Book Outside Your Usual Genre That You Loved

I'm not usually a murder mystery reader, but Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente was quite the gem! The "who" was kinda easy to figure out. The "how" was so much fun to read about. I don't normally read murder mysteries, but I really loved this book.


So that's my take on the Cake Flavored Book Tag. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Have you done this tag too? Let me know in the comments below!


Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Alchemy of Stone | Ekaterina Sedia


Summary:

Mattie, one of the very few automatons intelligent enough to warrant emancipation from her creator, Loharri, has been asked by the Gargoyles to user her alchemy to help them from turning to stone in the sunlight. At the same time, the city is feeling major unrest with the current political system. The peasants are being forced into mining work since The Mechanics replaced them with automatons in the fields. The Alchemists have worked hard to gain political favor, at the cost of the lower classes and immigrants.

Review:

I'm really not sure where to begin with this book. It is a good book, don't get me wrong. The city is interesting, though I do wish we could've gotten more information about the world. The characters were interesting, though I found it hard to empathize with any other than Mattie and the Soul-Smoker. 

I truly did feel for those characters. Mattie's relationship with Loharri was so abusive and controlling that I was truly disgusted. The lengths that man went through to make sure Mattie could never truly leave him was beyond creepy. He had essentially programmed her to always think of him when she needed help. He held onto the one key that she needed to keep herself wound. He literally held her life in his hands.
"You were ill," he said, "because you went went against your desire to see me. I told you that you always must do so. Didn't I?"
Then, Ilmarekh, the Soul-Smoker, cursed to carry the souls of the dead that refused to pass on. Forced to use opium to keep them all happy. Forced to always be listening to all of their stories and needs, never a moment alone, yet always alone because the living feared him so much. The only time he can quiet the dead is when he stops taking opium. Then he has to deal with the withdrawal which is made all the more difficult by living completely alone and being completely blind.

What little lore we got on the alchemy of this city, and even less the alchemy of the world, was interesting. I do wish we could've gotten more of it. Then again, I'm always a bit of a geek for the technical stuff. It was clear a lot of the technology of this world was steam based, but very little detail went into it. The book focused a lot more on the political unrest and drama-based relationships, which are not my favored books.

This was an engaging read. I had no problems reading through the whole thing rather quickly. Never felt I needed to put the book down. It was good, just not quite great. If you're interested in steampunk drama, by all means give this book a try. For me, I'm giving it 3 hoots.

               Hoot!Hoot!

                 Hoot!