Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Green Unknown | Patrick Rogers

*Book provided by the author for an honest review.

Summary:

Patrick Rogers recounts his travels to the Khasi Hills in the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya in search of living root bridges.

Review:

This book was a very fun and informative read. In the preface, Rogers says that the read may feel a little disorienting since it parallels his own adventures, but I was never lost. It was easier to follow along than he made it sound. Because the book is written from his perspective, with him including his mistakes and troubles, it actually makes learning about the area a lot more interesting and fun. It's one thing to be told about kwai and its potential side effects. It's another to read about the author going through those effects after a bad dose. Not to mention the massive storm he, Morningstar and Cena went through was made way more scary when written from his perspective.

Before reading this book, I had no idea what a living root bridge was. There is a noticeable lack of verified information on the subject.. After I learned what they are, I was hopeful that there would be a lot of myth-like stories about them to inspire the imagination. Turns out, the locals look at them the same way we do a sidewalk. Nothing too special about it. I do wish there were more pictures of them, but the author didn't find many of them as the practice is dying out.

I greatly enjoyed this excursion to a new world where the safest paths are still some of the most difficult to access. Where the struggle to get somewhere makes the destination all the more beautiful. Where almost every TV that has a satellite signal is watching WWE. I absolutely loved Rogers' depiction of the local children.

If you're interested in a non-fiction about a little-known place in India with beautiful photography and funny stories, I highly recommend this book. It's a short book, but for only $1 on Amazon, it's definitely worth taking a look. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!



Saturday, December 2, 2017

Fallen Gods | James A. Moore

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

Summary:

In this sequel to The Last Sacrifice, we continue the stories of Brogan McTyre, the most wanted man in a dying world and his struggle to escape capture from kings, slavers and demons while trying to find a way, any way, to defeat the gods that are destroying said world. The demon, Ariah, furthers his plans for world conquest through his most obedient servant, Beron. The kings of the world seek help from a new god/demon, Theragyn. And sorcerers from other countries have arrived to help.

Review:

I remember finishing up the first book and thinking that the author did a great job of summarizing the various plot lines and setting the stage for the second book while keeping it all interesting. I was pleased to find he continued this trend with the beginning of this second book. At no time during the book did I feel like I was getting an exposition dump. That did make it a little difficult to get back into the minds of the characters, but ultimately ended up making the overall book a much better read.

Similar to the first book, this is not for the faint of heart. There are a number of torture scenes that left me feeling queasy. They don't go into vivid detail but enough that, if you're squeamish at all, you may want to pass on this series. If you can stomach these kinds of things, I think you'll enjoy the read.

Despite the unnerving aspects of the book, Moore makes sure to include some much needed humor when needed. Stanna naming her sword The Bitch always made me chuckle. Niall's awkwardness was more endearing than annoying. Brogan's discomfort at traveling with a good friend's wife, who also happens to be a witch, was some much needed levity.

There are many character perspectives per chapter, but the transition from character to character, chapter to chapter, is easily followed. At no time was I confused about which character I was reading. And there are so many characters to read about and root for. Don't get me wrong, the bad guys are still bad guys, but there are so many more and intriguing characters in this sequel. I'm so glad we actually got to meet some of the rulers of this world. I really want to more about the enigmatic Jahda. That guy alone was enough to keep me reading! But Moore writes so many other characters that make you feel for them. It's awesome!

Another aspect I love about the multi-character perspective is that it's a great way to provide background while also giving the reader plenty of action to follow. When King Parrish is unable to explain how he and his Marked Men are changed by Theragyn, the reader is not left in the dark because we were given Morne's perspective during a fight and we saw how being a Marked Man affected her.

And, again, Moore proves he knows how to end a book. I was nervous that this book would end and I'd be disappointed because I didn't have the answers I was looking for. I still don't have the answers, but at the end of Fallen Gods my mood wasn't one of frustration but rather "I am so ready for the next book!" Seriously, the next one is promising to be glorious. If the world is actually going to end, it ain't going down without a fight and I want to read that fight!

I happily give this book 4 hoots and encourage you to read this, after you've read the first one that is. This isn't a standalone sequel. But the adventure thus far has been well worth the time.

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Where the Stars Rise | Edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak

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

Summary:

An anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories written about, to borrow from the publisher's description, identity, belonging and choice.

Review:

If you've followed my blog for a while, you've heard me say that there's always one story in every anthology that I didn't like or I liked every story, but only because I skimmed through the ones I didn't like as much. This book a very rare anthology where I genuinely enjoyed every story and every story kept my full attention. I'm not gonna say I it was a completely fun ride because there were several stories that felt like a gut-punch of emotion. But such was the diverse array of story styles, settings and themes that these emotional stories were well balanced with the lighter-hearted ones. 

At no point did I want to put this book down. I actually finished the book and thought "I wish I had been able to read this in one go." It is such an amazing collection that it has introduced me to so many things I didn't know I didn't know, you know? I now need to look up books about King Sejong. I need to find recipes for idlis and onigiri. I need to know more about spider-jinn. Spider-jinn! I wanted to learn Chinese because, as beautiful as "Back to Myan" was in English, how much more beautiful is it in its original language?

This book was such a welcome change of pace and scenery for me. The authors are so very creative and engaging. Though my copy of this book was free, I will be purchasing it [Update: I have bought an E-book copy]. Where the Stars Rise has raise the bar for all future anthologies that I read. And has also greatly expanded my "Want to Read" list on Goodreads. I happily give 5 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                  Hoot!


*Note: A portion of the book's revenue will go to support Kids Help Phone which is a Canadian counseling service for kids and teens in need. This fact does not affect my review.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Soonish | Kelly and Zach Weinersmith


Summary:

A thorough review of possible scientific innovations on the horizon, complete with the barriers in its development and possible side effects.

Review:

I picked this book up because I'm a fan of Zach Weinersmith's web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC). I actually pre-ordered the book because I liked his writing and non-fiction about technology is usually a big win with me. I was not disappointed!

The potential technologies brought up in Soonish were not just computer science based. They cover many areas of science including medical, world enhancements and energy. Many of the topics covered are ones I had no idea we were so close to. Programmable matter would be an incredible game changer in the world, for better and worse.

And that's something else that I really appreciated about this book. Each technology sounds like it would be an incredible boon to mankind. So the authors have made sure to include a "Concerns" section for each of these potential marvels. It is important that these exciting innovations are properly thought through and discussed. As much fun as it was thinking that Asteroid Mining could soon be a reality, what would be the actual economic effects? Being able to 3D print your own replacement heart valve or liver sounds like nothing but good news (and the authors do struggle to find a concern for this one) but how do we make it fair to those who may not be able to afford this marvel?

As much fun as the content is to read, the comics that they include are fun as well. Sometimes they're included to help drive a point home. Other times they're included to show the authors' sense of humor. For example, one comic shows Elon Musk walking on Mars and proclaiming "Finders Keepers" to talk about the legal issues of private companies driving the space program. Another comic shows one of the authors assuring Dr. Elvis they will not draw him as Elvis (though they totally do).

Overall, I'm glad I got this book. If you're looking for a science, non-fiction with a good sense of humor, you'll enjoy this. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

In the House of Five Dragons | Erica Lindquist & Aron Christensen


Summary:

Rikard was taken into Alterra, a different dimension, for 30 years to aid the Alterrans in their war. He has been returned, not aged a day, but with no idea as to how much his home has changed since he's been gone. So much so that he doesn't see how resentful his wife is at his return and what it means for the politics of the empire. Thainna is a Talon, a thief for the House of Five Dragons, trying to buy her brother a seat at the Crest of the House in the hopes that he can make everyone's life better. When she gets assigned to keep an eye on Rikard, she has no idea how to even start. But she must, if she wants to keep her brother alive.

Review:

I absolutely loved this book. It was such a delight to read! Don't get me wrong, I had predicted the big twist long before I could prove it, but I was still so drawn into this book, it's world and characters, that I almost cried while reading it. It may be a little simplistic, the good characters are good, the bad characters are bad, etc. but sometimes you really need a story like that. And the mechanics of the world this book takes place in are fascinating!

The VEIL Knights have a kind of blood magic that they can use to call upon the Alterrans to help them. The Alterrans live in a world without physical form; it's all emotions, memories and other thoughts. They literally use fear as a weapon, and a painful one at that. So when the VEIL Knights set up these deals using their blood, the Alterrans generally take emotion filled memories that they can use to fight off their enemies or create new forms. When Rikard, 30 years ago, agreed to whatever the Alterrans wanted in exchange for saving his men, he became the first Terran (physical) person to be taken into the Alterran realm. 

I love the authors' attention to the problems Rikard had coming back to the world of the physical after 30 years. He'd forgotten how to eat and drink. He'd forgotten what sleep was. He didn't know no one else could read thoughts like him. Thainna has to explain things to him like he was a child because he simply forgot, after three decades, some things that are so basic we don't even think about them anymore.

I'm not a fan of political maneuvering and whatnot, but I do like how the authors handle it. When Rikard, who has been celebrated as a self-sacrificing hero for 30 years suddenly shows up, he stirs up the muddy waters that has become the Empire. The Emperor dare not make him mad for the people love Rikard more than him. The House of Five Dragons needs to try to get him under control or risk their hold on so many political and military officials. The VEIL Knights themselves, whom he leads, need to purge themselves of their bad element and show the people of the empire they are there to protect them. 

That being said, I really don't blame Rikard's wife, Laurael, for putting their son's political status above her husband. She, herself, said that the first day she met Rikard was their wedding day and were only together two years before he disappeared. I'm actually quite understanding of her desire to kill her husband to assure her son, Gaius, his spot as the Emperor's heir. The only thing I do fault her for is having an affair with the Emperor in the first place. The rest of the "bad guy" characters, though, they had it coming.

To reiterate, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were enjoyable (I absolutely loved Stumble). The world has some very interesting mechanics that I'd love to see more of. Ultimately, this was a very good read. 4.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                     Hoo

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Verax | Pratap Chatterjee, Khalil

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

Summary:

This non-fiction graphic novel follows Pratap Chatterjee's investigations into NSA surveillance and their connections to failures in the use of drones in warfare. 

Review:

Probably the best thing I can say about this book is that it is really good at explaining and making sense of everything. When the Snowden story hit there was a flood of information and I never really figured out the full effect of what was going on. This book has been incredibly helpful in getting that situation sorted out in my mind. I've also heard many reports of US Army drones killing and terrorizing innocent civilians, but never knew the full extent. This book does a masterful job of focusing the information and making it manageable. Which, sadly enough, seems to be the same problem the drone program is having, too much information, not enough focus. This book does a wonderful job of making these statistics more than just raw data to blend in to the background noise of our daily lives. There are a lot of human stories that should be getting more attention. I've made sure to adjust my news feeds so that I can pay better attention. 4 hoots.

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge | Paul Krueger


Summary:

Bailey Chen had her life all figured out in high school. Then, after college, real life kicked in. She has to move back home and get a job as a bar back at the Nightshade Lounge, a bar owned by her friend's uncle. When she makes herself a screwdriver using some secret vodka, she discovers the literal magic of cocktails. Then she discovers that bartenders don't just mix drinks for people, they also use these magical cocktails to protect patrons from creatures that feed off a human's life force. She now needs to survive the creatures, the in-fighting of the bartenders and her family's insistence that she get a "real job".

Review:

I do so love when a book almost makes me laugh out loud on the bus. That is the sign that I'm having a great time with a fun read. This book made me do this not once. Not twice. But three times! I absolutely loved this book and the world it takes place in. I want to more books like this! I also want to know what magical abilities my favorite drink, a Scurvy Medic, would grant me! 

It's not often that I read a New Adult book, but I was interested in this one by some of the book trailers from QuirkBooks YouTube page and decided to give the book a try (seriously, look them up. They're really cool!) There were so many good characters, too. Bucket and Vincent were, hands down, the best two characters in this book! I kinda wish they were main characters, but then, that might take away some of their charm. Seriously, Vincent almost had me crying and Bucket almost had me crying tears of laughter. You gotta love it!

And the story was not predictable to me. It was very well thought out and well paced. There were plenty of non-forced or plot-hole-driven twists that kept me guessing about the outcome. This story and this world are wonderful to read and I really want more!

So, here's why it only gets 4 hoots, not 5. Relationship drama. Every time the main character did something stupid, it was because of relationship drama. She wasn't even that interested in Zane until she found out he had moved from his crush on her high school and gotten a girlfriend. This aspect of the story literally had me putting the book down a few times and completely kicked me out of the book. If it weren't for the other characters and the interesting world, I may have not liked the book at all.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. A lot. That's how awesome the rest of the cast of characters are. That's how interesting the world is. I absolutely love that bartenders are protecting their patrons and baristas are healers to the bartenders. Coffee really does cure all that ails you. So, if you can get past the relationship drama, I highly recommend this book. Be forewarned, though, it may make you want a drink or two. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Ghost in the Closet | M. K. Theodoratus | Mini-Review


Review:

This short-story was a pleasantly optimistic read. When the story started out with main characters who were moving into a mansion remodeled into a women's shelter, I was very worried this was going to be a story of depression and abuse. What I got was a group of women who turned their curses into blessings. When the shelter gets contested and they're told they have to leave now, Turner challenges this saying "I know how foreclosures work. Been through enough of the damn things." Even Dumdie, the one who's lost so much because of her ability to see ghosts, is able to turn it for good. Despite some grammatical issues, this was a delightful short story that I encourage you to pick up. 3.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

                Hoot!Hoo

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Nanoshock | K. C. Alexander

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

Summary:

Riko's cred is still draining. She's losing more allies than she even knew she'd had. She's gaining more enemies than she thought possible. With the price on her head going up, she's having trouble focusing on her mission of getting proof that MetaCorp set her up and is trying to weaponize Necros. 

Review:

I have been waiting for this sequel for a while. I never forgot my joy at reading the first book. When I saw this one available on NetGalley, I jumped on it. I was not disappointed! Riko is back, doing and saying things that would make a sailor blush and living up to the title "Splatter Specialist" the whole way. And I loved every minute of it.

This isn't a book for everyone. It is incredibly NSFW and has a lot of fight scenes that made me cringe. That said, if you're okay with some gruesomeness and a lot of foul language, you'll probably appreciate the humor that permeates throughout the book. You will probably want to read the first one before you read this. There's a lot of important backstory there.

I'll admit, there were a few times when Riko's attitude and act-first-think-later personality began to get annoying, but the author wonderfully seems to know when this is happening and has another character call her out on it. This really helps with balancing Riko's obtuse nature keeping the reader from burnout. There were times it was difficult to figure out what was going on, then again, since we're reading from Riko's perspective, and she's not the brains of any operation, it kinda makes sense. 

Then, there was the ending. I'm going to avoid spoilers by not telling you a thing about the last chapter. All I will say, when I finished this book, I had a big smile on my face that only got bigger as I thought more and more about how well the ending fit. This book was an exceptional follow up to the first one and I couldn't be more pleased with it.

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!
                     Hoot!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Read-A-Thon - Closing Survey

This was a fun Read-A-Thon. I co-hosted for the first time ever. It was a bit of a trying experience. I had to learn to put aside my need to read all the things so I could properly man the twitter feed. I hope I didn't overdo it. Had a lot of fun hosting the mini-challenge. I got introduced to some new books that I need to look up. Here's my final survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I'm torn between Hours 6-8 (when I co-hosted) and Hours 22-23 when I nearly fell asleep.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!
Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha! Ha. I read one book. Soonish. The rest of the time I read the web comic Schlock Mercenary. 

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?
Calvin & Hobbes, all the way.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?
I dunno, I was smiling quite a bit already with this one.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?
I've already signed up! See you in April.

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!

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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!