Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Lives of Tao | Wesley Chu


Roen Tan is stuck at a dead-end job and life that he won't stop complaining about. Then he gets inhabited by an alien life form and thrown into the middle of a secret war. The Quasing are divided into two factions: the Genjix who believe that humans can only advance through conflict and the Prophus who believe that humans will advance if allowed to live peacefully. Currently the Genjix are winning the war and they want Tao, the Quasing that currently inhabits Roen Tan.


A while ago I was introduced to this world through Rise of Io (see Blogger's Bookshelf for review) and I swore I was going to read more of Wesley Chu's books. I was not disappointed! Admittedly, knowing some of the things that were going to happen further down the timeline kept me from getting fully engaged in some aspects of the story, but I still had a great time. 

I've read one or two other reviews that describe this as book to read to get yourself motivated and I have to agree. Reading about Roen's progress in his secret agent training and Tao's demands for better performance from his human host had me looking at my own gut and thinking "I can do better" and start looking at ways to get into shape. If you're in the mood for a book that can inspire you to do more for your diet and exercise, I highly recommend this book.

 This was such a fun, action packed, humor filled read. The characters, even the nearly immortal aliens, are so relatable and interesting. It really helped to fill in some of the gaps in my understanding of the world from picking up a later book. Even the villains are entertaining. I love intelligent villains and Genjix know what they're doing. This is a true underdog story and I really want to continue with the series. 

If you're at all interested in books about aliens being the driving force behind human evolution, or even just stories about an underdog turning his life around, I highly recommend this book, possibly this series. 4 hoots! 


                Hoot! Hoot!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Perfect Machine | Brett Savory

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

Summary: (From Publisher)
Henry Kyllo is a Runner, a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. Every day he is chased through the city by Hunters whose goal is to fill him with bullets. It is a secret war steeped in history, tradition, and mutual fear.
Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves ascension, but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure. Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again.


This book, short as is it is, had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I don't feel it met that, and fell far short of my expectations for it. Maybe I was asking too much of it, but I was disappointed by this book.

The author does make me feel emotionally connected to the three main characters, he's done a great job of getting me interested in their story. I was genuinely concerned for Henry's sanity and Milo's sake. I was happy to read this book out of interest in these few characters.

My biggest problem with this book is the world it takes place in. Clearly it's our world, but with this subset of people that, if we were to encounter them, we'd never remember. But what is it that causes people to forget? What is it that allows the Runners to physically take on bullets? What is it that takes the loved ones of Runners who don't run? Why was one little girl, ghost character, the only one with any actual answers, forgotten almost immediately after her introduction? No one, not even the elders of the Hunters and Runners, have answers to any of these questions.

And maybe I'm missing the point of the book. Maybe the focus was supposed to be on these characters, but I feel like, if I knew more about the world and its laws, I could've felt more. I could've been more interested in what was going on. As it was, when the book ended, I felt nothing. There was so much that this book could have been, but wasn't.

As it is, I can only give 2.5 hoots.

           Hoot!Hoot! Hoo

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Weird Dinosaurs | John Pickrell

*Free copy provided by NetGalley for an honest review.


John Pickrell takes us all over the world and through time to learn more about the strangest dinosaurs and the, sometimes even stranger, paleontologists who found them. 


Like most people, I fell in love with dinosaurs thanks to Jurassic Park. While my original plans to become a paleontologist didn't pan out, I've still held on to my love of dinosaurs. Even when science told us that they were actually feathery creatures, instead of the scaly lizards we originally thought. I was prepared for this book to be a very technical read and was still excited to read it. The fact that it ended up being an incredible series of adventure stories was a wonderful surprise. 

Pickrell takes us to some of the biggest dig sites on each continent. I had no idea that there was such a big "market" for paleontologists in Mongolia, Antarctica and Madagascar. He shows us that not all fossils are found in desert conditions and talks about the trials and tribulations of digging out said fossils when the weather and geography are never on your side.He talks about contemporary paleontologists trying to find dig sites found a century or two ago and gives mini-biographies on some of the older paleontologists. It really is a grand adventure. 

This book was so much fun to read and learn from! I'd love to have more pictures, but I also enjoyed finding the dinosaurs on Google Images, especially the one dubbed "Hellboy". It's so fascinating to read about all the different "decorations" that dinosaurs evolved for various reasons. It was even more fun to read about so many of my previous thoughts about dinosaurs be proven wrong. The notion that dinosaurs could only live in tropical climates? Not true. The evidence has been found. Seeing what happens to dinosaur populations that evolved on islands and seeing the work that goes into putting the pieces together, literally and figuratively, makes for an incredible read for any dinosaur lover. 

If you have any interest at all in dinosaurs or want to get someone interested in them, I highly recommend Weird Dinosaurs. 4.5 Hoots!


               Hoot! Hoot!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dr. Potter's Medicine Show | Eric Scott Fischl

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

This book follows three stories that tie together. The first is the story of the travelling show whose participants are tortured, sometimes literally, by Lyman, their illusionist. The second is the story of Ag and Sol, two brothers trying to prove they don't need their mother. Third is the story of Dr. Hedwith, a man trying to find the secret to immortality by any means.


I'll start with a warning that this book is not for the faint of heart or stomach. More than once I wished I wasn't eating while reading. It starts out innocently enough but there are some scenes that made me think of Red Dragon. So, fair warning, not a book for everyone.

That being said, I actually did enjoy this book a lot more than I thought I would. Yes, the book is full of dark and depressing scenes, but, thankfully, Fischl has a good number of scenes with Ag and Sol. Yes, they're pretty much comic relief, but they're are so well balanced with the darker stories that you never feel like the book is taking itself too seriously or not seriously enough. Fischl has a really good sense of balance with his characters and their stories. 

I also enjoyed how Fischl wrapped things up at the end of the book. There was enough mystery that you didn't know exactly what had happened, but enough loose ends had been tied up that you didn't feel like you were missing out. Not everyone got the ending I wanted for them but I wasn't unpleasantly surprised by the endings they received. It was a really well done book.

If you're in the mood for a darker story where alchemical studies are real, taking place in the post-civil war era, I highly recommend Dr. Potter's Medicine Show. It's a good story with great characters. 


                Hoot! Hoot!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Challenges

Hello everyone! Happy 2017! I really hope you have a great year!

Last year I attempted to partake in the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge. I failed. I couldn't do it. But I did learn a lot from it and it's going to fuel my personal goals for 2017. For 2017 I'm going to Stop and Read the Roses.

In 2016 I read over 28,000 pages. Seems like a great thing, but I worry that I read so much because I rushed through all of my books. I didn't take my time with so many books and enjoy them as much. I worry that I downgraded some great books to good because I didn't give them the time that they needed.

In addition, I let reading take over pretty much all of my free time. I wanted to do more with my time: video games, learning Russian, learning coding, working out. I did so very little other than reading. If I chose to do that much reading it'd be one thing but I often felt that I HAD to keep reading. This is because of how many books I requested from NetGalley and accepted from authors. I kept feeling rushed in my reading, that my hobby was actually a job. This is NOT what I want.

So, for 2017, I'm slowing down my reading and enjoying books again.

Here's my plan for doing that:

1) No page counting until the end of the year.
2) Only 1 NetGalley request a month.
3) I will read one book at a time.
4) At least one book a month will be from my physical TBR list and another from my digital list. 

Yes, this is going to be tough but I really want to slow down and try other things. I want to play the games in my Steam library I have yet to touch. I want to learn JavaScript. I want to get healthy. I want to enjoy reading again. 

So that's my reading challenge for the year: Stop and Read the Roses. Wish me luck!

I'm also considering streaming with the video games I've never played before (at Fluxxdog's suggestion) but I'm not completely sold on the idea.