Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Villain's Sidekick | Stephen T. Brophy | Mini-Review


Review:

This book is only about 100 pages, yet in that short amount of time, Brophy creates an engaging, memorable story with a surprisingly sympathetic main character. HandCannon works for The Eye and he's messed up, yet again, against Nightguard (the local superhero). He's given a chance to redeem himself and keep his job, but it's the same weekend that his ex-wife finally lets his little daughter visit him. I absolutely loved that HandCannon was so practical in his approach on everything. He even said he's not the monologuing type, highfalutin type. He is genuinely trying to make the best of the hand he's been dealt. This story ended up having so many things in it: action, mystery, comedy and even horror. I happily give this 4 hoots and encourage you to pick up a copy!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Praetorians 1 - Sienna McKnight | R. K. Syrus

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

Summary:

As someone who was nearly murdered in utero, Sienna knows you gotta fight to survive. It's written into her soul by the scars she still bears from the attempted homicide. Adopted by a military couple, one of whom was the medic who saved her, Sienna grew up in North Carolina and was trained from an early age on how to survive even the strangest of circumstances. When she becomes the youngest person made Army Colonel since the Civil War and the youngest woman made Army Colonel ever, she pulls the strings she needs to get back to her mother's homeland, Khorasan, and find her cousin, the man who killed her mother and tried to kill her as well.

Review:

This novella has certainly peaked my interest and I'm definitely wanting to continue reading the following books in this series. It was a little difficult to get into at first. The first several chapters like to skip forward in time, giving us a survey of Sienna's life and the world we're in. I remember being a bit disappointed that the book didn't center around the events in Antarctica that introduced the Ansible, that is later used for Sienna's weaponry. Instead, the next chapter skips ahead to the aftermath when her team, except her boyfriend, are fully recovered and she's a Colonel. 

The story we end up getting to focus on is her first real attempt at revenge. There are some flashbacks mixed in as well as a spiritual journey when she's out cold and her body has been fused with Ansible technology. The mission that she's taken her team, The Dogs, out for is supposed to be a quick grab-and-go. It almost succeeds. Along the way we get to learn a lot of important information about her team and why they are her team. This team is crazy in a way that balances out everyone else's crazy. T-rex, Snakelips, Whitebread, Nobu and Sarge all have distinct personalities and quirks that, to me, never feel like caricatures. I really felt they were real people.

The world is near-future Military Sci-Fi so you get some interesting technologies, most of them medical and warfare. We are introduced to the world in a time when that warfare technology is going through a possible scientific upgrade, thanks to the Ansible. The medical technology was always credited to DARPA and was frequently seen due to several opening chapters taking place in a Veteran's Hospital But there were also little technologies that I liked as well. Sienna's West Point class ring will also display little holograms of her achievements in and out of the academy. The first hospital we see has service bots for grunt work (though the way Ennis treated the one, I expect a robot uprising in a future book). So the world is similar, yet different. The technology is interesting, and it feels like we're learning about the new technology at the same pace as the characters.

This was an interesting read. Once I got into the book, I greatly appreciated Sienna's intelligence. She was not a character I had to yell at for doing something stupid. Some of the transitions felt a little disorienting, but, overall, I am intrigued by this world and its characters. Each novella will take the point of view of a different character and the next character is Sarge, Sienna's adoptive uncle who clearly knows more than he lets on. 

I am very entertained by this world, despite some of the writing being a bit rough. It does get a little bloody, and there is a scene with a child bomber, so probably not a book for the faint of heart. But if you're interested in starting a new novella series in this genre, I do recommend picking this one up. It's definitely a good start to, hopefully, a great series. 3.5 Hoots!

                  Hoot!

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                   Hoo 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Moonshine | Jasmine Gower

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

Summary:

Daisy Dell has just scored her first real job after college. She's a typist/secretary for Andre Swarz at Pinstripe's. Modest pay, but it helps her work towards her goal of being a Modern Girl. When she finds she works for a magician who hired her in part because of her own magic (inherited in the form of trinkets from her grandmother) she gets introduced to the world of bootleg mana and speakeasies. When an attempt is made on her life by mage-hunters, she has to seek help from her boss and coworkers to survive.

Review:

This book was not what I was expecting, and that's a good thing. I genuinely thought this was an alternate, historical fantasy that would take place in 1930's USA. What I got was a fantasy world with as much magic as any other high fantasy world, but with prohibition era aesthetics. It was really cool! 

The world is incredibly interesting and I want to know more about it. I greatly appreciated the difference in approach between Mr. Swarz and Daisy. His academic, political views of the world versus her aesthetic, social perspective really helped to flesh out the world. She's more likely to note the combined uses of magic and ogre technology where he is more likely to note the local politics and economic climate. The fact that this city of Ashland actually exists near a dying volcano that frequently covers the city in ash provided an interesting mental picture. Combine that with a culture that has incorporated (however begrudgingly) ogres and fauns, and you've got my attention. I really do want to read more about this world.

Then there are the characters. We only get to read the book from three character's perspectives: Daisy, Mr. Swarz and Ming Wei. These three are kinda all we need, though. As different as they each are, they are also surprisingly similar. All three have had to work from nothing to something, but Daisy and Mr. Swarz had plenty of family support while Wei needs to support her family. Daisy and Wei have good health while Mr. Swarz is physically disabled. Wei and Mr. Swarz are in charge of their groups while Daisy has never had any kind of influence or power. I really liked how Daisy and Wei almost bonded over their shared understanding of "a girl's gotta eat."

This book was a very enjoyable introduction to a very new world that I would really like to read more of. I'm eager to read more of Gower's works and encourage you to pick up a copy of Moonshine. 4 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot!Hoot!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pride and Prometheus | John Kessel

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

Summary:

Shelly meets Austen in this retelling of Frankenstein where Victor Frankenstein meets with Mary Bennett 13 years after the events of Pride and Prejudice and soon after his agreement to make a mate for his monster. Combining the styles of Austen and Shelly, Kessel tells the story of Mary's interactions with Frankenstein and his monster and their search to end their loneliness. 

Review:

I have to admit, between this book and Under the Pendulum Sun, I may have to start reading more gothic fantasy/sci-fi. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was a big fan of the original books as well as several of their adaptations (seriously, Pride, Prejudice & Zombies was awesome!) so I happily requested a copy of this book. I was not disappointed in any way.

I greatly appreciate Kessel's ability to combine these very different styles in such a way that they still worked with the story. The chapters focused on Mary are told from a third-person perspective while Frankenstein and the Creature's chapters are told from a first-person perspective. Additionally, Kessel retains the personalities of these characters. When I read Frankenstein I was appalled to find out what a whiny, self-absorbed personality Victor Frankenstein possessed. While reading Pride and Prometheus I again felt myself wanting to smack Frankenstein upside the head a few times. By the last few chapters my heart went out to Mary and the Creature.

Additionally, I really liked Kessel bringing in some modern takes of the times into the thought processes of the characters. Many times Mary brought up to the Creature that his bride should be well enough and know enough that she could genuinely choose him, rather than being forced into being his bride. Mary's status as a spinster in the world of 1800's England High Society brought more perspective of women's choices and treatment at the times.

This was truly an engaging, well written, well researched book and I happily give it 4.5 hoots. I will be looking for more books by Kessel as well!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                     Hoo

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.