Sunday, December 13, 2015

In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Lady Trent Series


5 Stars

Several years ago, when I received a copy of A Natural History of Dragons, I thought-oh, that looks like an interesting book-and then tucked it under my TBR pile and figured someday I'd get to it.

It took nearly a year to pick the book back up, which was at the same time a blessing and a curse. I absolutely fell in love with Isabella. The story is not simply a textbook style history lesson on dragons as I expected (because I'm notoriously lazy when it comes to reading back cover descriptions).

The Lady Trent stories do study dragons, they are memoirs of a naturalist in the field, but they are so much more than that. Isabella's studies lead her to the most exciting adventures and she is perpetually in trouble. While fighting social status, propriety, and the oppressive nature of her sex, Lady Trent is a shining example of hard work, determination, and overcoming all odds to not only accomplish your dreams, but to succeed in spite of all obstacles working against you.

I couldn't wait to read more and luckily since I had waited so long to read the first book provided me, the second was near release and I devoured it the moment it arrived at my door.

In the Labyrinth of Drakes is the fourth book of the series, the fifth book coming in 2016 is to be the last installment, and I can very confidently say this is the best of the series. Absolutely brilliant. Her relationships deepen, her status as a naturalist solidifies, and surprisingly she behaves herself. That's not to say trouble still doesn't find her...

Todd Lockwood provides the artwork for these books and they are absolutely stunning. I received an Advanced Readers Copy so I'll have to wait for the hardcover to release this April to see the full sketches throughout the book-Yes, all Lady Trent books are fully illustrated with Isabella's sketches in the field-

In the Labyrinth of Drakes is set to release in April so there's still time to get a great pre-order price and catch up on the series.

 TOR.com provides computer backgrounds of the covers if you love them as much as I do. In the Labyrinth of Drakes can be found here: http://www.tor.com/2015/05/06/cover-reveal-for-marie-brennans-in-the-labyrinth-of-drakes/

About the Author















Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spends her time practicing piano, studying karate, and playing a variety of role-playing games.

Follow Marie Brennan on twitter @swan_tower for updates on In the Labyrinth of Drakes and giveaways!

Check out all the books she has to offer!
http://www.swantower.com/buy.html


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stocking Stuffer Books





 Confused about what to get your loved ones this holiday season? Don't be! Here are a few of my favorite books from this years reviews, perfect stocking stuffers this holiday season!

Happy Holidays!

Illuminae 5 Stars
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
      The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
     But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

The Martian 5 Stars 
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


The Marauders 5 Stars
When the BP oil spill devastates the Gulf coast, those who made a living by shrimping find themselves in dire straits. For the oddballs and lowlifes who inhabit the sleepy, working class bayou town of Jeannette,  these desperate circumstances serve as the catalyst that pushes them to enact whatever risky schemes they can dream up to reverse their fortunes. At the center of it all is Gus Lindquist, a pill-addicted, one armed treasure hunter obsessed with finding the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. His quest brings him into contact with a wide array of memorable characters, ranging from a couple of small time criminal potheads prone to hysterical banter, to the smooth-talking Oil company middleman out to bamboozle his own mother, to some drug smuggling psychopath twins, to a young man estranged from his father since his mother died in Hurricane Katrina. As the story progresses, these characters find themselves on a collision course with each other, and as the tension and action ramp up, it becomes clear that not all of them will survive these events.





Little Miss and Mr. Me Me Me Series 5 Stars
These hysterical parodies feature adorably damaged adults who’ll make you laugh (and cringe) in recognition.​
The Little Miss and Mr. Me Me Me parody series. Little books with very BIG personalities.
 


 


Season of Wonder 4 Stars
Wonders abound with the winter holidays. Yuletide brings marvels and miracles both fantastic and scientific. Christmas spirits can bring haunting holidays, seasonal songs might be sung by unearthly choirs, and magical celebrations are the norm during this very special time of the year. The best stories from many realms of fantasy and a multitude of future universes, gift-wrapped in one spectacular treasury of wintertime wonder.





Daniel the Drawer 4 Stars
"This is no ordinary pencil," says the cat sitting on the end of nine-year-old Daniel's bed. "It's magic." Everything Daniel draws with his pencil--flying dragons, Octobears, and pizza-loving aliens from the planet Beezo--comes to life. It's pretty awesome until the pencil draws a line between Daniel and his best (and only) friend Annie. Come along with Daniel and his fantastic creatures on this fun-for-the-whole-family journey as he discovers that friendship is the greatest magic of all.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mr Humblebrag


4 Stars

Mr Humblebrag has some great tips... On how not to use social media. We all have those friends who wish they would stop posting those un-motivating motivational and passive aggressive letters to now ex-best friends and OMG had to have Bae's. Now you'll be on the lookout for the humblebrag's, and god help us, there are a lot of them.

Side note: If you find you in fact do not have friends like this, you may be very blessed indeed. Or you may want to take a look at your own social media feed. If you can't point out the culprit-It's probably you.

Mr. Humblebrag is rich and lives humbly in his mansion with academy awards and his supermodel girlfriend, but he really wishes the world would stop giving him so much. His humble personality tears him up inside so he makes himself feel better by letting everyone know how bad he feels.

Sometimes life can be too much to handle, but don't worry. Kick back, put your feet up and let the world know you're taking a much deserved break on the new luxury cruise line and their prayers for a safe return are much appreciated because with you're luck, you may get stuck in Spain and have to travel the stunning country while waiting for your delayed flight home.

This book was given to me for review by Blogging for Books.



Photo of Dan Zevin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DAN ZEVIN is a Thurber Prize-winning humorist. Two of his books, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad and The Day I Turned Uncool, were optioned by Adam Sandler, and the latter is now being developed as a sitcom by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith. Dan has been profiled in USA Today and has been on CBS This MorningFox and Friends, The Today Show,and NPR. He has also been an award-winning humor columnist for the New York Times, a comic commentator for NPR, and a contributor to the New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Details, Salon, the L.A. Times, Real Simple, and Parents.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Little Miss Basic


3 Stars

Ugh. This book was, like, totally the worst of the collection. Like, literally.

It hurt my brain just typing out that sentence.

It may be that I really don't like this type of person and therefore was unable to laugh at this character, or perhaps the book really wasn't that funny. 

I completely understand why, but the book was cynical and mocking-don't get me wrong I'm right there with him-though it left the book dry and me angry at the selfish and self entitled notions of these basic bitches.

Maybe some will find it funny, I found it kind of sad.

This book was given to me for review by blogging for books.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Season of Wonder

This year, no matter how many ways I looked at it, I just wasn't read for Christmas. Or Thanksgiving for that matter. 

My sons birthday is so close to the two big holidays and his big day fell dramatically flat and I just didn't have any motivation to try and make another day special after all my former efforts went to waste.

I was ready to give in and skip the holidays.

I was actually going through my unread books for my ebay store when I came across Season of Wonder. I almost, almost, put it up on ebay without a second thought, but as I started typing out the back cover description, I changed my mind.



4 Stars

I won this book two years ago and never touched it, never even knew what it wa about. It came in a pile of books, one of which was so riddled with typos that I swore off all that came with it, sure that they would be just as terribly edited as the first.

There are the occasional typos in Season of Wonder, but not enough to turn me away. I very much needed a new approach to Christmas, a fun and innovative idea to spark a childlike wonder in me and renew to magic of the holidays and somehow this book did it.

Forget the classics this year, I went straight of the weird and other worldly.

Season of Wonder is a collection of sci-fi/fantasy Christmas stories.

SCI-FI AND FANTASY CHRISTMAS STORIES!

I don't know why, but this was exactly what I needed. The stories were so interesting and so new and exciting that it put me straight into the spirit of Christmas.

It's such a fun idea-I love sci-fi, love fantasy-and needed a kick in the pants for Christmas. 

The classics are great, but they've lost their marvel for me lately. They're just not the same when you're the one working so hard to provide Christmas for the family. Think of this as the adult version of Christmas. It was a really fun way to get motivated and get going.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Little Miss Overshare


5 Stars

Absolutely on point in hilarity and the sad truth of those we all know to share just a bit too much info.

After reading Mr. Selfie and laughing in mockery of the self absorbed, overly photogenic society we live in, I really wanted to read another of Dan Zevin's books and Little Miss Overshare went above and beyond my expectations... And the expectations of everyone she speaks to.

Definitely a must read to shake off the stress of the day and laugh off all the crazy.

This book was given to me for review by Blogging for Books.

Photo of Dan Zevin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DAN ZEVIN is a Thurber Prize-winning humorist. Two of his books, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad and The Day I Turned Uncool, were optioned by Adam Sandler, and the latter is now being developed as a sitcom by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith. Dan has been profiled in USA Today and has been on CBS This MorningFox and Friends, The Today Show,and NPR. He has also been an award-winning humor columnist for the New York Times, a comic commentator for NPR, and a contributor to the New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Details, Salon, the L.A. Times, Real Simple, and Parents, among others.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mr. Selfie

In kindergarten I loved the Mr. Men characters posted around my classroom teaching me the alphabet, how to share, and how treat others with kindness.

Well, the jolly, helpful Mr. Men characters of my childhood grew up to be self absorbed, social media crazed dicks just like the rest of us. Dan Zevin has captured my childhood and twisted it into this amusing, yet sadly true, parody for our self absorbed society in his new book Mr. Selfie.


4 Stars

Mr. Selfie just can't stop admiring himself long enough to notice what's happening around him, or to him. He has to share his next brilliant adventure online for all to see, even if it means losing a date or possibly a limb...

He is so self absorbed in fact that Blogging for Books had to send him in a box big enough to hold himself, his-ahem-extra long, extra limb, his ego and his entire portfolio of awesome selfies.


No, the box isn't that big, Mr. Selfie is just that small... The book is a bit bigger than my hand and paperback, much smaller than I expected but honestly it's adorable and the perfect size for storing in a desk drawer to pull out for a quick chuckle at the ridiculousness of our fellow humans.

This would make a great gift, I chuckled and ultimately learned a valuable lesson; I am much better at taking selfies than Mr. Selfie.

Photo of Dan Zevin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DAN ZEVIN is a Thurber Prize-winning humorist. Two of his books, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad and The Day I Turned Uncool, were optioned by Adam Sandler, and the latter is now being developed as a sitcom by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith. Dan has been profiled in USA Today and has been on CBS This MorningFox and Friends, The Today Show,and NPR. He has also been an award-winning humor columnist for the New York Times, a comic commentator for NPR, and a contributor to the New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Details, Salon, the L.A. Times, Real Simple, and Parents, among others.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Career of Evil


4 Stars

The third book to the Cormoran Strike novels has been at the top of my TBR list since the moment I finished The Silk Worm. I preordered a copy over six months ago and couldn't believe it was finally in my hands last week. I pushed aside all my other books begging to be read and devoted all my free time to Cormoran Strike and his savvy side kick Robin and whatever whirlwind adventure they cooked up this time.

I'm sad to say, I was sorely disappointed this time around. I'm not sure if I had built the book up to unrealistic standards by my growing excitement, or if the book really did fall flat on its face. The relationship between Robin and Strike is stale, all the excitement between them gone in the wake of Robin's wedding. Strike is doing nothing to discourage Robin from marrying the prick she's saddled herself with and it irked me throughout the story.

Robin... poor, stupid Robin... really got on my nerves. I love how determined she is, how hard she works, how amazing she has become at her job. But I hate, with a passion, how she stays with Matthew. He's awful... I can't stand it and it's left this grudge between me and Robin and I can't forgive her for her actions.

Beyond Strike purging himself of all emotion as well as any opinion on pretty much anything, and looking past Robin's numerous mistakes, the story is very intriguing. I admit I had no idea who the perp was, whether it was even one of the men they were investigating on Strike's top list of suspects or someone completely off base. I found the perspective of the killer to be both repulsive and fascinating and overall the book was well put together and grippingly fast paced. 

I loved Robin up until this book, but I am hoping, with the mysterious cliff hanger at the end, she can redeem herself in the next book... I hope... I don't think I can live with her being married to Matthew, it bothers me that much. I'll give the next book a chance, but I don't have high hopes for continuing this series.


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Marauders


5 Stars

Life's unfair, I've always been told. A saying I suppose that is meant to bring some comfort, a way of answering the age old question of 'why me', 'why now'. There is no 'why', life is simply unfair, out of our control, we have to make the best of it.

Life's unfair. 

It's an unsettling thought having no control. No one could stop Katrina and it's death and destruction that swept the south, no one could stop the levee from breaking after so many years of neglect, and until hell freezes over, no one can stop Lindquist from metal detecting in the Barataria bay and stirring up trouble.

Bills, work, accidents, loss, The Marauders is about life and all that can and will go wrong. The characters are struggling to find their way, stubborn to the core, determined to make ends meet despite the overwhelming evidence that the BP oil spill has wiped out any chance of success for their shrimping business and is attempting to buy their silence with a menial sum of money.

Cooper's characters are real, flawed and slightly annoying, and every one of them searching for a buried treasure to turn their lives around. I felt for all of them, I could relate to their stories, their wants and needs. I'll admit I cried when they cried, but I also laughed when they laughed. Naively I hoped for everyone to succeed, for life to get better. I wanted my fairy tale ending, but this is life right? And life's unfair.

The Marauders is a very real story of the working class and the struggle to get ahead in life. Cooper has created a tale of drugs, pirate treasure, shrimpers a bit twisted and possibly insane, and perhaps just a bit of hope.

I was amused, I was heartbroken, I was inspired. It's safe to say I love this book.

I have only one complaint about this book and it has nothing to do with the story. The cover is fantastic, really vibrant, but for some reason the back cover has a plastic film over it that after three days of reading has started to bubble and peel. I keep my books in perfect condition so I'm a little sad over this but I suppose some would say it shows the book was loved. Just be warned, the back cover will get slightly bubbly on this cover version.

was given this book for review by Blogging for Books

Back Cover Description:
When the BP oil spill devastates the Gulf coast, those who made a living by shrimping find themselves in dire straits. For the oddballs and lowlifes who inhabit the sleepy, working class bayou town of Jeannette,  these desperate circumstances serve as the catalyst that pushes them to enact whatever risky schemes they can dream up to reverse their fortunes. At the center of it all is Gus Lindquist, a pill-addicted, one armed treasure hunter obsessed with finding the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. His quest brings him into contact with a wide array of memorable characters, ranging from a couple of small time criminal potheads prone to hysterical banter, to the smooth-talking Oil company middleman out to bamboozle his own mother, to some drug smuggling psychopath twins, to a young man estranged from his father since his mother died in Hurricane Katrina. As the story progresses, these characters find themselves on a collision course with each other, and as the tension and action ramp up, it becomes clear that not all of them will survive these events.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TOM COOPER has been published in dozens of literary magazines and journals, most recently in Oxford American, Mid-American Review, Gulf Coast, Boulevard, and Willow Springs. His stories have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in New Orleans.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Death Note

One book, of the hundreds I've read, has so enthralled me, so amused me that I have read it again and again year after year. 

The Phantom Tollbooth is by far my most cherished read.

That isn't to say I haven't enjoyed a book just as much, in fact there are many books I have enjoyed MORE and I've sworn to read these again someday, but The Phantim Tollbooth always ends up winning that battle.

As of last Friday, I had won numerous gift cards for my local comic book shop for my team winning Sunday night trivia (we were literally slaughtered last night at horror film trivia... It was sad) So I took my gift cards and decided to pick up a new series to read.

Some god was on my side that day because it lead me to Death Note.


I picked it up off the shelf... And put it back. I had never read anime or manga before, I thought the story seemed intriguing, the artwork was nice, but still, I had to phone a friend. I asked him if I should have this 'death note' a try and he replied:

You mean Death Note with L and Light and Shinigami and death and awesomeness? It's only my favorite series ever and I have good taste.

Well, he does have good taste because Death Note (black edition) volume one is officially the second book I have ever re-read, and that was within the first 24 hours of just having finishe it.

I felt like I'd withdrawn from a drug I was so unsatiated with where the story left me.

I NEEDED MORE.

Which is what lead me to spending all my hard earned gift card on the entire series so I can find out what is happening!


Let me give you a brief run down.

Light Yagami is a high school student preparing for college. 

Ryuk is a bored Shinigami who wants to amuse himself and drops one of his death notes into the human realm.

When Light finds this death note he is of course skeptical of what the note describes itself as. A book of death. Write any name into the book and that person will die. Through trial and error Light discovers the death note is indeed a Shinigami book of death and he sets out to make his delusional eutopian world in which he will pass judgement as the gods who sent him his power.

His efforts, however, are seen by some as murder and L will do anything to stop him.

I am on volume 2 now and I am blown away. Trust me, I'll be reading volume 2 again as soon as I'm finished. L and Light are both geniuses at opposite ends of the good/evil spectrum, their battle of wits so subtle, their desire to make the world a better place so similar and yet so completely different.

If only their places had been switched...

All I can say is you have to give this series a try, trust me, I have good taste 😉
 



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Review: J

J J by Howard Jacobson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, it's a book. Just not a very good one.

I thought, when I saw reviews calling J the next 1984 I thought I would be reading an inspire, eye opening saga of life and its purpose in this world and instead I got a jumbled, confusing tale of a guy with OCD tendencies and a girl he thinks he loves...

Let me get straight to why I didn't like this book. I spent more time trying to figure out who's talking and who's thoughts are being exposed that I didn't have room to fully piece together the story line. Conversations quickly switch from actually being spoken to being remembered as a now past conversation with no breaks between he said/she said. A full paragraph will be filled with a back and forth banter and by the time I reached the end I had no idea who said what and I didn't care enough to go back and figure it out.

There were times I was halfway through a chapter and realized I was reading about someone other than the main character and had no idea.

Everything is disjointed, I couldn't make sense of it, nor do I plan to try. The story has large gaps of dull, boring information, it picks up a bit at times, but overall I care nothing for the characters or their world and world views.

I was given this book for review by Blogging for Books.

View all my reviews

J


2 Stars

Well, it's a book. Just not a very good one.

I thought, when I saw reviews calling J the next 1984 I thought I would be reading an inspire, eye opening saga of life and its purpose in this world and instead I got a jumbled, confusing tale of a guy with OCD tendencies and a girl he thinks he loves...

Let me get straight to why I didn't like this book. I spent more time trying to figure out who's talking and who's thoughts are being exposed that I didn't have room to fully piece together the story line. Conversations quickly switch from actually being spoken to being remembered as a now past conversation with no breaks between he said/she said. A full paragraph will be filled with a back and forth banter and by the time I reached the end I had no idea who said what and I didn't care enough to go back and figure it out.

There were times I was halfway through a chapter and realized I was reading about someone other than the main character and had no idea. 

Everything is disjointed, I couldn't make sense of it, nor do I plan to try. The story has large gaps of dull, boring information, it picks up a bit at times, but overall I care nothing for the characters or their world and world views.

I was given this book for review by Blogging for Books. Let's hope the next one is better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

National Bullying Prevention Month and Free Books

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. To help promote happy, healthy living and self acceptance Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea will be free all weekend long on Kindle.

Check it out Here

I was listening to the radio last week and heard Marc Mero (if you don't know who that is, check him out) He was speaking about his new, amazingly affective campaign ThinkPoz (ThinkPoz.org) a highly successful anti-bullying program.

His program takes him to schools around the world where he speaks to students about acceptance and the consequences of bullying and to hear him speak about his program and to see the deeply moving photos he posts on Instagram is heart warming. His message is positive and life changing and a great opportunity to help our kids.

You can contact the program on their site and ask that they contact your school, the program does have some funding available to speak to schools for free so don't miss out on this opportunity.

One thing I did not know about was the crimelines here in the US will take tips on bullying very seriously. Police officers will go to schools and speak to kids to try and reduce the problems within schools. The purpose is to protect identities and reverse behavior before a child is injured or worse.

As parents, we have a right to protect our kids. If the school has ignored your complaints about bullying, or you know your child is being bullied and are afraid of making things worse, these are just two ways to anonymously help.

I hope you all enjoy your free copy of Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea and let's help spread the word on bullying and the need for change.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Magelica's Voyage




4 stars


Magelica is a young girl, who like all of us, wants to know who she is.

Where did she come from? Why was she left with Gri to care for her? Where are her parents?

Her journey begins after a storm rushes her home where a hot bath is waiting to take her on an adventure of a lifetime.

Magelica's Voyage is a level 2 read for young readers, separated into small chunks like chapters making the story easy for kids to read and giving them places to stop and rest before the next leg of the race.

The artwork is fantastic, beautiful imagery to accompany the story. The story itself is a bit lacking following a straight path rushing from beginning to end. The overall question, where did Magelica come from, is kept hidden, but the rest plays out just as it should and all is well in the end. Even though the prince is still missing... Which segue's into the next book.

I think it is worthy to note the lessons taught in the book. Using your imagination, caring for others, discovering who you are. Lessons are lined up at the end of the book for readers to contemplate and I strongly suggest parents join in and guide their readers through these lessons.

Overall, Magelica's Voyage is a book I would suggest to new readers and as a parent-child story time read.





3 Stars

The Rescue is the second book to the Majolica's Voyage series, I was given both for review and after a more positive review of the first, I was glad I was given the second because it is not nearly up to par with the first.


Beginning with Magelica's first journey, there are a few lessons to be learned. Self acceptance, creativity, believing in yourself, all good things for kids to focus on.

This next leg of the journey, The Rescue, missed it's mark when it comes to lessons. Magelica dreams of Prince Will and sets off to rescue him. She believes in herself, she's brave as Will's entire kingdom comes with her to rescue him... Everything goes smoothly and as planned and all is well in the end.

On that note, I'd like a little more story and maybe a hardship or two. Not everything goes as planned. Let's have a little unexpected.

As for the lesson in this book... I'm not quite sure what it was. Yes, Magelica believed in herself, yes she set off to rescue someone in need, but as soon as they're together suddenly it's all about how they are destined for one another and his love for her inspires him to help her discover who she is and where she comes from.

So the lesson is what? Girls need boys and boys will help them define who they are? Girls need the love of a boy to be happy?

I think the story would have been better if he was simply indebted to her for the rescue and as repayment he sets off to help her. Starting a romantic relationship in a book for kids so young is a bit odd and uncomfortable for me as a parent to let my young child read.

That may be reading too much into it, but I would rather see Magelica stand on her own as a strong, independent, heroic female figure rather than a Princess desiring love.

Aside from the sudden Disney romance, and the anticlimactic climax, they artwork continues to be stunning and I have high hopes for the next installment of the series.


I was given both these books for review by Mother Daughter book reviews.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

4 Star Read

I was once asked, after revealing my hometown of Berea, Ky, if we had yet discovered the technology of flushing toilets. You know, the system where you hit a button and water washes away your bodily fluids to a treatment plant, and so on and so forth.

Taking the man for a prankster I simply replied, yes, we figured that one out long ago.

As proof, he asked me which way the water would spin in the bowl. I told him and then added, to impress him my higher than third grade education, that in Australia the water spins the opposite direction.

That actually backfired because he had no idea what I was talking about... 

The point is, having shared with a stranger that I grew up at the base of the Appalachian Mountains I was immediately stereotyped into the group of 'mountain people', with no running water, or flushing toilets, most likely uneducated in the traditional sense, and I'm sure he was curious if I had a social security number.

To be fair, I've met quite a few true Appalachians who fit the bill.

Now, I am not an avid hiker. I've hiked a lot of trails, any I could find or any I heard about within 50 miles of my home searching for photographic opportunities, but I despise camping and all my hiking escapades have been short day trips that require no more than a few bottles of water and a granola bar or two.

I have no ambition to hike the Appalachian Trail, but I can't help wonder at the amazing photographic opportunities a trip like that would provide...

I have two main reasons for wanting to read A Walk in the Woods. First was to read an outsiders view on the landscape and the people of Kentucky and the Appalachian mountains, which sadly I discovered he did not pass through the area. My second reason was to talk a friend out of walking the Appalachian Trail.

From the first few chapters you get a feel for Bill Bryson, sarcastic, a bit in your face, but upbeat and generally a nice guy. He's outspoken, funny and likable. 

The book starts off slow, lots of facts about the trail, plenty of gruesome bear attack stories, and I began to wonder if reading the book itself would be as much an undertaking as walking the dreaded 2,000 mile (or more) Appalachian Trail.

It picks up a bit with some good hearted humor and chuckle worthy tales and encounters, and lots more facts. In all, it's a good weekend read where you can learn a bit of history and fun facts while you're at it. Bryson is an intriguing writer, has a great sense of humor, and more than a bit of crazy for undertaking the Appalachian trail.

A Walk in the Woods is a pleasurable read for a few chuckles and more than a few reasons to enjoy the indoors and daily hot showers.

This book was given to me for review by blogging for books.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Martian


5 Stars

Wow.

Wow. 

Ok. 

I saw the previews for the movie a few weeks ago and thought, 'Hey, that looks cool,' and then I saw an offer to read the book on Blogging for Books and thought I'd go for it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I love this book. The story is a mixture off Watney's mission logs and communications with NASA as well as chapters written with some great dialogue. It works, and it's wonderful.

The book starts off fast, in the middle of a crisis, and just keeps getting better-or I should say worse-as astronaut Mark Watney fights for his life. 

I would not want to be him.

The technical jargon and math didn't confuse me, or bore me, for a second. You don't have to understand it, just read and realize how intelligent, and strong willed this guy is to try and survive all the hardships he faces. You almost have to laugh about his misfortune, which is exactly what you will be doing as Watney is a pretty funny guy with his smart remarks and screw you attitude, because let's face it, he's the smartest and most qualified person on Mars so screw everyone else.

I'm really not sure what else to say aside from READ THIS BOOK, and then check out the movie, which I am now very excited to see. The Martian is a smart, funny, exciting, and completely out of this world read.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fallen Project





I have a project I'm starting and I'd like everyone to have a chance to be involved.

The project is called #Fallen and is up on HitRECord.org, if you're not a member of tht community, don't worry, people will be participating on Instagram as well.

For those who would like an account on HitRECord, check it out! It's a website to collaborate on projects and get your writing, videos, illustrations, artwork seen an used in projects-you may even get paid for it!

So, what is Fallen?

Fallen as of right now is a collection of photographs and poems with the theme 'Fallen'

I started this project with my photography of fallen leaves and raindrops and I'm looking to expand and get new ideas.

The plan so far is each Monday I will be selecting one photograph to be uploaded to Instagram with a new poem -author an photographers credited- the plan is to use #Fallen and to collect thoughts, opinions, feedback, poems, stories, anything you want to write on the Instagram photo and upload the results to HitRECord for the authors and photographers to see.

The main goal is to have a collection of photos, poems, stories-everything-for a collective gallery of art and ideas.

If you're interested-Follow me on Instagram!

ChasingtheWindPhoto

 I'll always give notice before the new image is posted, and feel free to join in!

Tomorrow will be the first post, let's see how this goes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Floating City


4 Stars

I'm not incredibly sure what to write about this book so I'll just start typing until I get out what I'm trying to say.

The Floating City is a Shakespearean Fantasy... yeah, that sounds right. The story is a mixture of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy's, to which we all know the ending, all happening within the Floating City that is facing its greatest challenge.

The city is sinking into the deep waters below, being attack by their enemies, the Othmen who continue to send powerful creatures of evil to destroy the council members holding the city afloat. The people are terrified and their council's are falling to doom. The situation seems as hopeless as the Montecchi girl's marriages, two of which have already ended in death.

First, I'll say this book was very well written. It keeps you on your toes and begging for more... but only because you are so confused and want answers. I'm still not sure what the story was really about... Nope, I have no idea what happened in this book.

I chastised myself for about a week thinking perhaps if I were a more intellectual reader, or if maybe I had tried to pay attention when my teachers taught Shakespeare then maybe I would have understood this book... But I'm done blaming myself. It's not me, it's the book.

I was given this book for review by Goodreads, First Reads Giveaways.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Realism Challenge

To start off, this isn't the typical type of book I review on here. This was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts with a focus on photography, though I've always been jealous of my fellow students showing me up in our drawing classes.


I have so much respect for artists who can see and render every tiny detail, I am sadly not one of them. I thought perhaps this book could give me some insight, help me cheat my way into better drawing skills... What I learned, however, is I still have much to learn.



                          4 Stars


I like this guy from the beginning, he's upfront and honest and knows what he's talking about and no, my professors never had an answer as to what 'the rules' are either. In my opinion there are no rules. Art is what the artist says it is, but also what the viewer says. It exists on multiple levels and planes of thought and the question of 'is that art?' will forever be argued and disagreed upon.


Mark Crilley in The Realism Challenge goes back to the basics of art, bringing artists a cheat sheet, a 'how to' step by step guide on how to produce realistic drawings and illustrations following his own personal techniques. 


When I was attending a Fine Arts program, in our drawing classes we were required to produce details completely in pencil with basic cross hatching that in all honesty is never used in illustrations and in no way looks realistic.


Crilley takes you beyond the classroom basics and propels your skills forward into mixed media techniques that will make your work come to life.


The idea of using black colored pencil for shadows rather than a darker shade of pencil lead is new to me, as well as using watercolor for base coloring techniques.


These techniques are first and foremost Crilley's chosen methods and clearly they work. The Realism Challenge is definitely a challenge, it takes years of practice and trial and error to find what works for you as an artist, this book is simply a good guide to get you going in the right direction.


Throughout the book, Crilley is training you to look closer and notice the subtle and unnoticeable. It's a good technique, once you start noticing the details, they can never be unseen and the challenges he provides are more than enough to keep you busy. There are dozens of surface types and textures covered in the book and if you pay attention to his side notes, there are great tips and lessons to be learned.


I did hope he would get into why he chooses to use watercolor at certain times, to get into more of the technical aspect of his chosen mediums, but I suppose that's something the reader will have to figure out for themselves.


As a guide in hyper realism, The Realism Challenge is a great step by step introduction into realistic drawing. Ultimately, it's up to the artist to practice and perfect, and if you're truly interested in producing more realistic work, The Realism Challenge will help get you there.


As for me, I'll stick to photography.


As a sidenote, I had actually planned on taking the Realism Challenge and producing a realistic drawing to post with my review, but my fractured wrist kind of decided that one for me. When I get around to the challenge I'll see about posting finished products on here.


I was given this book to review by Bloging for Books.

We Have a Winner!

The Armada giveaway ended last night at midnight (sorry if you missed it!) and we have a winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered and I'll have another giveaway coming up of The Floating City! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ARMADA

WARNING: SPOILERS 
If you have not yet read ARMADA, there are a couple spoilers in this review so proceed at your own risk. To be honest, you'll see these coming from the first few chapters of the book, because, in short, the book is very predictable.

If you're just here for the giveaway, you can skip straight to the bottom of the post for the link and good luck! :)



ARMADA - 3 star Review

Let's go ahead and get the biggest question out of the way here; Does ARMADA stand up to Ready Player One?

No. It does not. 

Let's move past that fact and review ARMADA as it's own, stand alone book. (No, it's not a sequel)

Zack Lightman is obsessed with the father he never had a chance to know. He clings to his fathers treasures, 80's-90's memorabilia ranging from VHS, cassette tapes, and classic gaming equipment to clothing, and wall decor, all packed away by his mother in anticipation of his curiosity for the man who helped create him.

The relationship Cline created between Zack and his mother is great by the way, it's refreshing to read of a mother figure who actually gets along with her child while still actively being a mother rather than befriending him. She is first and foremost an authority figure and looking out for her son and what's best for him. She's a great mom.

Zack's desire to know his father is touching and his insight on what his mother's reaction to having all his father's old belongings in his room shows some maturity on his part. Zack's a good kid, a bit ill tempered at times, but from the beginning we're given a character worth caring about, one we can trust and believe he has what it takes to save the world.

After all, he's spent the last four years of his life unknowingly training in simulated warfare and is listed in the top ten people prepared to save the world from any alien invasion.

Because what else would an alien race do but try to invade and destroy Earth?

And that's the problem. Zack's journey into this War of the Worlds scenario is predictable, even laughable at times. You can see it coming a galaxy away, just like the Europan armada heading for Earth, and at times I felt it as done on purpose, other times it felt like laziness on the part of plot and storyline. 

If the extreme predictability was indeed on purpose, then job well done. As you'll find, if you give this book a read, the characters themselves find it odd the aliens are doing exactly what they expected. Everything is just as, well, as they predicted and I believe we are meant to see the patterns and question what is really going on behind the scenes with these aliens. A 'what aren't they telling us?' kind of approach. Along this line of thinking, the confusion does tie into the ending, and overall makes sense in the end as to why everything happens just as planned, but that doesn't mean that made for a good read. That storyline fell a bit flat and bland.

Now, having said that, I could forgive the aliens for being predictable, they are, after all, just aliens trying to invade Earth, what more could there be to understand of their purpose for doing so, but sadly that was not all that was predictable about ARMADA.

A teenage boy, obsessed with his father and his mysterious death, a son who has spent his entire life watching what his father watched, playing what his father played, wearing what his father wore. What could be more shocking than to bring that father back? But it's not shocking, I figured that out from chapter one. 

And what excuse could his father possibly have for faking his own death? 

Saving the world from aliens.

Because what else do long lost, thought-to-be-dead father's do?

Let's move past that little snafu in plot and be happy for Zack for a bit. His dream came true and they had their sort of touching moment and joined the fight side by side.

A little sweet, kind of touching, a whole lot of predictable.

Now, the book is written in first person, so we're experiencing this all through Zack's point of view. We know what he knows and see what he sees, and for the most part it works, except at times that the author has to stop and explain how another character outside of Zack's small range of view happens to allow him access to video feed to witness an important part of the story or how the cavalry just happens to show up in the nick of time and they decide to quickly explain to Zack how they did it. 

Enough with the backstory and explanations. Some things just don't need to be explained.

Which brings me to the ending. One giant explanation, filling in the blanks of the all mysterious purpose of the global scale attack on Earth by the Europans, which I have to say was not only a bore to read through and a pretty weak excuse, but it also could have been revealed bit by bit from early on when we first learned of this mysterious purpose and had a much better impact as well as actually including the reader in on the discovery. 

Instead, it was talked about and people discussed it, but we're left in the dark with barely a clue as to what it is until the grand (and lengthy) reveal at the end. 

This angered me and I'll tell you why. The information given was not enough to come to the final conclusion on my own, I want a chance to guess, I want that Aha! moment where I think I'm smarter than the author and all his characters combined. I want in on the secret! When I finally was able to discover this big secret, which ultimately caused me more confusion and frustration than was necessary, it wasn't a big enough reveal to be worth the wait. The consequences outweighed the outcome. It was anticlimactic and if I'm not mistaken, there's a hint of a sequel in its final pages...

Overall, ARMADA is a fairly entertaining book. Aside from my few frustrations and the predictable plot, the characters are very well developed and Zack is a great narrator. I did enjoy this read all the way up until the end when it drops off into lengthy explanations and rushes to a close.

So, is ARMADA worth the read? 

Sure! Why not, the majority of it is well written and if you're a gaming geek or nostalgic nerd you'll really get a kick out of it. If you're not willing to hand out the cash for it, borrow it from the library or a friend who actually shares their books (I don't share). 

There were a lot of high points I enjoyed while reading this book and as I said, the characters are fantastic and really well developed. It simply fell short at the end and I'm still suffering from the disappointment.

So, if you'd like to give this book a try, I'll be giving away my copy on my blog. Try it out for yourself and hopefully you'll love it. This is just one persons opinion after all ;)

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.




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