Saturday, 30 December 2017

The Stronghold - Sebastian Bendix

                The Stronghold is a young adult novel that has more thrills and excitement than most of the adult thrillers that I’ve read this year. First of all, the cover is very simple, almost nondescript, but for some reason it grabbed my attention. After reading the synopsis for the book, I wasn’t sure I could read another zombie survival novel but since it sounded somewhat different I decided to try it and I am so glad I did. Without giving anything important away, this is not a book about surviving a zombie apocalypse. Rather, it’s about surviving the people around you when you begin to learn about all of the lies that have been told.
                Bowie is set to become the newest leader of the militia on an island strong hold, the last place that has survived the destruction of the world some decades ago. He follows all of the rules and believes everything that he has been told by his commander, a grizzled old soldier named Byrne. When something from the outside world invades Bowie’s world, it makes him question everything he has been taught. It’s those questions that cause Bowie and a couple of his unlikely allies to take action. All three must run for their lives as Bowie becomes hunted by the very people he once trained beside.
                This is such an excellent novel that I couldn’t put it down until it was finished. There wasn’t a page that didn’t keep me wanting to turn to the next one. The characters are very well written and even though there isn’t a lot of information about most of them, they are still so realistic that they ignite strong feelings of dislike for some and a hope for survival for others. Bowie is the most fleshed out character and he is wonderfully written. I love the world that Mr. Bendix has created in these pages and the details he has given with all of the rules and way of life in the stronghold’s own little society are well thought out and planned. The action increases steadily through the book and it is quite a fast-paced story. I can’t say enough good things about The Stronghold and I look forward to reading more from Mr. Bendix.

                I read this in digital format and it worked well on my ereader.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Music City Madness - Jason Melby

                              Within the first few paragraphs of Music City Madness, I had a good idea that I would enjoy the book. I was hesitant about whether the story would interest me because the music industry doesn’t hold any attraction for me whatsoever and most definitely not the country music genre. Also, the cover isn’t an attention grabber, in my opinion. Then I started to read it and the book opened with Abby starting yet another school and coming out with these humorous quips and I knew I would give the book a decent chance. I’m so glad I did because the story is excellent. There’s action, romance, humour and even some mystery.
                Leland is a down on his luck musician who can’t seem to catch a break…or a job…no matter what he tries. His girlfriend works at McDonald’s just so they can pay the rent while Leland pursues his dream. His thirteen year old daughter, Abby, is starting a new school, trying to deal with puberty and trying to fit in. Then there is Melissa, a once hot country music star who needs to make some money quickly so that she and her two boys can keep living the fancy lifestyle that they have become used to. However, Melissa had an accident a few years ago and is now hooked on opiates. There are numerous other characters that all combine to make a really well written, fast-paced story. The characters are well developed and Abby was the most believable thirteen year old on paper that I have read in a long time. The style of writing makes the book easy to read and it really takes the reader into the story. There is one section about a storm that left me not wanting to put the book down until I found out what happened to each character involved. One particularly sad event was very touching because the author managed to make me really care about the character. As well, even though I have no interest in country music or the business, I did find myself enjoying some of the information about how the industry works.  This book is well worth reading, even if you don’t like country music or know anything about how record labels work.
                I read this in digital format and it worked perfectly. As I said above, I didn’t really find the cover to be particularly enticing.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Paulie Zahn Vampire Huntress - E.M. Sorensen

                I really wanted to like this book. It sounded like it had everything that I enjoy in a guilty pleasure book; vampires, a strong heroine, and lots of supernatural action. Unfortunately, within the first few chapters, I could tell that I was going to find the main character, Paulie, to be one of the most unlikeable ones that I have ever encountered in a book. I think the author was trying to create a heroine that would be the type of person we all would like to be; strong, intelligent and successful. Instead, Paulie came across to me as arrogant, narcissistic and so unlikeable that when she got bit by the Rogue, I hoped she’d end up dead just so I didn’t have to read about her ego anymore. It’s okay for me to not like the main character if that is the intent of the author, however, I don’t think that is Mr. Sorensen’s intention here.  There also aren’t really any other characters that I particularly took an interest in. I really can’t say why because most are somewhat developed but none really grabbed my attention.
                The story itself had a good basis and the back story of how these particular vampires feed and survive is unique and entertaining. It is quite detailed and the author seems to have put a lot of work into creating this world. The problem for me is in the lack of likeability of the characters and the lack of realism in how they spoke and acted. The character of Lisa in particular had dialogue that left me shaking my head at the ridiculousness of it. As well, there is a lot of information about motorcycles and helicopters. For me, this sort of reading will put me asleep and it’s not something I would choose to read. Finally, the editing needs a lot of work. Words are misspelled and punctuation is missing or in the wrong place. It really needs to be worked on to make the book flow a bit more smoothly. I can’t say I wouldn’t read another book in the Purloined Pint series because I do think there is the backbone for a really good series. It just needs a few tweaks here and there.

                I read this in digital format and it worked well. The cover is good and fits the genre.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Mini Pigs/Teacup Pigs All You Need to Know - Harriet Fields

                I’ve always had an interest in all types of animals and have devoured every book about them that I could find to read. I don’t care what kind they are, whether they are reptiles, mammals or birds, I want to read all about them. When I saw the delightful cover of Ms. Harriet Fields’ book, Mini Pigs/Teacup Pigs: All You Need to Know, I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. I’ve often debated getting a mini pig so I was quite excited to read this book. I wish that everyone who is trying to make the same decision as I was about getting one as a pet would read Ms. Fields’ informative book. If I had, my decision would have been much easier and quicker to make than it has been. Not because Ms. Fields tries to steer the reader in any one direction but because she is extremely forthright in her information and she lets you decide for yourself after reading all of the information that she provides within these pages.
                There are fifteen chapters in the book that cover everything from choosing the breed of mini pig you’d like to own to behaviour and training of the pig to a list of things your pig can or cannot eat. There’s even a section about teaching your pig how to do tricks. Who wouldn’t want to teach their little guy or gal to wave? It’s written in a very easy to read style that provides a lot of information without being boring. The chapters are broken up into quick and easy sections that make them easy to get through and to find your place easily should you need to put the book down for a bit. For a book that contains so much information, it is fairly short, having two-hundred and thirty-four pages. I do wish that there had been more pictures. The ones that are in the book showed up really well in digital format but it’s always fun to have lots of pictures when reading about animals.

                After reading this book, it is quite obvious that Ms. Fields loves mini pigs and cares greatly for their well-being. She never comes across as being “preachy” about the subject but she does make it clear that owning a pig is in no way like owning a cat or a dog. (Although she does say that cats and pigs can be great friends which I thought was really cool.) This is what I loved about this book. Not only does she extol all of the wonderful reasons that there are to own a mini pig, she also gives the reasons not to as well. This book should be read by anyone wanting to buy a mini-pig or someone who already owns one and wants to learn how to provide them with the best home possible. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Amazon Echo Show - CJ Andersen

                I’m not a very “techy” person. I don’t hate technology; rather I actually enjoy many of the new gadgets that are out there. The ones I have problems with are those that talk back to me and considering how much I argue with the Bluetooth lady in my car, I’m not sure how well Alexa and I would get along. My better half feels otherwise so that is how I found myself reading this guide about how to use the Amazon Echo Show and hoping that I can become boss over Alexa.
                Amazon Echo Show is honestly one of the most well written user guides that I have ever read. Mr. Andersen has managed to turn rather dry material into something that is easy to read and, for a technology guide, rather interesting. He starts from the beginning when you open the box of your new Amazon Echo Show and he writes about exactly what to expect and what should be included in the box. From there he gives very detailed instructions about how to set up the Echo. This is one of the things I liked about this guide. It is quite short, only one hundred and eleven pages on my tablet, but it is very detailed and organized. However, as detailed as it is, the instructions are still very easy to understand, no matter how technologically illiterate you may be.
There are times when Mr. Andersen tends to veer off in a different direction that doesn’t always involve using the Echo. For example, he writes about the relationship between Amazon Echo and Google and YouTube. There is some correlation to how to use the Echo but it also doesn’t seem to be a necessity to have in the guide. For me though, I found all of the author’s tidbits quite interesting. There are lots of links that can be accessed straight from the digital copy which is quite convenient. There are also lots of pictures that will help the reader understand better the instructions that they are following. Finally, Mr. Andersen provides his email address so that if you still have any questions after reading the user guide you can email him. This shows me how much interest he takes in his readers.
                This is a wonderful user’s guide for all ages to read and well worth buying if and when you invest in the Echo Show.
I read this in digital format and it worked well. The cover was bright and enticing.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Return of the Dittos - Dale Andrew White

                I had just read a different collection of stories written by Dale Andrew White and found them oddly enjoyable so I thought I would try this collection and see if they would provide the same amount of enjoyment. One of the big improvements over Moe Howard Died For Our Sins is the cover. It’s not a whole lot better but for some reason the image of an old fashioned television caught my eye. It represents well the title story, Return of the Dittos, which is about a sitcom family, the Dittos, who were popular many years ago and now are ready to make a comeback to TV land. The problem is that weight has been gained, plastic surgery has been done and careers have grown tepid, at best. It’s a funny tongue-in-cheek look at where the sitcom stars would be today and their actions with the comeback. It’s hilariously realistic. The Labor’s of Peon examines a grocery store bagboy revolt. Yes, you read correctly. A bagboy revolt. It sounds ridiculous but it is actually quite funny and, again, dare I say a bit realistic.
                It’s this realism that makes Mr. White’s collections so entertaining and wickedly fun to read. They seem insane but there is just a smidgeon of truth to them even if we won’t admit it to ourselves. Some of the stories also made me think about things that have never before crossed my mind. For example, how did Christopher Columbus’s mother react when he told her that he was going to be sailing around the world that she believed to be flat? Mr. White imagines that tongue lashing and so much more about this famous event in the short story, The Last Coronation.
                My only problem with the book was some minor editing, such as the lack of commas in places that really seemed to need them. It’s a minor issue but some of the sentences seemed to run together. Other than that, this is a fun collection of twenty really short stories that will give you a laugh…if you have an odd sense of humour, which I do.
                I read this on my ereader where it formatted well. The cover, as I stated above, is interesting but could still use a little work in order to draw the reader’s eye to it.

Moe Howard Died For Our Sins - Dale Andrew White

                Moe Howard Died For Our Sins is a short collection of very odd little stories that some may find too strange for their taste but I found quite entertaining. The secondary title of the book is Made-To-Fit Tales for the Maladjusted and it’s probably this title that made me choose this book. The cover, to be honest, is not interesting at all and when that is the case it is necessary to have a great title to attract readers. Mr. White has provided the great title and the tales within deliver the quirkiness that is promised in the title. The stories are very short and easy to read and it would make a great bathroom book (we all know we have them). I do have a few favourites from the book, such as The Battle of Florence Tucker, which is about a lady who finds out that her perfectly southern life isn’t quite as cut and dried as she thought it was. It’s full of humour and I really wish that Mr. White would write an entire book with Florence Tucker and her friends and family as the characters. Another favourite was Nature of the Beasts. It’s this wonderfully written look at racism and fitting in when you’re from a different culture. The difference is that the characters are actual pigs. It reminded me a lot of one of my favourite books of all time, Animal Farm.
                Some of the stories really don’t seem to work. They sometimes end abruptly, as if the author decided all of a sudden that he was finished with the story. However, there were only a couple like this and, although I didn’t like all of them to the extent that I did the other ones, especially Nature of the Beasts, they are a wickedly humorous little collection that will be a fun read for anyone with a bit of an off-beat sense of humour. Sometimes the stories can have a bit of nastiness to them (one refers to a homely lady as the Paper Bag Award) but I’ve never been very politically correct so it was right up my ally. It is definitely a book that will provide some amusement to those interested.
                I read this book on my ereader and it formatted well. As I mentioned above, the cover could use some work so that it would entice a reader to pick the book up.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Boat Shoes: Soliloquy of a Useless Eater Book One - Daire Feeney

                Boat Shoes: Soliloquy of a Useless Eater is the story of the author’s job as a doorman for a swanky apartment building on Fifth Avenue. I love to read the dirt others have about rich people and how they act. I’m not sure if it’s because I want to feel morally righteous or that I feel better knowing how miserable rich people often are. Either way, this seemed like a book that I would really enjoy. I also liked the cover which is a quirky depiction of a typical doorman. Mr. Feeney starts the book by warning the reader that he will more than likely offend them in some way before the end of the story and he’s not going to apologize for it. This is a smart move on his part because there were times that the book dragged a bit and the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I was waiting for the big event that would cause me to “clutch my pearls”. I’m pretty open-minded but the events in Chapter Fifteen, the final chapter in the book, were completely unbelievable and, if they are true, Ms. K. and the author both need to be locked up in mental wards. There’s also an event involving a young man with Asperger’s syndrome that, unfortunately, is exactly how many people would treat him in similar circumstances, especially in the years before political correctness became such a huge issue. This event probably offended me more than anything else in the book and I didn’t find it remotely funny, even if the author thought it was.
                The main thing I did learn while reading this book is that I would never make it as a door person because I couldn’t stand to be treated like these people are treated. The building is like its own little Downton Abbey where the rich live like royalty and treat the help like dirt. The ironic thing is that the help, in particular the doormen, know everybody’s secrets. There were definitely some interesting tidbits throughout about the job and the tenants of the building but for those readers easily offended, don’t even bother picking this book up.
                I read this book on my ereader and it formatted well. The cover, as I stated above, is amusing and what drew me to the book in the first place.