ARC Review: The Tide of War by Lori A. Witt

23622329

Original Title: The Tide of War

Year Published: 2015

Published by:  Riptide Publishing (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 371

First Sentence: And what if you don’t make it back next time?

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Lieutenant Commander Kyle West is one of Earth Fleet’s greatest fighter pilots. Every day, he leads his squadron into battle over Earth’s cities in a seemingly endless war against a vicious alien race, defending his home and his loved ones.

Millions of miles away, the Fleet’s Elite Squadron attacks from another angle, engaging the enemy on its home turf. Casualties are high, and the Squadron needs more of the Fleet’s very best. But joining the Elite is a death sentence—a surety Kyle isn’t willing to face. Until a devastating attack wipes out the family he refused to leave.

Commander Andrei Dezhnyov, an Elite Squadron gunner, isn’t sure what to make of the cocky new American pilot. Kyle is equally uncertain about the snarly Russian, but as they warm up to each other, their tentative alliance becomes a deep bond—one that endangers them both when a daring and disobedient rescue reveals secrets that call into question everything they’ve ever believed about their enemy. Secrets that their superiors would kill to protect.

My thoughts:

This was a really good book. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and it was pretty hard to put down. The plot did have some things that were slightly weird, mostly because they weren’t really explained, but I still enjoyed it.

Both Kyle and Andrei were interesting characters. They were different but with some similarities. They were both fiercly loyal to their partners and families, and would give anything to defend their country. Because of that fierce loyalty and love they had for their partners at the beginning of the book I was a bit worried about how they were supposed to end up together (oh yeah, this is ultimately a m/m romance). But it worked out pretty well and it was believable.

The plot was really interesting and I enjoyed how the focus was actually more on the world in the book and what was going on, not necessarily the relationship between Kyle and Andrei. Instead we got a lot of the background for why the world looked like it did, and also the relationship between the original couples, and between military officers and their subordinates. It was really good and gave the book depth.

What it did not do was properly explain some of the things that are revealed later on in the book, which made events seem a little weird and unnecessary. But it does seem like this book is the first of a trilogy or possibly a series, so it might be explained later on.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Binti #1)

img_0687

Original Title: Binti

Year Published: 2015

Published by:  Tor

Number of Pages: 96

First Sentence: I powered up the transporter and said a silent prayer.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

My thoughts:

This was such an amazing novella! I absolutely loved it and I urge you to read it. I wished it was longer, but the way Okorafor writes, it does feel like a full-length book, that’s how much actually happens during this 96-page long novella.

Binti was a great character and I absolutely adored her. She was badass, clever and had a big heart. I loved how she faced down adversity and did things despite being terrified. The Himba people and in extention Binti, faced a lot of prejudice from the other ethnic groups, and I loved seeing how Binti handled it. She wasn’t bitter because of it, instead she met people with an open heart (like we all should).

I will be honest and say that I as a white person have a really bad grasp of African mythology, traditions and culture, but it did feel that Okorafor created a space version of this. If this isn’t true, then I apologise. However, I loved the world Okorafor built and how she depicted Binti and the Himba people as people dedicated to the land they lived on and their people/family. It first seemed like an odd thing in a sci-fi book, but it was a brilliant contrast to all the fancy technology.

This book also showcases racism in a very good and obvious way. One of the messages I took away from this novella was that we shouldn’t judge people based on their ethnicity or race. If we take the time to talk and listen to each other we might find that we have more in common than we think and that it can be possible for us to work and live together in peace and harmony.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

ARC Review: Paladin by Sally Slater (Paladin #1)

25507388

Original Title: Paladin

Year Published: 2015

Published by: Perfect Analogy Publishing (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 386

First Sentence: Sam paced anxiously outside the Duke of Haywood’s solar. 

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:
Brash, cocky, and unbeatable with a sword (well, almost), Sam of Haywood is the most promising Paladin trainee in the kingdom of Thule… and knows it. The only problem is that Sam is really Lady Samantha, daughter of the seventeenth Duke of Haywood, and if her father has his way, she’ll be marrying a Paladin, not becoming one.

But Sam has never held much interest in playing damsel-in-distress, and so she rescues herself from a lifetime of boredom and matrimonial drudgery. Disguised as a boy, Sam leaves home behind to fight demons-—the most dangerous monsters in Thule—-alongside the kingdom’s elite warriors. Pity that Tristan Lyons, the Paladin assigned to train her, is none other than the hero of her childhood. He hasn’t recognized her–yet–but if he does, he’ll take away her sword and send her packing.

Sam is not the only trainee hiding secrets: Braeden is a half-demon with a dark past that might be unforgivable. Whether he can be trusted is anyone’s guess, including his.
As demons wreak havoc across the land, rebellion stirs in the West, led by a rival faction of warriors.

A war between men is coming, and Sam must pick a side. Will saving the kingdom cost her life–or just her heart?

My thoughts:

This was such an enjoyable book and I absolutely loved it. It did get off to a wobbly start for me, but after the first chapter it just took off and I was absolutely hooked. It was well written and super entertaining.

Sam was a really nice main character. I loved how she was badass without either being a tomboy or too cold-hearted. Instead, she was a young girl knowing what she wanted from life. And yes, she has to pretend to be a boy for a really long time, but it is something that she hates to a certain degree and it isn’t really implied that a woman has to be like a boy to be badass.

Both Tristan and Braeden were really interesting characters. It was interesting to see how they interacted with each other and with Sam. There was a camaraderie that was really enjoyable, and I loved seeing their relationship develop and grow.

The plot was really entertaining and I definitely enjoyed all of it. The world building was really good, not too complicated but not vague enough to create any questions. We get some insight into who the Paladins are and how they are trained. We also learn about the evil forces that try to attack the rest of the world. It was really interesting to see how it all fit together and the plot itself was fun and felt really well paced. It moved forward naturally but with some unexpected twists and turns.

Do I recommend it?

Yes, I really do.

  

ARC Review: Die Laughing: Killer Jokes for Newly Old Folks by William Novak

29430549

Original Title: Die Laughing: Killer jokes for newly old folks

Year Published: 2016

Published by: Touchstone Books (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 256

First Sentence: N/A

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

From the co-creator of the celebrated Big Book of Jewish Humor comes a laugh-out-loud collection of jokes about growing older that makes fun of memory loss, marriages, medicine, sex, the afterlife, and much more, making this the perfect gift for almost anyone who was born before you were.

Growing older can be unsettling and surprising. (How on earth did this happen? Where did the years go?) So what better way to deal with this new stage of life than to laugh about your new reality? Die Laughing includes more than enough jokes (not to mention cartoons!) to let that laughter burst out.

Whether it’s dealing with doctors, dating in one’s seventies, or unexpected bodily changes (not to mention funny noises), some things are easier to face with a smile of recognition. That’s why Die Laughing is the perfect gift for your parents, anyone celebrating a significant birthday, or any boomer with a sense of humour whose age begins with a six or higher.

My thoughts:

This was a funny collection of jokes about growing older. No, I’m not really at the age to which this book is aimed, but I could still enjoy most of these jokes. If I couldn’t personally relate to some things, then I at least could enjoy them because my parents have gone through similar things and have expressed similar things to what is mentioned in this book. And it’s jokes, they are easy to understand and jokes are meant to be funny. I think the fact that I could still enjoy the jokes prove that they are funny (or suitable for my type of humour).

Definitely, something to give as a gift to your ageing parents or grandparents. It is a good break as well when reading more serious books and you just want to read something quick and fun.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

Why Was Queen Victoria Such a Prude? …and other historical myths and follies by David Haviland

17609066

Original Title: Why Was Queen Victoria Such A Prude? and other historical myths an follies

Year Published: 2012

Published by: Thistle Publishing 

Number of Pages: 228

First Sentence: What was the most disastrous kidnapping in history?

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

“What is history, but a set of lies agreed upon?” – Napoleon Bonaparte

At least, we think it was him. This quote is traditionally attributed to Napoleon, but ironically it’s not really clear whether or not he ever actually said it.

As it turns out, a great many things which we think we know about history often turn out to be myths, misunderstandings, or outright fictions. For example…

• When was the Great Wall of China built?
• Who defeated the Spanish Armada?
• Did Lady Godiva really parade nude through Coventry?
• Who was the rightful king of England in 1066?
• Who was the first (and only) Emperor of the USA?
• When was the first world war? (Hint: it’s not when you think)

Why Was Queen Victoria Such a Prude? is the latest fascinating book in a long-running series from bestselling writer David Haviland. This time the focus is on history, as Haviland explores the entire history of human civilisation, from the Trojan Wars all the way up to the 21st century!

My thoughts:

For a history nerd, this book was so much fun. Humans are freaking weird and there are events and happenings throughout our history that are really weird and so much fun to read about. If you find that reading about history can be boring but still are interested in history then this book is pretty much perfect for you. You will laugh out loud whilst you learn something new. And I do believe that most of the things in this book are true. I wouldn’t say that you should use this book when writing an important essay about history, but repeating what you learn from it in conversation with others is totally OK and you won’t lie to them.

There were some things in this book that I already knew, but I definitely learnt something new and had so much fun doing it. It is easy to read, most facts are shorter than one page (on a Kindle) and therefore don’t take too long to read. It means that you never get bored whilst reading these facts, something that usually happens when reading a history book.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

img_0375

Original Title: The Selection

Year Published: 2012

Published by:  HarperTeen (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 336

First Sentence: When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. I will say that I was hesitant about it since the premise of the book is a competition where girls fight to become the wife of a prince. But it is so much more than that. Yes, the competition is a huge part but it is not front and centre. Instead, the book is about strong and diverse women, and about friendship and families.

I really enjoyed America as a character. She was a tough girl without being demeaning to the other girls. Even the girls she disliked she tried to be nice too. And although ll the girls could have been absolute assholes to each other and constantly tried to manipulate each other, they didn’t. Yeah, there was some foul play but mostly they tried to only focus on themselves and win by enhancing their own strengths, not by trying to manipulate and try to scare the other girls.

Maxon was such a sweetheart! I absolutely loved him. He was kind to the girls and was well aware of the fact that a competition wherein he was to pick his future wife, was not the most ideal way of meeting the girl with which he was to spend the rest of his life. But instead of being selfish and all “woe is me”, he knew that it wasn’t and ideal situation for the girls either and that most of them might not want to be there.

The plot was actually quite fun. This is a book set in a dystopian future where people are divided by class. It has Hunger Games vibes but without all the killing. There is a good balance of intrigue and world building, and although not too much happens in this book (apart from the beginning of the competition and some other things) it never gets boring. It sets the stage for the next book and also gives you a good idea of why the world now looks like it does. Really enjoyed it.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do!

 

Want to buy it? Consider using this link to do so! All proceeds go to improving this blog 🙂

Dream Reading Space!

I was recently encouraged by Arhaus.com (thank you) about sharing a post about my dream reading space. I thought this was a great idea because one of the vital things needed when reading is a great reading space. Most of us bookworms probably have a picture of this in our heads whilst some others are happy reading a book anywhere as long as they are reading. However, I do think we all sigh with longing when watching Beauty and the Beast and seeing the fantastic library the Beast gift Belle (I’ve wanted that library since I first saw the film as a little girl. That’s over 20 years of longing).

beauty-and-the-beast-library-1024x576

Since I know that the Disney library is unavailable to most mortals I have instead come up with other ideas for that perfect little reading nook. A window ledge that you could sit in would be the absolute ultimate, with a view either over a lake/the sea or over the forest. If you ever need a break from reading (snort) you can always enjoy the view. Having the coffee pot within reaching distance would also be perfect as I love a warm cup of coffee when reading. Having to get up and go into the kitchen can be a welcome break sometimes but mostly it only feels like a waste of time.

7eebfadcf2f276dae5a8d8e6d0dcbfdc

This is the type of window ledge I’m talking about, but I would want more cushions and some blankets as well. Making nests are quite important when reading, and if I don’t do it for myself, then at least my cats are happier when there are like a billion blankets that they can sleep on/under/next to.

If the window ledge never becomes a reality for me then I would be happy with a big yet soft leather armchair that you can curl up on and read your book. I had one before, at our old house, and it was a chair that you could both read on and also curl up and sleep on (I miss that armchair, but it is now in armchair heaven). It means that the armrests can’t be too high or too hard.

552438b7888495ceab2108b35f0120e6

This type of leather chair is what I’m talking about! Gorgeous and it looks really comfortable. The coffee pot would still have to be very near by and this armchair would either be placed in the corner or in the middle of a room filled with bookshelves and book related things. This room would not have to be big, as long as it is mine and only dedicated to reading and my books. Like a mini-library/reading space.

The final touch would, of course, be the bookshelves themselves. Let’s revisit the Beauty and the Beast for this one. Floor to ceiling bookshelves would be awesome, but I would love to have shelves that come with a ladder.

0da44d7db59c9d34c8e335fcc516bf72

Like this gorgeous beast! Look at that! That’s a gorgeous shelf, and if you can’t have a whole room with floor to ceiling bookshelves then this would still be and awesome shelf to have.

So, that is my idea of the ultimate reading space. What is your dream reading space?