ARC Review: Strange History by Bathroom Readers Institute

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Original Title: Strange History

Year Published: 2016

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

Number of Pages: 417

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:

From the 20th century to the Old West, from the Age of Enlightenment to the Dark Ages, from ancient cultures all the way back to the dawn of time, Strange History is overflowing with mysterious artifacts, macabre legends, kooky inventions, reality-challenged rulers, boneheaded blunders, and mind-blowing facts. Read about…

*The curse of Macbeth
*Stupid history: Hollywood style
*The secret LSD experiments of the 1960s
*In search of the lost “Cloud People” of Peru
*The Swedish queen who declared war on fleas
*Unearthing the past with the Outhouse Detectives
*The Apollo astronaut who swears he saw a UFO
*How to brew a batch of 5,000-year-old beer
*The brutal bloodbaths at Rome’s Coliseum
*Ghostly soup from ancient China
*The bathroom of the 1970s

And much, much more!

My thoughts:

This was so much fun! I am a history nerd and any book that deals with history is a must read for me. However, sometimes these books can be a little too heavy to read just for fun. This had a lot of different and interesting facts but since they were presented in a humoristic way (and most were really funny), it was easy to read and take in.

Some of the facts were things I already knew, some new and some I do believe were exaggerated and probably made up, but it was a fun and interesting read. If you want to brush up on your historical knowledge but don’t want to read a big and dusty history tome, then this is a perfect alternative. It is also perfect if you want some obscure yet interesting facts to dazzle people with at parties or other social gatherings (if you are a nerd like me or if there is a lull in the conversation).

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

 

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

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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.

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

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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.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

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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!

 

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ARC Review: Man, I Hate Cursive: Cartoons for People and Advanced Bears by Jim Benton

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Original Title: Man, I Hate Cursive

Year Published: 2016

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

Number of Pages: 96

First Sentence: N/A

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:

No one does comics like Jim Benton. His creativity and artistry have led to the monster success of It’s Happy Bunny and Dear Dumb Diary, and his standalone strips have topped Reddit’s comics section for years.

Jim Benton’s first cartoon collection was nominated for an Eisner. This new volume collects more of Jim’s most popular strips from Reddit, shining a light on talking animals, relationships, fart jokes, and death. From whimsical to cutting, from gross to poignant, Benton’s grasp of the form is on full and hilarious display.

My thoughts:

This was a really enjoyable graphic novel/cartoon album (nor sure what to call it). It was funny and clever, without being too much. There were some panels with jokes that I couldn’t really relate to, but it didn’t really matter. It was still a fun read.

There is not one common theme in this novel, instead, there are several different types of topics that the author chooses to write about. Even if you don’t find all topics relevant or interesting, then at least there will be something there for you too.

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Here is one example of what one page could look like. This was a favourite since I’m both a cat person and a cat owner.

(Btw, I totally stole this off another reviewer over at Goodreads).

What the panels do have in common are that they are funny and the jokes are told with a twinkle in the eye.

 

 

 

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

 

 

ARC Review: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

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Original Title: 2016

Year Published: Dog Horn

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

Number of Pages: 284

First Sentence: Inside her first clubhouse, Lacy Dawn glanced over fifth grade spelling words for tomorrow’s quiz at school.

Goodreads Rating: 1/5

Plot:
Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

My thoughts:

I did not enjoy this book. I powered through the whole thing but cannot say that it was an enjoyable read. Was it badly written? No, absolutely not. In fact, it was pretty well written. It was content I had issues with.

Some of the themes were a little too on the nose and just didn’t sit right with me. You have discussions of domestic abuse, sexual assault of young children and issues with alcohol/drug addictions. I suppose this is the way Eggleton wanted to depict the small backwater town he chose as the backdrop for this story, but it was handled quite nonchalantly. I don’t think those are topics you can ever gloss over, instead they should always be handled with certain care. Does this mean that the author doesn’t care about those topics? No, it’s actually the complete opposite.

In fact, accordig to his Goodreads profile: Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known locally for his nonfiction: investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997; nationally distributed models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions; research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family; and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency in West Virginia. Dozens of his works have been archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.  Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from a mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns.  Author proceeds from Eggleton’s Lacy Dawn Adventures project have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write adult literary science fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

And yes, Lacy Dawn takes power over her situation. Fair enough. I still could not enjoy this book, it was just too far out of my comfort zone that I spent most of the read cringing.

I will say that it is clearly stated in the blurb on Goodreads that this book is not for the easily offended or the faint of heart. However, I’m not easily offended and still struggled immensely with this book. It might have been an attempt at satire, but in that case it completely missed the mark. Sci-fi? Yes, but weird sci-fi. At least weird from the way I look at the sci-fi genre (and yes, I’m well aware that sci-fi can be extremely weird).

Do I recommend it? 

No, not really. However, just because it wasn’t my cup of tea it doesn’t mean it’s not for you.

The Medium Path by Elizabeth Davies

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Original Title: The Medium Path

Year Published: 2015

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

Number of Pages: 250

First Sentence: If I wasn’t dead, today would be my one-hundred-and-third birthday.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Ruby died nearly one hundred years ago. She saw spirits of the dead when she was alive, and now she is dead she has become a guide who helps ghosts pass on. When ghosts start being taken by darkness instead of the light, Ruby is forced to seek help from a handsome and unwilling medium, who awakens emotions she never knew she had.

My thoughts:

This book started off slowly for me, but then picked up and managed to get interesting. I almost gave up after the first two chapters but stuck with it which I’m so happy about. The story turned out to be both interesting and fun.

Ruby was a quite interesting character. In body, she is only supposed to be around her late teens, but since she is a ghost she is actually around a 100 years old. That means that she is an extremely mature teenager. She still has some insecurities though and she tries to make decisions that won’t hurt others. Despite not being totally happy about her own situation she still cares for others.

Michael is an unwilling medium. As in, he has tried to ignore the fact that he is a medium for his whole life. When he meets Ruby he has no choice but to accept it, although he does it soooo reluctantly.

The plot was interesting and fun. There are several subplots that do help the main story move along, but also ensures that the book stays interesting to the end. Sure, there are some moments that aren’t that fun or interesting, but overall it was a good read. I should also say that it was predictable but that didn’t matter because the journey to the end was fun anyway.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.