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Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales
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My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )


(Art by hamburger .)

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In an effort to get more from Captain America: Civil War, and because hamsterwoman said she actually enjoyed it, I watched Ant-Man. When the trailers had come out, I had less than no interest in it. While I really enjoy Marvel movies, Ant-Man just seemed like such a stupid idea.

Boy was I surprised when I watched it. Not only did I really like it, it's in my top three or four Marvel movies, and I liked it a lot more than Civil War. It had great humor, great effects, and such "heart". I totally loved it! It was very Guardians of the Galaxy-ish.

So, a couple days after that, I rewatched Civil War. It saddened me that it didn't really hold up to a second viewing. The fight scenes were the best, along with Spider-Man, but probably at least half the movie was of little value to rewatch (basically everything plotty I didn't feel the need to see again).

I still need to rewatch Age of Ultron, but I seem to remember not enjoying it, so I might just read the wiki page for it.

It's silly, but I wish Marvel would put out movies even faster. Doctor Strange is the last 2016 movie (I know nothing at all about the character or the movie, so not really excited over it, but Ant-Man's lesson will stand and I'll still watch it). 2017 brings us Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (yay!), Spider-Man (yay!) and a new Thor (meh). 2018 is Black Panther (yay!), Avengers (YAY), and Ant-Man 2 (YAY!).

I'm not including X-Men/Wolverine movies in that list, since I think they're a different 'world'? I haven't had any interest in X-Men yet.

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Drake and the Fliers by Allison Maruska
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



While this book had so many, many, many issues, I didn't hate it. I hit the 50% point and kept going, and though I did stop reading soon after, I had considered finishing it.

As with many of the books I read, this one was set in a post-apocalyptic Earth. Some kind of virus broke out, killing everyone over 19 and below puberty.

Issue the first: Gods above, I hate that. What sense in the world would there be in a virus killing off everyone except teenagers? The first time I saw the idea used, I was sort of okay with it, but I cannot count the books that have used the same idea.

Not only did this virus kill everyone who isn't a teenager, it made the people who survive able to shapeshift into an animal. That's not an original idea, but I could go along with it. Except it didn't cause the teenagers to be able to shapeshift into any animal, just into any one creature that could fly (so things like a phoenix, dragon, or griffon happened, too). Each teen was able to turn into one animal with wings, they didn't get to pick which.

Issue the second: Where on God's green earth is the logic in that? That a virus kills off anyone who isn't a teenager, that it makes them able to transform into animals, but only animals with wings? And though the book didn't say it outright, the only winged things that showed up were predators. Hawks, falcons, owls? Yep. Ducks, chicken, pigeons? Nope.

The main character is a boy named Drake. He turns into a dragon...

Issue the third: Drake. He just happens to be able to turn into a dragon. Drake. Dragon. Bad author, go to your room.

...not just any dragon, but apparently a mood dragon. His scales change colors based on his mood.

Issue the fourth: Two words: Mood dragon.

So blah blah blah, there are two different groups of teenagers. One group believes they should embrace their animal side and stay animals 24/7. The other believes exactly the opposite. They have fights, wars, whatever. During this time Drake falls in love with some owl-shifter. The two have sex (as humans), and she becomes pregnant. Both sides go to war to keep her, for reasons I didn't read long enough to find out about and never really cared.

With all those issues, I should have hated this book, but I didn't. The writing (technical) was pretty good, and the editing was outstanding (self-published, but better edited than a traditionally-published book). I found only one editing mistake in the first 60% of the book, which is a lot better than books from even the biggest publishing houses.

I have to admit, I liked the idea of this book (people able to transform into an animal that could fly), I just wish the author had gotten to that point in a way that made more sense (maybe an alternate Earth where every human was just naturally born able to shapeshift into things with wings).

Currently reading: The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee.

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I look though lots and lots of books when searching for ones to read. When I find something odd, cool, wacky, or WTFish, I usually just frown or chuckle at it, then move on. However, after posting about that women who credited her dark side as a co-author, I thought now and then it might be amusing to post a collection of odd things I find while looking for new books to read.

Things that will keep me from reading your book: Having your cat edit it. "Edited by the outspoken and fearless Timothy the Talking Cat..."

Things that will tempt me to read your book: A nice cover. (Though I passed on this one anyway. Summary was generic dreck, and it's from Smashwords.)



But not so much odd covers. Linked for size and NSFW? And this one: Linked for size, utter WTF-ness, and total NSFW.

It's nice when a summary shows a complete lack of professionalism, making it easy for me to pass up on a book:

Set in a distant land, a boy grows into a man as he learns about the gifts of his ancestral blood from a mysterious mentor. And then, on one fateful day, he learns that some knowledge comes with a price.
* Attention: this is not a story about werewolves/lycans/whatever you want to call them *


(Out of curiosity about what kind of story it was then, I googled it. It doesn't seem to even have an Amazon page at all, just Smashwords. Also, no ready answer, and I don't care enough to put more time into searching.)

Summary #2:

Meet Mark . . . a man who has everything, a life that is perfect and a woman who honors his every desire. And if he has it all, why do the visions . . . the uncertainty . . . the demons . . . invade his mind and chase him into what could be his own personal hell?

. . . the ellipses . . .

Added bonus, the title/author of Summary #2 is: T.H.E.i. by T. Duncan Butler.

And then there are books that I just know will be bad, but I cannot resist them:

Pet Noir by Pati Nagle
Overview: Can a lowly gumpaw hope for love with a girl who rides in a jewel-encrusted carrier?

Feline investigator Leon, with opposable thumbs and the ability to talk, is possibly the most dangerous cat in the galaxy. Indentured to the Security department of Gamma Station until the cost of his creation is paid off, Leon alternates between harassing his human partner/roommate Devin and fighting sleazoid criminals, yet still finds time to flirt with the lovely Leila, an exotic Burmese who lives in the swankiest level of the station. Will he win her heart, and more important will he win his freedom?


Bad photoshop? Image choice? All-around bad cover design:

(Took me forever to make out that she must be riding, wearing white pants.)

Sometimes a book seems to come together. Attention-grabbing title "The Girl With Glass Feet", interesting cover:

When that happens, I hit up Amazon to check reviews and such. Unfortunately this one didn't have very good ones, so I'm skipping it. Still, kudos for the title and cover!

Another interesting title, though the book wasn't for me: A Fierce and Subtle Poison

I had really bad luck with my book hunt today. I looked at more than 1,700 titles and authors, clicking links to read summaries and look at cover when the title/author caught my attention, more than three hours combing through them, and only came up with a total of three new books to read. One will likely be bad (the Pet Noir one), one sounds interesting but comes from Smashwords (Shadows of a Superhero so it will likely be bad, and one I have hopes for (The Gaslight Dogs). Usually after this much time I have 12-20 new ones to read.

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Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)


(Other versions of the cover are nicer, but I always try to use the one I read.)

I used to read Stephen King all the time. For a long time, I was caught up with him -- I had read every book he published, and read the new ones as they came out. Then there were a few in a row that didn't work for me, and I got distracted with other authors, and for no real reason I just stopped reading any book by him. Turns out I was really missing out.

He's such a good storyteller. Some people say he's not a good writer, but I had no issues at all with anything in this book.

Full Dark, No Stars contains four novellas (and one bonus story, though unfortunately only in the paperback version of the book but not in the ebook version). None of them were what I'd consider horror, but all were disturbing and "horrible" (in a good way).

1922 - Set in the beginning of the Great Depression, a man kills his wife. The whole story is his confession letter, which seems like it shouldn't work but it very much does (King books are long, and this first story was nearly half the book, and it's all one long letter). Even when one gets away with murder, that doesn't mean they're home free...

Big Driver - This one was the most disturbing story in the book. A woman's car gets a flat, a man pulls over to help her, and ends up repeatedly raping and beating her, and then leaves her for dead. While not graphic, it was too damned realistic. All parts were too realistic: the set-up of her situation, her reactions during it, and her reactions immediately after. Her later revenge didn't really work for me, but the rest of the story was more than strong enough to carry it. This was my "favorite" story in the book, though "favorite" seems like the wrong word for it. It hit me the hardest (and I suppose I should thank King, it made me realize I don't really take the threat of rape as seriously as I should).

Fair Extension - The least disturbing, most "fun" story of the book. ("Fun" doesn't seem the right word choice, but there isn't really one. "Most lighthearted" for a story in which a man is destroyed, loses his family, and all sorts of bad accidents happen?) Basically a 'deal with the devil' story. The least disturbing of the four stories. A good story, but without a harsh emotional blow.

A Good Marriage - 25+ years into a marriage, a woman finds out her husband has an awful secret, a pitch black dark side. While the story was great, her actions and the process she went through fully believable, it's the last pages of the story and a minor character that I fell in love with. I wish we'd see more of him, but I suspect we never will.

How much did I enjoy this book? I'm going to try to catch up on all the King books I haven't read yet. :) *googles* Which looks like 11 books. Well, that's going to take me a while... At least it should be good reading!

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Lufthansa Airline is going to start flying out of a local airport, and so for some reason they came to my company to put on an event about it. Raffle for a round trip ticket to Europe, a small bit of swag (choice between a cookie, a plastic duck, or a tablet stand -- I took the stand), and a VR tour of a plane cabin and a airplane hanger. Because my chances of winning the trip are slim, the VR tour was the thing I was most looking forward too.

Maybe I watch too much scifi, but the reality of VR was really, really meh. It was basically like looking at a 360 degree photo. (You had to stay sitting in a chair, so you could spin but not get closer to anything.) I never once felt the desire to put out my hand and see if I could touch something -- the 3D effects in movies are a lot more realistic.

I don't know if this was just a cheap system (someone else in line said it looked like Google Cardboard) or if all VR is like that. Either way, it was a big disappointment.

But hey, maybe since the VR was disappointing, I'll win the trip. :P The drawing is in 40 minutes, so if I don't edit this post shortly, you'll know I didn't win.

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Zootopia: All in all, I liked it a lot. I tried watching it twice before tonight, but I have a hard time sitting still for a movie, just watching and not multitasking. Loved the characters, settings, and the story as a whole. The ending was clever and believable.

One minor, silly thing that didn't work for me: [Brief very minor spoiler for a small part of the ending.] How could a sloth drive a speeding car? As slow as they react? I can't see them driving at all, period. (I know that was a joke, but still, it just didn't make sense.)


Civil War: I shouldn't be surprised I liked this movie as much as I did -- Avengers movies always work for me.

Putting everything behind a cut, since I'm not sure what's a spoiler and what isn't.[Spoilers.]

I was confused about a number of characters, they must have either been introduced in other movies or comics or something. The Vision? I had never even heard of him before. Ant Man? I know he has/had a movie coming out, but I was at a loss for anything more than that. I heard the name Black Panther before, and knew of him from the Avengers cartoon. I think we were supposed to recognize some of the more minor characters too, but I kept saying "Who was that?".

I hadn't expected Spider-Man to work for me, but he did. I liked him quite a bit. Including how young he was.

Speaking of ages, wow. Robert Downey Jr looked really old in this. I was having a hard time buying him in the Iron Man suit anymore.

I swear, I read a bunch of fanfics that had a number of pieces of the movie plot in them. I wonder if they came from the comics, or if the authors just guessed well? Like Bucky killing Tony's parents.

Speaking of Bucky, he was the best thing in the movie. He needs his own!

The fight scenes were great. I expected the Hulk to show up at some point though. I don't like that Wanda character much.

I was pleased that this movie addressed an issue I have with many superhero movies: All the damage done to the area and innocent people while they're fighting.


I'm probably forgetting to mention some things, but the movie ran longer than I expected, and now I'm late logging.

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I realized this morning that I haven't yet had any stress dreams/nightmares about my upcoming vacation. That's especially odd, as I'm flying off instead of having my mother fly in. I guess it almost feels like it's not real? Even though it's less than a month away? (New readers: I'm a complete and utter stressball, and as I remember multiple dreams a night, it tends to really come out in my dreams. Any changes in my life, even things like vacations, tend to stress me out.)

I don't know if part of it is that I'm distracted by my eventual-move (two stressful things canceling each other out instead of feeding each other?). Once I'm back from my vacation, I need to make more progress on that. My lease is up early in September, so it's not pressing yet, but it will be before long. (And boy am I happy I was able to save most of my boxes from the last time I moved -- I knew I would be!)

I made the mistake of starting a new farm in Stardew Valley. That game is such a perfect trap for me -- I can accomplish things in it, which makes me feel like I'm actually accomplishing things in real life, which means I feel okay just sitting there and playing instead of actually accomplishing things real life. (But boy, is this second play-through going amazingly well. By Spring 10 Year 1 I had both backpack upgrades. By Spring 15 I had my first house upgrade and three tool upgrades done. While it feels evil of me, I'm going to back Walmart JoJa Corp instead of the community center -- I'm swimming in money, so it should be faster and easier. I'm going to totally avoid the moneysink of farm buildings, since I don't like interacting with animals anyway. Except a slime hutch. I seem to like slimes a lot and miss the feral one from my first save.)

I think/hope my toe has finally actually healed up. I've been off antibiotics a couple weeks now, and it seems to be mostly the same. Now and then I get a twinge of pain from it, which worries me a lot, but it's not reopening nor is it getting hot. (It's especially a worry now, because if it does get bad again, that means IV antibiotics... and my vacation in less than a month.)

Sadly, yet not unexpectedly, my weight has gone up a little. SIGH! Not surprising, since somehow I went down almost five pounds last week (and I'm 98% sure I'm in PMS). Only three pounds as of this morning, but it still depresses me.

I started running, but as I just barely started it (last week), I can't do all that much yet. Other than yesterday, I've been enjoying it. (This whole week I've felt tired and down, and just didn't want to do it yesterday. For the same reason, I've skipped doing pushups twice in a row now.

This whole week I've just felt physically down. Blah. Tired nonstop even though I'm sleeping the same amount of house. Super duper extra hungry, too. Really, all this goes with the PMS thing, I think. (Edit: You know, it's amazing that, at this point in my life, I still have to add "I think" onto that. I'm approaching the point of not having to deal with it anymore, and yet still I don't know for sure. Bodies...)

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Current Mood: tired tired

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Tiger Born (Demon Age Book 1) by M. A. Nilles and Melanie Nilles
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



As I've mentioned before, I have really, really bad luck with self-published books. Outside of comments I left in others' LJs, I haven't written about Smashwords before though. Where 98% of self-published books are bad, 100% of Smashwords ones are just awful. That makes sense, as Smashwords was offering self-publishing before it became a big thing. (Also, interestingly, apparently the Smashwords company is located just a few miles from me...)

So, that this book was both self-published and a Smashwords book means I almost deleted it before starting it. That would have been sad, as it turns out this book was actually sort of readable. Not good, barely okay, but not god awful as I had expected it to be. However, that being said, a book being "readable" isn't enough to keep me going, and I gave up on it at the 28% mark.

This book was billed as a story set in the Demon Age series, so I had written off the lack of background and worldbuilding info as my fault, since I hadn't started at the beginning of the series. Yet when I checked Amazon for the full title, I see it's listed as Book 1. Also, there were a number of writing/grammar/editing issues, including basic ones like your/you're, but I've seen worse.

The story was about a "halfblood" -- the world was full of demonlords and humans, and apparently the two could interbreed, though it was something both groups frowned on. The main character halfblood was a super human, thanks to his half-demon blood. The character, though unreasonably overpowered, was interesting enough to keep me going for a while, until the plot just seemed to lose track of itself. (The halfblood was captured by humans, and a demonlord showed up to free him on the condition that he'd hunt for some magical item. He got free of the humans*, and suddenly the story was talking about how he had been looking for that magical item for his whole life...)

* The escape was perhaps the biggest cop-out I ever saw in a book. He was captured, no way to escape... then he was just escaped. He had gone into a "blood rage" and couldn't remember anything during it, so the writer got out of having to explain how he escaped from the impossible situation!

While checking Amazon for the official title, author's name, etc (the cover is too small on my Kindle to see those things easily), the authors' names caught my eye. M. A. Nilles and Melanie Nilles. Why M. A.? I wondered if they were maybe a same-sex couple and wanted to hide it for readers of who weren't as accepting of such things. Nope. They're the same person. Melanie Nilles wrote that M. A. Nilles is her "dark side". She gave her "dark side" credit for writing the book...

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Game of Thrones: Spoiler for last week's ep (not this week's). [Brief thoughts about the big event from last week.]It all makes sense now. I bet the show runners wanted to somehow free Jon to go elsewhere and be a bigger part of the plot. How to do that, when he's stuck at Castle Black, wouldn't break his "until death" vow? Kill him! Thus his vow no longer applies and he can go south once he's alive again.

Fear the Walking Dead: I finally gave up on The Walking Dead. I was in the middle of the last episode and realized that I didn't have one tiny bit of caring left about what happened to the characters, so I turned it off and never went back to it. Yet somehow I was still looking forward to Fear the Walking Dead. (Stupid me.) It's by the same people, of course the same issues are going to come up in it.

Apparently my patience for Fear the Walking Dead was seriously shortened by The Walking Dead. Last week's "characters acting like idiots just for Drama" was enough to kill my enjoyment of it. I got halfway through this week's episode and realized I no longer cared, so I stopped watching and I seriously doubt I'll be returning to it.

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Stardew Valley: Now that I'm no longer worried my save file is corrupted, I'm really enjoying the bug that hit my game. I was in the dungeon, grinding slimes for the "kill # slimes" achievement and special ring. I warped back home to my farm and had to laugh -- I had been killing slimes for so long, I was hearing the "slime attacking you" noise on my farm! Then I noticed it...



A slime had somehow followed me out of the dungeon... You can't see it in this shot, but it nonstop tries to attack me. I hit it with my axe by mistake, and that damaged it, and as I have no idea if it regenerates health at any point, I had to be sure not to kill it. I ended up building a pen for it. Right here, next to my greenhouse, so I could see it every day (screenshot taken pre-building pen). I have no love of farm animals, but an escaped monster that wants to kill me? COOL! *pets it endlessly*

I'm headed into Winter #3 now, which makes me sad. Winter is such a boring, blah season in game. I keep thinking about starting a new farm, it'd be fun to play from scratch again, but I don't need to be more focused on this game and spend even more time on it. :P So I'm resisting making a new one for now, trying to finish the game on this one (all hearts for neighbors, finishing the museum). I'm up to almost four million gold, so it's kind of silly to make more, but I do it anyway. (Once you have your greenhouse full of ancient plants and make wine out of it, you make about 300K every six days, so your money goes up fast -- that's not even counting all your other crops and such.)

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When Disney first announced The Lion Guard, no one thought it would be good. People billed it as The Avengers in the Pridelands (which, considering that statement now, wouldn't that be a good thing?). People said it would ruin Lion King. People said it would be awful and not worth watching.

They were all wrong.

Though aimed at preschoolers, I've very much enjoyed all 13 episodes of the show's first season. While a couple fell a little flat for me, even then I still more enjoyed the episode than not, and there were many more episodes that I loved than didn't work for me.

The show wasn't 100% perfect for an adult viewer -- how could it be, when the target audience are preschool kids? But I was surprised at how much enjoyable-to-adults stuff Disney was able to include. Also, I liked all of the characters except one (I bet that one was the most popular with preschool kids).

Everything about the show was believable as happening in the Lion King world.

Every episode had at least one song, and most of them were a big addition to the episode, only twice did I wish they had not included the chosen song.

My favorite song was We're the Same (Sisi ni Sawa), which also happens to come from my favorite episode, one that told us that in the Lion King world, not all hyenas are evil. The song:



In the beginning of the series, I really disliked the new hyena design. I assume they changed them to make them less scary for the young viewers. However, by the end of the season, I didn't even notice it anymore.

One thing that I didn't like and only grew worse as the season went on, was that each animal character had a catchphrase, but it was in some African language. Catchphrases never work for me in general.

There was an odd thing about the show's canon -- the non-main character animals were sometimes just "dumb animals" and other times could speak/were as intelligent as the main characters. So in one episode the zebras grazing in the background might act like normal animals, and in the next episode they'd talk between themselves and to the main characters. In one episode, there was a big plot about antelope migrating, and all of them spoke and had opinions through the whole event, then the next episode some antelope were stuck in a mudhole and never spoke and couldn't seem to help themselves escape, the main characters had to physically pull them out and yell at them to try to direct them.

Unfortunately the last episode was all about the character I disliked (and now hate). Bunga, the honey badger. He's one of those "so stupid he's (supposedly) funny" characters. Incredibly annoying, though I suspect little kids like him best. I'd like to run him over with a lawnmower. Add in that Timon and Pumbaa were guest stars in the episode, and it was by far my least favorite of them all. Sad note to end the season on for me, but as I'm in the minority opinion on Timon and Pumbaa, other people might think it's ending on a high note.

All in all, I really enjoyed this show, and I can't wait for season two!

If you don't get the Disney Junior channel, or would rather watch it online, you can view the whole thing here.

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