Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
When I picked out this book, I suspected it wouldn't be very good. But it had a number of elements I liked (told from the animal's POV being the main one), and it had a great cover (I know, I know), so I decided to give it a try.
The story opened with a pack of dogs living on the street. Through them we learn that people never leave the buildings anymore -- the air and water is too toxic for them to survive. (So how do dogs and all other animals survive outside? Since they were more intelligent than our RL animals are, to the point of the main character dog teaching himself to read by looking at street signs, I'm okay with assuming that they're somehow more evolved. Or mutated. Or something.) Two of the dogs encountered a street sweeper machine. (Why? If people never ever leave the buildings, why put them in protective gear and send them out to clean? Who cares if there's trash on the streets? And where in the world does the trash even come from?) For some unknown reason, the street sweeper just happens to have animal tranquilizers and a cage, so when it happens to break down and spot the dogs, the people in it can capture them.
As you can see, plotholes abound. To be far to the book, this isn't even a YA book -- it's targeted at 8-12 year olds, so likely they wouldn't notice all the issues.
So anyway, these animals are given *hand wavey* scientific injections and it turns them onto animal crosses. Buffalo-zebra. Panther-rabbit. Dog-eagle. That sort of thing. Then the animals have to fight to the death for the entertainment of the humans. It was exactly like some kind of talking animal Hunger Games story.
I could roll with all the issues and plot holes, but the humans were just so over the top evil -- black/white, not a single bit of subtleness at all. Nearly every human gleefully torture the animals. That was the last straw.
Surprisingly I made it to the 50% point, so I can count it towards my total for the year.
Edit: Rereading this, I realize I didn't touch on any of the things I liked. There were some big positives about this book. I liked all the characters, and they seemed believable "people" (personalities?). Even though I didn't like the dog learning to read by looking at signs, other than that, I bought the animals as animals -- their behavior seemed realistic to me (if too intelligent). The main dog character's struggles, feelings, and reactions were well-written and believable. If the story had been more light-handed on the 'all humans gleefully torture animals' thing, I would have finished it.
Brethren (Raised By Wolves Book 1) by W.A. Hoffman
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
Brethren was sitting on my Kindle for a long time. Years and years. I had read it before, loooong long ago (12+ years ago) and I had loved it. It was the first self-published book I ever read, back before self-publishing was a thing. (The author ran her own "publishing company" to publish only her own and one friend's books.)
Going into the book today, all I recalled about it was that it was M/M and the main characters were pirates.
I wish I had let my memories of it stand and left it at that. While it wasn't bad, it didn't catch my interest at all, and boy did it seem really long winded. And, while I thought I remembered the sex scenes being really good, at least the early ones in the book 'fade to black' early on and go into no details at all (like summing a whole night of sex up in a couple sentences). I'm not sure if that changed later in the book or not.
I really wanted to like Brethren and reread it, but I gave up really early in (less than 10%). I feel bad about not giving it more of a chance, but it just didn't hook me (and I kind of didn't like either main character), and I have a lot of other books waiting to be read. Oh well.
Edit: Arg! I posted about yesterday's book, Water Keep (the "Shadow Mountain publishes and promotes a variety of books, all of which reflect the values espoused by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." one) on Amazon, and the author replied offering to refund my money. Arg! I knew I shouldn't have done that. On one hand, I did want to give people a heads up about it, on the other... I didn't want to make the author feel bad.
His whole response:
Just wanted to say that I'm sorry you were disappointed in who the publisher is for my Farworld series. Not sure it will help you any, but I can tell you that the Farworld series, along with all Shadow Mountain series, does not have any religious content. Again, that may not be your point, but I hate the idea of you spending money on a book you don't want to read. If you email me directly at scott at jscottsavage dot com, I will find a way to refund your money. I hope you'll try out some of my other books, but no hard feelings at all.
Edit edit: My reply:
Thank you for the very nice reply and kind offer, but I'm not going to take you up on it. While I know some people seek refunds from Amazon (and presumably other booksellers) when they don't like a book, I've never liked the idea of that.
Thank you for offering it though, and agreed: No hard feelings.
Good luck with your future books.