Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Marvel Comics

REVIEW: Guardian of the Galaxy: Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Galaxy! by Dan Abnett

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*No Spoilers*

These are not the Avengers or the Fantastic Four – in fact, they’re barely even famous – but Rocket Raccoon and the faithful Groot are the baddest heroes in the cosmos, and they’re on the run across the Marvel Universe! During a spaceport brawl, the infamous pair rescues an android Recorder from a pack of alien Badoons. Everyone in the galaxy, however, including the ruthless Kree Empire and the stalwart Nova Corps, seems to want that Recorder, who’s about as sane as a sandwich with no mustard. Join Rocket and Groot on a free-for-all across the stars while they try to save all of existence-again!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ever since the MCU introduced The Guardians of the Galaxy to old and new fans alike, I have been reading their comics every chance I can get. Like most fans, I fell in love with Groot and his best friend Rocket. Seeing how this story features the dynamic duo, I was excited to listen to this audio adventure.

The Recorder that is rescued by Rocket and Groot is the main narrator of the story. He is a likable character overall, except when he feels the need to stop the story to explain why he used an “Human-like expression” or when “additional exposition” is needed. It becomes a bit jarring at times.

Over the course of the story, the Recorder keeps commenting on Rocket’s “disconcerting human-like hands” and if I never hear that phrase again, it’ll be too soon. There are other ways to describe Rocket’s hands/paws without repeating yourself.

The overall plot is convoluted and gets a little complicated at points, but Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Universe is an enjoyable ride full of action, adventure, and space battles. If you are looking for a fun sci-fi adventure then I would recommend this story.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

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*No Major Spoilers*

The Thin Man introduces Nick and Nora Charles, New York’s coolest crime-solving couple. Nick retired from detecting after his wife inherited a tidy sum, but six years later a pretty blonde spies him at a speakeasy and asks for his help finding her father, an eccentric inventor who was once Nick’s client. Nick can no more resist the case than a morning cocktail or a good fight, and soon he and Nora are caught in a complicated web of confused identities and cold-blooded murder.

I am a huge fan of crime noir, and this story takes place on the tail end of Prohibition. So if you love your mysteries with lots of illicit booze and over-dramatic women, then I would recommend The Thin Man for your reading list.

I enjoyed the first half of this mystery novel. The mystery was intriguing and I was trying to solve the puzzle along with Nick and Nora. There’s quite the cast of characters that would make any Agatha Christie fan enjoy this novel.

However, the drama with the suspect’s family got to be too much for me and I just stopped caring. Nick had already reached the conclusion that the ex-wife’s new husband had something to do with the murder and once the police were on the look for him and the ex-husband the family drama kept going and I mentally checked out until the end of the story.

The ending would’ve been a nice twist and a surprising ending. To see Nick explain in full detail to Nora about how the bad guy(s) committed the crime and almost got away with multiple cold-blooded murders was interesting. However, I feel like I was over this novel once the initial hunch was made clear and the family drama kept dragging on.

This is a quick read or listen depending on your preferred medium. I got through about half of the audiobook in one night, so if you’re looking for a crime noir to whet your appetite then check out The Thin Man.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Monster Tamer Girls Vol. 1 by Mujirushi Shimazaki

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*No Major Spoilers* 

When giant monsters roam the earth, “wildlife care” takes on a whole new meaning. That’s where the Tamers come in–girls trained to soothe the savage beasts. But while co-existence is a way of life, it’s still a little overwhelming for meek Ion Hidaka. Can she handle being one of the newest members of the Tatara Girls’ Academy Tamers Committee?

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I have been reading mangas for the past several years. Most of the ones I’ve read are good, but just like anything else, there are a few outliers. However, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t an outlier in the slightest. So let’s dive into this unique monster story. 

First off, I loved our main characters, Ion Hidaka and Sora Misumaru. Ion has a talent for befriending the monsters she meets, and yet she’s still terrified of them. Her best friend, Sora, isn’t interested in becoming a monster tamer, but she’s there to support her friend every step of the way.

I even loved the background characters. I wanted to learn more about the former members of the Monster Tamer Committee, but hopefully, the author will explore this in future volumes. All in all, there wasn’t a character I didn’t like for one reason or another. 

The monsters are adorable. I know they are supposed to be large and scary like Godzilla and Mothra, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the monsters in this story. The monsters appear in a more cartoony style. For example, the monster that lives by the school his horns don’t look sharp, his eyes look mean, but throughout the story, he’s just a lethargic monster.

Overall, I enjoyed Monster Tamer Girls. The characters are dynamic, and the monsters are cute and loveable. I would highly recommend this manga for lovers of Kaiju, and the Slice of Life genre. 

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Posted in Book Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Machine (White Space #2) by Elizabeth Bear

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*No Spoilers* 

**Huge thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for letting me review this early copy**

Meet Doctor Jens.

She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.

But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.

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I was excited about this book when I received the email about it from NetGalley. One of the issues that can be explored in science fiction is when advanced species encounter ancient ones. What kind of viruses and bacteria can affect both groups of people? This novel wants to examine this issue however, the technological discussions went over my head to the point where I felt intimidated to continue the story. 

If you are not deep into the world of high-tech or futuristic tech then I would say avoid this novel. I think what I read was written well, but the in-depth specs on the technology felt confusing and overwhelming for me. 

For example, I understood that the main character has a disorder that causes her to be in a constant state of pain. With her working in a futuristic and advanced society, her spacesuit helps her do everyday functions and can help her with her chronic pain. How any of that works I don’t understand. I just went with what the author was telling me about the subject. 

I know this novel isn’t meant for a casual sci-fi fan. This is for someone like a die-hard Trekkie or someone who can follow deep and futuristic tech discussions. Overall, I think The Machine is a well-written sci-fi mystery thriller for those who can follow the tech talk. This novel just wasn’t for me.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

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*No Major Spoilers*

Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.

In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.

Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.

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First off, I have to say that when I saw the cover of this novel at the library, I fell in love with this beautiful book cover. When I finished reading When the Sky Fell on Splendor, I can say that the story is just as beautiful as the cover.

“How many billions of things had to happen just right to give me this ordinary life.”

Emily Henry, When the Sky Fell on Splendor

I love how the characters were relatable and had depth. Franny and her brother Arthur grew up living in their older brother’s shadow. After the steel mill explosion and their brother Mark ends up in a coma, Franny’s mom and dad divorce and Franny and Arthur continue to live in the background of their depressed dad’s life.

We don’t get much from the other characters other than what is on the surface that Franny has observed. One of the key facets of their friend group is to not talk about emotional stuff. Even though some of the signs of the parents’ issues have clearly effected their kids in subtle ways.

Franny had grown close to one of the other boys in their group, and during an emotional moment he shared about how his mom’s doomsday prepping quickly spiraled into hoarding after the accident. He even took up a job at the local Walmart just so he could support his ailing mom and how he had become the sole breadwinner after his dad died in the accident.

I personally would’ve loved more insight on Sophia. I think she was left out when it came to emotional weight. She was the smartest one of the group and wasn’t an outcast like the others. She wanted to be a lawyer after a weekend with her grandmother watching Law and Order: SVU. She seemed to have a great relationship with her mom, and doesn’t understand why Franny started keeping her at arm’s length.

I read this book being compared to The Serpent King and Stranger Things as well as Super 8. I personally haven’t read or watched any of these, but they seem to have similar themes to When the Sky Fell on Splendor. So if you are familiar with any of these popular stories, I would recommend this novel for you.

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