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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Shadows of the Highridge by Jay Swanson | Book Review

I really enjoyed this book. It had huge man eating worms that can hear you when you walk on the ground. This made for some really tense scenes. The characters could only step on rocks or risk being heard and eaten by the giant worm monsters. This book had a ton of really intense scenes involving survival and it made for a fun read.

I also really liked getting to know the character Brin Salisir more. He's a mysterious character from Jay's phenomenal Into The Nanten books. Although I got to now Salisir more in Nanten book 2, Fall of the Arbor King, this was a cool slice of his life from before those books. I loved seeing him start as a mysterious character in this book and then have more and more revealed about him as he formed relationships with the other characters. If Jay writes more books like this, hint hint, I will jump at the chance to read more about Salisir. 

But my very favorite thing about this book was the dialogue. Yes I wanted to read it because it's a fantasy story with magic and crazy beasts the characters have to fight but I have to say that the dialogue was the highlight for me. It was what I left the book appreciating the most. As the characters went through many life and death trials they got to know each other. They taught things to each other. They learned things about themselves. They weren't just characters to me anymore. Now they were real people whose journey I was totally invested in. The great dialogue made this book come alive for me. Even though this is a dark book I laughed and smiled as the characters brought a little joy to each other with witty dialogue as they escaped one peril only to stumble upon another.

Get this book for the awesome fights between farmers, soldiers, warriors, and worms. Get this book to gain more insight into the world of the Nanten and its many mysteries. Get this book to experience more of the great Brin Salisir in a time before he graced the pages of Into the Nanten books one and two. But most of all get this book to hang out with richly rendered characters that have a lot to figure out about the world around them, strangers that have barged into their lives, massive deadly creatures, and most importantly themselves as they do all within their power just to survive. I loved this book. Especially the great dialogue.

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Shadows of the Highridge
Into the Nanten - The Record of My Exile  (Season 1)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day
by Chris Fox | Book Review

This book was amazing. I loved how he incorporated brain science and the power of habits to a writing career. I'm so glad I picked this one up.

I also really appreciated the no nonsense and yet positive way he cheered you on as a writer. It was very inspiring and made this book full of techniques really encouraging. 

If you struggle with writing consistently—get this book. It will be worth the short time you'll have to invest reading it. It's pretty short but it's packed with a ton of great very helpful stuff that you can start using right away. I'd argue this book will help you achieve goals you have in all aspects of your life. You'll feel very encouraged to get your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard regularly from reading this book. 

It also has a bunch of exercises for you to do to help you on your journey of forming a lifelong habit of writing.

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Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret To Writing Every Day (Write Faster, Write Smarter) (Volume 2)

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino | Book Review

I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this book but it turned out to be a great read. It was a little bit like Harry Potter where a character finds out they are a supernatural person and go to a supernatural school, but that's where the similarities end. Actually the fact that the Death characters have a sport they play with scythes did remind me of Quidditch but other than that everything was very original. Their sport was nothing like Quidditch, it's just that a supernatural sport at a supernatural school reminded me of Harry Potter. But this book had a ton of its own cool ideas and it was nothing like Harry Potter. Don't get me wrong I absolutely love the Harry Potter books I'm just saying that this book is not a rip off of those great books and the author did a lot of cool original things in this novel.

The author did a great job coming up with lots of fun characters and a very cool story world for them to explore. Suzy, a teenage girl, finds herself transported into a world of Deaths where people are learning to become those cloaked scythe wielding figures who ferry you from the living world to the next once you have died.

I liked that the main character was a girl. It was even cooler that she was entering a world of boys and men in which she was the only girl. Though I could see how this is a great book for female young adult readers, I think guys will like this book a lot too. The author is a guy, and as a male reader I really enjoyed it. It's likely female readers will even get more enjoyment out of it with such a relatable awesome strong female protagonist. I happen to love coming-of-age stories and this was a really great one with a female main character. Other then the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson I don't think I've ever read a coming-of-age book with a female lead. Hats off to the mail author for writing such a great female character. 

I loved the story world this book took place in. Especially all of the cool backstory that unfolded as we got to discover it with the main character. She is the first female Death in a thousand years and something really crazy happened the last time there was a female Death. Certain things in the world are not talked about, and it was really cool to see Suzy uncover mysteries in the world. I also really liked it when she discovered a few ancient places where it seemed no one had been in a very long time. The scenes where she uncovered these locations were really fun.

I read this book by listening to the audiobook. The narrator Joel Froomkin did a great job with this story. He is a master of doing tons of different accents and voices. It made for a really enjoyable listen. From old men to teenage girls this guy came up with great voices for all the characters. 

It was cool seeing her make friends and start to fight back instead of letting all the male Death characters bully her. It was fun watching her make friends and uncover mysteries. It was fun watching her grow up and find out who she really is. There was a nice character arc and some good character growth. If you like fantasy stories give this one a try. You won't be disappointed. It was a fun read.

I was given a review copy of the audiobook for an honest review by Audiobook Blast.

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School of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder's Secret)

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 42
Dust by Hugh Howey

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In this 42nd episode I review "Dust" by Hugh Howey. Did you like my new animated intro? Listen to hear why this was such an amazing book and a satisfying ending to Hugh's Silo Saga. We read Wool and were amazed and had to know more about the Silo world. Then we read Shift and learned more. Now we get to see it all wrap up in an amazing last adventure.

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Dust (Silo Saga)

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Music Attribution:
Music by Kevin MacLeod at
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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Support the show AND get a free audiobook!

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Dust: Silo Saga, Book 3 (Affiliate Link)
Written by Hugh Howey
Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Body by Stephen King | Book Review

I don't know what it is about this story, but I've listened to it like 4 or 5 times in the last few years. It's so good. It may be my favorite story. It gives me the goose bumps every time I listen to the ending. The funny thing is it's not a story I would normally like. I don't appreciate profanity and this story is littered with it. I normally like Sci-Fi and Fantasy adventures and this is just a story about four 13 year old boys following the train tracks down a long road on a few hot summer days to find the body of a dead kid their age. They also face off against some much older much bigger kids.

I think the reason I love this story so much is that it captures a time in the character's life so well. I feel like I've hung out in their tree house with them. After reading it I feel like I went on that little adventure with those boys. It feels like they were my childhood friends.

Also it is a story chalked full of amazingly poetic writing. There is some horrible profane stuff in this story, but it also contains some amazing writing with the best descriptions and similes I've ever read. I'm a huge sucker for great similes and coming of age stories. Maybe that's it. Either way I can't get enough of this little story.

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The Body

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Destroyer by Chris Fox | Book Review

This book was a ton of fun and I can't wait for more! It's military science fiction but it's easily the most entertaining military sci-fi novel I've ever read. I haven't read much because I find they're usually boring books. This story just moved and it was very fun and engaging.

There were no scenes where characters were sitting around talking and pondering philosophical or political things like I've read in other military science-fiction. There were no abstruse complicated sentences about the technology. No expounding on what this future science could realistically be like and I appreciated that. Everything was described well so I understood how the science worked, but the story wasn't about the science. It was about the adventures and conflicts which in my opinion makes for a much more enjoyable read. Instead I got a ton of awesome action scenes. I got a behind closed doors meeting scene where terrible secrets were discovered by eavesdropping good guys. I got some really cool science fiction style Indiana Jones scenes where characters flew to planets and explored ancient ruins to try and uncover some terrifying mysteries about an alien race. 

One thing that makes a book a favorite to me is when I don't get bored reading it and that was the case with this book. It was fantastic. Even though it had great world building, interesting technologies, and super cool alien races I loved I don't remember ever getting assaulted with a huge info dump to tell me all about it. As you get to see these alien races and human characters go through all kinds of trials you discover more about them and the technology around them.

I particularly liked the Tigris. They are a catlike alien race that reminded me of the Kilrathi from one of my favorite old space fighting games Wing Commander. I loved how the movement of their tails was often used to show their mood. These aliens are cunning and intelligent but they are also vicious brutal fighters with an amazing amount of strength. Their sharp claws and teeth were scary. I loved how human characters thought that they creepy when they smiled. They came across as terrifying warriors which was cool. It also made for a fun juxtaposition when these tigress characters were happy and would sometimes purr. I love that and thought it was awesome.

There are two other ancient alien races. They were really great too but I'm not explaining them because I don't want to spoil anything in the story. I also liked how the Helios Gates worked for long distance space travel. They were a cool idea that were well executed.

I loved how all of the characters were ones that I've never met before but they had a lot of interesting backstory. Just enough was given for me to know their motivations and appreciate them as well rounded fleshed out characters with a history. I would say the story focuses more on plot and character but the author did a great job creating living breathing characters that I enjoyed going on adventures with. I'm excited to learn more about them by reading the prequel Exiled.

I would say that this novel was like Wing Commander meets Indiana Jones. It was a whole heck of a lot of fun and you should go buy it right now so you can get to reading it. I know I'm glad I picked this one up and is soon as I'm done writing this review I'm going to go read the prequel. I can't wait for the sequel to come out.

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Destroyer (The Void Wraith Trilogy Book 1)

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Monday, April 4, 2016

A Vanishing Glow by Alexis Radcliff | Book Review

There were a lot of cool world building things in this book, but I had a hard time finishing it. For fans of steampunk/flintlock action and aristocratic politics this might be the book for you. I thought the story world, the machine body parts on people, and the technology was really cool, but it wasn't enough because I was not drawn to the characters. I wish the main character had more agency instead of needing other characters to push him in the right direction to get him to act.

This book had a strong start and some really intense action scenes that were very well done and I was enjoying the book, but then it was all politics and aristocracy and I was super bored. I didn't really care about the main character or his problems or all of the political and social workings of the world. A lot of talking with not much going on.

There was another storyline going on and that one was more interesting but I felt like I just got little snippets of it here and there. I wanted to like that character but I didn't get to know her well enough so I didn't care what happened to her either. Also it would have been nice to see the storylines come together by the end but they don't really do that. Another thing that made me want to put this book down was a romantic scene between two young female characters. I chose to skip past that scene. It also has very brutal violence that made me cringe it was so gruesome. Those scenes were well done but they just didn't seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the book. If these are things that would bother you too then take a pass on this book.

I think for the right reader this book could be a good read. It has lots of 5 star reviews. It just wasn't my cup of tea for the reasons I have mentioned. That said the author created a really cool world. I just wish it had been populated with characters I cared about. I was given a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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