Review: Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia


Former underground fighter Owen Z. Pitt thought he had turned his life around, thought he’d finally found a way to have a perfectly boring, respectable life. After all, what’s more boring and respectable than being an accountant, right? But when his boss turns out to be an out-of-control werewolf, those less-respectable skills at buttkicking allow Owen to survive a vicious attack. Of course, the whole werewolf thing comes as a bit of a shock, but it all begins to come into focus when Owen is recruited by a mercenary bounty-hunting organization called Monster Hunter International, devoted to hunting and exterminating paranormal threats to the planet, and making big bucks in the process.

Monster Hunter International (and the other books in the series) is the paperback equivalent of a “movie for guys who like movies”: explosions, big guns, tough wisecracking men and women, helicopters, fight scenes, and surface-level relationships that give the characters some depth without distracting from the explosions, guns, and fight scenes. In short, it’s a total testosterone-fest, but one without sex scenes or gratuitous profanity, making it potentially appropriate for younger readers.

The bad guys are werewolves, vampires, trolls, zombies, wights, fey, and Lovecraftian “Old Ones” who weave evil just beyond human sight. The good guys are primarily survivors of attacks by these creatures, whose physical and mental tenacity deemed them worthy of Special Forces-style training and, if they don’t wash out, lucrative careers (and often short lives) in the monster-killing industry. The other bad guys, who are also good guys, are a MIB-esque secret governmental agency committed to covering up the existence of monsters at any cost. And then there’s a super-duper secret group called Special Task Force Unicorn (STFU — yes, really)…..

MHI stays true to the time-honored tradition of making its protagonist “the chosen one,” but avoids getting bogged down in weighty musings about fate and responsibility to humankind and whatnot. Nope; this series is pure science fiction/horror fun. It’s Vin Diesel with a rocket launcher against a swarm of zombies with heavy metal playing in the background: loud, awesome, violent entertainment.

The level of violence, scary situations, and occasional technical detail about weaponry probably means this book is a better fit for older teens and adults, but I can absolutely think of many middle school aged boys who would love every page of it.

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Sidenote for those who pay attention to such things: The author, Larry Correia, has been embroiled in the recent “Sad Puppies” brouhaha surrounding the 2015 Hugo Awards, and his politics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s little sign of anything especially controversial in this series. The characters, like their author, are major gun nuts (his term) and skew libertarian, but there’s no discernible sense of an agenda or any particular prejudice.

Cross-posted on the Guys Lit Wire website.

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Baker Addition FAQ

Wait… you’re pregnant?

So they tell me. I hope they’re right; I’d hate to think my current physique is entirely the result of ill-advised quantities of pizza. It’s possible, though.

When are you due?

According to Arbitrary Birth Calendar, we’re looking at January 15. Did you know that 40 weeks is merely the average length of gestation, not the “correct” length? Apparently a lot of OBs don’t know that, hence a ton of unnecessary inductions. Big Brother was a good eleven days past his ETA so I’m figuring “mid to late January” is a pretty good answer. [Read a bit about the 40-week myth here or many other places.]

How have you been feeling?

The first trimester was a little rough (in comparison to not-pregnant me, not in comparison to people who get well and truly miserably ill during pregnancy). I was exhausted and nauseated pretty much all day, although I could manage it fairly well with snacking. I actually had worse evening sickness than morning sickness. As with Henry, I didn’t actually vomit until the start of my second trimester. At almost exactly the second trimester mark, the nausea shut most of the way off and was replaced with my old maternity friend, Crushing Heartburn and Indigestion. My midwife suggested chewable papaya tablets and I was shocked to find that they actually work better than Tums. I feel stronger and healthier now, although when the exhaustion hits it really hits, and the stomach upset is often worse, although for shorter periods of time. And since I started the “waking up all night to use the bathroom” routine waaaay earlier this time around, there’s a little bit of sleep loss in there too — although after having a newborn, I’ll never complain about four hours of sleep at a stretch again!

Wait… in that answer, did you say “midwife”?

I did! The OB who I saw with Henry left the practice, and his erstwhile partner replaced him with an awesome Certified Nurse Midwife. So not only do I have the benefit of a care provider who better fits what I want in my pregnancy and delivery, but she’s got an in-house OB right there in case of complications. Best of both worlds! [If you watch this video, you can “meet” my midwife at about the 2 minute mark.]

So other than papaya tablets, any other weird cravings or aversions?

Let’s be clear: I don’t exactly like the papaya tablets. But they taste better than Tums.

The main thing I’ve been experiencing, food-wise, is trouble finding anything that tastes very good. As with Henry, I’m gravitating toward really flavorful (read “spicy”) food. Most recently, Sonic’s Cheddar Peppers have been a pretty reliable source of calories. (So good for my heartburn, too. Haha.)

I completely lost my taste for coffee, which is a tragedy, and I can’t stomach soda unless it’s a fountain drink on ice. Seltzer/soda water with lime (or other) juice has been an absolute lifesaver. I’ve enjoyed Dasani Sparkling, Schweppe’s flavored seltzers, and Canada Dry flavored seltzer, but the very best is plain soda water from a fountain drink dispenser with the juice of about five lime slices squeezed in.

What I really want to eat is Jimmy John’s. Boooo, listeria. That, and a really good margarita. Oh well. Worth it.

You called Henry “Kermie” until his name was official; what’s this one’s nickname?

Gotham.

gotham

So do you know it’s a boy?

As of right now, all we really know is that he or she might be an alien.

Yes, that's actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

Yes, that’s actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? 🙂

How far apart will Henry and Gotham be?

Rarely more than fifty feet, I’d guess… oh, you mean age-wise? My bad. Henry will be a little more than three months shy of being 3 years old when Gotham makes his/her grand entrance.

Are you hoping for a girl this time?

Gotham would make an excellent name for a little girl, don’t you think?

Do you have any real names picked out yet?

I’m still pulling for a Xerxes or a Hurricane.

What’s the best thing about being pregnant?

Getting to wear stretchy pants and snugger shirts that show off my belly without feeling like I seriously need to go on a diet or something. I love the way I look when I am pregnant!

What’s the worst thing about being pregnant?

Unexpected sneezes. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky.

How is the second pregnancy different than the first?

Lord have mercy on all pregnant women who have toddlers. I’ve been at home with Henry this summer while Ryan teaches summer school, and Henry is a very willful and high-energy kid, and that can be tough to wrangle when you’re exhausted, overheated, and nauseated. Some days I count it as a triumph if I actually put in my contacts, much less getting dressed!

The flip side of that is, I don’t have as much time, etc., to dwell on this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Henry, there wasn’t a single second of the day that I wasn’t on some level thinking about the baby-to-be. I would talk to him (usually in my head, because gestating babies are telepathic, doncha know) all day. This time, every so often I remember that there’s a baby in there! Which means I had to have forgotten! I’m unendingly conscious of my own bodily changes and discomforts, but their root cause gets pushed to the background by all the Henryness. (Should that be Henriness? Possibly…)

Are you excited?

Sooooo excited.

Is Henry excited?

Henry is excited by Sesame Street characters, Thomas the Tank Engine, unsupervised cell phones, and peanut butter treats. He is, as far as I can grok, utterly oblivious to future threats arrivals.

What questions — serious or silly — didn’t get addressed? Ask them and I’ll add them!

 

 

Henry Update, July 2015 Edition :)

I am always thinking that I ought to be “journaling” about Henry’s growing-up, and then when I actually finally sit down at a computer I never know exactly what to say! This is probably going to be a slightly boring and inane post unless you are just curious about what is going on in the life of my kidlet, but it is what it is.

Henry turned 2 this May but is tall enough, and has a look to him, that people tend to assume that he is 3. Since he’s still VERY two in his behavior and speech, that can make for some awkward “judgmental stranger” moments! It can be hard for me to remember that he’s really just a baby, sometimes — a long-legged, willful, faster-every-day baby. He’s in a bit of a snuggly phase right now, which is so nice. He loves to back up across the room and then run as fast as he can at Ryan or me, crashing into us with a huge smile and saying “Boom!” If we put on Sesame Street or one of hugglemonster chairhis other shows, he’ll often come sit in our lap to watch, if he’s not playing with something or sitting in his Hugglemonster chair. He loves the “finger spider” game and will take my hand and put it on him so that I’ll tickle him.

In the past couple of weeks, Henry’s imagination has blazed into life. I think it was triggered by me bringing home a lightly pre-loved Cookie Monster Count N Crunch toy. The only stuffed animals Henry had ever paid attention to were the ones who moved and sang/played music, and this one was his favorite Sesame Street character. You open his mouth and put in a plastic cookie, and Cookie Monster wiggles and says something in response. Henry LOVED it and soon progressed from feeding it the approved plastic cookies to sharing his own food — and drinks, yikes! — and ultimately anything he could get to fit in its mouth. Including my big hairclip that turned him into Cookie Cthulhu.

Cookie Monster

And from there, it just took off. Out of nowhere, he noticed his non-electronic stuffed animals. He danced with a plush Superman doll, had conversations with an oversized dinosaur, hugged his Hugglemonster — and went, almost overnight, from liking Scout because of all the different buttons and songs, to cuddling, toting around, and really being attached to Scout even when Scout wasn’t doing anything.

And then the LEGOs! (Technically Mega Blox or Duplo or whatever, I suppose.) Henry had always just thought they were excellent things to throw across the room. Then one day I turned my back for thirty seconds at my parents’ house, and when I turned around he had pulled out a bucket of blocks and built a tower. I didn’t know he even knew how to fit them together! Now he’s a budding LEGO maniac, and it’s so fun to watch him work with them. For a few days he would be utterly devastated when a tower fell down or broke — I’m talking full-on meltdown with enormous tears — but it wasn’t long before he was anticipating structural issues, holding a hand behind a wobbly bit to catch it before it fell, gently readjusting unstable bits until they caught their balance.

lego 1The entire time he plays with LEGOs, he has the most serious look on his face. He carefully picks out which block he wants next (his favorites are the 2x1s), adds it to the tower, steps back, examines his work, and then often circles the tower to check it out from every angle. He’ll get down on his hands and knees or even his stomach and look up at the tower from below. Then he’ll carefully pick another piece and do it again.

One time, his grandpa built a tower. We started to take it down later so Henry could have the blocks, and he pitched a fit — so we put it back the way it was, and he spent several minutes examining it as he built his own tower next to it, copying some elements… I am not going to say that Henry is going to grow up to be an engineer, because I was very block-oriented like this as a kid too and look how I turned out, but right now he is definitely being a junior engineer.

lego 2

Speaking of engineers, he’s very fond of Thomas the Tank Engine. Whenever he sees one of the engines he lights up and says, “It’s a Thomas!” His grandmommy has several of them from garage sales and whatnot, and he likes to line them up in neat little rows and, again, examine them. Woe be to anyone who disturbs those neat little rows, too! (The picture below is one of his earliest lines and is less fastidiously perfect than his current ones. I tried to turn the first Thomas around to match the others and he absolutely wailed.) Are all toddlers this OCD?

lining up thomas

Unfortunately, his current favorite game is to find a piece of furniture that he can get behind — say, a coffee table or a sofa in the middle of a room — and throw everything he can find over said object. I’ve given up at home, and by the time Ryan gets home from summer school the loveseat is generally completely covered with blocks, toy instruments, stuffed animals, sippie cups, my stuff, you name it. Nothing I’ve tried has put any brakes on this behavior, so I’m just waiting it out. Surely the novelty will wear off eventually, right?

Henry’s speech is much better but there are still some issues. He has a LOT of words and phrases but doesn’t use them to communicate needs, which is probably more frustrating for him than anyone else. He just loses his poo when he wants something, and we have to calm him down before we can get him to think logically about it, and the only way to calm him down is to give him the thing that he wants, so he never ends up actually asking for it. I’m not sure what to think or do about that. Speech therapy was frustrating and pretty useless for us, I think. We were going to completely cancel it but now I’m wondering if we should just request a different therapist? Ours seemed very knowledgeable but she was patronizing to us, rarely available due to medical issues, and never really interacted with Henry in any way that seemed to have any purpose. And the “homework” she gave us had zero impact on him — the progress he made just happened, and even when we reported all of the exciting bounds he’d made, she just poo-poohed them and said it wasn’t the right progress. Pretty disheartening. I really don’t think we got anything valuable from the process, and I sorta believe that everything is going to sort itself out at this point, but I WOULD like him to be able to tell me “eat” or “drink” BEFORE the meltdown.

He is, however, very good at telling me (or anyone else, or inanimate objects) “Stop it!” when something happens that he doesn’t like, or doesn’t happen that he would have liked. The other day he bopped his head on a table, turned to it, and admonished it to “Stop it!” That was pretty funny. Oh, and this morning he decided that Paisley was not a “dog” or a “doggy” but a “fuck.” What in the world. I promise we haven’t been using that word to describe our pets, even though they might deserve it!

I gotta say, I’m not worried about his intelligence — and related to the whole “not convinced he’ll be an engineer” thing, his musical intelligence blows me away. He knows the hand movements to “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree” and “Patty Cake,” as well as “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” (he knows all of the words to that one, too). He also knows the ABC song, and can identify all of the letters out of context, including on signs and stuff. He knows “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” AND recognizes that it has the same tune as the ABCs, sometimes mashing the two into one song. He knows “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” although he generally only does the barking part — in rhythm, and at a perfectly tuned fifth interval every time — and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” There are others, too, that I’m forgetting right this moment. He likes to play the piano, and when he does there is a certain musicality to it that might almost be a little frightening. He doesn’t bang on it just to enjoy the noise; he picks out notes and moves up and down the keyboard, rarely dissonant, and when he plays more than one note and once they’re often at pleasant intervals. I’m not a string player so I have a hard time getting my mind around the idea that you can start kids on violin at 3 — will Henry possibly have the self-control to not destroy a violin when he’s 3??? — but I’m eager to see how his musical abilities develop as he gets bigger.

He’s, uh, very not good at staying still. So many kids his age stick right with their parents, and if he’s not physically restrained he’s GONE. He’s very energetic and investigative and playful, and any hallway or open space screams “racetrack” to him. It’s a little exhausting for his geriatric parents, and we’re working to improve this behavior, but it’s hard. Did I mention how willful he is? I don’t know what the best way to teach a semi-verbal kid about boundaries and prohibited activities is. I know a swat on the bottom might get a message through but we’ve not done that and I’d prefer not to. So it’s kind of a constant thing. I’m definitely learning that there are vastly different personality types in little toddlers. Some kids are clingers and some are runners. Some will follow the line of kids marching in a circle to the music, and some will sit in the middle of the circle until the music stops and then do their own dance. Some want to sit in your lap during storytime and some want to go take the book away from the librarian.

Ryan is teaching summer school for two months and I’m taking this opportunity to realize that I’m probably glad I’m not a SAHM because it is SERIOUSLY HARD WORK to take care of a 2-year-old all day by yourself! Wow! Part of the trouble, of course, is that it has been so hot (and I’ve been under the weather) that we’ve had to spend more time indoors than is probably strictly good for an energetic little boy. This may be related to the throwing-toys game — someone just needs to go outside and run some laps! And someone ELSE needs to come and follow him, because I can’t keep him up with the little munchkin! 🙂

I can’t even begin to articulate how much respect I have for full-time parents who don’t work outside of the home, especially those who are well and truly on their own. I’ve got it pretty good; it’s only 2 months, I’ve got full contingents of grandparents and aunts/uncle on call, and my reinforcements come home every evening and weekend. Full-time parents are definitely superheroes!

He drove the boat quite a ways on Lucky Peak a few weeks ago. He’s a real waterbaby!

boating

It’s impossible to know where to stop so I guess I’ll just stop here for now. 🙂