Sunday, April 29, 2012

April '12

The Tenth CommandmentThe Tenth Commandment by Lawrence Sanders

Dtb, 385 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The over-arching whine here seems to be that the main character is short; almost 5'4", or 162cm. So yes, he is short, but the way he describes it, he uses words like midget, etc and is always bemoaning his lack of stature or his small overall mass.

If you don't know me well, let me tell you why this really bothered me. I am 5'3". I've been the short guy since 7th grade. But did I whine about it? No. I DID something. Starting in highschool I worked out and by the time I ended college, I was benchpressing 175lbs, which when considering I weighed 125lbs, is something I am still pleased about. I ran and trained until I could jump high enough to touch the rim of a basketball net [dunks were out of the question], I could spike a volleyball [not well, but I was ABLE] and if anyone tried to physically intimidate me, I did what I needed to to even the odds and got right back in their face. [now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't going around picking fights, or looking for trouble, nor did I have the proverbial "something to prove", I just wasn't going to accept crap from anyone].

So when I read about someone who is smarter than me, taller than me, complaining about height and physical ability, it just doesn't ring true.

Now on to everything else.

I have not read much in the 'mystery' genre. It is too much like real life and I read to escape for the main part. But I was with my wife in the library and had forgotten my ereader at home, so I just grabbed a random book off the shelf and began to read. I'd read close to 50 pages by the time it was time to go, so I just checked it out.

Interesting, but not interesting enough that I'll go seek out more by the author. The main character seemed to do nothing but work, or go out and eat and drink with one girl or another. And in the end ends up with some tall girl, which he makes a big deal about. Geez, if you love someone, do you really notice that kind of thing? Other people might, but do you?

I found the 'mystery' to almost be the smallest part of everything. It was tangential to everything, so it had an excuse to hang around. But the double murder/scam/etc,etc, etc, wasn't brilliant or thought provoking or even really 'mysterious'. Maybe I don't know enough about mysteries? Wouldn't surprise me, to be honest.

So I don't feel like I wasted my time, not at all, but next you see me, I won't be talking your ear off about this great mystery book I just read :)

Star Wars: RiptideStar Wars: Riptide by Paul S. Kemp

Ebook, 199 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While Crosscurrent had some originality, this story was nothing but a whore-story for the Fate of the Jedi sub-series.

Part of me didn't mind, because it fleshed out the baddy in FotJ, but Kemp kept throwing around "Thrawn-era" like it was a magic term and would make us the readers love his story through word-association instead of for its own merits.

And since the ending was so open ended, it will either have another book after it, or something in Apocalypse will make this necessary reading for the hardcore Star Wars fan.

 Predator: Cold War (Predator)
Predator: Cold War by Nathan Archer
Ebook, 190 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Half the book seemed to be taken up with memories of the previous book, or the movie Predator II. I don't know which, as I haven't read Concrete Jungle nor seen PredII. Either way, it felt like Archer was just padding the wordcount.

Very little action between humans and predators. I think there was more fighting between humans. The predators were almost ancillary to the story, and since it is their name emblazoned across the cover, they should have played a bigger part.

This wasn't poorly written, just dashed together with little thought. Kind of like how an expert house painter might rush things for his poor relative-not a bad job, but not a real good job either. Just "meh".

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 02 Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 02 by CLAMP

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought my heart would break when Sakura woke up and asked "Who...Are You?"

Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, #1)Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Ebook, 158 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I first saw the cover, my first thought was Ranger's Apprentice! but for magic?

So I kind of went in with high expectations because the Ranger's Apprentice series was fantastic.

This turned out to be pretty good. At first I was kind of surprised by the actions of the main character,but I just kept reminding myself that he was what, 11, 12 or 13? And as long as I reminded myself of that, it was no longer surprising.

I think Delaney does a fantastic job of showing us the sad and lonely side of the life of a Spook. When his sister-in-law talks to him near the end, it really crashed home, for the character as well as for the reader. Spooks are alone, period.

I also liked the possibility of redemption hinted at for the young witch. Redemption themes always get points from  me.

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, #10)Small Favor by Jim Butcher
Ebook, 432 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While Harry got his ass handed to him SEVERAL times, and just generally got the snot kicked out of him, the tone wasn't as fatalistic as some of the previous books.

I enjoyed this, but not enough to reread or buy. So about on par with the others.

Jumper: Griffin's StoryJumper: Griffin's Story by Steven Gould
Ebook, 286 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unfortunately, though Gould decides to write another Jumper story, this was pretty much a copy of the earlier Jumper books, but with more death, violence and sex.

Deals with 9 year old Griffin, who can jump. He is being targeted for elimination by a mysterious group. Needless to say, he ends up moving out by his lonesome into the middle of the desert.

And right at the end, when he's 17'sh, he starts taking the fight back to the enemy. and then bam, it just ends.

Since this was written in '07, I doubt we'll be seeing any more if a sequel hasn't come out by now. Which is too bad, cause it would have been nice to see a violent psychopathic Jumper kick some Secret Society Butt.

Curse of the Bane (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, #2)Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney
Ebook, 201 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We find out much more about Tom's mother, the Spook's past and there are more collisions/intersections with Alice.

The only thing that kind of pissed me off was the continual downing of the priests. Spook keeps saying "let them stick to what they know and are good at" but that is never specified. Just a continual bombastic blast against them.

If I was reading this with a young person, that above point would be a wonderful springboard for talking about some deep theological issues though. So it isn't necessarily bad.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 03Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 03 by CLAMP

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now we know why CLAMP is drawing everyone with such freakish'ly long legs, so they can have leg battles and not have to worry about drawing more indepth whole body battles.

At first I thought the imprisoned magical entity was another version of Yuko, ultra-thin, ultra-bust.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 04Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 04 by CLAMP

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
We begin to see the price Syaoran is going to have pay. So melancholy.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 05Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 05 by CLAMP

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Syaoran doesn't have one eye, and his memories stop before a certain point. Hmmm, sounds like something the Time/Space Witch Yuko would do, doesn't it?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 06 Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 06 by CLAMP

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I understand that Sakura has lost her memories, why does she have to be such a non-character? In CCS she was a little spitfire with a can-do attitude.

It feels like Syaoran is more the main character. Which maybe he is?

Caught in Crystal (Lyra #4)Caught in Crystal by Patricia C. Wrede
Ebook, 294 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I definitely enjoyed this story the most of all the Lyra novels I've read so far.

There didn't seem to be so much a tie in with the other novels though. I wasn't sure when this was taking place.

And once again, this seemed like Wrede was copying Andre Norton's style, for fantasy.

Monster Hunter Vendetta (MHI, #2)Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia
Ebook, 450 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where as Monster Hunter International started off with a bang and then kind of just petered out, Vendetta starts with bang and then relentlessly pounds the reader with one battle after another until the very end, where there is a great big mother-phracking battle. Almost one long, ongoing battle.

And I loved it.

There was no gun porn, no contrived romance'y stuff, nothing that wasn't essential to the story. I felt like my backside was kicked the whole time. And Owen steps up and stops whining.

Agent Franks. Even when the reveal happened, I didn't get the play on words with his name until AFTER I was done the book. Very clever, in a simple punny way.

Overall, this was a much more enjoyable read than the first one. Looking forward to the final book now...

High LordHigh Lord by Trudi Canavan
Ebook, 544 Pages
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Dannyl and Tayend. Enough said.

The Mote in God's EyeThe Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven
Ebook, 560 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A first contact novel.

I liked that humanity was not portrayed as either the evil brainless aggressor or the helpless victim.
We deal with another sentient race that is as clever and duplicitous as we are. And we win, apparently.

Not a fast paced action book. Almost more along the lines of Rendezvous With Rama, where it is more about ideas than the action, but there was some action. Enough to keep me interested anyway. Probably will read the sequel, The Gripping Hand this year.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 07Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 07 by CLAMP

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started getting bored and nothing really stuck out. Which is how I seem to remember the series going. Hopefully I have mis-remembered.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 08Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 08 by CLAMP

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The stories are starting to be broken up among the volumes, ie, we get the last of Story X in the beginning of Volume 8, then are only partway through Story Y at the end of Volume 8.

I realize it will help with the sale of the books, but it really makes it hard to remember specific lands when it is broken up across multiple books.

If it weren't for white mokona, the characters would be pretty flat and uninteresting.

Semper MarsSemper Mars by Ian Douglas
Ebook, 384 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I first started this, the profanity/obscenity word count was so high that I wondered if I would be able to finish the book.
Then it just dramatically dropped off, for no reason. I am glad it did, but I wish the author had started that trend earlier, like at page 1.

Anyway, if you like the military, hate the U.N., think the United States, Great Britain and Russia are the cat's pajamas AND think aliens are cool [whether they be benevolent or malevolent], then this book is FOR YOU!

Many instances of the author going into detail about something [a gun, a maneuver, some world politic idealogy] that didn't really interest me. Just tell me the gun shoots caseless bullets. I don't care that it can shoot XXXX number per second and go through XXXX in XXXX minutes. And I really don't care about the details of how you fight on Mars [lower gravity] or a Space Station by using your gun as a weapon AND a propellant. Just tell me you do it and I am satisfied.

Now on to why I actually liked this.

This was a setup book. We are introduced to a world that many Right-wing Americans [me included] foresee and fear.

Mars is the new frontier with the discovery of an ancient civilizations ruins.

And it all comes down to: are United States Marines as bad ass in space and on Mars against corrupt United Nations bootlicking soldiers as they are on Earth?

The answer is a resounding YES!

From multi-week hikes across the Martian desertscape to Beer Bombs [and those made me laugh out loud], nothing can completely beat down a United States Marine. And don't you forget it.

Thankfully there are several main characters that are family, so it looks like the series will be about a family, which provides nice continuity. Looking forward to the rest.

Dragon Champion (Age of Fire, #1)Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight
Ebook, 384 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fantasy story from the Dragons' perspective.

I found this coming of age story very interesting. Our protagonist does lots of travelling, giving the reader a much broader view of the world that EE Knight has created. Elves, dwarves, blighters, humans and dragons.

A very complicated world with the balance of powers constantly shifting and each race in some way created to counter-balance the others. Humans are doing what they do best, taking over. So why the other races don't just band together to stop them is beyond me. but of course a "real" world wouldn't be that simple now would it?

So you get factional fighting as well as racial wars. And this one dragon has to survive it all.

Dragon AvengerDragon Avenger by E.E. Knight
Ebook, 384 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Follows the other sibling who survived the initial assault by the Firewheel dwarves.

This book seemed to really bring home just how chaotic everything is. Nations falling apart, uprisings, villages becoming new kingdoms, etc, etc.

And lots of betrayal. It made my wonder why the dragons hadn't setup their own kingdom by now and even though an ancient dragon kingdom was touched upon, it just didn't seem "right" that they hadn't tried to band together.

The whole "stallion syndrome" is explained. But I have to say, if a creature won't change, it deserves to die. Makes it really hard to empathize with the dragons to be honest.

Wild Cards IWild Cards I by George R.R. Martin
Ebook,  496 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I like the premise, about aliens using our planet as a testing lab and the results.

Didn't care so much for a jaded alt-history left leaning retell.

This just reminded me of Watchmen, in that the super powered are simply flawed humans. I don't like that.

Lio's Astonishing Tales: From the Haunted Crypt of Unknown HorrorsLio's Astonishing Tales: From the Haunted Crypt of Unknown Horrors by Mark Tatulli

A collection of comic strips.

Some made me laugh. But the lack of text didn't work so well for me. There were multiple times where I had no idea what the artist was trying to do and had to resort to the commentary [bleh].

Definitely my kind of humor though.

Hunters of DuneHunters of Dune by Brian Herbert
Dtb, 528 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read 2007 4 Stars
Read 2012 3 Stars

[2007 Review]
The immediate sequel to Chapterhouse. I liked it, a lot! Follows the escaped no-ship, which breeds some gholas of Dune's past, and Murbella, who rises to unite the Bene Gesserit and the Honored Maitres against the Enemy who drove the HM's into the Old Empire. Meet Norma Cenva, who is the Oracle of Time now, and Omnius and Erasmus, who survived and for the past 15,000 years have been building up forces to once and for all wipe out humanity. Very complex threads. The 2 prequel trilogies are a must read to fully understand the ending and certain references. I look forward to the concluding novel.

[2012 Review]
I feel like I am being generous in giving this a 3 star for this re-read.
Now that the "Oh Wow, a Finish!" shine has been wiped from my eyes/mind, the mechanics of the writing shine through.
And that is NOT a good thing. Baby Herbert and Anderson are simply not the wordsmith's that Frank Herbert was.  Not to say that it is terrible writing, but it is blase and doesn't have the gravitas that Frank's writing did.

Storyline-wise, it is plodding with some excitement. If one had not read the prequel books by Baby Herbert and Anderson, the reveal about the ancient enemy would have fallen completely flat or gone over your head. It seems to me that Frank would have brought about this in a completely different way, as there were no references to any specifics about the robot empire of the Butlerian Jihad era.

Overall, I don't know if I want to read this book again, as I would be afraid I degrade it another star upon that reread.

Wild Cards II: Aces HighWild Cards II: Aces High by George R.R. Martin
Ebook, 336 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Instead of dealing with old lefty politics, we move up to the Eighties and an alien invasion.

Find out a bit more about the bigger universe this storyline inhabits.

The short story format just isn't really working for me. To much jumping around, with lots of details simply inferred. There were times I had to backup to make sure I hadn't missed a whole story or something.

I'll probably read one more as I am enjoying this series, just not really enjoying it. And I'd rather try new books

CoralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman
Ebook, 86 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw the movie first, let me be clear. So I was continually comparing the book to it.

On the whole, this was a creepy little story for children. I wonder if part of the creepiness is because as an adult, I find anything that a child has to deal with as creepy.

I also wonder if I would read this to my [hypothetical] child.

this was a stripped down story, as opposed to the movie. I actually like the movie better :)
but it was a good introduction to Neil Gaiman [as opposed to [book:American Gods|4407]]

The Gun SellerThe Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
Ebook, 466 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This started out very funny, Wodehouse'ian humor. Then it ruined it for me by getting all serious and political.

And the entire Ronny/Sarah thing [ie, who does he choose], the "does she love me, does she not love me", just turned me off.

Monthly Summary
19 Novels
8 Manga/Graphic Novels
6763 Pages