Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Elvenborn

Elvenborn by Andre Norton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read January 2003

Re-Read October 2012

2012 Review
A very good wrap up to the Elvenbane series. Not that is meant to be the final book, since Lackey and Norton left tons of strings dangling for potential sequels, but as this was published in 2002 and Norton is dead and Lackey doesn't talk about it, it is ok to say this is the final book.

And it works. Mysteries of the Elves are explored and laid to rest, many of the antagonists meet their end in deliciously just ways and protagonists find hope and love. Enough is resolved to leave you feeling ok. And I don't want any more to be honest. I think any more would just muck things up. Leave the rest to my imagination...

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Distant Friends and Others

Distant Friends and Others
Distant Friends and Others by Timothy Zahn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank goodness for Goodreads. Before I read this, I would have sworn that:
A) I had read this back in the late 90's
B) I owned this in paperback, somewhere

After reading it, I realized that I had NOT read this particular collection before and that I did NOT in fact, own this book. Both problems are now remedied. [at least, the book is now on my wishlist over at Amazon.]

A collection of short stories. The first couple are about telepaths and it is slow going. I enjoyed reading them, but wasn't "wowed". I thought I remembered the story about the Star captains that sees multiples of themselves and solves a problem with that, but this one was not it. He does solve a problem, just not what I thought.
Then we had the human playing games with aliens. I enjoyed that story the most. Sounded like an engineer, like my boss, to be exact. Forget that you've JUST BEEN CAPTURED BY REAL LIVE ALIENS!!!!!!, lets figure out how to play a made up game that will be fair for both sides.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: The Horse and His Boy

The Horse and His Boy
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a GREAT read. It was a bit shorter than I remember from youthful days, but the story was fun, fast, adventure filled and full of lessons artfully inserted.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Star Wars: Tales from Jabba's Palace

Star Wars: Tales from Jabba's Palace
Star Wars: Tales from Jabba's Palace by Kevin J. Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Awesome McPossum!

This collection was pretty cool. B'omarr monks, that enough made this collection cool. I enjoyed [b:Tales of the Bounty Hunters|131776|Tales of the Bounty Hunters|Kevin J. Anderson||2599174] a little bit more, as this really revolved directly around the Sarlac feeding and what leads up to it, which means many of the stories have some real overlap.

Boba vs Sarlacc. It was kind of a weirdly written story.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: The Last Apprentice: Wrath of the Bloodeye

The Last Apprentice: Wrath of the Bloodeye
The Last Apprentice: Wrath of the Bloodeye by Joseph Delaney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting story about ye ol' apprentice broadening his horizons. New horrible creature to deal with, etc.

My issue with this was the definition of the fiend as the dark, but no corresponding force for the light. The line between dark & light is continuing to be blurred and the Spook is presented as an old fool for not using the dark against the dark.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Masks of the Martyrs

Masks of the Martyrs
Masks of the Martyrs by Jack L. Chalker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A rather blase ending to be honest. 2 Rings collected, earth returned to, everything worked out, it was just wicked busy.
I liked this better than his Well World series, but less than his 4 Lords of the Diamond series.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: The Weird of the White Wolf

The Weird of the White Wolf
The Weird of the White Wolf by Michael Moorcock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fantastically melancholic set of stories.

And Elric gets another depressing soubriquet as he ends up killing his cousin love, abandoning one woman and leading on and abandoning another.

We meet Moonglum and another encounter with Arioch.

What an awesome world Moorcock has created. A world on the crux of ruin between Law & Chaos, in flux between massive powers of humanity.

The Elric Saga intrigued and drew me on as a teenager and now as a 30+ man, it still keeps my interest.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Crooked House

Crooked House
Crooked House by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the get go I knew that whatever I thought would not be correct, so I simply let go of my brain and let Christie drive her story wherever she wanted.

It started out as an ordinary Who Dunnit murder, but then it got creepy and by the end I was disturbed.

Not in a bad way, just that such an occurrence could take place. A good afternoon's read.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: The Wizard and the Warlord

The Wizard and the Warlord
The Wizard and the Warlord by M.R. Mathias

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the Wardstone Trilogy is finished. Overall, I enjoyed this book, but with a couple of caveats.

First, Mathias has not improved his writing or style from the first book. There are still awkward phrases, anachronistic words or actions and an inability to "show", which is evidenced by having to be told things from the characters that just show lack of a good editor.

Second, sexual content. This was no harlequin romance with pornographic descriptions of sex, but there were several instances of sex being led up to or described euphemistically that seemed like they were thrown in to titillate the reader instead of advancing the story. One such titillation was his description of the giant queen. Breasts the size of ale kegs? and more?

Finally, the buildup was the first 90% of the book, then BAM, the big battle then the happy ending. The pacing just grated on me.

Now for the positive.

The story finishes up well. The tale began in [b:The Sword and the Dragon|8674296|The Sword and the Dragon (The Wardstone Trilogy, #1)|M.R. Mathias||13546152] and continued in [b:Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools|11453486|Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools (The Wardstone Trilogy, #2)|M.R. Mathias||16387488] is wrapped here. No big loopholes for "sequels", just enough sadness to offset the victories and there is resolution in the characters lives as well as the story.

I enjoyed this. At times it was draggy, but at others I felt like I was on a locomotive. The one thing this whole series could have used though was a professional editor. There were just too many places where sentence structure made me read the same sentence several times to figure out what the author actually intended to say.

Recommend you borrow this series from a friend and if you like it, buy it to support the author. But I am done with M.R. Mathias as he is just too unpolished for my longterm tastes.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Crux

Crux by Richard Aellen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the other reviewers have noted, the plot is the plot of [b:The Count of Monte Cristo|7126|The Count of Monte Cristo|Alexandre Dumas||391568] but in modern America instead of old France.

So many SPOILERS to follow

After reading, I am still not sure if Aellen was honoring Monte Cristo with this novel, a kind of a nudge & wink remake or if Aellen was simply lifting the plot whole sale.
Nothing I have read on the blurb, on the cover, on the EXTREMELY limited info I could find on Aellen himself, gave me any clue.

My initial reaction was that he whole sale stole the idea. But then, who would be so brazen, so stupid as to do that? I mean, any critic, and any quarter-way intelligent reader, is going to realize from the VERY BEGINNING that this is Monte Cristo re-badged.

Now you might be wondering why I care whether it is a steal or a nod of honor. It is because I LOVE the original Count of Monte Cristo, even though I had a tough time loving the un-abridged version.

There are many small differences.

The biggest difference for me, besides the fact that Crux takes place in the 60's and 80's, is the fact that Keith Johnson is no suave, sophisticate like the Count. Keith goes into his dungeon a young man and comes out essentially the same person, simply richer. None of the teaching he supposedly received from his prison mentor seemed to rubbed off. Where Edmond was a completely different person as the Count, so much so that we aren't completely sure Dantes IS the Count.
Keith goes by Kris John, that is it. There is no transformation.

Crux is a thriller through and through. It is fast paced, action oriented and jumps from one scene to the next with nary a break in the action. For what it is, it is a great read.

But if it is a nod to Monte Cristo, then it is a dismal failure. It would be like comparing Rambo to a Grand Master of a Martial Art. Both could kill you in the blink of an eye. Both can accomplish the same thing. But only one has style, grace and panache.

Edmond Dantes spent years after his escape becoming the Count. His revenge was psychological, physical and mental. Every step, every nook, every secret, was ferreted out and used. His plans were long range, multi-purpose and had redundancy upon redundancy built in.

Keith Johnson escapes and his revenge is done within 3 months. While he tries to use psychological elements against his enemies, his attempts are ham handed and heavy. He does not research his enemies well enough, something that comes back to bite him. He is personally involved to the point where he ends up destroying those he is trying to help.


So, I enjoyed this, but it is just a McDonald's hamburger to the Sirloin steak of [b:The Count of Monte Cristo|7126|The Count of Monte Cristo|Alexandre Dumas||391568].

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can easily see someone giving this a 2star rating, as it is rambling and about a young, selfish man who murders an old woman just to prove that he can.

But the reasons I gave it a 5star are the following:
1) Excellent writing. Even translated, Dostoyevsky's genius shines through. Descriptions of places, of humans, of human reaction to external and internal stimuli.

2) Portrayal of humanity. This was spot on and enlightening. A murderer, a crazy woman, a whore, a drunkard, a womanizing philanderer, an armchair psychologist/cop. So many characters, so many descriptions. Most of the characters are real enough that they have very visible flaws that make you want to gnash your teeth. Which leads into 3.

3) How murder affects a normal person on the mental and physical level. Raskanilkov wants to know if he is a normal man or a superman, someone who is outside the normal laws of God and man, outside the consequences setup by God. It makes you cry to see this young man constantly deny the reality of his situation because of his pride. Which leads into 4.

4) Through it all, through rejecting everyone, turning away from them all, in the end there is redemption, through love. It is not Raskanilkov who does the redeeming, for a human cannot redeem themselves. It is outside of their power. But another, ahhh, that is another matter.

And there are tons of further material for discussion. but enough from me.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Battle Pod

Battle Pod
Battle Pod by Vaughn Heppner

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well, I gave this series [Doomstar] 3 books to interest me. And it never did. Poor, amateurish writing, depressing situations that give not even the slightest sliver of hope, a main character who talks about "freedom" but is just one selfish bastard and then nothing but death, death with side order of massive death.

This was just depressing and poorly edited.

Vaughn, pay the couple of hundred bucks to have a professional editor pick you apart and put you back together. You might have a chance then.

This series gets a big BLEH from me.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Siege of Darkness

Siege of Darkness
Siege of Darkness by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As opposed to my other "Drizz't" reads by Salvatore, I actually enjoyed this read. And halfway through I realized why.

Salvatore stopped writing about specific characters and got into "Big battle" mode. I realized Salvatore can't do characterization worth a tinker's pot. His characters are 2D, flat, boring, unemotional, etc, etc, which is why I did not like the previous books. I enjoyed the battle, a lot.

So while this was going to be my last "Drizz't" book, I think I'll give Salvatore another chance at Redemption [not that I'm holding out much hope mind you].

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Patriot Games

Patriot Games
Patriot Games by Tom Clancy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the only Clancy book that I really like, enough so that I've read it twice in highschool, once in college and once in "adult" life :)
Probably a "once a decade" kind of book for me.

The world has certainly changed since this book was written. Is Ireland still dealing with the North/South/England issue? I don't even know! If it is, it has been overshadowed by the likes of 9/11, Iraq, Iran and the Arab spring.

And airport security. And cell phones. What a difference the internet and cellphones would have made to this story. This was a cool story and a good reminder of what the security world "used to be" like...

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Friday, October 05, 2012

Review: xxxHolic, Vol. 03

xxxHolic, Vol. 03
xxxHolic, Vol. 03 by CLAMP

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The weird juxtaposition of macabre and humor keeps this entertaining.
And as "busy" as the artwork is, CLAMP has some wonderful illustrations in this volume.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Review: Ninja High School Pocket Manga #6

Ninja High School Pocket Manga #6
Ninja High School Pocket Manga #6 by Ben Dunn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While slightly better than Vol 5 [at least this time Jeremy is in some of the story], this is nothing to get excited about.

Stupid Terminator ripoff was not funny.
And combat cheerleaders, while an interesting fight, was just to over the top without the funny...

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Monday, October 01, 2012

Review: Startide Rising

Startide Rising
Startide Rising by David Brin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I initially read this back in the mid-90's when I was young and impressionable and enjoyed it.

It was kind of a "meh" read this time. Of course, it being hinted that dolphins, humans and chimps all get it on together back on earth did not help.

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