Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bookstooge Reviews 2016

2016 was on the whole a very good year for me. There will be lots of pictures and links in this post and the wordcount is the highest so far this year, so lets get cracking!

The Year in Visual Review. I continue to use Ipiccy.com for my collages, as their 25picture box works very well with the number of books I read each month and their iphone4 setting keeps all the squares pretty close to the cover sizes so the covers don’t get chopped off. I am sure there is a lot more I could be doing, but a monthly roundup is about the limit of my artsy-fartsy’ness.

2016review




I read 228 books this year. This was up from last years 183. Much of that is due to starting up Manga Monday again.




goal



My pages read went up as well. From just under 63000 to just over 77000. Even though, in all fairness that includes the full number of pages for books that I DNF’d and abandoned. So take that number with a pinch or two of salt.
pagesread



Each month stayed pretty steady in terms of overall books read with only 3 months dipping below the 18book mark. Even in August when I had to take some emergency time off to go move my parents when they unexpectedly sold their house in 2 weeks instead of the 3 months everyone was planning on. Which just means that I’ve made reading my main hobby this year and put most of my time and attention into it.

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The Stars shall speak


13   star50-custom-custom
  star45full-custom
58  star40full-custom
53  star35full-custom
49  star30full-custom
13  star25full-custom
12  star20full-custom
1    star15full-custom
14  star10full-custom
4    star05full-custom
3    star00full-custom

That makes my average for the year right around 3.25. Considering that a 3 is a good and completely average read, 3.25 means I pulled ahead of just plain good. I am more than satisfied with that.



On to the Books themselves!

Venetia was probably the best 1Star of the Year. It was fun to do a buddy read outside of my genre. It did reinforce my thoughts on the Romance genre however.

Worst 1Star was a tossup between Obsidian Worlds and The Store. Both got my stomach churning with disgust and outrage.

Best Non-Fiction wasn’t that hard because it was the only real N0n-fiction I read AND it was a 5Star’r. The Many Faces of Evil. It was just what I needed this year with my friend Amy losing her preemie twins and dealing with stage 4 cancer, all at the same time.

Best 5Star was once again a tossup. This time it was between 2 Re-reads, Dune & Way-farer. If I had to pick a new book, I’d go with Heirs of Empire, as it just hit me right at the right time.

Weirdest book of the year was definitely Gregor Xane‘s TaboogasmIt just doesn’t get any weirder than that. If it does, I don’t want to know about itπŸ˜€


Project ReRead
This was a complete success. 11 books that I had read before being read again with the aim of comparing how my tastes had changed and how that was reflected in my enjoyment and rating of said books. I still enjoyed every single book. However, I was able to determine that this was the last time I would read some of them.

I cherry picked specific books just so I wouldn’t bog down. That did lead to me realizing that some of these books are going to be favorites of mine for quite some time.  It also lead to the realization that while I’ve matured as a reader and can articulate the why’s and wherefores better, at heart, I’m still just a big geek/nerd.

Because it was such a success, I decided to expand upon the whole idea in a big way for ’17 and quite possibly into ’18. I’ve got a whole bunch of SERIES that I’m going to be rereading. They are:

I) Malazan books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
II) Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert
III) Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede
IV) Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
V) Patricia McKillip’s books
VI) Space trilogy by C.S. Lewis
VII) Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky
VIII) The Malaz Empire novels by Iain Esslemont
IX) Swan’s War trilogy by Sean Russell
X) Polity books by Neal Asher

So be prepared for a lot of whining and angst from me as I rip into these. I did choose books that I think will stand up to my high standards, hahhaaha.

For my other plans for 2017, please feel free to read them HERE.




booklikeslogo

2016 is the year that Booklikes crashed. Crashed and Burned. Staff literally disappeared, the site kept breaking in new and varied ways, people left, people couldn’t join up. Some of the more patient and determined members made a supreme effort to stick around, figure out ways to work around the broken bits and keep members from totally hemorrhaging away. One staff member has returned at the end of the year but the site still crawls or doesn’t load right for long stretches at a time.

I am staying at Booklikes but it is no longer my primary social booksite. When it takes me 3 tries and 5minutes to just comment, that pretty much kills my desire to be there. You can find me there at: Bookstooge.booklikes.com

To anyone who I have followed at wordpress who also is on booklikes, just let me know which site you prefer interaction at. I unfollowed a lot of people at Booklikes who started up blogs at WP but I know not everyone will make the move to WP and I don’t want to lose interaction if I can help itπŸ˜€



logo4_medium

I joined Librarything with a free lifetime membership, thanks to some other Bookliker’s. I am using it as a backup catalogue site since I can’t export from Booklikes and I don’t know how long BL will last.

It is VERY different from what I am used to and you’re going to hear me complain about those differences, a lot! That doesn’t mean I will stop using it or that I hate the site. It just means that I am set in my ways and learning a new way brings out my inner cranky.

You can find me there at: librarything.com/profile/BookstoogeLT


wp_logo

I’ve been on WP.com since ’13, but more as a backup than as anything serious. As BL kept pushing me away, I started looking around at other booksites to find an alternative. I tried a lot of places but one thing or another just made them unpalatable. So finally I started making a serious effort to find new people here on WordPress and connect with fellow Booklikers who also had backup blogs here.

I’d like to thank you all who I follow for writing such fun things and I’d like to thank all of you who have chosen to follow me. It is nice to know that I am not screaming into the void. I plan on find another handful of bloggers to follow and to refine those I already do, as I see who posts regularly and who does it sporadically.



AND I think that about wraps it up. I’m plum out of words anyway, so that forces the issue. So onward to 2017 and a lot of Good Books!

Sleep-is-good-he-said-and-books-are-better..jpg

Friday, December 30, 2016

December '16 Roundup & Ramblings



Another good month overall.

Only Tropic of Serpents was 1star and that was because it bored me rather than because it was poorly executed. Several 4 & 4 1/2 Star reads, so I'm pretty happy with that.

The Blood Mirror was probably my best read this month, as it had a mix of Epic SFF, Complete Tomenosity [weighing in at just over 700 pages] and a solid hefty storyline. However, Heirs of Empire was definitely the most fun book of the month and it hit the sweet spot even while I was able to acknowledge that it wasn't in the same league as Blood Mirror.

Manga Monday is continuing strong with Eyeshield 21. This manga series is really keeping my interest and is doing a great job of mixing the sports with the personal. Christmas brought me lots of giftcards so I'm going to be using them to start buying my next manga series to read, Oh My Goddess!. With 48 volumes, I'm going to need all the time that the next 20 volumes of Eyeshield 21 can give me.

Project Re-Read finished on a decent note with the rest of the Icerigger Trilogy. I'll be talking more about that in my 2016 Yearly Roundup tomorrow or Sunday.

Working out the kinks with being on Wordpress, Booklikes and now Librarything. Once again, more of that in detail in the Yearly Roundup.

My reading of Don Quixote slowed down but that was because of Christmas and New Years and not working so much. Once I hit January and am back to a vacationless working schedule, Sunday's should be filled with updates from it again.

And to end, here's some cover art love:



Now is that just great looking or what? I also happened to love the story!





















Who ever is doing Week's covers for the hardcovers sure has my number. They are great!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thraxas Under Siege (Thraxas #8)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Thraxas Under Siege
Series: Thraxas #8
Author: Martin Scott
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 272
Format: Kindle digital edition






Synopsis:   Spoiler

Turai is besieged by the orcs. Everyone, including Thraxas, must pull duty on the walls. At the same time, it gets out that there is an artifact that can raise storms and it is missing. If it falls into the hands of the Orcs, Turai is doomed. The head mistress of the Sorcerer's guild hires Thraxas to find said artifact. He is also hired to find 14,000 gurans of hidden treasure, the finders fee which will enable Thraxas to get in on a high stakes card game. Because hey, being under siege doesn't mean life has to stop.

While this is all going on, it is deep winter and the winter malady is hitting people right and left. Sometimes a little to close to Thraxas's circle of acquaintances. The book ends with the orcs over running Turai and Thraxas dragging Makri and Lisutarius into a boat and escaping.


My Thoughts: 

Thraxas is dense. There is no denying it. People literally falling ill, with no symptoms beforehand, as soon as they step into the Avenging Axe and he doesn't suspect a thing? Throw in that an orcish sorcerer named Dazeez the Unseen is known to be out and about and you have to roll your eyes.

This was exactly like the previous books. Thraxas complain, Thraxas eats and fights, people harass Thraxas, Makri prances around in her chain mail bikini, Thraxas ignores said spectacle. Thraxas solves some of the issues and not others.

The card game was the highlight for me. In it Thraxas is playing against an orcish sorcerer and other high lords of Turai. The stakes are Makri's hand in marriage or the storm artifact. What a game.

The ending was ok.  It could either be taken as the end of the story and series, or just a temporary set back. In the omnibus edition, this is the last story but i know there are 2 more, as I have them in my tbr list. So I'm wondering if Martin ended the series and then picked it back up again. I am glad to know that there are more Thraxas stories. We all need more stories about fat gluttons who are more worried about their bellies than beautiful women. Even beautiful women who fill out chainmail bikinis :-D

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Steal the Sky (The Scorched Continent #1)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Steal the Sky
Series: The Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O'Keefe
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle digital edition






Synopsis: 

A lighter than air substance, the basis of the power for most nations, can be found on the Scorched Continent. One city in particular is being brought into the Empire.
One law enforcement officer is trying to stop a military butcher from being elected governor. A former lord and his "servant" are running from the Empire because it uses those who have power of the substance and said lord has great power of it.

Throw in another power user who is out for revenge and things just get messy, very quickly.


My Thoughts: 

I would like to thank Irresponsible Reader for initially bringing this to my attention.

Unfortunately, I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. I think the most positive thing I can say is that it reminds me of a mediocre  Wax & Wayne story by Sanderson.

It had all of the elements that I could like. A roguish lord who is more powerful than he lets on. A sidekick who makes the quips and yet keeps the lord under control. A strong police woman who is trying to keep order. A blood thirsty military genius who is playing games and counter games. A driven mother who wants the death of those who killed her son.

There were times where the direction of the story or a revelation just came from sidewise and completely caught me off guard. It also didn't help that while this is the first book in the story, there is a lot of previous history about the characters, that they mention in passing. Kind of like listening in on 2 old school chums who'll say something like "boofer" and burst out laughing because of a shared experience. It isn't very nice to be on the outside looking in. And it just dragged.

I've got the second book on my tbr list. However, while this wasn't bad by any means, it wasn't nearly good enough for me to continue. Maybe if it was a Forgotten Realms book or some such, I could continue but for a "serious" SFF book, I expect more if I'm going to continue.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Deluge Drivers (Icerigger #3) (Project Reread #11)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: The Deluge Drivers
Series: Icerigger #3
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle digital edition






Project Reread:

I am attempting to reread 10+ books in 2016 that I have rated highly in the past. I am not attempting to second guess or denigrate my younger self in any way but am wanting to compare how my tastes have changed and possibly matured. I am certainly much more widely read now [both in the good and bad quality sadly] than then.
I will hopefully be going into the reasons for any differences of opinions between then and now. If there is no difference of opinion, then it was a hellfire'd fine book!
Links may link to either Wordpress, Booklikes or Blogspot, depending on when the original review was.


Synopsis: Spoilers

Just as Ethan and Skua are getting ready to leave Tran-Ky-Ky, Ethan gets suckered into taking a job for his company as the Representative for the world, meaning that he has to stay on Tran-ky-ky.
 
At the same time, some egg heads on station find an anomaly in the weather, which upon investigation, shows that the whole of Tran-ky-ky is in danger. With the help of Ethan, Skua, Milliken, the Slanderscree and the eggheads, that danger is proven to be man made.
 
Mad scientists, renegade Tran, a melting world and the genocide of an entire species. Has Ethan stepped in it or what?


My Thoughts:
 
The weakest of the trilogy, unfortunately.
 
My Review from '05 pretty much nails the story line.
 
This just felt worn and old. While Icerigger excited me even upon my latest re-read, this didn't excite me at all. I certainly have no desire to ever re-read this again. The shallowness of the characters really shows up here.
 
In fact, this is exactly like the Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold series by Brooks. First book is great, but since all the characters are cardboard, that flaw shows up in greater detail in each successive book. Problem is, to get deeper characters, you'd seriously up the page count and the plot couldn't handle that.
 
Now, that doesn't mean this was a bad book. It was just a generic SF book that was written for pure entertainment and absolutely nothing else. It fulfills that mission quite admirably. And back when it was written in the 80's that was all we as readers were looking for. The tome-meisters hadn't gotten on the scene yet and publishers wouldn't have published them anyway.
 
Good to finish up the storyline and that was about it. Read it and forget it.
 
 

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Demons vs. the Gods of the Sea (Eyeshield 21 #14) (Manga Monday)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: The Demons vs. the Gods of the Sea
Series: Eyeshield 21 #14
Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Format: Digital Scan




Synopsis: 

The game between the Devilbats and the Poseidons has begun. With each team pulling out new abilities, it is a real toss up of a game.
The book ends with 1:18 on the clock and the Devilbats behind 5 points.


My Thoughts:

Where the previous book had jammed the games into 2-4 pages, here we get a full game stretched out for the full book and in fact it doesn't finish up by the end.

This shows that while tricks are good, brute strength is the basis of football.

Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (Calvin and Hobbes #7)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons
Series: Calvin and Hobbes #7
Author/Artist: Bill Watterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 128
Format: Kindle digital scan






My Thoughts: 

Another fine collection by Watterson. I found myself laughing a lot more in this collection than in the previous one. I don't know if that is because this was truly funnier, or if it was because more time had elapsed since my last C&H read.

I've got a few more collections left. Once I'm done with those, I don't know that I'll ever plan on re-reading these. As a teen, C&H enthralled me. As an adult, they're amusing me. I suspect that as a mature adult, they will come across as tedious or shallow. I don't want that and I'd rather never read them again and keep the good memories.

Finally, is that title a mouthful or what? I had to go to Wikipedia and just search out Calvin and Hobbes and then copy/paste the title or else I would have gotten it wrong.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Red Son (Superman: Elseworlds)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Red Son
Series: Superman: Elseworlds
Author/Artist: Mark Millar, et all
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 160
Format: Kindle digital edition





Synopsis: 

Superman lands in the Ukraine and a Communist Collective instead of in Smallville, USA.

The Man of Steel promotes communism and once Stalin dies, takes over as President Superman. Lex Luthor, last hope of the Free World, makes it his mission in life to bring down the Man of Steel, even at the sacrifice of his marriage to Lois Lane. Superman is being guided by Brainiac and can Wonder Woman, Boris Wayneski, a newly minted core of Green Lantern US Marines and even Superman himself stop Brainiac from completing his nefarious plans?


My Thoughts:  Spoilers

I enjoyed this the first I read it but I never recorded that I read it, so this is my first time rating and reviewing it.

I always enjoy the Elseworld stories because they do what all the phracking ridiculous and completely unnecessary reboots attempt, and miserably fail at, doing. IE, bringing us the characters we know in new ways with new stories and new variations. In fact, I would say that is the main fun of these, seeing the familiar turned at a 37° angle, just enough to skew everything but still the same enough for you to recognize.

First off, lets get through the bad. Stalin. For all that Hitler is vilified and made the devil incarnate, Stalin was truly worse. He was a butcher, plain and simple. So, for Superman to admire him was a bit of a let down. I'm not talking about Superman and communism, but Superman and Stalin.  Then there is Boris Wayneski. I don't even know if that was his name in the book, he was simply the Russian Batman. He was almost a caricature and I would have enjoyed the story more if it had been someone else. However, the frenemy status between Supes and Batman goes way back, so it makes sense why it was included.

The good stuff.

Superman looked good. He looked good in his suit and with the hammer and sickle on his chest. I'm pretty picky about my Supes, as I liked Dan Jurgens version from the 90's, but this was a creditable job and the art didn't detract from my enjoyment.

Lex Luthor. He is portrayed as the smartest man alive here. While his quest to overcome Superman takes the lead, the advances he makes in doing so drags humanity upward, in all ways. In fact, his name becomes so great that his descendants take on his name, as L, or eL. You can see where that is going.

And that brings me to the ending. I loved it. I can see it pissing people off though. Superman is NOT from Krypton. He is from Earth, sent back in time to try to change the future created by Lex Luthor and the House of L. Of course, the story ends with his little craft landing in the Ukraine, hence beginning the whole cycle again.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Black Mountain (Alex Hunter #4)


 This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes(maybe) & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Black Mountain
Series: Alex Hunter #4
Author: Greig Beck
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 312
Format: Kindle digital edition





Synopsis:  Spoilers

Alex Hunter has recovered physically while in Israel. Unfortunately, his mind has not and he can't remember who he is or who anyone else is either. Upon realizing he has been lied to and with some of his powers returning, Alex returns to the United States seeking out his mother.

At the same time, "Something" has come out of the Black Mountain and people are missing. Matt Kearns, a scientist from the first book, is roped into investigating.

One Night. One Black Mountain. Many disparate and dangerous groups. And one monster. All come together in one explosive orgy of violence and death.


My Thoughts: Spoilers

This was fun, and probably more so because Alex Hunter isn't as big a part of things. That does seem to be the formula Beck likes. Ramp the tension up and THEN bring in the Arcadian.

There were a lot of different threads here. Alex and Israeli Commando Lady. Scientist Matt and his pals and the cops. Mossad Hit Squad going after Alex and Lady. HAWC's commander Hammerson seeking out Alex and Lady. Cops seeking out the lost people. A slightly successful version of the Arcadian formula being field tested against Alex. And then the monster/s killing people, taking people, eating people. It all worked together pretty good and I never felt like POV was ever too short or too long. It was a skillfully woven tapestry of a story.

It did have it's eye rolling moments though.
The monsters have supposedly been underground for 13,000 years living by the light of lichens and they're just acclimating to the light fine and being super de dooper killers? Guns have little effect on their hides but knives stop them? They don't blink at modern tech at all or feel confusion at it? Finally, the whole "oh, they're not really the bad guys, we just treated them badly" bullshit. That turned my stomach.
Then there is the people side of things.
One of the scientists with Matt refuses to go into the cave but then they find the boot of a missing little girl and suddenly said scientist can't be stopped from going in and all they have is a hand gun? Cops disobeying direct orders from the Chief of Police, to his face?

Some of the good stuff. The 3 experiments of the Arc-044 formula. They're as strong as Alex and even more determined but completely gone round the bend and literally rotting away. Super soldiers indeed. We'll definitely be seeing more of them. Alex and another HAWC fighting the bigfoots. That was just cool. Alex taking out a group of terrorists in Egypt before coming to the U.S. He throws a terrorist out a window, who has explosives strapped to his body, and shoots him so he blows up in the air, 3 stories up. Now is that cool or what?

By the end of the book though, Alex is wanted by the Israeli's and the United States more as a lab specimen than anything else. He disappears but I wonder how he'll survive on his own or if Hammerson will covertly supply him. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Spiderlight


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes(maybe) & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Spiderlight
Series: ------
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle digital edition





Synopsis:

A new dark lord has risen in the land and it is up to one intrepid group to fulfill the prophecy. Unfortunately for these said servants of the light, the means of their salvation is a servant of darkness, a spider transformed by arcane magics into a humanoid form.

Beset by fears and doubts within and without, what will this group do once they confront the dark lord and find out the secret of the ages.


My Thoughts: Spoilers

This was a greatly written book. If you want to try Tchaikovsky's writings without dipping into his Shadows of the Apt Decalogue, this would be a great way to experience what he has to offer.

This is a very biting satire on the "Righteous" & the "Evil" tropes in fantasy and Tchaikovsky really turns things on their heads.  More than that, he seems to be trying to advocate for a completely grey world, where there are no standards and no Law Giver. That might amuse, entertain and be in line with a lot of his reader's thoughts, but for me, I hew to a different line.

God exists. All standards are set by what He has revealed in the Bible. They are not arbitrary but aspects of His character.

Now, some might be thinking "Goodness, Bookstooge, it is JUST a book" and I concur. But ideas are where the battle for this world are fought and won or lost and as such when an idea sets itself against God, I take it very seriously.  This is obviously not some Theological Tome but neither is it just an Escapist piece of literature. I know I'm not conveying this very well and I'm struggling to quantify the "Why".  I think that it comes down to the Idea that there is No Perfect Being, not just in humanity, but in any Supernatural form either.  Which means that God is just a big meany with lots of power and THAT is what I take exception to. That debate is for another time and place and probably not on a post online. Face to face.

With all of that being said, I didn't hate this book. If I just took it as satire on some fantasy tropes I probably would have enjoyed this much more and rated it higher and not given it the Theological tag. But it pushed a wrong button for me. It has not dissuaded me from reading any more by him however and I look forward to see what other Ideas he puts on paper in his other books.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Heirs of Empire (The Scourwind Legacy #1)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes(maybe) & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Heirs of Empire
Series: The Scourwind Legacy #1
Author: Evan Currie
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle digital edition




Synopsis:

The leading general of the Special Forces of the Empire commits a coup. The only survivors of the Scourwinds are the 2 youngest. With help from another rogue Special Forces agent and remnants of those loyal to the Scourwind name, the Scourwind youngsters must go from children to a man and woman in charge.

The general's reasons for the coup are only hinted at and much greater threats seem to be looming in the wings. This world is enclosed by the God Walls. But that only means that there are things OUTSIDE the walls that those within should be afraid of.


My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, this just hit ALL the right buttons for me. It is one of Currie's better books, as he seems to be getting better with more experience.  This wasn't deep, it wasn't emotionally moving, it isn't something that I plan on re-reading multiple times, if even once.  But as I was reading along, I just had a blast!

If you've read Card's Pathfinder trilogy, the whole God Wall thing is pretty transparent. However, since I loved that trilogy, that just boosted it up in my eyes. It was only mentioned in this book along with some vague mutterings about "threats" but it is patently obvious that things are just ramping up.

The special forces agents are pretty cool. Half jedi, half super-soldier, half wild cards. That is a lot of halfs :-) The rogue Agent that helps the Scourwind kids is a cliche for Currie, ie, a strong woman that takes no prisoners and gets the job done.  Several ideas from previous series are used as well but it didn't come as recycled, but just little pointings back. Kind of like how an artist will use the same color palette for certain subjects.

While this novel tells a particular story, ie,the Fall and Return of the Scourwinds and only takes a couple of months, it is still very much a setup book. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Servants of the Storm (Pillars of Reality #5)


 This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes(maybe) & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: The Servants of the Storm
Series: Pillars of Reality #5
Author: Jack Campbell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle digital edition




Synopsis:

The Great Guilds are trying harder than ever to get rid of Mari and have joined hands with the Empire, even though that will probably spell their demise. Guilds and Empire both realize that Mari has a source of hidden tech and they all want it for themselves. Mari, Alain and 3 others must make a daring journey back to Marandur to rescue the texts.

Mari must also balance her presence in Tiea by making it her base of operations but without taking over the monarchy. It doesn't help that another Heir to the Throne shows up and starts taking over.

But in the end, all roads will lead back to Dorcastle and Alain's visions.


My Thoughts:

My least favorite of the books so far. Not to say this was bad in any way, it just didn't keep me riveted like the previous books. I'd find myself putting the book down and checking my feed or something.

Part of that was the continued reiteration of Alain's "mage'ness". I get it, he doesn't show emotion. Or, he sees emotions in others that isn't easily visible to non-mages. There were a couple of other things as well that Campbell has repeated since book 1 that just started to bother me. I'm guessing part of it is that I've read this much closer to book 4 than book 4 was to book 3, etc. You follow me there?

The final "meh" was the cover. They changed the format. It used to be all brown with a square of the characters in the center. It was very striking. With this one, while keeping the same cover artist/style,  they've added that big blue swathe and "Jack Campbell" that just overpowers the other stuff.  Phracking publishers!

Ok, on to the good stuff.

The action continues strong. There is a fantastic submarine/gun/ship/crossbow/magic/river battle as they escape from Marandur that is as good as any of the battle scenes so far. There was also a memorable one on one fight scene between the royal siblings that really showed off their different upbringings since the fall of Tiea.

Overall, a good penultimate book in the series. Nothing here dissuaded me from wanting to read the final book or from highly recommending this to any lovers of SFF.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Who is the Real Eyeshield 21? (Eyeshield 21 #13) (Manga Monday)

 This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.
Title: Who is the Real Eyeshield 21?
Series: Eyeshield 21 #13
Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Format: Digital Scan




Synopsis:

All the games from the second up until the semi-finals are shown, usually in 4 pages and just enough to show the strengths and weaknesses of various teams.
There is a lot of non-game stuff, which was just what I was looking for.


My Thoughts:

This was a great volume. There was a lot of emotional drama going on as teams lost and people watched their last chance at the Christmas Bowl go down the drains. There was one particular scene between Hiruma and the quarterback of the Chameleons that boiled down the hopes and dreams of all the 3rd Years. It was very touching.

It has been a tough day, so this is all I feel like writing.




Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mission to Moulokin (Icerigger #2) (Project Reread #10)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Mission to Moulokin
Series: Icerigger #2
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 280
Format: Kindle digital edition






Project Reread:

I am attempting to reread 10+ books in 2016 that I have rated highly in the past. I am not attempting to second guess or denigrate my younger self in any way but am wanting to compare how my tastes have changed and possibly matured. I am certainly much more widely read now [both in the good and bad quality sadly] than then. 

I will hopefully be going into the reasons for any differences of opinions between then and now. If there is no difference of opinion, then it was a hellfire'd fine book!
Links may link to either Wordpress, Booklikes or Blogspot, depending on when the original review was.


Synopsis: Spoilers

Having survived Tran-ky-ky for a year, Ethan Fortune isn't that keen on going right back to his planet to planet sales job. He does refuse Collette DuKane's proposal of marriage but more because he realizes that he'll resent her power and constant on-the-go lifestyle than because she is fat.
 
This book is about Ethan, September, Milliken, Hunnar and the Slanderscree trying to put together a Trannish coalition so that Tran-Ky-Ky can be given membership into the Commonwealth. Unfortunately for them, greedy humans, self-serving tran and one particularly insane tran, stand in their way.
 
 
On their journey, they discover information that makes it imperative that Tran-Ky-Ky joins the commonwealth, for the good of all Tran the world over.


My Thoughts:
 
Well, this held up to my previous reading
and stayed at 4 stars. 
 
I used the link to my review at Booklikes because my original review on blogspot, which has been transferred to wordpress, was a Year by Month list. I wasn't keeping track online yet and was just using a paper notebook. Once I started online, I had to copy out everything since 2000 and it was easier to do a year at a time instead of each individual book. Just goes to show how my reviewing style has changed and grown over the years:
 
This was much weaker than Icerigger both in terms of adventure and interesting characters. The already existing characters are pretty static and the new characters who show up are there to either cause problems, be killed off or act as allies, nothing more, nothing less.
 
On the adventure side of things, it just didn't grab me the same way. There is a battle at Moulokin that wasn't nearly as good as the battle between the Horde and the Settlement in Icerigger and the Slanderscree's overland journey didn't nearly match up to the journey to Brassmonkey from the previous book. There is still a lot of action, it just wasn't as good. I can't pin it down any further than that, sadly.
 
Overall, while I enjoyed this read and am glad I made it part of my Project Reread, I don't think I'll be reading it again. It is time to let this sit and relax with all the other books I've read.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Emperor of the Eight Islands (The Tale of Shikanoko #1)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Emperor of the Eight Islands
Series: The Tale of Shikanoko #1
Author: Lian Hearn
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 274
Format: Kindle digital edition





Synopsis:

A young man is driven from his rightful village, an emperor is deposed, his young son is on the run under the "protection" of a young woman, magicians plot and magic abounds. Clans, brothers and wives scheme and nobody knows the end of the matter.


My Thoughts:

This is a story of change, of life and death, of magic both kind and cruel. While not as brutally depressing as the Tales of the Otori series, it is about kingdoms falling and rising. Whole clans overthrown, killed, dispossessed.

In many ways this felt like a Japanese fairytale. In line with a fairytale, this was shorter and not complete. A good start and I hope it gets better.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer #4)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: The Blood Mirror
Series: Lightbringer #4
Author: Brent Weeks
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 704
Format: Kindle digital edition





Synopsis:

The Chromeria is under attack by the White King, the former Color Prince. Andross Guile and Kara, the Iron White, unite in the face of satrapies falling away. Kip is married and besides leading attacks on the White King and learning to be a leader, he is dealing with some serious marital issues.

Gavin/Dazin [I've given up by now trying to figure it all out, he's Gavin to me] is captured by Andross and kept in the same prison he kept his brother in. Lots of things about magic, and theology, are revealed.

Teia, now playing a triple role as Blackguard, the Iron White's assassin AND as a double agent in the Broken Eye group, comes ever closer to her breaking point.

And so much other stuff that a synopsis is pointless. Just read these books.


My Thoughts:

Much like the previous books, I had a hard time getting into this one. I didn't feel like I WANTED to read this book. That lasted for until about the 10% mark and then a switch flipped and wham, I was racing along again. This exact same thing has happened in all 3 other books, so something about how Week's writes is the culprit. When I do my re-read of his Night Angel trilogy next year I'll see if happens with that as well.

I was all over the place while reading this. So the good first.

This is epic fantasy with some hardcore action. Battles, invisible assassins, magic prisons, people growing up, people realizing that they're not done growing up, tying this into a Christian world view. If you aren't looking for that though, I don't know if one would see it. Weeks uses a Bible verse or two. He also ties Orholam, and mythical fallen creatures, to God and the devil in our world. I thought it was quite cleverly done and not all shoving preachiness down the readers' throats. Kip and Tisis growing together as a married couple. It was wicked nice to see them CHOOSE to love instead of letting their feelings set the tone. Feelings do follow, but they make that choice and it impressed me. You don't see that much nowadays, with all the teen/YA angst romance crap.

Unfortunately, that leads me into the less than good.

Tisis had some sort of condition that prevented her from having sex. Weeks actually addresses the condition in an afterward, but I didn't want to read about it. I'm a pretty private person about some things and intimate matters definitely falls into that area. So to read about those issues just made me very uncomfortable. It really added to the relationship but I didn't like it.

The other thing was the continued profanity. It has bugged me since Book 1 and it will until the end.

The final problem is that now I have to wait who knows how long until the next book. Thankfully, I've got a boatload of good books to keep me distracted. Weeks tells the kind of stories I like to read and I trust he'll keep putting out good stuff for years to come.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Devil Bat Ghosts (Eyeshield 21 #12) (Manga Monday)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Devil Bat Ghosts
Series: Eyeshield 21 #12
Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Format: Digital Scan






Synopsis:

The Devil Bats finish their game against the Amino Cyborgs.  With Sena back in the game, the whole team is re-energized and they crush the Cyborgs.
The Tournament is going well and various teams are competing for the Glory of the Christmas Bowl. We see several games and the outcomes go from the silly to the serious. They were all a bit short, just enough to showcase some of the players for future games.
The Devil Bats play a final game against the Yuhi Guts, a weak team. The Guts have several 3rd year players, so this is their final chance at the Christmas Bowl as well. With pressure from above, most of the regular Guts are benched and top athletes from other sports are brought in. That goes "well" and the Devil Bats just trounce the newbies. In desperation, the coach brings back the regular players, who make a valiant effort to fight back. Unfortunately, one team must lose and the Guts just don't have enough skill.
With this game the Devil Bats truly realize just how many players' dreams are on the  line and that it is not only their team who is striving.



My Thoughts:

This showcased so many different games that they tended to blur together or be so short that I couldn't get a good feel for things. It felt VERY full and not in a good way.

I am certain that future games will span full volumes, if not more but I do hope that there will be storylines outside of the games. These boys need to be more well rounded and while playing football is a great start, I want more than JUST that.



Friday, December 09, 2016

Alternate: Complete Omnibus


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Wordpress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: Alternate
Series: -----
Author: Ernie Luis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 206
Format: Kindle digital edition




Synopsis:

Time Travel Exists. And there is a company self-tasked with keeping the Time Line on track. But when one man is sent back in the past to stop a rogue agent and sees his daughter saved, he will do whatever is necessary to keep her alive this time.
Unfortunately for Grey, he is a newcomer and a pawn in a much larger game that will determine if Humanity has a future, or not.


My Thoughts:

Whoooowheeee!!!! This was one wild ride. We follow several viewpoints throughout the story but Grey is the main character and the death of his daughter is THE defining moment in his life. It is the point around which everything, past, present and future, revolves for Grey. That aspect came through beautifully. His love for Hanna, even to the point of giving her up to her alternate "him" so that his alternate wouldn't have to go through the pain of losing Hanna like Grey did, was perfect.

Even while that was the main story, the Real Story was about the man who invented Time Travel, Rickman, and his search for Redemption for allowing his friend to die in the first time travel incident. The book takes place in 2030, with 2020 being the second line and 2010 where everything starts. It gets messy and complicated and hit things just right for me. Rickman's long game is to stop time travel altogether. I thought how the author dealt with alternates/paradoxes/etc was masterfully done and he'd obviously put some thought into how things might work.

Now, with all that praise, this book still lacked some polish and that special "something" that just makes a book great. I don't have any complaints about the book except that it could have been better. This was Luis's debut novel and while it showed, it also showed GREAT promise for any future writing. He does have several short stories under his belt, but I'll be waiting for his next novel.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Tropic of Serpents (A Memoir by Lady Trent #2)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes. blogspot.wordpress.com & librarything.com/catalog/BookstoogeLT by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: The Tropic of Serpents
Series: A Memoir by Lady Trent #2
Author: Marie Brennan
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 332
Format: Kindle digital edition




Thus proclaimed Bookstooge, the Sage of the Diet of Sohdah and Utterer of Deep Mysteries, whilst traveling upon the highways and byways.


3 Dooms I pronounce against thee! Let all hear and tremble at my words.


DooM

21st Century Cant spewed, out of Time and Place
My soul loathes such an abomination


DoOoM

Where 10 words would do, yay 5 would suffice, 30 were squandered
Garner not my attention with vain repetitions and overly long descriptive paragraphs, for such things the Indies do, thinking to make their books be read on high
In the end, I cast them down into the pit, into the mire, to languish and such shall be done to thee


DoOoOoM

Bore. Me. Not.
Am I a god? Am I not mortal, like thee, with a mortal's lifespan?
Waste not my time, thou wretch, lest thou be consigned to the Dust Heaps of History


Here ends the 3 Dooms of Bookstooge