Friday, October 13, 2017

Bane of Malekith (Warhammer: Tyrion & Teclis #3) ★☆☆☆ ½ DNF@27%


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Bane of Malekith
Series: Warhammer: Tyrion & Teclis #3
Author: William King
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition









Synopsis:

DNF @ 27%




My Thoughts:

Nothing was happening. I was not in the mood for some b-quality fantasy book to give me a modicum of entertainment. This was no worse than the previous 2 books but that is damning praise. It was like eating spaghetti but without any sauce or meatballs or spices.

I am really not having good luck with the Warhammer universe. Savageddt has suggested I try some Gotrek and Felix. My only reservation is that those books appear to also be written by William King and I'd really like to try someone else. Guess I'll be spending some time this weekend checking some other Warhammer series out.

★☆☆☆ ½






Thursday, October 12, 2017

Redemption (Omega Force #7) ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Redemption
Series: Omega Force #7
Author: Joshua Dalzelle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition









Synopsis:

Taking place 3 years after the previous book, Omega Force has fallen apart due to Cristoff abandoning one of the Omega Force members when they can't fulfill one of his missions. Jason tries to keep the team together but when he can't, he gives up, moves to a beach front world, becomes a delivery boy with Lucky the robot and pretty much lets himself go. He also completely burns his bridges with Kallea when rescuing Crusher.


When the princess for another galaxy spanning Empire, rivaling that of the ConFed, is kidnapped, it appears that war is going to happen and billions could die. The princess's handmaid escapes, on Jason's old delivery ship, he's involved whether he wants to be or not. The only way to rescue the princess and prevent interstellar war is to get the gang back together. But when one Super Power wants you dead and a clique within the other is plotting to take over, things might be harder than expected.


But Omega Force always gets the job done. And with this job, they have the thanks of the King of an Empire, with “mysterious” problems along its other borders. And a princess that has the hots for Cap'n Jason. * wolf whistle *


Almost like Dalzelle is setting up future story installments.




My Thoughts:

This starts off with a barely functioning Jason, drunk as a skunk getting helped along by Lucky. It was rather disconcerting, as we don't get WHY Omega Force fell apart until some time later.

In many ways, this felt like Dalzelle ran out of ideas for within the ConFed and so kind of rebooted the whole Omega Force thingamajig. I didn't feel that it was handled real well, especially with how things with Kallea went down. Relationships, even fake ones in books, shouldn't get treated like a drama prop.

Other than that, this was exactly the same in tone as all the previous Omega Force books. If I was in a cranky mood like I was when I read Dark Matter I'd probably rip into this more. But I don't expect much from these, so I don't have to give much in a review. These are like Forgotten Realms for Science Fiction.

★★★☆☆ 




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to Survive and Thrive! In Church ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: How to Survive and Thrive! In Church
Series: ------
Author: Doug Batchelor & Karen Lifshay
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback









Synopsis:

Batchelor, a 7th Day Adventist pastor and author, writes this little book on how to survive various types of churches but also how to contribute and make your church a better place.


There are 16 chapters, each focusing either on a particular type of church [dead, big, little, divided, etc] or on a particular problem in church [scandal, gossip, doctrinal doubts, etc] and the final chapter entitled “Not Just Surviving – Succeeding!”




My Thoughts:

This is not a comprehensive help book. I read this in one sitting, one evening. It is a lightly humorous book meant to highlight some of the common problems in any and all churches and what you, as an individual, can do.

Basically, Batchelor boils it down to “don't give up”. Like I said, I read this in one sitting and it was like a nice bottle of gatorade on a hot day while working hard. It's not a meal but it refreshes you and allows you to keep going until it IS meal time. Batchelor also stresses personal responsibility in your spiritual life. You have to read your Bible and pray if you want to stay connected to God. Going to church once a week to get “fed” isn't going to cut it.

Batchelor is unabashedly 7th Day Adventist and while this could be used for almost any denomination, it is aimed at SDA'ers. Many of his quotes are from the writings of Ellen White. If that would be a problem for you, then I would not recommend this book.

Anyone who goes to church could benefit from reading this book. Treat it like the word of encouragement it is and not as a theological treatise and you will be well served.

I do wish that there had been an “Interested In More...” epilogue. Could have pointed to some specific, deeper, more relevant books on particular topics. That would have been a nice springboard.

★★★★☆ 





Dark Matter ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Matter
Series: ------
Author: Blake Crouch
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 354
Format: Digital Edition









Synopsis:

Jason Desson, a once up and coming scientist [which type, I forget. It doesn't matter to me or any normal person who reads this book. It would be like describing which handgun some hero used. It only matters to a very small segment] chose his family life with his wife and son-to-be over his career and now teaches at a local college.

He is kidnapped one night and wakes up in another world. He figures out he's in a parallel universe and with the help of one the scientists from Jason2's world, attempts to get back to “his” world. And 'his' Daniella.
After much experimenting and whining and other bs, he makes it home. Only to find that what makes the whole paralell universe thing viable is that there are over 70 other Jason who all made it back too. Our Jason thinks of a clever plan, rescues his wife and son, outsmarts all the other Jasons and uses his son to find a new world to start a new life on.




My Thoughts:

I wanted to enjoy this more than I did. Part of it is that everything is predicated on an athiestic outlook, ie, there is no Supreme Being, no Supreme Observer. Schrodinger's Cat razzle dazzle means diddly squat if there is one all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God. Dark Matter, too. The second issue is where is all this energy coming from to create all these branched universes? Parallel worlds being created with every choice we make sounds great and if you're 25 is a great idea to bat around, but when you look at it through the lens of universal constants, it is as pie in the sky as the moon being made of green cheese. The third ramification is that of the soul. That is theology and once again, it is completely bypassed and ignored. For me, that as actually more important and the lack of thought about it pushed me out of the story.

Ok, with all of those out of the way....

Ha, who I am kidding.

I enjoyed this. BUT...

Sliders. Stargate SG1. Other tv shows I can't even remember off the top of my head. I kept getting flashes of those while reading this. I felt like I was re-treading an old trail.

It was fun. It was interesting. It wasn't original though and I have to admit, from all the rah, rah, rah I'd heard about Crouch, I was expecting something original. Crap, maybe I'm getting old. I can handle unoriginal ideas. I thrive on the Hero's Journey, Coming of Age stories, the Underdog Winning against Impossible Odds, the Evil McEvilson getting his Just Rewards [of death!]. But this was like those conversations I had with my friend Isaac when we were in highschool, bibleschool and shortly after. As soon as the guy in the mask showed up, I knew every major plot point that was going to happen and that disappointed me.

This was not a bad book by any means. I would recommend it to “New to SF” readers, it'll blow their minds. But my mind's already been blown by this idea, 15-20+ years ago. Timothy Zahn explored this in his short stories. Go read his short collection Cascade Point and Other Stories.

I just wanted to like this more and I couldn't.

★★★☆☆ 




Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Confession of Brother Haluin (Brother Cadfael #15) ★★☆☆ ½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Confession of Brother Haluin
Series: Brother Cadfael #15
Author: Ellis Peters
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 208
Format: Digital Edition









Synopsis:

Brother Haluin almost dies and confesses to the head Priest and Cadfael. He had an encounter of the flesh with a young woman, who he got with child 18 years ago. Haluin gave the mother herbs from Cadfael's herbariam to end the pregnancy but the mother told Haluin that it ended up killing the mother along with the child. And that was when Haluin entered the abbey, in despair.
He ends up surviving his ordeal, he gives himself the penance of walking to the dead woman's tomb and keeping vigil for a night. Haluin's feet being crippled due to the ordeal, Cadfael is tasked with helping him keep his vow.
In a string of coincidences that can only happen in a murder mystery, we find out that Haluin was lied to by the mother and that the young woman was married off and the child raised as that other man's. Said young woman is now a nun as old as Haluin. Their daughter has love issues all of her own which are neatly resolved when it is revealed that she is NOT the blood daughter of the Old Duke. An old lady servant is killed by the nun's mother to keep everything secret. Because the old mother did all of this because she wanted the young man back in the day and he wouldn't commit adultery with her, as she was married. So she starts this whole chain of events.
Everyone except the old mother ends up being reasonably satisfied with how things turn out and Brother Haluin and Cadfael return to their abbey.


My Thoughts:

This was a typical Brother Cadfael mystery. He's just an observer like he has been in the last several and has very little to do with the actual story. So that's where I'd normally give this a 3star rating. But this time around a lot of the story is driven by ideas of absolution and atoning for you own sins, ie, working to get your sins forgiven. Haluin makes it a point that if he can't fulfill his vow, he won't be forgiven. And it is stated outright that he doesn't feel like he'll be forgiven if he doesn't DO some sort of very hard penance.

Normally the catholic practices and theology are kept in the background of these books. This time around though, they played a much bigger part and cut right across everything the Bible actually says about forgiveness of sins. When I hear about earning forgiveness for your sins, well, that just sets my staunch Protestant soul ablaze. I won't go into the details, as this is not a theology post. But it really took this book down a peg for me. I've actually been surprised this hasn't happened before.

I've got 5 or 6 more Brother Cadfael books to go and I'm really hoping I can stick it out to the end. But to be honest, these are getting boring; that's almost as bad as un-Biblical theology in my mind!

★★☆☆ ½







Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Fire in His Hands (The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1) ★★★☆ ½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Fire in His Hands
Series: The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 212
Format: Digital Edition








Synopsis:

Micah * insert really long family moniker that nobody cares about * is visited by an “Angel” riding a winged horse carrying a cornucopiea. Micah changes his name to El Murid and begins proselytizing all the tribes that have fallen away from the True Faith. This of course sets him on a collision course with the powers that be. He marries a girl and her brother becomes his general. The powers that be don't take him seriously and so things progress to the point where the whole area is torn apart.


The powers that be end up hiring mercenaries. In one of those mercenary troops is a guy named Braki Ragnarson. We met him in the previous trilogy. We find out how he left his land and joined the mercenaries.


More fighting, El Murid appears to have won the day and Haroun, a younger son, inherits the Crown and begins a guerilla warfare to take back the kindgom.



My Thoughts:

El Murid and Haroun were both mentioned in the previous trilogy but weren't a big part. So I wasn't sure how to place them at first. But with the introduction of Ragnarson, it all clicked. This A Fortress in Shadow sub-series is a prequel to A Cruel Wind trilogy. What confused me right off was that there didn't appear to be anything to do with the Dread Empire. I am wondering if perhaps the Dread Empire is the empire that fell hundreds of years ago and not the Eastern Empire we are introduced to in A Cruel Wind. But that contradicts everything I know from those books. Whatever.

I knew things were going to be bad once that blasted Star Rider gave Micah a mission. That guy is bad news and I hate him even more now. What an illegitimate offspring of a donkey's backside!

The overall story took years and we'd skip years or months inbetween paragraphs. It wasn't always clear that time had elapsed or it felt very rough. I just held on for the ride. This was as much political machinations and maneuvering between factions as it was about actual battles.

The story ends with Haroun taking up the Invisible Crown and becoming the King without a Kingdom that we know. We actually are introduced to his son in the A Cruel Wind series so we already know that Haroun has a lifetime of fighting ahead of him with no success. Not sure how the next book, or two, will deal with that. I don't actually know how many books are in the A Fortress in Shadow series. I just don't care enough to go look for it.

★★★☆ ½







Friday, October 06, 2017

Dancer's Lament (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1) ★★★★ ½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dancer's Lament
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: Hardcover








Synopsis:

Before there was Cotillion and Kellanved, there was Dorin Rav and Wu. Taking place in the city of Li Heng, this is the story of how they became partners.



The plot of the book, however, is how the city of Li Heng survived a besiegement by a jumped up king who thought he was somebody. The 4 mages of the city, under the direction of the Protectress (a tiste liosan) end up confining Ryllandaras, the man-jackal in a magical prison. The Itko Kan'ians, the besiegers, have the help of a Jaghut and it takes the Protectress unleasing the full might of her Warren of Light to drive back the besiegers.



Wu, and Dorin, have plans to take over the city during the turmoil but they simply aren't strong enough and end up being exiled from the city. But now they are partners and can begin working together.



My Thoughts:

Finally. A Malazan book that I can simply sit down and read straight through and enjoy fully without feeling like I'm juggling 3 different 5000 piece puzzles all mixed together. You have no idea how much that upped my enjoyment of this book.

I think Esslemont showed his true colors with this book. He is a good standard fantasy writing kind of guy. His Malazan Empire novels felt very much like he was trying to copy Steven Erikson's style and it just didn't work for me. But this? Besides Gardens of the Moon, this was the most enjoyable Malazan book that I've read. Now I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

In the Malazan books, Cotillion/Dancer and Kellanved were shadow'y characters doing things behind the scenes and never being fully fleshed out. Even when they were supposed to be main characters, they were actually hiding and felt like side characters. This time, they were simply people. It was refreshing.

There were lots of hints and little asides from other Malazan characters, so if you're one of the Book of the Fallen fanboys who who loves unlocking a ton of meaning from 2 sentence fragments, you'll still have something to chew on with this book. The rest of us can simply sit back and enjoy the story.

In Esslemont's The Return of the Crimson Guard the malazan army unleashed Ryllandaras and in this book we see how, and why, he was confined. It was nice to make a clear cut connection between one book and the other instead of having to guess and speculate and turn my brain into 77 pretzels to make my pet theory fit.

Another aspect of this that I enjoyed was the lack of Existential Despair philosophy. Everybody was NOT whining about how meaningless their lives were. In fact, they acted like real people and didn't even think about that. Dorin and Wu had to survive, plan how to take over a newly discovered Warren of Shadow and see if they could take over the city. Not much time to sit on their fat asses and complain about how hard they have it (unlike almost every Steven Erikson character. Man, that guy has his characters doing more talking than doing, in the middle of freaking battles for goodness sake!!!).

To end, I really enjoyed this book. A lot. In fact, I plan on buying it in hardcover, I enjoyed it so much. How don't know how much more of an endorsement I can give a book. * grin *

★★★★ ½




Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition
Series: ------
Author: Norton Juster
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children's Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover







Synopsis:

Milo is a discontented, bored little boy. Until one day he gets a tollbooth and goes on an adventure to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. With his friends Tock the Watch-Dog and the Humbug, Milo will learn the importance of words and numbers and just how they can affect everything.

Milo completes his adventure and once back home realizes just how big of a place our world is and how much there is to do. No more boring days for Milo!



My Thoughts:

This is one of those books I read as a kid and that has stuck with me ever since. I couldn't remember every detail, but the clever word plays and number games always stuck in my head. So when I saw this 50th Anniversary Edition a couple of years ago I had to pick it up. Of course, it's taken me several years to actually get around to reading it.

It is a children's book so some things are childish. But even now, I never felt like Juster was trying to talk down to his audience or dumb things down. I enjoyed the heck out of this. I had forgotten just how quickly everything happens. Bam, Bam, Bam.

If you've never read this book, I highly recommend you do. It is good even for adults. If you happen to know some kids, I'd even higherly recommend this to them.

This 50th Anniversary Edition had a forward from Maurice Sendak [which was actually from the 35th Anniversary Edition] and several “How the Phantom Tollbooth Affected Me” stories from various people at the end of the book. I wasn't impressed with Sendak's blabbing and will definitely be skipping that if I read this again. I WAS looking forward to the various stories at the end, but sadly, I only recognized 1 or 2 names and nobody told a good story. It was all the same “I love it, my children loved it, the dog loved it.” blah, blah, blah. It did make me wonder who all those people were whose names I didn't recognize. Maybe someday I'll care enough to look them up, but not now.

To end. The story was fantastic, the addons, ie the forward and the stories at the end, not so much. Ignore those, read the story and have a wonderful time!


★★★★★ 




Saturday, September 30, 2017

Revenger ★★☆☆ ½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Revenger
Series: ------
Author: Alistair Reynolds
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA-SF
Pages: 411
Format: Digital Edition








Synopsis:


Adrana and Fura Ness run away from home and join the crew of a spaceship that looks for treasures from older civilizations. They are “Bone Readers”, which allows them to communicate with other Bone Readers on other ships. They're first mission sees them attacked by the Dread Pirate Bosa Sennen (make sure you said that part like Andre the Giant does in The Princess Bride) and Adrana is captured, Ness hides in the walls of the ship and one other of the crew, Porzor, survives. Fura and Porzor are rescued and Fura, who is under age, is taken back to her ailing father.

Back home Fura is given drugs to keep her docile and fed the story that her sister is dead, not alive and captured. Fura resists, hooks back up with Porzor on another ships and plans how to rescue Adrana and get her revenge on Bosa Sennen.


*Spoiler*

Fura tricks the crew to get some special armor, makes them a target for Bosa Sennen, kills all the crew on Bosa Sennen's ship and takes it over. She rescues her sister Adrana, who now believes in the cause that Bosa Sennen was fighting for, and Fura pretty much becomes Bosa Sennen in all but name.


/End Spoiler of Everything



My Thoughts:

This was not my first book by Reynolds and for that I am intensely grateful. I read Beyond the Aquila Rift just last year in fact. What a great book. So I KNOW at what level Reynolds can write.

Unfortunately, this was deliberately written to be sold in the YA genre and it shows. I'd actually recommend this to a 12-14 year old and once they'd gotten used to Reynold's name, introduce them to his other stuff when they hit the mid to late teens.

My biggest issue. The slang words used. I am going to just list the ones that I can remember:
  1. Glowy
  2. the grey
  3. the squawky
  4. the Swirly
  5. gubbins
  6. the viewy
  7. lungstuff

There were more,but those stuck out the most. A mature society doesn't talk like that. A closed, insular society would but that disappears when homogenization takes place. Only teens talk like that, making ordinary things just a little bit different to make it their own. Needless to say, every time I read the word “lungstuff” I was completely thrown out of the book.

My other issue is Fura Ness. She goes from being a naive, tender young thing to a complete bad ass who glows and has a metal hand but she can't think for crap. She has no plan, she has no tactical training, no fighting training, nothing in fact but the Righteous Anger of her Cause. She is presented as someone as tough as Bosa Sennen by the end of the book, but there is nothing to back that up. Being hard emotionally and having some real anger issues aren't going to actually do you squat when facing trained professionals. But this being a YA book, it IS enough.

For a review by someone who has read more Reynolds than me [admittedly, not a hard goal to reach], please check out Manuel's review of Revenger.

Now that I have read this, I'm spurred on to track down Reynolds' other books so at least this book has that one good point.

★★☆☆ ½





Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Praxis (Dread Empires Fall #1) ★★★☆ ½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Praxis
Series: Dread Empires Fall #1
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 454
Format: Digital Edition









Synopsis:

The Shaa rule the known universe under the precepts of The Praxis, a series of laws that are constant and reduce the amount of chaos in the empire. All races bow to the Shaa and have for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years.

But the Shaa have died out and only one remains. This is the story of the Empire once that Shaa dies.

We follow a young Navy puke, Gareth Martinez, as he goes through the tumultuous time. Single handedly preventing another species, the Praxids, from taking the Shaa's place, Martinez rises to captain of his own ship and becomes a hero.

We also follow Caroline Sula, last member of the disgraced Sula household. In the navy, trying to rebuild her fortunes, Sula is a pilot with a huge secret. She's not actually Caroline Sula.



My Thoughts:

This was a decent read. The only other books I've read by Williams have been in the Star Wars universe and ONE book back in '09. So he's practically a new-to-me author.

So this is Space Opera, in the finest tradition. Huge Empires. Factions spanning galaxies. Armies beginning the titanic struggle for supremacy of said Huge Empire.

But what is Space Opera without some leading characters with great voices? So we get Gareth and Caroline. Decent enough, but honestly, if I carry the Opera comparison over, they don't have the projecting, hall filling voice that a main character needs. They're not bland amateur voices but they aren't the mature voices of huge fat people belting out an aria at the top of their lungs. I'm hoping our two main characters chub up a bit by the end of this trilogy * wink *

Having read enough Science Fiction, I knew what was coming as soon as it was revealed that the last of the Shaa was dying. So the overall plot is no surprise, but I have to admit I was hoping the disintegration would start a little faster. I guess I'll have to wait for the next 2 books for that to take place.

Also, Space Opera means Space Battles. Man, I HATE space battles. It's tough to describe 5 minutes of action that stretches out for days. It is BORING, even when the author skips all the boring in-between times. Bleh. Give me marines with super rifles blowing the crap out of aliens any day! I hope there is some of THAT in the next 2 books.

★★★☆ ½



Monday, September 25, 2017

Spring Snow (Sea of Fertility #1) ★★☆☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Spring Snow
Series: Sea of Fertility #1
Author: Yukio Mishima
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Japanese Lit
Pages: 399
Format: Digital Edition







Synopsis:

Kiyoaki, son of a wealthy samurai family, has been raised in the Ayakura household. The Ayakuras are an ancient royal family and the Matsugae's hope that some of the Ayakura's polish will rub off on Kiyoaki.

The Ayakura's have a daughter who is in love with Kiyoaki. However, Kiyoaki is the forerunner of the emo-goths and so self-absorbed that he ignores or repels anything having to do with anyone else. He rejects Satoko's love and she is then affianced to a direct descendant of the Emperor.

Kiyoaki loses it, starts a torrid affair with Satoko without thinking about any of the consequences. Satoko becomes pregnant, is forced to abort the baby and in response joins a nunnery. Kiyoaki refuses to believe that Satoko would spurn him and in the process of trying to get her attention, catches pneunomia and dies.



My Thoughts:

Ugh. And that pretty much sums up every single feeling I had about this book. It was “Literature” with a Capital L.

It was beautifully written and the translator did a fantastic job of keeping that beauty intact. However, nothing could disguise the pathetic, childish, self-centered, disgusting character of the main character. Kiyoaki was a typical young man but without getting any of his sharp corners ground down by his parents or his friends. So at the end, he cracks and breaks.

This was reading about the worst of people, just because the author felt like writing it. In the introduction, by the publishers, they give a little history of the author. He killed himself at the age of 45. If his mindset continued like this book, it's no wonder.

This was supposed to be a tetralogy, but I'm not sure how this can be a series since the main character dies. From the tone of the book, I'd guess that the series is all tied together by some esoteric “Idea”. Ugh. Again. 

I will NOT be reading any more by Mishima.

★★☆☆☆ 




Sunday, September 24, 2017

Iron & Blood (Expansion Wars #2) ★★★☆ ½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 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, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Iron & Blood
Series: Expansion Wars #2
Author: Joshua Dalzelle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 362
Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

The Darshik have declared war on the Federation and taken over the star system Juwel and its single human occupied planet of Juwel.

A force of Marines reached the planet's surface but none of their supplies did. Jackson Wolfe must run the barricade that the Darshik have set upto deliver vital supplies if the Federation wants to keep Juwel under their control.

A taskforce, under the control of Edward Rawls, is tasked with providing support to Jackson to give him fighting support. It was supposed to be led by Celesta Wright, but she has been pulled to transport the Federations top diplomat to another meeting with the Ushik.

Rawls' cowards out, leaving Jackson high and dry. The Ushin ship is destroyed by a stealth Darshik ship so Celesta heads back to support Wolfe. Everyone fights and kicks the Darshik's butt. They also discover a huge construct on the planet, which appears to be a Quick Terraforming Device, ie, it will only take 10 years to convert the atmosphere to something the Darshik can use.

The Federation Wins. And it is revealed that the Ushin and the Darshik are the same species but controlled by very different ideologies.



My Thoughts:

I hate to say this, but I think that Jackson Wolfe is back into the storyline. While the plot was split between him and his protege Celesta, it “felt” like he had a greater part. Dalzelle really tried, in the previous book, to create another “hero” character with Celesta Wright but he just didn't have the same handle on her that he had on Jackson Wolfe.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Wolfe. He was what drew me into Dalzelle's writing with his Black Fleet trilogy. But a really good author can create another character and still keep you invested. I think that Dalzelle is a good author but has not yet reached that “really good” peak yet. I was really hoping he'd break that barrier and that Celesta Wright would be someone who could carry the story on her own shoulders. She was more of a really good supporting character this time around.

The space battles were pretty good. Having the super-stealth Darshik ship was awesome and I really liked how the characters reacted to having such a threat around. There was a tiny bit of ground based battles with the marines and some Juwel militia against the Darshik, but it wasn't much. I'm a ground forces kind of guy, so more on-planet fighting would have been nice. However, the main characters are all starship captains, so ground fighting is not going to be a thing.

Right on the covers of these books it says it is a trilogy. I suspect that there will be another trilogy after this to wrap this storyline up. You just can't start an interstellar war in book 1, scratch the surface of it in book 2 and wrap up things in book 3. That might have worked with the Phage in the Black Fleet trilogy, but that was a different series. But I am looking forward to the final book in the Expansion Wars trilogy, whenever it may come out.

★★★☆ ½






Friday, September 22, 2017

Stonewielder (Malazan Empire #3) ★★★☆ ½


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Title: Stonewielder
Series: Malazan Empire #3
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 638
Format: Digital Edition




Synopsis:

Emperor Mallick sends another army and navy to take over Korel, where all previous attempts have failed. Not only that, but the one time a Malazan army DID make it through, they cut off ties and setup their own little kingdom. Time for the Emperor to remind them that they're still his subjects. Almost all green troops bolstered by a navy of Blue Moranth. Facing them are veterans and turncoats and a whole contingent of Black Moranth.

Kyle and Greymane, trying to live life as teachers at a dueling school, aren't doing quite so well. Greymane gets drafted by the Emperor to lead the invasion. I'm still not sure how the Emperor convinced a former Crimson Guardsman to do that! Kyle's along for the ride as an Adjunct.

Lord Hiam is protecting the Wall that borders the sea and Korel. He and his special guards fight year after year for The Lady, throwing back the annual attacks by the Stormriders, magical sea people. For years they have used unwilling prisoners as well. This year, unbeknownst to them, they have some captive Crimson Guard. Understaffed, the Wall in desperate need of repair and the Lady's Favor apparently turning against her own Chosen, Hiam has only his faith to sustain him and with the revelations about the Lady at the end, even that will shatter.

The Cult of the Lady is trying to wipe out all other religions in Korel. The Lady thrives on blood sacrifice and it is by that power that she can hold back the power of the Stormriders. She also negates all magic associated with the Warrens, so Malazan magicians are almost useless. In response, all the poor people of the land unite under a mystical prophet who quickly dies and passes on his legacy to some Arena Champion who has vowed to never kill again.

Politics and religion each using the other to further their own agenda.

And some little side thing with Kiska, from Night of Knives, looking for Tayschrenn, who has been sucked into some sort of vortex'y thing'y.



My Thoughts:

I had waited to read the Malazan Empire novels until after I'd finished the Malazan Book of the Fallen. So when I was reading these and their lack of pages of banal philosophizing, which I got in spades in the last 3 Books of the Fallen, I was overjoyed. So much action, so much story actually moving forward.

This time around, I wasn't quite as enthused. My main complaint is that there are just too many story lines going on. Not storylines that all come together in the end, but that are multibook. My other complaint was HOW the stories were broken up. Sometimes you'd get pages and pages and pages. Then would come a 2 paragraph insert. Then on over to a 3rd storyline, etc, etc. And as far as I could tell, there was no repetitive order to them to help you remember. It felt like a jumble all thrown together.

The action was pretty good. I liked that.

With all of that, I'm definitely going to be reading Esslemon't latest, Dancer's Lament, before I read anymore of the Malazan Empire novels. If I don't like it, then I won't feel guilty about stopping these as well.

★★★☆ ½