Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Specialist, Blood Oath (Spiderman 2099 #4 & 5) ★★★☆☆

 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, Booklikes & Librarything and links at Goodreads & by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Specialist, Blood Oath
 Series: Spiderman 2099 #4 & 5 
Author: Peter David 
Artist: Rick Leonardi 
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars 
Genre: Comics 
Pages: 48 
Format: Digital Scan





Synopsis:

Gabriel O'Hara, brother to Miguel, our erstwhile Spiderman 2099, gets involved with a woman who is on the wanted list by one of the Corporations, namely, Stark-Fujikawa. She is taken in front of Gabe by some Super Samurai. Gabe immediately runs to his big brother to cry for help. Miguel is being wooed back to Alchemax by Stone himself.

To get out from under Stone's eye, he accepts reinstatement and immediately takes Gabe's call. Miguel, affectionately known as “Miggy”, dons the suit and rushes to rescue Gabe's latest girlfriend. He rescue her from the Samurai and then starts a very public battle with the Samurai, who is named The Specialist. He starts the fight to test his own capabilities but unbeknownst to him, “Spiderman 2099”s movements are being watched by Alchemax and publicly broadcasted.

The Public Eye, a sort of private/public Security Force are under orders to capture Spiderman, but one of the higher ups takes things into his own hands and has his forces fire on Spidey. These 2 volumes end with Spidey falling to the undercity of New York.


My Thoughts:

“Miggy”? That really is the tone here. A ton of one liners and cutesy quips. Miguel is desperately trying to keep his identity as Spiderman secret from Stone but fooling the CEO of a Mega-Corp isn't easy.

Gabe, as the token relative, is a real idiot and I foresee a lot of drama coming from his direction. The Specialist was a bit overblown as a character and was more about showing off how another Mega-Corp worked than as a serious threat or evil villain. It's hard to take him serious when he's spouting off about “Honor” and “Chivalry” while taking a graffiti artist in to be a human experiment.

We also get a few panels of Doom 2099. I like that character and hope he's more involved even while he has his own comic line from the time.

★★★☆☆









Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dreams of Distant Shores ★★★★☆


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,  Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title:        Dreams of Distant Shores
 Series:      ----------
 Author:   Patricia McKillip
 Rating:    4 of 5 Stars
 Genre:     Fantasy
 Pages:      290
 Format:   Digital Edition





Synopsis:

A collection of short stories and a novella showcasing McKillip's writing style and preferred story content.




My Thoughts:

The majority of this book is taken up with the novella, Something Rich and Strange. I read that back in '05 and wasn't very impressed then and this time around nothing improved. That is the reason for the 1 Star deduction.

Now, the rest of the stories, they were excellent. They were what I EXPECT from McKillip. My favorite was about an artist who draws the Gorgon's mouth and it becomes his muse, until it convinces him to fall in love with a real life girl who then becomes his true muse. Not being an artsy guy myself, most of the time I poo-poo stories dealing with art. However, this story, appropriately entitled The Gorgon in the Cupboard, drew me in and made the artist character sympathetic enough that even I was able to like him. The counter-story about the woman who becomes his muse, is poignantly sad and heartwrenching and provides a sad canvas upon which a happy story is drawn.

The Forward by Peter Beagle I could have done without. I am not a fan of Beagle, so his musings on meeting McKillip at various times came across as self-serving and very faux-humble.

If I ever read this again, I'll just skip the novella and concentrate on the short stories.

★★★★☆







Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small #7) DNF@10%


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, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title:       The Lord God Made Them All
Series:     All Creatures Great and Small #7
Author:   James Herriot 
Rating:    Unrated 
Genre:     Non-fiction
Pages:      388
Format:   Digital Edition 
 





Synopsis:

Even more stories from the Vet. And apparently he goes to Russia, or something.




My Thoughts:

I abandoned this at the 10% mark. I just couldn't take any more cutesy stories about animals or the people. The people just pissed me off. So I endured for almost 40 pages. Then when he starts off about him going to Russia, and preparing his reader for that adventure, I just gave up.

Almost 400 pages was too much and I had really reached my limit of animal stories about 2 books ago. Nothing wrong with this book, hence the Unrated rating. I am using this as a lesson to teach myself when I need to abandon a series sooner.









Friday, March 24, 2017

A Shadow of All Night Falling (The Dread Empire: A Cruel Wind #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, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: A Shadow of All Night Falling
 Series: The Dread Empire: A Cruel Wind #1
 Author: Glen Cook
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 256
 Format: Digital Edition 


 





Synopsis:

A young boy watches as his mother is burned as a witch. In consequence, he eventually goes to the Dread Empire and learns all he can of magic. Upon his return, he destroys all the sorcerers and breaks the Kingdom.

Looking into the future, he sees that the fate of the world will revolve around him and a woman. He spends hundreds of years in preparation. Said woman falls in love and marries another man. Her sorcerous brothers get involved, as does another immortal man and some armies. Varth will do whatever he has to to get the woman on his side to save the world.

But Varth's powers came at a cost. The Dread Empire has waited for hundreds of years for Varth to be the perfect unknowing pawn and today, the cost of his education comes due.




My Thoughts: Spoilers

First off, there is a character who is named The Mocker. He starts out fat and silly and talks in the 3rd person. I would say that Steven Erikson pretty much lifted this character wholesale to create his character of Krup, the spy master of Darujistahn in his Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

You alse see a lot of pre-Black Company ideas being formed here. I haven't read enough other Cook to tell if he trots out certain ideas in every book/series or if this is just a “fantasy” thing for him. Either way, this reads like Black Company, the Rough Draft.

It's a fun story and I thoroughly enjoyed my time. Also a good book to shove into peoples' faces if they ever start talking about fates, predestination, and how things are out of their control.

Thankfully, this ends much like most of the Black Company books. So it's your call if that's happy or not. I was satisfied with how things turned out.

★★★☆ ½








Tuesday, March 21, 2017

United States of Japan ★★☆☆☆


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, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: United States of Japan
 Series: ---------
 Author: Peter Tieryas
 Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Alt-History
 Pages: 400
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Japan and Germany win War World II. Japan takes over the West Coast of America and completely destroy all American culture and replace it with their own. Having the upper hand in technology, the Japanese establish the United States of Japan.

Now in 1988, one man...
Is Fighting Back. With Giant Robots, Nukes and Robo-swords. He is the technological Wizard and is going to restore the American Ideal of Freedom!

Ha. Fooled you. This is some piece of crap about a coward and a disgraced Secret Police woman fighting a little bit before being killed or seriously wounded. Not going to lie.




My Thoughts:

The best thing about this book was the cover. That is one awesome cover. Beyond that, this was Alternate History from the view of the little people [ie, the people without a lot of power to actually affect things]. If you like that sort of crap, then this book is definitely tailor made for you.

For those of us who are not enamoured of fake history, who went in thinking that there would be giant robots fighting all over and cool and awesome rebel battles, this was beyond a disappointment. Replace the cover with some grimy war victims in a bombed out city and you'll have a better representation.

I am not a fan of reading REAL history. So why should I WASTE my time with FAKE history? I just figured that the description was trying to rope in the literati and that the author would actually give me a kick butt action story. No such luck. At least I now know not to try any more by Tieryas.

From a purely technical standpoint, my only gripe was the word choices and phrasing employed by the author. It kept throwing me out of the story. Only use a little known or little used word if it fits better than the common word usually employed. And by fits better, I'm talking “ochre” versus “orange” versus “cinnamon” kind of difference. Not “orbulianicus” instead of “round”. 
 
What a bloody waste of my time. I hate Alt-History. So take my venting with a gigantic grain of salt.

★★☆☆☆








Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spiderman 2099, Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (Spiderman 2099 #1, 2 & 3)



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, Booklikes & Librarything and links at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission  
Title: Spiderman 2099, Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Series: Spiderman 2099 #1, 2 & 3 
Author: Peter David 
Artist: Rick Leonardi 
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars 
Genre: Comics 
Pages: 68 
Format: Digital Scan











Synopsis:


Miguel O'hara, brilliant geneticist, is working for Alchemax, one of the Mega-Corporations. He is working on genetically imprinting various aspects of other creatures onto humans so as to make them more fit for various Alchemax jobs. So far none of the prisoners assigned as test subjects have survived.

Due to his smart mouth and bad political sense, Miguel gets on the wrong side of Tyler Stone, CEO of Alchemax. Stone injects Miguel with a synthetic drug that bonds to his dna and forces him to keep working for Alchemax, or he'll die of withdrawal symptoms. In desperation, Miguel returns to his Alchemax lab and re-imprints his own dna pattern onto himself in an effort to cleanse himself from the drug bonding.

Unbeknownst to Miguel, one of the other scientists, who has taken the brunt of Miguel's acid wit, is also working that night. Said scientist sabotages the imprint program by overloading it with spider dna. A huge explosion happens, Miguel lives but with talons, fangs and messed up vision. He escapes the lab but a bounty hunter is hot on his trail.

Realizing he has to throw the cyborg bounty hunter off of his trail so he won't know it is Miguel O'Hara he is chasing, Miguel puts on a mexican day of the dead costume made from unstable molecules, which will allow him to use it without slicing it to ribbons with his talons. He attacks Venture, gets captured, escapes and defeats Venture and comes across a cult to Thor. 

The origin story ends with Miguel taking a phone call from Tyler Stone, who wants to discuss “Spiderman”. Thus a new Super Hero is born.



My Thoughts:


Holy smokes!!! I had totally forgotten just how short comic books were. These scans had all the ad pages removed, so they're only about 22-24 pages each. I think most comics ran about 30 pages back in the 90's, so you're talking an advertisement every 4th page. Glad I don't have to deal with that now.

This is my first time reading Spiderman 2099 so let me back up and give just a bit of history about me and the 2099 comic line. I'll be as brief as possible. I started seriously reading comics in 1991 and in 1992 started my first subscription with Silver Sable & Her Wildpack. This took up all of my money but I began haunting the semi-local comic stores and the grocery stores where comics were sold. I saw Doom 2099 in December of '92 and that was my introduction to 2099. I bought the first 4 issues of Doom then bought the first couple of issues of Punisher 2099 from my friend Cam who had bought them but he didn't like them. That brought me to mid '93 and I was just plum out of money. So while I realized that things were really hopping over at Spiderman 2099 I just couldn't afford it. Plus, the first several issues sold out wicked fast and trying to get back orders was, while not impossible, much harder than it was today. I've always liked Spidey, I've always wanted to see what Spidey2099 was all about and since I'm in a manga funk, I figure this will be a good break from that while still keeping my toes in the visual medium.

I bet this would have blown the socks of my teenage self. Flying cars, armed police/guards using flying cycles, cyborg bounty hunters, evil corporations, evil CEO's personally injecting drugs into their most brilliant workers. Check, check and checkity-check! Now, I am reading this as an “experience” and not as just a book to read and review. If I just read this, it would be very hard to overlook the puerile nature, the complete lack of logic, the utter and complete “boy'ishness” of it. As an “experience” though, it sure is fun. Memories, memories, memories.

These first 3 issues comprise the Origins storyline. We'll see how future volumes pan out. I will not be surprised if I just up and quit in disgust at some point or just let it peter out [ha, get it, Peter Out, Miguel In?]

★★★☆☆








Thursday, March 16, 2017

The One Kingdom (The Swan's War #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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: The One Kingdom
 Series: The Swan's War #1
 Author: Sean Russell
 Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 544
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Magician's don't die. If they're powerful enough, they can exist without going through Death's Gate.
Hundreds of years ago, the children of the most powerful magician the world had ever known were each given a gift from their father. Their choices split the One Kingdom and resulted in death and devastation.

Now, the families of the Renne's and the Wills have their own feud that could tear apart the fragile peace of the land. One of the Renne's is determined to make the peace last while his family plots to assassinate him for such thoughts. The Wills plot to strengthen themselves through marriage with an outside family, the Innes. The Innes are being “guided” by a man who is much more than he appears and much more dangerous than they know.

At the same time, 3 young men from the Northern Vale take a trip down the river to buy horses. They come across a man name Alain and their misfortunes/adventures start. They come into contact with a Naga, the embodiment of the daughter of the magician.

The Naga, Alain and the Guide are all so much more than the people around them know. Can the land survive the return of the Children?




My Thoughts:

I went into this really wondering if I was going to like it as much as I did back in '09. Thankfully, this lived up to my memories and my current expectations of a good book.

This is a slow book. It meanders like the river that much of the story takes place on. In many ways, the river itself is a character, at times benevolent, at other times very malevolent.

Besides being a slow book, it is also very character driven. The Valemen trio start out as the main characters, but Russell deftly moves from group to group, from individual to individual in such a way that I never felt either bored or wanting something else. There is a lot of description of landscapes and what surrounds the characters but for whatever reason I didn't blow by it like I usually do in other books. I was able to sit back and take it in.

Where I have described Patricia McKillip's writings as “silk”, Russell's writing is like a river. Some times meandering, some times fast and furious, some times appearing calm, some times dragging you along a current you don't even realize you are in. I felt like I was sitting in a boat going down a river while reading this. Why I was intrigued instead of bored, I do not know. But I loved this story.

I also like how Russell portrays magic. It is something dangerous, subtle and never good. It destroys those who use it and hurts those around them. It is not flashy fireballs or the calling forth of demon lords. It is influence, power, strength, persuaviness and the ability to bend others to your will. It is scary.

So another fantastic re-read. Definitely glad that I bought this in hardcover.






Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Reluctant Swordsman (The Seventh Sword #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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title: The Reluctant Swordsman 
Series: The Seventh Sword #1 
Author: Dave Duncan 
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 321
Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Wallie dies. The End.

Ok, not really. In fact, he wakes up in the body of a magnificent warrior who is a Seventh Sword, the highest rank possible. He also wakes up into the middle of a power struggle between corrupt warriors, priests and some “gods”. Specifically, Wallie has been chose by a goddess to be the divine instrument of her will in the current game.

Forced to recognize tht he is in a different world, in a different body and that the gods are real, Wallie must play along or die.




My Thoughts:

This had the same fingerprints as Duncan's The Great Game trilogy. As such, there is a lot of mocking of religion in general and very not-subtle jabs at Christianity. This type of thing might not bother you at all, so your mileage is definitely going to vary from mine.

The story was great, the setup very good, the action was fast and furious and overall I really enjoyed my read.

But just like going on a picnic in a beautiful field with my wife, if I place the blanket over an ants' nest, those little buggers are going to bite me and cause some annoyance and that's what I'll remember instead of the good time I had. Duncan's jabs were like little pin pricks and it made it very hard to just sit there and enjoy my time. I've read enough of Duncan's various works to know that he doesn't always take potshots at religion and I've truly enjoyed those books. Therefore, it's deliberate on his part and that just makes it all the more unpleasant.

I'm going to give the second book a chance when I cycle around to it, but if it has the same smug dismissive attitude as this one, I'll be stopping there.






Friday, March 10, 2017

Sinners (Monster Hunter Memoirs #2)


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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Sinners
 Series: Monster Hunter Memoirs #2
 Author: John Ringo & Larry Correia
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Urban Fantasy
 Pages: 270
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Gary Stu bangs an underage Elf [she was only 45] and when her vengeful trailertrash relatives chase him down, he requests a transer to the New Orleans MHI office.

Once there, the action is non-stop, the monsters relentless and the MCB are the good guys too. Magic is on the rise, for no reason anyone can tell and even two-bit sorcerers can suddenly raise powerful elder beings.

But even Gary Stu can't kill ALL the monsters. Shackleford the IV and Earl come into town with the Happy Face group to help out. But Mardi Gras is coming and things are going to go apocalyptic.




My Thoughts:

This was MUCH better than Grunge. Most of it was that Chad, otherwise known as Gary Stu, is just too busy to do anything else except narrate MHI adventures. Which means that there was only theological reference [which was sketchy as all get out] and two cockhound stories about girls.

The rest of the book was totally focused on saving New Orleans from a huge influx of monsters. It was the type of story that I expect when I read an MHI book. Guns, carnage and death abound. Agent Franks gets involved near the end and I've always liked stories that included him, even before reading Nemesis (MHI #5). The end, where MHI, MCB [Monster Control Bureau] and even some civilians fight a horde of monster crawdads and just about everybody dies except Chad, Agent Franks and one or two others, was tough to read. It's never enjoyable reading about the destruction of the good guys.

I do hope the 3rd book comes out soon, as there are several instances of burrows appearing, people disappearing and vague references to some new power arising. The local Vampire Lord calls it a “tourist” and it is apparently what is causing the influx of power. But we don't get to that part of the story yet. It is referenced but the full implications and the real action concerning it haven't come about. Honestly, that is what I wanted to read about.

Looking at Correia's website however, it doesn't appear that the third book, entitled Saints, will be ready any time soon. He just turned in his parts of it to the editor and now the fitting together must commence. But after this book, I am looking forward to it. Unlike after the first book where I really questioned if I wanted to read this one at all.

To sum up. Good MHI book, lot less bad theology, lot less boinking of chicks and the inclusion of Agent Franks. Good stuff.








Thursday, March 09, 2017

Way of Shadows (Night Angel #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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: The Way of Shadows
 Series: Night Angel #1
 Author: Brent Weeks
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 659
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis: Spoilers

Azoth becomes apprenticed to Durzo Blint and becomes Kyler. Magic, politics, love and death all roll into one super messy ball.

Kyler becomes the possessor of a magic ball that gives him extraordinary powers. And just as he's gaining them, he's forced to kill his master and watch his city fall to invaders. Throw in a prophet, some other magic balls, a complete godking of evil, best friend becoming king and teen love and you have this story in a nutshell.

Oh, don't forget the violence. Lots and lots and lots of violence.




My Thoughts: Spoilers

I had forgotten just how brutal this book was. It was heart wrenching to see everything falling apart for Kyler. Yes, he's successful in apprenticing under Blint, but by the end of the book, all Kyler has is his life and the life of the girl he loves. He sees, and we experience, everything else going to the pit. Friends? Dead, killed, imprisoned. Mentors? Poisoned, paupered, destroyed. It is all torn away.

The book ends on a slightly hopeful note, as the city nobles and craftsmen flee and destroy everything to deny it to the invaders. Kyler is alive, even though he died. The legend of the Night Angel has taken seed and the invaders know “something” walks the shadows. The prophet has set things in motion to stop the godking from total domination. The War has Started.

The writing definitely shows that this is Weeks' first book and is not nearly as polished as his Lightbringer series. Nothing stood out as wrong, but some things weren't just as “right” as they could have been.

To end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book again and both cheered and groaned at the triumphs and tragedies woven throughout this story.




 



Tuesday, March 07, 2017

An Empire Asunder (Scourwind Legacy #2)


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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: An Empire Asunder
 Series: Scourwind Legacy #2
 Author: Evan Currie
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 334
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

The Scourwind Twins have saved the Empire from being taken over but it is civil war. Lydia is doing her best to rule and Brennan is growing into his new role as cadreman and warrior.

Corian, exhibiting signs of madness, begins Operation Godstrike, all the while vaguely hinting about some unknown threat that apparently nobody but him is aware of or prepared to do something about.

It is strike and counter-strike as the Imperial forces clash against the Alliance forces. Throw in Mira Delsol, former cadrewoman turned Pirate and you have some serious action.




My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, Currie is hitting all the right buttons with this series for me. I enjoyed my time reading this above and beyond the normal. That is not to say I think this is going to be a SF classic or that it will wow you. In fact, I suspect most people looking on would give it 3-3.5 stars.

For me though, it has this: a coming of age story without angst and whines. No crap about “romance” and “feelings” taking precedence over your duty and responsibility. You are a Scourwind and you run the Empire, you don't whine like a baby. A young lady becoming an Empress. Sure, she might write in her journal, but we the readers aren't subjected to that or every bloody thought in her head. The story gets told. A young man becoming an elite warrior in the shadow of his dead older brother. He's not some tortured, broken individual who just needs the love of the “right woman” to “fix” him. Neither of these Scourwinds are BROKEN and Currie doesn't fall into the trap of making the story about “fixing” them. Grrrrrr, you don't “fix” people. That pisses me off and I hate that in a story. And there is NONE of that, not even a hint, in these books and I really like that.

The other thing I really liked was the continuing glimpse of the world. With the new ship, Delsol is able to go atmospheric and realizes that humanity is in a box. It is obvious that Corian knows a lot more about the whole situation but in his arrogance thinks he's the only one capable of facing the situation, whatever it may be. We the readers aren't privy to it.

Currie's writing is improving with each book and while his earlier books were pretty rough around the edges, I am glad I started reading him. I was really enjoying his Odyssey One series and I have the next book of that on tap, but I really hope he sticks with this series for a bit and finishes things up before becoming too distracted with other series, old or new.

Finally, I like the covers. They are a huge step up from the first couple of books that had very obvious amateur covers desperately trying NOT to look like amateur covers. These books have the kind of covers that I want in hardcover on my shelves just because I like how they look. Sadly, that is not an option and I'm not going to change my “no paperback” rule for Currie. He hasn't reached that status, yet. Chris McGrath is the artist and here's a small list of some other covers he's done:

  • Aeronauts Windlass
  • Star Wars: Kenobi
  • Alloy of Law
  • Daughter of the Sword (I broke my “no paperback” rule for Steve Bein. Love his books that much)
  • Dresden: Changes

I didn't do a Cover Love in my February Roundup, but for March's Roundup, this one is definitely going to be a contender.










Monday, March 06, 2017

Then Came the Showdown! (Eyeshield 21 #23) (Manga Monday)


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,, Booklikes & Librarything and links at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Then Came the Showdown!
 Series: Eyeshield 21 #23
 Author: Riichiro Inagaki 
Artist: Yusuke Murata 
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Genre: Sports Manga
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Scan





Synopsis:

The Devil Bats win against the Naga, at great physical cost to each player. Then we follow the other 3 games of the day and watch new teams and new techniques come to light.

The volume concludes with the Devil Bats taking a day off to rest,but they all end up at the clubhouse anyway, so obviously Hiruma uses that time to get some stuff in. The next battle is agains the White Knights and as things stand, the Devil Bats do not stand a chance against them.



My Thoughts:

After having drawn out the game against the Naga for 3 volumes, the last 4 seconds of the game, and the win, felt rather anti-climactic. It did come down to a battle between Hiruma and Agon and Hiruma's year of practice and 1/10th of a second paid dividends. Agon ate dirt and I was pretty happy. He was a scumbag and I wished he'd been broken instead of just beaten in the game. I wanted his soul crushed, his spirit destroyed, his very will to live extinguished. As you can tell, I didn't like him.

The short little episodes showing the highlights of the games by other teams just didn't work for me either. After a 3 book game, it felt very rushed and like it was a scheme for getting info to the readers without telling a good story. I know that Sena/Eyeshield 21 and the Devil Bats are the main characters, but for goodness sake, a little balance wouldn't hurt things.

There was nothing wrong with this volume at all beyond the imbalance, but it was noticable enough for me to ding a star off.












Sunday, March 05, 2017

Night of Knives (Malazan Empire #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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Night of Knives
 Series: Malazan Empire #1
 Author: Ian Esslemont
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 308
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis: Spoilers

On the night of a Shadow Moon, when the division between our world and the world of the Warrens thins, Kriska and Temper have an adventure.

Kriska is a young thief who wants to join the Claws and get off of Malaz Isle. But nobody takes her seriously and even her aunt wants her to stay inside this night. Getting caught up in the battle between Kelenved & Dancer and Surly. Also involved in the mix is Tayschren, master mage, Surly's cadre of Claws and a group of cultists dedicated to Kelenved as a god. Kriska has to survive the night and all the terrors it holds.

Then we have Temper, a former soldier of the Malazan Army who has deserted. The desertion saved his life, as he was one of the Shields of the Swords, a might warrior protecting Dassem Ultor, the First Sword of the Malazan Empire, the mightiest warrior alive. The problem was, Surly doesn't want heros in her army and she has begun to purge them. Temper runs to Malaz Isle to become a lowly guardsman to survive. But others know his secret and on this night of Shadow Moon, Temper will be used once again, just as he was before.




My Thoughts:

Man, I had forgotten, or never realized, just how much foundational information Esslemont packs into this book. There is a lot about Dassem that I didn't realize was important but will definitely impact my read of future Malazan Book of the Fallen books. Chronologically this comes before Gardens of the Moon but I wouldn't recommend reading it before unless you're doing a re-read of everything Malaz.

There are some great battles here. Hounds of Shadows everywhere, monsters springing out of various Warrens, magical assassins fighting magical cultists, a hidden group of people trying to protect the whole Isle from some underwater threat, it all weaves together into one night of blood the likes of which the Isle has not seen in ages.

This was a short book, clocking in just over 300 pages. For a Malaz book, that is practically a short story. But as I was reading, it was dense. It had so much packed in that I felt like I had read a 500 page book by the end. I didn't mind that feeling at all, but others might and it is something to keep in mind if you decide to delve into this universe.

One downside, which is typical of the Malaz books, is that there are no real answers to any of your questions. Inferences, asides, round about explanations of Subject X which reveals bits about Subject Y. Nothing direct, nothing concrete. It is building a bridge in your mind. Esslemont gives us the materials and a rough architectural plan but it is up to us, the readers, to actually build the bridge and succeed or fail on our own. Some will see that as a weakness and others as a strength of the writing. I'm ok with it but have to admit, I'd prefer a bit more concrete facts baldly stated. Oh well, I'm not going to get it and neither will anyone who reads these books.









Saturday, March 04, 2017

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy #1)


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Title: Out of the Silent Planet
Series: Space Trilogy #1
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 241
Format: Digital Edition 
 





Synopsis: Spoilers

Professor Ransom, taking a long sabbatical from work, is walking about England for the sheer heck of it. He gets involved in a situation with a former classmate and ends up being kidnapped and taken to another planet as a human sacrifice. He escapes and begins to learn a little bit about this new [to him] world, Malacandra and eventually comes before the ruler of the world to face his kidnappers and learn what fate awaits him.

The postscript, or Epilogue, takes a slightly different tone and is from the viewpoint of Lewis, who has been hired by Ransom to tell his story. Lewis learns that Ransom is not a balmy old bat but a man with some seriously influential spiritual friends. Ends with Ransom being prepared for some sort of mission.




My Thoughts:

This Space Trilogy has a story associated with it for me, so please bear with me as I meanderingly make my way to the actual review. When I was in 3rd grade, our school had a book fair and in one of the “big kids” booths was this paperback trilogy in a nice slipcase:



Not the best picture, but shows the colors and the picture that just drew me in. The books themselves are light blue, orangey'-red and then a darker blue. For whatever reason, when I saw this set, for $8, my 3rd grade self knew that I would DIE if I couldn't own these. My father lent me the money [where he got it, I have no idea, as we were literally dirt poor] and thus I became the proud owner. I manfully struggled through the first book, understanding it was about a man going to another planet. I simply read, without comprehending a thing, the second book and the size of the 3rd one kept me from even trying it. It wasn't until years later in highschool that I revisited these and “understood” what I was reading. But I will always associate these books with that feeling of OWNING my first Grown Up books.

Onward!

I really enjoyed this read. The main reason for it being a 3.5star read has more to do with comparison than a lack in the book itself. I read this primarily as a Science Fiction book and not as a theological one wrapped in an SFF wrapper. In that regards, there are a lot of better written, more enjoyable, more fleshed out books out there.

The other thing that dragged it down a bit for me was the epilogue with Lewis and from Lewis's point of view. It was supposed to be fearful, unsure and unconvinced, but I didn't like that change of tone from Ransom's earlier in the book. Maybe I'm just so mired in the mundane that I have lost any fear, in the right sense of the word, of the spiritual world and Lewis's account just made me uncomfortable with the reality?

I did find it interesting to see how Lewis dealt with the very idea of “aliens”. I also realized just how deeply formed my views on life and how humans interact with the universe have been shaped by this book. As a Christian I'm not convinced God has created other lifeforms beyond angels and humans but if He has, I can totally buy into Lewis's idea of a Quarantine around Earth because of the Fall of Man starting with Adam and Eve. I suspect that a lot of the conclusions that I've come to on my own about alien life are, in fact, the workings out of my initial reading of this book back in 3rd grade.

The next book, Perelandra, is a very different beast, so we'll see how my read of that goes. I suspect I'll be looking at much more from the theological and philosophical than just the SF angle.