Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Architect of Aeons (Count to the Eschaton Sequence #4) ★★★☆ 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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Architect of Aeons
 Series: Count to the Eschaton Sequence #4
 Author: John Wright
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SF
 Pages: 397
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

The Hyades emmissary makes it to earth. Since Montrose and Azarchel were both exiled to the outer limits of the Solar System, they couldn't participate. They do come back, learn that the Hyades simply vacuumed up all the humanity they wanted and sent them to colonize uninhabitable planets.

Earth, the moon and Jupiter are all now planet brains. Montrose and Azarchel go their separate ways, do their separate thing, plot and counterplot until it is time for Rania to return. Passing thousands of years in sleep or otherwise, we see humanity change, morph, mature and just begin to take their place in the larger cosmos.

The book ends right before Rania is supposed to return. So there is at least one more book. Bugger that!



My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this much more than the previous book. The time skips become huge, sometimes 10's of thousands of years. So I just wasn't as invested in the story, hence it made it easier to just coast along.

Honestly, the whole “will Humanity be free or be slaves” thing going on between Montrose and Azarchel is getting a bit boring. You can only upgrade humanity so many times before it loses its “oomph”. And how come Montrose and Azarchel keep being smarter than even living planets? It doesn't make sense, no matter how much Wright starts bringing in “alternate Monument data” and other such rubbish.

This is Empty Calorie Science Fiction. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as you know you are getting that. I was under the impression that this was the final book so I was a bit pissed off when I reached the end and bam, Rania hasn't returned and there was still no resolution. But unlike the previous book, I wasn't bored. So take from that what you will.

★★★☆ ½





Friday, April 21, 2017

The Great Controversy (Non-Fiction) (Audio) ★★★☆☆


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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Great Controversy
 Series: -------
 Author: Ellen White
 Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Non-Fiction
 Pages: Lots of Minutes
 Format: Audio Edition





Synopsis:

A history of the True Church, the Remnant, according to Ellen White. Also goes into the details of the Tribulation and makes plain the prophecies written in Daniel and Revelation about the end of the world and Jesus Christ's Second Coming.



My Thoughts:

I suspect ones' appreciation for this book will vary according to how much weight you put on Ellen White being a prophetess. If you believe that she was, you'll take this book in the spirit in which it was written. Much like the Book of Acts, statements of fact. If you don't believe she was a prophetess, you'll have to dismiss much of this book. And if, like me, you're ambivalent or on the line, there will be lots you agree with and lots you'll dismiss.

I go to an Adventist church and I keep Saturday, the 7th Day, as the Sabbath. I also have no problems with modern day prophets. Revelations makes it clear that there will be 2 final prophets in the end days and layered prophecy about John the Baptist makes it clear that there will be a second “Elijah” to foretell about Christ's second coming.

With all of that being said, I am not convinced that Ellen White was a prophetess with God's authority inspiring her writings. She was a Godly woman who was smart and I don't automatically dismiss her teachings, but much of what she writes can only be accepted if you believe that she had the authority to say it in the first place. Her re-interpretations of the Millerite calculations about the dates in Revelations leave a LOT to be desired [ie, they're vague as all get out. Which is contrary to her claims of having worked it all out. If you can't say when Christ is coming back, don't say you can]

The good side of things is the emphasis on the Sabbath as the Commandment that most of the church has thrown aside. I'm a big Saturday Sabbath keeper, always have been and its just refreshing to hear someone say so without a lot of the flummery that modern protestants use to justify Sunday as the Sabbath [as opposed to the Lord's Day].

I listened to the audio version put out by the Ellen White Estate, which was free at http://ellenwhiteaudio.org/great-controversy/ and narrated by Dennis Berlin. I put it on my phone and listened to and from work. So I'd get little chunks here and there. I started this last September. In another month or two I'll probably download another of White's books and start listening to it as well.

★★★☆☆


Monday, April 17, 2017

Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt #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 & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Dragonfly Falling
 Series: Shadows of the Apt #2
 Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 692
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

The Empire defeats a supposedly unbeatable Ant City with new weapons and we are introduced to the Head Artificer of the Empire. A half breed named Drephos. He takes Totho under his wing and Totho ends up throwing his lot in with the Empire so that he can make what he wants and take the respect he feels he deserves.

The Empire makes an alliance with another Ant City that has a grudge against Collegium. With the city of Tark out of the way, the Vekken can take Collegium. Stenwold must muster the forces of Collegium to throw back this attack.

Cheerwell is captured and escapes. Salma is captured, escapes and begins a guerilla war against the Empire. Tisamon and Tynisia go to the last surviving Mantis stronghold so that Tynisia can earn her Master Swordsman badge.

We are introduced to the Wasp Emperor; a young, insecure man who ends up with a Mosquito kinden as counselor. This Mosquito promises him eternal life if he can get ahold of a certain object of power. A disparate group is sent to Collegium to recover this box and ends with one of the group going off on their own to sell the box to the highest bidder.

Fighting, fighting, fighting!



My Thoughts:

I powered through this. It is just one massive battle scene after another. You get a reprieve, just long enough to catch your breath, before Tchaikovsky throws you head first into another fight. I read the second 50% of the book in one afternoon and I almost felt like gasping when I was done, the battles were so palpable.

We also learn that Magic isn't quite so gone as many of the Apt kinden would like to believe. As long as there are InApt kinden, magic will continue to exist. So far, all the magic I've seen is pretty bad stuff. Taking fears, darkness, rage, hatred and a lust for power and turning them into usable power. There is no Gandalf the Grey kicking around this land. Magic was used for subjugation and that was why the Apt kinden overthrew their masters hundreds of years ago and claimed the land.

The politics of the Empire begins to take a big part of the book as well. It is not nearly as monolithic as presented in the first book. There are political factions as well as Security factions and the Empire has truly gotten big enough that people are beginning to think of taking some of that power for themselves. It makes the Rekef [the Security people of the Empire] a much more scary thing, as we see it begin to fracture and be used for personal power instead of being an Idea.

I am also realizing, on this re-read, that there is no Super Group to win a few battles and turn the tide. This is a battle for survival and very few characters are guaranteed that. Achaeos apparently dies as do boatloads of side characters. Stenwold Makers corp of spies keep getting wiped out and it is brutal to watch. This might be a fantasy series, but it really does show the ugly side of war.

This was just as good a read as the first time back in '10. It just was a bit darker for me.

★★★★☆






Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ride the River (Sacketts #5) ★★★☆ ½



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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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title:         Ride the River
 Series:      Sacketts #5 
Author:    Louis L'Amour 
Rating:     3.5 of 5 Stars 
Genre:     Western 
 Pages:      192
 Format:   Digital Edition 



Synopsis:

Echo Sackett, the youngest descendant of Kin Sackett, must travel to Philadelphia to sign some papers upon which she will get $3000. All is not as it seems through and greed and corruption must run their course.

Echo gets her inheritance, but it is a long way back to the hills of Tennesee and the corrupt lawyer has hired thugs and murderers to get that money back. Being a Sackett, Echo isn't too worried. She knows the land, she has a gun and she has a mission. With a little help from a Chantry [another family associated with the Sacketts], Echo shows that the Sackett blood hasn't thinned one bit. And now that the Sacketts have spread all over [it is 200 years since the last book], Family Loyalty rears its head and when one Sackett is in trouble, the rest come running.


My Thoughts:

I have been waiting for this book for 5 books. This is a Western, Sackett book. Echo is the fiercely determined, independent main character of the story. I really enjoyed reading her story.

Being a woman, L'Amour doesn't have her get into brutal fistfights with some other characters, but that is what the Chantry was for. As well as a possible romantic angle. It all worked pretty well.

The sense of urgency, of running, of having to make it to “home” to be safe, came through loud and clear. Echo might have had a gun and known how to use it, but she couldn't just shoot everyone and lollygag her way home. And since she's the tracker and the shooter, she's the one who must stay safe.
This was what I wanted in a Sackett book. Urgency, guns, chivalry, evil characters, people defending themselves [!!!] and everyone taking responsibility for their actions, good or bad.

I've added the cover of the edition I read, but here are a couple more that have existed through the years. From the redneck hillbilly look to the more modern characterless look, you can really see how the story has changed its face to appeal to the readers. Makes me wonder about us readers through if that first cover really sold the book?



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★★★☆ ½ 
bookstooge

  1. Review of Book 4

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Parched Sea (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Parched Sea
 Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #1
 Author: Troy Denning
 Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 310
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

The Zentarim, followers of the god Cyric, are trying to forge a path through the desert to establish a lock on future trade routes. This “forging” includes the pacification of the tribes of the desert, whether by bribery or coercian, the Zentarim don't particularly care. The tribes must either support the Zentarim or perish tribe by tribe at the hands of the lizard mercenaries hired by the Zentarim.

Into this situation comes Lander, a relatively new Harper. He has been chosen to oversee the situation and do what he can to unite the tribes against the Zentarim. He comes across a lone survivor of one of the tribes, an outcast young woman named Ruha, who has been outcast for her magical powers. Now it is up to these 2 to convince children in the guise of tribesmen to confront a force that only promises riches.

With the help of a god, Ruha and Lander can do it. But the victories that the Harpers win are not without cost, as Lander finds out.




My Thoughts: Spoilers

I've read enough Forgotten Realms books to know when I've hit a good one or a bad one pretty soon from the get go. Unfortunately, this was a typical Troy Denning book, which means it was mediocre pablum, even given the context of the universe he was writing in. So this was not a good book.

The Harpers sub-series is written by enough various authors that I'm not giving up on it just from the first book, but I have to say, this does not bode well.

Lander was not a very engaging main character and when he dies near the end, it was more of a “meh” moment than anything else. Ruha is more of token “woman” than anything even while becoming more central to the story than Lander. For a Harpers novel, they certainly didn't play much of a part. The little bit I did see of them makes me wonder if I'm going to enjoy their adventures or not. They seem to be meddlers and instead of taking direct action, manipulate others to do their work [dirty or otherwise] for them. While they claim to be proponents of freedom, etc, they sure don't act like it.

★★☆☆ ½





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Line of Polity (Polity: Agent Cormac #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Line of Polity
 Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #2
 Author: Neal Asher
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SF
 Pages: 676
 Format: Scanned Digital Edition





Synopsis:

A rogue scientist begins working for the Separatists that Cormac had a runin with in the previous book. Skellor, said rogue scientist, has discovered a stash of Jain technology. Jain tech is forbidden by the Polity and as the book goes on, we learn why. Cormac is sent out after Skellor before he can become catastrophically dangerous.

At the same time, a rebellion is brewing on the planet Masada. Under the control of rigid belief system that is against A.I. Rule, the theocrats have been in communication with the dragon. With predictable results. The Polity gets involved, the dragon gets pissed off and a lot of people are going to die.

When Skellor takes over the Masada system, it appears that things have indeed gone “Catastrophic”. With a whole planet to loot and play with, Skellor has grown into something beyond human and his abilities are just beginning. It is up to Agent Cormac to deal with Skellor, deal with the theocrats and deal with the offspring of the dead dragon: thousands or millions of dracomen.

Thankfully, Cormac is a Prime Agent indeed.




My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this just as much as my previous read in '10. I kept the 4star rating, instead of raising it, because it is evident that Asher is as much a fundamental zealot as I am, but his god is Science and he hates any other belief system. The main difference is that he writes books and interjects that zealotry into his books while I just interject my fundamentalism into small blog posts. So that might not even cross your radar at all.

This is what I like about Asher's Polity books. Monstrous inhumanity preying upon everything. In later books we found out how terrifying Jain tech truly is. Whole stellar civilizations destroyed by it. Here we see it gaining a foothold in humanity's playground. It might not be sentient, but it has a Directive. We are also introduced to some alien species, namely, Gabbleducks and Hooders. Gabbleducks roam the surface of Masada eating whatever and babbling words. Hooders eat everything, are impervious to most weaponry and eat their victims alive and by slowly dissecting them with a whole arsenal of claws, blades, etc.

Another thing I like about the Polity books is the exploration of the bounds of what it means to be alive. One character who died in the last book comes back as a golem, ie, a recording of the brainwaves put into a near-indestructable metal body. He thinks about what it means for him to have gone from human to golem and how that affects things. Even if I disagree with Asher's conclusions, I am fascinated by the questions and how the questions even come about.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this and have no problems recommending this series to anyone looking for a bloody good time. Emphasis on bloody.

★★★★☆






Saturday, April 08, 2017

Death's Legacy (Blood on the Reik #3) (Warhammer) ★★★☆☆


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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Death's Legacy
 Series: Warhammer: Blood on the Reik #3
 Author: Sandy Mitchell
 Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 416
 Format: Scanned Digital Edition





Synopsis: Spoilers

Rudi and Hanna are on the run, yet again. They head to another big city so Hanna can attempt to join another magic college and Rudi can work. Hanna gets turned away, pretty much goes darkside and joins her mother. Rudi gets captured by the witch hunter and imprisoned at a major temple to Sigmar. There he learns his heritage and finds out that his own parents were going to use him as a vessel to hold a demon prince, only the ritual was aborted. Now Rudi has a demon entwined with his own soul.

Now Rudi must work with those who were trying to kill him to free his soul. He must not die or the demon will be freed and destroy the continent. Meanwhile Hanna has joined one of the dark gods and has her own plans for Rudi.

Rudi survives betrayal on all levels and ends up being entombed alive with a ritual that will keep his soul attached to his dead body, thus denying the demon access to it. The book ends with Rudi contemplating the coming hundreds of years as he has to lie in the tomb and moulder away.




My Thoughts: Spoilers

I went and looked up some Wiki info for the Warhammer novels. They have ended and apparently it is because the dark gods win and everything is destroyed in the final series or two. So that is the tone of everything. Even if the good guys can hold off the forces of chaos, it doesn't matter because we the readers know the ultimate end.

This was not a good series to get introduced to the Warhammer universe. The story was good and the ideas were neat, but my goodness, Mitchell's writing was technically correct, but more time was given describing their journey (in which nothing happens by the way) than when things were hopping. Long stretches of boringness that should have been excised from the book by a good editor. VERY pedestrian writing.

I saw Hanna's betrayal coming from book 1, but I did not expect it to take the shape of the game of gods that it did. I was expecting something more personal but this worked pretty good. Hanna wanted Rudi dead to release the demon, which would have been weakened by the priests of Sigmar. Hanna and company would then have swooped in, killed the demon, gotten major kudo power points for killing a demon and that power would have allowed them to take over the temple of Sigmar in the name of their god. Which would have weakened Sigmar and strengthened their god. But reading chapter upon chapter of Rudi doing research while in prison to get to that? Boring. I thought about giving this 2 ½ stars but the ending pulled it up that half star.

Finally, the covers for this trilogy. They've looked really cool. They look like what I want to be reading about in a universe called Warhammer. Scary looking, bad ass beings of power with huge weapons. If the story contained within had only lived up to the bar set by the covers. I feel cheated.

I've got my next Warhammer trilogy that I'm going to read, but I wish I could find someone who could point me to a good beginning point.

★★★☆☆





Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Enemy Within (Omega Force #4) ★★★☆☆


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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Enemy Within
 Series: Omega Force #4
 Author: Joshua Dalzelle
 Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SF
 Pages: 279
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Omega Force has parted ways from their secret covert ops with a small star system government. When violence breaks out across several systems and the Confederacy begins taking over the systems in the name of stability, and Omega Force's liasion is accused of fomenting said rebellions, Captain Burke springs into action.

Rescuing a beautiful starship captain, infiltrating a secret ConFed military prison, hijacking a broken starship destroyer, Jason and Crew are kept rather busy. Of course, when your enemy turns out to be the son of your former patron, things get sticky. Throw in rogue politicians who want an Empire and you have action out the wazoo.

But no worries! Jason Burke, Captain Extaordinaire, is in charge. He gets things done.




My Thoughts:

Not a bad Military Science Fiction story. The writing is as rough as ever, but not quite as blocky in the writing as previous books. I don't know how to describe it any better than that.

The romance here, between Burke and the starship captain, isn't well done. It is there, but it feels as artificial as the writing describing it. I'd probably complain (maybe) if there was NO romance, but honestly, I'd rather do without this in this kind of story. It just shows that Dalzelle has a lot of growing as an author to do before he can write a character based story. Hopefully he'll do that growing.

★★★☆☆





Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Raven in the Foregate (Brother Cadfael #12) ★★★☆☆


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: Raven in the Foregate
 Series: Brother Cadfael #12
 Author: Ellis Peters
 Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Mystery
 Pages: 244
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

A new priest is installed in the town [as opposed to being at the abbey] when the old priest, Father Adam, dies. Where Father Adam was an easy going, accepting man who loved his flock even when they strayed and was friends with all, Father Ailnoth is a whole nother matter.

Moving boundary stones, calling into question whether a man is a freeman or surf, refusing to interrupt his prayers to give last rights to a dying baby and then not allowing it to be buried in the church grounds because it had not been shriven, excommunicating a young woman for her wandering ways, beating the boys who he was supposed to be teaching, Ailnoth has turned the town against him. So when Ailnoth turns up dead, there are more suspects than you can shake Father Ailnoths ebony staff at.

The war between Empress Maude and King Stephen is still going on and their vassals fortunes rise and fall according to how things are going. One young man is on Maude's side and of course gets involved in the death of Father Ailnoth while falling in love with a local girl.

Cadfael solves the mystery. The End.




My Thoughts:

This is book 12 in the series. If you've stuck around this long, this book will not dissuade you from continuing.

I am finding that I am liking the historic aspects of the novel more than the mystery, as it gets boring with somebody “dying” and then solving who/why, etc. I am not a big mystery fan, so it helps keep my interest by showing other things.

I am getting a bit tired of “young man comes to Shrewsbury, gets involved in a murder in some way and escapes with the help of a local lovely and they go off to X to get married”. This young man, Benet, showed some real promise as a Class A Donkey's Head. He was an idiot and I was hoping something terrible would happen to him. Oh well, he wasn't the one responsible for Ailnoth's death and since he's leaving, I'm hoping I won't have to read about him again.

Other than that, this is a Cadfael mystery. He does things in his little herbarium, pokes around the scene of the crime, and solves things.

★★★☆☆