Monday, May 29, 2017

Shadow's Edge (Night Angel #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission  
 Title: Shadow's Edge
 Series: Night Angel #2
 Author: Brent Weeks
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 645
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Kylar has sworn to give up killing to live in peace with Elene. They move to another city and Kylar begins life as an apothecary. But his hunger for justice causes him to go out each night, and while not killing, he does distribute justice to lowlifes and criminals.

All of that changes when his best friend Jarl, now the Shinga of Kylar's former city-home, comes begging for him to do one last job: Kill the godking. Unfortunately, another wetboy, Viv (who's a girl) is on the job to kill Jarl for the godking. Kylar watches his best friend die before his eyes. To make matters worse, Kylar must leave Elene (who he was going to ask to marry him the next day), for good. Because killing the godking is a one way job. He won't be returning from it.

He ends up hooking up with Viv through an incredible amount of circumstance twisting and they decide to work together to kill the godking. Turns out Viv is the godking's daughter and he has a magical hold of her. Kylar and Viv overcome through the magic of love (or at least, bonding magic) and everything is hunky dory.

Except Elene is kidnapped, Kylar can never be with her, he is magically bonded to a woman who killed his best friend, most of Kylar's friends and acquaintances are dead by the godking's hands and yet another city-state is waiting on the border to take over. And Kylar still doesn't know the cost of him coming back to life each time. He should really find out, you know?




My Thoughts:

Man, I plowed through this in 2 days, or just a little less really. I started Friday evening (hence my post A Small Selection) and was done by 10am Sunday morning. It was not a “I have to get through this, so man up, soldier and start marching” kind of drive. I just couldn't stop reading. Even while I knew roughly what was going to happen because this was a re-read.

The main downside to this book was that I had just read Return of the Crimson Guard and that book, while leaving me somewhat frustrated, also awed me with its depth, amount of plot threads being woven simultaneously and the battle scenes. Sadly, Weeks did not, really could not, compare. His writing was not bad, it was good in fact but it just wasn't AS GOOD. When you read two Epic Fantasy Books almost back to back, comparisons are going to happen whether you want them to or not. So read this after reading something by Michael Crichton or Modesitt and everything will be just fine.

For the record, I rated this higher than Crimson Guard. I enjoyed it more.

The biggest upside was a scene where Weeks totally riffs on Star Wars. As I stated, Viv is the godking's daughter. She's been developing feelings for Kylar during their stint together. Then, during one of the climactic clashes between the 2 wetboys and the godking, the godking lets it out that he's also Kylar's father. So a total Leia and Luke scenario. But it gets better. The godking then hollers out, “Just kidding!” I just about died laughing. Even now, while I'm typing this up, it still makes me laugh. And if you don't get the Star Wars reference, you'll lose nothing from the story. It just won't be as rich.

Like I mentioned in my Small Selection post, the violence here is pretty intense. Thankfully, it is not glamourized, but Weeks doesn't hold back in the slightest. Also the profanity is at the same level and of the same style as in Book 1. It's very anachronistic, besides being unnecessary.

There is another whole storyline revolving around Logan, the rightful King, that I'm not going to touch on.This is a 2 weave story and his is the second. It's pretty much about what a good man will do to survive and not cross the line into becoming a villain.

This book was just as good as when I read it in '09 and the trilogy as a whole is holding up as well.
*double thumbs up*

★★★★ ½



Downtown, Wing and a Prayer (Spiderman 2099 #6, 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 by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission  
Title: Downtown, Wing and a Prayer
Series: Spiderman 2099 #6, 7 
Author: Peter David 
Artist: Rick Leonardi 
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars 
Genre: Comics 
Pages: 45 
Format: Digital Scan


 





Synopsis:

Miggy survives his fall into “down town” with the aid of an anonymous doctor and immediately proceeds to act like an ass. He goes off before being fully healed or even knowing where he is. The Public Eye, under direct orders [yet again] from Stone, is looking for him to capture him. They find him but he is swept away by some guy who is the leader of the Freaks, a guy with metal wings and who can fly. Vulture 2099. Vulture wants Miggy to join him in his fight against the other gangs. Miggy refuses and runs off. A flying battle ensues.

At the same time, Miggy's brother Gabe heads downtown to look for Miggy, survives a mugging and ends up with a gun. While waiting outside his girlfriend's apartment, someone grabs his shoulder and he shoots without looking. The volume ends with it being a woman he apparently knows lying in a puddle of blood. 
 


My Thoughts:

Frenetic is the word to describe the pace here. Miguel continues his boneheaded and impulsive behavior and just reacts. It certainly allows for fights and action scenes to naturally flow because anyone with half a brain would think and then avoid the fights. Comics, sigh.


Stone, the apparent villain, has a conversation with the CEO of Stark-Fujikawa and that guy knows that Stone used the Specialist for his own purposes and warns Stone that he won't forget that.

Vulture 2099 is introduced, but since I didn't really know anything about him in the 90's, I can't compare. He appears to be a man who has been experimented on, hence giving him his abilities, but those experiments also seem to have left him mentally disturbed. He's a bloody cannibal for goodness sake. I guess we'll see if he develops as a real villain or just a caricature of the character from the past.

I probably could have read the next issue right away, as it's a continuation of this story arc, but I couldn't take any more of Miggy or the “practically on speed” pace of things.

★★★☆☆




Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rough 'n' Tumble (Eyeshield 21 #26) ★★★★ 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: Rough 'n' Tumble
 Series: Eyeshield 21 #26
 Author: Riichiro Inagaki 
Artist: Yusuke Murata
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Sports Manga
 Pages: 200
 Format: Digital Scan





Synopsis:

The game between the Devil Bats and the White Knights continues. Each team feeds off the other and individual players keep increasing the tempo of the game as a whole. This volume is mainly about the battles between Shin & Sena and Monta & Sakuraba.

The Kantou League President shows up to watch the game and it's Monta's old baseball Idol, which of course whips him into a frenzy.

The volume ends at the 3minute mark with the Devil Bats at 29 and the White Knights at 34.



My Thoughts:

In the previous volume, Perfect Players, Shin crushed everyone and anything in his way. This time, both Sena and Monta return the favor and simply go around, over and past anything the White Knights throw up as defensive measures.

The Shonen Influence is very visible, with each possession practically being a martial arts fight in spirit. Murata, the artist, does a fantastic job of showing the fighting spirit on the players faces and in their stances and actions. He made me feel like I was actually witnessing a battle between 2 armies. It was fantastic!

Even while this game is being written across multiple volumes, it hasn't felt dragged out. That was my biggest concern going into this game, that things would be boringly stretched out and I'd lose interest. That has not happened, not even close. I cannot wait to see how this concludes because it feels like it is going to be epic!

On a side note, I believe I have found a good way to manage my manga reading without burning out. I've simply added an empty “Manga” collection on my kindle. Every time it goes down the list and reaches the 6th position [I have 25 collections], I simply read another volume on my tablet and move the Manga Collection up to the 1st position. Rinse and repeat. It keeps my manga reading synchonized with my other readings, allows some time between volumes and prevents me from feeling pressured that I have to read a volume on a certain date. For whatever reason, I don't feel the pressure if it's just part of the collection list. Part of that is that my reading of it isn't tied down to a date or day, but simply to when I get to it. Isn't it odd how the mind works? But I'm glad I've found a solution, because I LIKE reading manga and that last burn out kind of scared me. I've got too much manga still to read to burn out, you know? *grin*

★★★★ ½ 

 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Return of the Crimson Guard (Malazan Empire #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: Return of the Crimson Guard
 Series: Malazan Empire #2
 Author: Ian Esslemont
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 732
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

I believe I counted Double Digit story threads going on, so I'm going to simply mention the overall highlights/plots.

The Crimson Guard vowed to fight the Malazan Empire and the Duke K'Azz was their leader. Due to the nature of their vow, the “Avowed” [the Guards who actually took the vow] cannot die of old age and are becoming superhuman. Once they do die, their ghosts stick around and act as messengers. The Guard was scattered after one particular encounter with the Malazans. Now they are beginning to come back together. The Duke is missing, so the next in command, Skinner, has taken command. But he's apparently in thrall to the Broken God and so has his own agenda that subverts the Guards Vow. The Guard is split between those who follow Skinner and those who remain faithful to the original intent of the Vow.

This is all happening because various commanders and top dogs from the Malazan empire are sick of Laseen's rule and are pulling away and allying themselves with local nationals. A splintering of the Empire that Kellenved began. Laseen comes to the continent with all the hosts she can muster to oppose the nationals. The Guard uses this to plan an attack on her to wipe her out. A phracking huge battle ensues.

A mad mage ends up opening a gate to Chaos and everybody comes together [sing it with me!] to stop him before the whole world is consumed. Laseen dies and Mallick Rel, introduced in Deadhouse Gates, becomes emperor. Treaties and peace negotians ensue and everyone is properly maudlin.




My Thoughts:

That synopsis was the shortest I could make it, honest.

This takes place several books later, chronologically, in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Erikson. However, characters from it, specifically, Mallick Rel, Korbolo Dom, Nil & Nether and even the reborn Coltaine, were relatively fresh in my mind from my read of Deadhouse Gates. That made connections MUCH easier to remember. Sadly, the reborn Coltaine gets just a couple of paragraphs before being sent back into literary oblivion.

Lets deal with my gripes first.

Once again, the deliberate with-holding of information about who a character is from the reader. It is not as simple as not telling us, but in several cases characters are thinking/talking about Mysterious Character X and it goes something like this:

No, it couldn't be. He's dead!”
A veiled glance from Mystery Character X to the character talking...
It IS him!”
Mystery Character X nods and walks away into the distance. Talking character is left in jaw dropping awe.

That makes me want to scream. It makes me feel like Esslemont is dancing in front of me going “Nyah, nyah, nyah! I know something you don't know!” It is frustrating and probably my biggest gripe with both Esslemont and Erikson. They seem to revel in spitting in my face with hidden knowledge. Since this whole series is a re-read, I know this will keep on happening. But I don't have to like it and I don't.

On to the good stuff.

If you want complex plots filled with political, personal, religious and psychological threads, this is the schizzle. Like I said in the Synopsis, double digit threads being woven. Pay attention or you'll get lost. Near the end, I DID get lost. Who was fighting who against who all became tangled up as new threats emerged and groups split and groups came together. Because there were Malazans on almost every side, it wasn't even a Malazan Against Others story. It was a big messy group dynamics story.

I couldn't race through this. I am finding that I need to slow down my reading to appreciate what I am reading at the moment instead of thinking about what I'm going to read next. This book was like walking through a mucky swamp; each step was an effort and you had to look right in front of you without looking at those distant mountains or you'd fall into a pit and never get out.

The munitions group, that coalesces around a Sergeant Jumpy is great. It made me laugh. It was a much needed comedic break because almost all the other story lines are of the Grimmest, Darkest Import. Everything else is weighed down by its own Self Importance. Just how they act and think is fun and I wish there had been a touch or two more of them.

Overall, I am satisfied with this re-read.
I had a lot more to say about this book this time around than I did back in '10. Probably getting a bit garrulous in my declining years.

★★★★☆




Thursday, May 25, 2017

Perelandra (Space Trilogy #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Perelandra
 Series: Space Trilogy #2
 Author: C.S. Lewis
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 322
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Ransom is sent to Venus. There he meets the mother of Venus. She is unfallen and most ideas are new to her even while she is wise. It turns out that Weston has been sent to Venus as well, to be the updated snake in the garden. He is possessed by a malevolent evil, a servant of the broken Oyarsa of Earth.

It is a fight for the future of a whole new race and the continuation of the war for Earth.





My Thoughts:

Sadly, while I liked the Ideas presented here, Lewis does a LOT of sight seeing and I hate sight seeing. I hate traveling too. So this didn't work for me on so many levels. I had slight disagreements on some of the theology, but nothing that would make me dislike this book. It was just boring.

It has been just over 10 years since I last read this and you know what? My review from '06 is more than adequate. I wish I had a more words, but I pretty much used up my story of this trilogy when I wrote my review for Out of the Silent Planet.

If you are interested in wondering what a Post-Christ's Sacrifice universe might be like, this book definitely speculates and gives you a foundation from which to ask your own questions.

I don't know whether to recommend this book or not.

★★★½☆




Friday, May 19, 2017

The Twelfth Imam ★★★☆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 Twelfth Imam
 Series: ------
 Author: Joel Rosenberg
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Christian Thiller
 Pages: 501
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Iran gets the Nuke. And at the same time, the fabled Twelfth Imam appears and begins working miracles. His goal is an Islamic Caliphate. That is The End.

We work up to that by following a young man affected by September 11 who vows to become a CIA agent so he can catch and bring to justice Bin Laden. At the same time we follow another young man, an Iranian, who is a genius and meets incarnations of the Iman through his growing up years, all in preparation to control a military nuclear weapon and the facilities needed to create such a thing.

Lots of clandestine'y things, very spy novel. Then BAM, the 12th Imam appears to the leader of Iran, takes over, takes over Saudi Arabia and threatens the world with 10 nuclear weapons if they don't let him do what he wants. But at the same time he's appearing all over the Middle East healing people and performing miracles.

Several of the characters meet Jesus and begin to realize that the 12th Imam is an agent of the devil, hence his power AND his threats.



My Thoughts:

I don't read many spy thrillers, so when I do read one, it's all brand new territory for me and I don't have any experience to rely on. I enjoyed this book. There was a lot of character creation going on and this time around it worked for me. Sometimes that type of thing bores me, but not this time.

From a Christian perspective, and certainly from a 7th Day Adventist perspective, this fits right in to End Times theology. Adventists believe [in very broad terms here] that in the Last Days, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims will all unite into one Feel Good, Love Everybody group that will deny, by their uniting, the Divinity & Authority of Jesus Christ and the Unalloyed Sovereignty of God [Jesus will be a Good Man and the Pope will be God's Voice, with all of His Authority, on Earth]. The particulars of this book are a bit out of date, as Bin Laden is wormfood. However, considering that I just read an article about the Lutherans and the Catholics trying to make nicey-nice and claiming Luther just “misunderstood” a few things 500 years ago and that there is a concerted effort to create harmony between the major Theistic religions [I've heard it called “ChrIslam”], I hesitate to call such views crackpot theories any more.

The ending was COMPLETELY open ended, but any other way would bog itself down in specific End Times theories. Those things can get messy and very ugly, very quickly. I'm just as happy he didn't try to write out his pet theory, as I probably would have disagreed and then ended the book on a sour note.

Rosenberg includes a lot of quotes from the Qu'ran but without a lot of context, I am hesitant to place very much weight on them. Kind of like those Hollywood movies where the Evil Cult Leader quotes 1 Bible verse and suddenly he's the Token Christian representing all of Christianity in the movie even while being the complete antithesis of an actual Christian. But enough was quoted to show that Rosenberg had done some homework and not just googled “Jihad, Qu'ran” and slap dashed in the first thing that came up. What he does quote is very rather damning though.

To end on a completely different note, I've read other books by a “Joel Rosenberg”, which were fantasy books and honestly, not that good. I'd always assumed that THIS Rosenberg was also THAT Rosenberg. However, upon investigation, THIS Rosenberg is Joel “C” Rosenberg and is an American. The OTHER Rosenberg is just plain Joel Rosenberg and he's Canadian.
Score One for America!
Score One for Nationalism!
Score One for Irony! [my dad's Canadian and I was born there]

★★★☆½





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pulse (Chess Team Adventure #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Pulse
 Series: Chess Team Adventure #1
 Author: Jeremy Robinson
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Action/Adventure
 Pages: 335
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Ridley wants to live forever. All he needs to do is find the head of the mythical hydra and turn his science team onto it. When a U.N. Team finds it, Ridley steals it, kills the team and kidnaps one of the scientists. Unfortunately for Ridley, said scientist is the best friend of Jack Sigler

Jack, better known as King, is the head of a super-secret Special Forces group, led by the anonymous Deep Blue. Each member has a Chess piece designation and they are the top of the top and so dark that even a Black Hole looks white compared to them.

The Chess Team swings into action and carnage ensues. Volcanoes blowing up, humans going crazy with super regenerative powers, killer capybara's, a restored Hyda and Hercules. Yes, Hercules. He's real as the hydra. Ridley's Security Group is almost as good as the Chess Team so hopefully between them both, they can take down a creature that is immortal and can regenerate.




My Thoughts:

Why this book hit the spot, I don't know, but my goodness, it was pure action/adventure with a dose of mythicalness that caught my imagination with guns, guts and glory. The closest series that approximates this is Greig Beck's Alex Hunter series. But while that is mediocre and just ok, this was pure awesome.

I know I'm kind of babbling but I'm having a very hard time nailing down why I liked this so much. There were guns, big guns and lots of gun battles. There were human monsters. There were monster monsters. There were dastardly bad guys and super heroic good guys. There was a secret society. And Hercules.

All those things came together in the perfect way. I don't know if future books will affect me the same or if anyone would like this book as much as me, so take all this blathering enthusiasm with a big dose of reality.

Cheers!

★★★★ ½



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lord of the Darkwood (The Tale of Shikanoko #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 & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Lord of the Darkwood
 Series: The Tale of Shikanoko #3
 Author: Lian Hearn
 Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 241
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

After the death of the Autumn Princess, Shikanoko retreats into himself and allows the mask and its magic to envelope him. He is retreating from his humanity and if something doesn't change, he'll become another forest spirit.

The other characters all grow up. Shikanoko's sons all go their separate ways, revelling in the powers that they innately have. Lots of people doing lots of things with the years compressed into paragraphs.




My Thoughts:

Hearn includes a scene, non-graphic, of underage boy on boy sex.

As such, I am done with this series and with Hearn as an author.

★★☆☆☆


Monday, May 15, 2017

Guns of the Dawn ★★★★☆


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: Guns of the Dawn
 Series: ------
 Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 673
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Denland and Lascanne, two countries, allies. Until Denland overthrows its King and begins to make war on Lascanne. Inspired by their King, the people of Lascanne give their all. They sacrifice and sacrifice and things end up with a draft of the women from each household, as all the men have already been taken.

We follow Emily, the middle daughter of a noble family which is now impoverished. A brother-in-law has gone, the only son drafted, food slowly disappearing, bandits appearing, no news from the front. And to make things even better, the man who drove her father to suicide many years ago is in charge of the town. But Emily is a fighter and she does what she can to keep her family together and functioning.

When Emily gets drafted, she is sent to the Front in the swamps. She learns about war, about the leaders of her country and in the process learns a lot about the Denlanders. What she learns shakes the foundations of everything she thought she knew and that knowledge will lead to make a decision that will affect both countries.




My Thoughts:

First, only ONE bug reference. Considering how much time we spend in a swamp, I was expecting a lot more.

If I had any doubts about Tchaikovsky's writing ability [and after 12 books, you'd think I'd have made up my mind. Go figure], this put them to rest. This was really, really, really well written. There were a couple of instances near the beginning of the book where I just didn't like ANY of the characters and I was wondering if I'd have to DNF the book. But what it did was make the characters deeper and fully fleshed out.

Tchaikovsky continues his little fight against authority. If someone is in authority, they're lying bags of excrement and what is Right is actually Wrong. Having read Spiderlight, I saw the whole Denlander/Lascanne thing coming from a mile away. I really hope he doesn't keep this up in future books because it's getting a bit tiresome. Sometimes Right actually is Right. Just accept it.

Emily was a great character to follow. Her romance with Cristain was such a slow burn, it reminded me of an Austen romance. Then when she has feelings for a Warlock, instead of being a love triangle that I hated, I actually liked it. You could totally see this happening in a war. Nothing is clean cut or easy. It's as messy as the mud the soldier wade through day after day. It made sense, it fit with the characters and it never felt forced or drama for drama's sake.

The ending, with Emily having to make a decision about continuing the war against Denland or to put her heroic role away, was great. I didn't know which way she was going to do, whether she would pull the trigger or not, until I read the sentence. Isn't that exactly what we're looking for as readers?

Great book, well written, lots of fun.

★★★★☆ 



Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Perfect Player (Eyeshield 21 #25) ★★★★ 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 Perfect Player
 Series: Eyeshield 21 #25
 Author: Riichiro Inagaki 
 Artist: Yusuke Murata
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Sports Manga
 Pages: 208
 Format: Digital Scan





Synopsis:

The Epic Game we've been waiting for, the Devil Bats versus the Oujou White Knights. Things start at 100% and go up from there. This deals with the first half of the game and Shin just dominates. He blocks, he runs, he moves Kurita, he keeps pace with Sena. He IS the perfect player.

The Devil Bats have 20minutes during half time to figure out a way to stop Shin. With the White Knights leading 13-6, a solution must be come to or the game is already over. Everything now rests on Sena's legs. Will he be strong enough to face Shin down and overcome his rival?



My Thoughts:

Much more enjoyable than the previous book. It is almost sad to see how Shin just crushes everything in his path but watching a player become almost perfect is a joy in itself. It was very revealing when he matched speeds with Sena and Sena's world comes crashing down. He is no longer the fastest player and he's built his identity around that idea.

This volume did not feel drawn out at all and when it ended, with the faceoff between Sena and Shin just beginning in the Second Half, I almost wanted to immediately start Vol. 26 as well. Thankfully, I was able to throttle that desire, as it will lead to manga burnout. But now I will be looking forward to the next volume :-)

★★★★ ½  




Friday, May 12, 2017

Searching for Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #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: Searching for Dragons
 Series: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #2
 Author: Patricia Wrede
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy, Middle-grade
 Pages: 276
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Mendanbar, King of the Enchanted Forest, runs across some wizards who seem to not be quite on the up and up. In his investigation, he comes into contact with Cimorene. Kazul is missing and they both end up going to look for her. Kazul is being held captive by the wizards and it is up to Mendanbar, Cimorene, Morwen the witch, Gipsy Jack and the magician Telemain to free her, vanquish the wizards, restore the deadzones in the Magic Forest, and plan a wedding.

Because when a King meets a Princess and both are rather unconventional, of course they get married! Duh...




My Thoughts:

This story was from Mendenbar's view, as opposed to Cimorenes. It wasn't quite as quirky and the tone was the same, so it didn't have that “newness” factor. I enjoyed my time but whereas Cimorene took charge and kicked butt in the first book, Mendanbar is much more of a passive character, at least in his attitude. Don't get me wrong, he'll kill rock snakes and fight wizards with the best of them, but he just seems to exude “That's nice. Next?” The adventure happened TO him. He didn't take it by the throat and throttle it into submission.

When I originally read this back in '06, I read the whole tetralogy at once and I think that gives a very different flavor than reading these individually a month or 2 apart.

Book 1, Dealing with Dragons, charmed me completely. This just kept me entertained.

★★★★☆




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
 Title: Dune Messiah
 Series: Dune Chronicles #2
 Author: Frank Herbert
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SF
 Pages: 340
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Paul Atreides is Emperor of the Galaxy. His Fremen have swept planets under his rule and nobody can stop him. For Paul can see the future and how do you fight a man who can see THAT? The answer appears to be, very carefully and with layers upon layers of plots.

The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Tleilax and Princess Irulan are all in to bring the downfall of Paul Atreides, who seems to be on the cusp of attaining godhood. They attack his family through Chani. They subvert his Quizarate. They foment rebellion amongst the Naibs who cannot deal with the rapid change of climate on Dune. They tempt Paul himself with the gola of Duncan Idaho, the man who gave his life to save Paul.

And Paul sees this all and knows this all and he doesn't know how to stop seeing the future. He is walking a path of least resistance, the smallest amount of chaos but as the Navigators found out in Dune, that eventually leads to Stagnation. So Paul lets the future happen and hopes that his children can somehow change things.

And as a blind Fremen, he walks out into the desert to die.



My Thoughts:

Some seriously wicked crazy plotting going on here. Not everyone is happy with Emperor Paul. In fact, most of the power groups aren't. We get introduced to the Bene Tleilax, a group/race of people that are, in essence, shapechangers. They can also mimic those they change into. The Bene Gesserit are upset because their little breeding program is off the rails; what's the point of creating a superman if you can't control him? The Spacing Guild, CHOAM and the Landsraad are all pretty put out as Paul exercises supreme authority and they have to do what they're told.

I really liked how Herbert figures out a way to make it possible to blind someone who can see the future. If nothing else in this book impresses you, the fact that Herbert doesn't make Paul unassailable should make you re-read Dune with new eyes.

There was a lot of philosophy talk being thrown around. There was a lot of political machinations going on. This had nuances and creases and folds that were not only not apparent in Dune, but were pretty much unthinkable. Herbert completely throws Paul under the bus because that is the only place he can go.

Alia plays the second biggest role here, in my opinion. She's not quite as powerful as Paul and is constantly trying to catch up to her big brother. That isn't very ominous until you're doing a Re-Read. Then it becomes the scary music in the background. In many ways it seems that Paul does nothing to try to stop her. But that is a “thing” for him. He is hemmed in by prophecy of future sight and so he is so afraid of meddling with others and somehow damaging their free will.

Free will is about having the choice. Not all the choices, not clearly spelled out, not with all the knowledge of the consequences. Free Will means being able to say “yes” or “no” to something. Even while bemoaning the future sight, Paul still had Free Will. He just didn't want to face the consequences of taking a different path and so he didn't.

And so like in our world, one generation of heroes must make way for another.

★★★★ ½






Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Arcadian Genesis (Alex Hunter #0) ★★★☆ 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: Arcadian Genesis
 Series: Alex Hunter #0
 Author: Greig Beck
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SF
 Pages: 79
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

An item is uncovered in Russia. It appears to be a source of unlimited power. The Russians are working on it and discover it is an incubator, not a power source. In the process, they bring on board a scientist, who used to be a Chechnian whose family was killed by the Russians. Said scientist steals the power source and contacts the United States, all to spit in the eye of the country that killed his family. What he doesn't know is that by removing the power source, the creatures inside begin to awake and grow.

Alex Hunter is sent on a mission with a team of HAWC's to recover the scientist. The HAWC's run into a Russian team who are also intent on recovering the scientist. Hunter gets shot in the head, but the bullet first passes through the alien device. In a comatose state, Hunter is prepped for a super soldier project, codenamed Arcadian, that “might” save his life.

Thus begins the legend of Alex Hunter, the Arcadian.




My Thoughts:

I waited to read this prequel for a some time, just because I wasn't sure when it was published, and was too lazy to look it up, and didn't want anything revealed that might impact future books. In all honesty, this would be a good place to start with Alex Hunter, even before Beneath the Dark Ice. Nothing is spoiled and it does a good job of showing exactly how things worked out to make Alex a working Arcadian.

As a short story/novella, this has just the right amount of action, tension and drama. It is on par with the other Alex Hunter books. Not much else to say really.

★★★☆ ½





Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Porcelain: A Memoir (Non-Fiction) ★★★☆ 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: Porcelain: A Memoir
 Series: ------
 Author: Moby
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Autobiography
 Pages: 408
 Format: Digital Edition





Synopsis:

Moby, the music artist, looks back on his life from his late teens until the release of his album, Play, in 1999.




My Thoughts:

I've enjoyed various songs by Moby, as I like the kind of music he puts out. I'm not his greatest fan, nor do I know all his albums or all his songs or anything like that. I'm a casual fan. At best. I knew that one of his songs was the end song for the movie Bourne Identity. I knew that he was a vegetarian [turns out he's vegan] and I knew that he had, at some point, claimed to be a Christian.

Non-fiction is not the genre [notice how I lump it ALL together? That should tell you something] that I like to take long swims in. I prefer to let others have that privilege. But my recent read of Deadhouse Gates really left me needing something very different to get me back in the reading groove. This popped up at the library, I believe, so that is how I ended up reading it.

How do I review a book that is pretty much a journal? There is no plot. Moby goes all over the place even while keeping things very chronological. We might get introduced to Karen in one chapter and then he's with Josephine in the next with no rhyme or reason. This was not an indepth, exhaustive look at Moby's life. It touched on highlights that have apparently stood out to him up until 1999, when things started going his way?

3 things stood out to me. He had a very hard life growing up and overcame being the token poor boy where he lived. Relationally, he needs to grow up and make a commitment to one of the ladies and stop searching for “The One”. Love isn't just a feeling and he chases the feelings, time after time after time. Finally, while he might call himself a Christian, I'd be forced to say he's “spiritual”. He's interested in “God” but it is apparent that while he's read and even studied the Bible, he doesn't think that the God of the Bible is the God he's after. It is sad to see and he even acknowledges his gradual loss of Faith, but he never claims to have had Faith in Jesus Christ. So from my perspective, what has he really lost? A feeling.

This is definitely geared more towards those who are musicians themselves. When he starts talking about “the beatback interwoven with the attack high on his RGB-304” I have no phracking clue what he's talking about, specifically. I can glean that he's doing something musical with one of his instruments. In all honesty, that is enough, but it would have been nice to understand a little more sometimes. I felt like the dumb kid peeking through the window occasionally.

With all of that being said, I still enjoyed this read. I learned more about a guy whose music I like. I jumped the rut of SFF for a day and I learned that I am pretty damned satisfied with my life even if I'm not famous, making 100K a year or sleeping with pornstars. If Moby, whose real name is Richard Melville Hall, writes another memoir about later in his life, I'll be reading it for sure.

★★★☆ ½