Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monster Hunter Siege (MHI #6) (ARC) ★★★★☆

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: Monster Hunter Siege
 Series: Monster Hunters International #6
 Author: Larry Correia
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Urban Fantasy
 Pages: 399
 Format: Digital Advanced Reading Copy

Synopsis: Super Spoilers!

MHI finds out that a group of Hunters is still alive in the Nightmare Zone, after being sucked in there from the story in Legion. Owen has the prophecy talk with his Dad, finds out he has been chosen to fight a World Ending Being that can hold its own against the Old Ones.

Coincidentally enough, the rescue mission that Own wants to run to get the survivors will take them right to the Big Bad Guy. So there is a lot of getting ready, figuring out how they're going to survive the Zone and how their going to get back to the portal.

The push to get to the portal is pretty intense. Multiple Hunter Companies are taking part and it is on a Russian island. They bring a tank. Only Owen gets through the portal, as his Chosen One status is a bit better than Anakin's and he rescues his comrades. Only to be captured and frozen in the ground for 6 months.

He escapes back to our world only to find that the Big Baddie has escaped and is on the loose. And his newborn son is missing.

My Thoughts: Spoilers x5

This was an e-arc, so any errors in words, grammar, etc in the book were ignored. But by gum, reading this early was worth it.

The previous book in the series, Nemesis, really blew me away, So my expectations were pretty high. I KNEW my expectations were high and looked over my previous MHI reviews to help ground me. It was good that I did. I ended up enjoying this quite a bit and I wasn't disappointed because it wasn't Nemesis 2.0.

There was a lot of setup to this story. There had to be. It was 6months to a year I think? Lots of logistics, training Hunters to work together who just 3 months ago were competitors, at best, and enemies, at worst. Throw in the multiple languages, the fact that the portal to the Nightmare Zone is on a Russian island and the Russkies don't want to admit that the island even exists and you'd better have some solid planning under your belt.

I like reading about Owen. He's not a slimeball like the guy in Monster Hunter Memoirs and he's someone I like reading about. One of the reasons I like him is because he's everything I am not. He's big, he's tall, he's emotionally stable and doesn't go into a tailspin if his wife doesn't text him, he's a leader and he's wicked good with guns. Reading these books, for a couple of hours I can be somebody who I want to be.

The invasion of the island was tops. Skippy the orc flying a helicopter is always amusing to read about. A tank versus a giant was wicked cool and 100+ hunters in armoured jeeps versus a whole island of monsters, well, that is just what I want to read about.

When Owen goes into the Nightmare Zone by himself, the action didn't slow down very much. He's on the run from the Big Baddies' lackeys the whole time and it turns out that the guys he needs to rescue have been taken by a High Hunt of Fey. He singlehandedly invades their castle, frees his men and then stays back to fight the leader of the Hunt so his men can escape. A 6'5”, 300 pound man versus a 7ft tall nigh indestructible warrior? Yes please! And it is a fantastic one on one fight.

Only to be interrupted by the Big Baddie. Who has been using Owen the whole time for his own ends. So the book ends with the Big Baddie out in the world and Owen's wife and son unreachable. That kind of catch fits exactly with the previous MHI books. The main story wraps up and then Correia throws out a hook so you'll read the next book. It's worked well enough on me that I don't even mind anymore. But it is something to be aware of.

Another solid entry into the Monster Hunters International series. Good stuff.

However, that cover. I am not a fan of sexual fan service. That cover is nothing but sexual fan service. Ignore the cover, seriously.

The links below, to previous books, are probably just as spoiler'y as this. Just so you know.


Friday, July 28, 2017

The Hermit of Eyton Forest (Brother Cadfael #14) ★★★☆☆

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 Hermit of Eyton Forest
 Series: Brother Cadfael #14
 Author: Ellis Peters
 Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Mystery
 Pages: 240
 Format: Digital Edition


A young novitiate's father dies. His grandmother wants him to come home so he can marry a neighbor's daughter so the grandmother can rule all. However, the father's wishes were for him to stay at the Abbey and learn until he reached his majority.

At the same time, a saintly hermit and his young assistant move into an abandoned hermitage. A landowner comes looking for his runaway serf and is murdered. The young heir also goes missing. All of this is happening while the war between Stephen and Maude continues apace.

Cadfael must put the pieces of this puzzle together while making sure that justice is served and mercy has its place.

My Thoughts:

Cadfael was almost a background character here. It was more about the hermit's assistant than anything else. And his story was all about “young love” conquering all. It kind of made me roll my eyes. I guess I'm getting too old and cynical.

I still enjoyed the overall story but I'm not sure that Cadfael tagging along while everyone else does the actual work makes this a Brother Cadfael Mystery. However nothing here is going to stop anyone from continuing this series. If you've stuck around this long, you'll keep on sticking around. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to complain like a son of a monkey about the tenuous link.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

All Darkness Met (The Dread Empire: A Cruel Wind #3) ★★★☆ 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: All Darkness Met
 Series: The Dread Empire: A Cruel Wind #3
 Author: Glen Cook
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 341
 Format: Digital Edition


The Star Rider is not some half witted old kindly wizard who pats people on the head. It turns out he is a master manipulator in thrall to some unknown forces. HE is the agent behind the wars down through the years and it is time for war between the Dread Empire and the Western Nations.

The barbarian war general from the previous book, Ragnarson, ends up being the regent when his wife dies and the queen, who he has been shagging on the side, dies in childbirth. He must fight overwhelming odds, traitors, unstable magic and his own friends trying to kill him.

We also get a brief history of O-Shin, the super powerful magician who is currently “ruling” the Dread Empire. He manages to stay alive and prevent total war until he is killed by accident by someone who is looking for their missing friend.

A running battle is fought, both magical and mundane, and millions of people die. The Dread Empire is pushed back, not defeated and the Star Rider continues his game of war for his unknown reasons.

My Thoughts:

Ragnarson was the main character and he's just a jerk. Cheating on his wife just doesn't work for me.

One thing that dragged this down for me was Mocker's kidnapping, torture, brain washing and eventual death. He was a character that I actually liked and it felt so wrong for him to go down the path he did. It also made me realize just how nasty magic is. Mocker was compelled to try to kill Ragnarson, his best friend. His free will was negated and he had no choice. I can't stand that. Even with being a Christian and acknowledging God's Sovereign Will, I still am a champion of Free Will. That's why I like Neal Asher as an author, because he and I have extremely different ideas on what Free Will actually is. But anyway. Mocker is killed by Ragnarson when Mocker tries to assassinate him. It was just so wrong.

The battles were fantastic. Bloody, tense, uncertain. No side had all the dibs on getting things right. Somebody always messed up and cost countless lives each time. There was no Chosen One, there was no Victory except complete and utter annihilation of the other side and that didn't happen because of that wretched Star Rider.

The revelations that he is being punished, in thrall or something to higher powers opens up whole new potential vistas for plot lines. Or it might just be a line that Cook threw in and never visits again. If Mocker can die, then I'm convinced that ANYTHING can happen, however bad, good or stupid it may be.

The confusion I felt in the second book was gone. Lots of references to the previous books helped ground me and kept me from being swept out to sea. I think that fact alone is what raised this up half star, even with Mocker's demise. I liked Mocker, which is why I keep going on about him.Not sure who I can like in any future books. Of course, Cook might skip a generation or 10 and bring up a whole new cast. I guess I'll find out when I read the next book in a month or two.

★★★☆ ½

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Shadow Roads (Swan's War #3) ★★★★ 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 Shadow Roads
 Series: Swan's War #3
 Author: Sean Russell
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 464
 Format: Digital Edition


Hafyyd, having made his deal with Death, now faces Alaan and Elise and unleashes his fury. He wants to deliver his father, Wyrr, who is sleeping in the river, into Death's hands. The other two thwart him in that and so Hafyyd returns to the normal land and begins his conquest.

Tam is given an arrow with a magical jeweled head and instructed to shoot Hafyyd in the eye and that that will kill him. This is accomplished and the Rennes and the Wills start trying to figure out a way to have peace between their families. The most promising way looks to be through intermarriage of Lord Caral and Lady Lynn.

It turns out that everything was precipitated by a magical Black Swan who fell in love with Tusival, Hafyyd, Sainth and Sianon's grandfather. She had 3 children by Tusival, 2 sons (Wyrr and Aillyn) and one daughter. The daughter was taken by Death in a bid to to gain the Swan's Love. That lead to Wyrr and Aillyn walling Death up which further led to the Swan trying to gain her daughter back by any means necessary, including selling out Tusival, her sons and her grandchildren.

With Hafyyd dead, Alaan begins researching the spell to wall Death in and to strengthen it. Elise retires to a small island on the river to watch over 2 children who have been possessed by Wyrr and the Swan's dead daughter but who now are their own. Tam, Baore and Fynnol return north.

My Thoughts:

A lot gets packed into this book. First book deals with the Rennes and the Wills and the introduction of the Children of Wyrr. Second book introduces Wyrr and Aillyn and now in this book we deal with Death incarnate and everybody's magical Grandmother. It went wicked deep into Fairytale territory.

Russell's style of writing took some mental adjustment on my part. I couldn't race through. I had to read at the pace he set. It was this way with each book and yet each time it came as a surprise.

I think my only gripe is that the 3 young men from the North, Tam, Baore and Fynnol, were not main characters. They were important secondary characters, but the story had moved beyond them and I missed having the bulk of the story from their view. They were the Everyman of the story. The Rennes and the Wills were nobility. Hafyyd, Alaan and Elise were all possessed by magicians. It was hard to relate to any of those, whereas Tam was just a young man suddenly thrust into an adventure far beyond his imagining.

I would sum up this trilogy with the word “Melancholy”. It wasn't depressing, it wasn't necessarily sad but everything was tinged with Melancholy. The pacing of the story definitely added to that feeling. To finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this re-read as much as the first time and suspect I'll enjoy it as much again in another decade or so. Definitely worth owning the hardcovers.

★★★★ ½

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Winner Is... (Eyeshield 21 #31) ★★★★ 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 Winner Is...
 Series: Eyeshield 21 #31
 Author: Riichiro Inagaki 
 Artist: Yusuke Murata
 Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Sports Manga
 Pages: 192
 Format: Digital Scan


The final 5 minutes between the Devil Bats and the Dinosaurs. The Dinosaurs make a touchdown and kick the ball for a 7point lead. Now there is only 2 minutes on the clock. Kurita MUST face, and overcome, Gaou if he is going to open a path for Sena to run through. Sena makes the touchdown and so the Devil Bats are only 1 point behind.

Their choice is to kick the ball for 1 point and go into overtime or to try for a 2 point conversion by running the ball and winning the game. With Hiruma's fractured arm, Sena's worn out body and the rest of the team utterly exhausted, the Devil Bats don't have a hope in hell [ha, “Devil” bats & “Hell”, get it?] of winning in overtime. So a 2 point run it is. Hiruma does his tricky stuff and Kurita and Gaou faceoff for the final showdown and the Devilbats win.

The rest of the volume is Sena and Monta and Suzuna scouting out the competition for the Christmas Bowl. And what they find is an All Star Team with a female quarterback [at least, I think she's the quarterback, it was hard to tell if that was what was said]. And not only that, their running back receiver is the son of the man who inspired Monta. Fighting against his idol's son might more than Monta can bear.

Hiruma is aware of ALL the dynamics and has asked various members of the defeated teams to help train the Devil Bats.

My Thoughts:

Excellent. A fantastic volume.

Kurita's battle against Gaou was great. It was everything he'd fought for and cried for and trained for and in the end it was Kurita's experience AND strength that overcame Gaou. That was a pleasure to see.

The end of the volume with the 3 characters scouting out the opposition was kind of weird. The opposition was so confident that they gave them their play book of 1000 plays. I'm still a bit confused if the girl who carried luggage around was the quarterback or not. Sadly, reading this on an 8in tablet made some of the text rather small and hard to read. I'm getting older and diabetes sure isn't doing my eyes any favors. After this series, if I read any more manga or comics on a tablet, I'm going to have to buy myself a 10-11in tablet. So part of me is hoping that she is, because that'll add a really weird mix into the game. But on the other hand I don't want that to happen. No woman should be placed in that situation, period.

I don't know if the emotional punch I experience from this series is deep enough to stand up to a re-read. Honestly, I'd rather not find out. I think that I'll read this, enjoy it immensely and move on. But my goodness, this initial read is SO GOOD!

★★★★ ½ 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Destiny of the Sword (The Seventh Sword #3) ★★☆☆ 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 Destiny of the Sword
 Series: The Seventh Sword #3
 Author: Dave Duncan
 Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Fantasy
 Pages: 370
 Format: Digital Edition


Wally unites the swordsmen, captures a top wizard and realizes that The World needs both of them. So he hammers out a peace deal between them. In the process though his protege Nnanji rockets up through the ranks and by the end of the book is a Seventh Level Swordsman himself.

Nnanji is charismatic, is willing to kill, can delegate, has a brother who can scheme like nobody else, a wife that is ambitious and an unshakeable belief in Wally. So of course, he is on the road to becoming the first Emperor of The World.

And Wally gets all butthurt and starts whining about democracy and slinging terms like psychopath and fascist and dictator. Thankfully the little god has a talk with him and Wally accepts that he'll have to play second fiddle to Nnanji from now on.

My Thoughts:

This was a decent story right up until Wally starts whining about Nnanji supplanting him. He was all 21st century ideals in the first book but had gotten over that in the second and in this book. Up until that point. Then it was a one chapter tsunami of weak willed bs.

It ruined everything up to that point for me.

The story is wrapped up satisfactorily thankfully. This was originally a trilogy and then years later he wrote a 4th book, The Death of Nnanji. I will not be reading that.

★★☆☆ ½

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Don Quixote (Classic) ★★★☆ 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: Don Quixote
 Series: ------
 Author: Miguel de Cervantes
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Classic
 Pages: 1120
 Format: Paperback


Don Quixote has a lot of books on knight errantry. He has read them all and in the process gone quite mad, bonkers, round the bound, off the rails, etc, etc. He is crazy.

He is convinced that he is a Knight, that one of his tenants, Sancho Panza is his squire and that the love of his love is Dulcinea Toboso, a village woman who he has never seen, only heard her name. Quixote thus accoutres himself in knightly style and sets out on adventures.

He has many adventures, misadventures, friends and family try to bring him to his senses and in the end he gives up his knightly ways, admits he was crazy and dies in bed.

For more a more indepth look at what actually happens, ie Chapter by Chapter, please check out my various Don Quixote Update Posts.

My Thoughts:

There is so much I want to say about this book. So please forgive any erratic jumping around as I potentially go from random thought to random thought.

I can see why this is a Classic. Cervantes writes amusingly, wittily and tells some good stories. The interactions between Quixote and Sancho ring so true as do their interactions with the various people they meet. And therein lies my first, and biggest issue.

The side stories. This book is divided into Part I and Part II. Part I is chock full of characters that Quixote meets telling their own, long, convoluted and pointless stories. In one or two cases, those side stories end up splitting off into yet a third story. A story within a story within a story. It became frustrating to read. Someone who I can't remember, told me that those side stories represented various forms of writing back in the 1600's and that Cervantes included them to show that indeed, he was a master writer. It makes sense. However, as much sense as it may make, it does not make for an enjoyable read. When I am reading a book entitled Don Quixote I expect to read about the titular character. Thankfully, in Part II there are very few sidestories and the adventures of Quixote and Sancho proceed apace.
My other main issue was the continued madness and stupidity of both Quixote and Sancho. In part it is amusing, funny and chuckle worthy. But when it crashes over me the reader chapter after chapter after chapter, it becomes tragic, not comedic.

In short, while I am not a fan of abridged classics, I WOULD recommend that Don Quixote first be read that way to get the meat of the story. Then the reader can read an unabridged version to wallow in all the unnecessaryness of it all.

I was reading the Oxford World Classics edition that used the Jarvis translation and was edited and annotated by a E.C. Riley. Riley's notes were absolutely useless to me as a casual reader. There were many instances where I would have appreciated some context about the culture that would have explained something but nope, nothing. Then there will be Greek Name Alpha and Riley will spend 3 paragraphs going off about the history of said Greek and how Cervantes saw it ONCE in Village X and that is why Greek Name Alpha was included in the story. It felt like the focus of the notes were supposed to be scholarly but came across as pretentious and pointless. It was a frustrating experience and by Part II I just ignored the annotations.

The thing is, this WAS funny. How can you not laugh when Sancho puts some curds into Quixote's helmet [which is actually a barber's basin] and Quixote claps the helmet on his head and thinks his brains are leaking out because of the curds? Most of the humor is of that sly kind, poking fun at Quixote, at Sancho, at the people they meet.

I would recommend this book just to see how people thought and acted 400 years ago. But get a different edition than this one, one that will explain some of the cultural things that mean nothing to us now.

I started this book in November 2016 and finished it in July 2017. That is 8 months. I could have read it a lot faster but my note taking necessitated taking it slow. I don't in any way feel that my time was wasted or that my updates were negated. It was nice to just slowly punt down the river of this book and enjoy the scenery. Of course by page 700 I was over the scenery and ready to exit the boat.

To wrap up. I enjoyed this even while being frustrated at parts but I don't know that I'll ever read it again. 2000 and now 2017 just about seems enough.

★★★☆ ½

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Frontiers (Expansion Wars #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: New Frontiers
 Series: Expansion Wars #1
 Author: Joshua Dalzelle
 Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 274
 Format: Digital Edition


Humanity has survived the Phage. Unfortunately, the old Confederation breaks apart due to various members involvement in attracting the Phage. At the same time that humanity is fracturing apart, 2 new alien species suddenly appear. One wants to be a partner with humanity. The other was in thrall to the Phage and worshipped it. So they want to destroy the creatures that killed their god.

Celesta Wright, Jackson Wolfe's protege, has been sent out to explore and then in a joint military venture with the allied aliens against the genocidal ones. Problem is, it turns out the two alien races are in league and it is a vast trap to destroy humanity's space fleet capability so that we can be gobbled up at leisure.

Bucking command and taking risks, Wright saves the fleet and on her return finds that Jackson Wolfe has been reinstated in the military, against his wishes. Politicians are playing their games even while humanity is once again facing extinction.

Where's a good Theocracy when you need it?

My Thoughts:

This was a worthy successor to the Black Fleet trilogy.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it quite as much. There were several instances of people just doing stupid things. It wasn't just the politicians either.

The space action reminded me a lot of the space battles in Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series. Sometimes I miss the zam zoom space lasers of Star Wars'esque battles. “Physics” is only SO enjoyable.

Since this is going to be a trilogy and not an unending series, Dalzelle had better get the story in gear and move things right along. This book felt like setup for another set of hostile aliens to fight humanity. Better be good.

★★★☆ ½

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel #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: Beyond the Shadows
 Series: Night Angel #3
 Author: Brent Weeks
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 699
 Format: Digital Edition


The kingdom is safe now that the Godking is dead. Ha. The godkings various sons are duking it out to see who will rule in his stead and once that is determined, the winner is coming back for some real vengeance. At the same time another kingdom is taking advantage of the chaos to annex a large of chunk and they've brought troops to back up their claims.

Logan won't take the kingship since he pledged his oath to Terah Graesin but she is the worst possible thing to happen. Kylar must kill her to allow Logan to ascend the throne. He must do it in such a way though that it doesn't look like Logan asked him to do it.

Kylar is still linked to Vi and both Elene and Vi are in the Sisterhood. Who want to use Kylar, somehow. Superpowerful magical swords are involved, as are near immortal creatures and a host of millions of undead. Elene gets possessed by Khali but for the purpose of containing it [as it is a fallen angel] so Kylar can kill her with the magic swords and thus truly destroy Khali.

It all comes together in one HUGE battle is so stupendous that I'm not going to even try to describe it. Kylar saves the world at great cost and everyone is sad at Elene's sacrifice and Vi still wants to jump Kylar's bones.

The End.

My Thoughts:

Good stuff!

My only complaints are as follows. The profanity still sticks out. Seeing the F word is just jarring. It doesn't fit. Second, the amount of history we're deluged with from Durzo Blint is a bit much for one book. I'd really liked to have seen a prequel trilogy following his adventures in his various personas.

Other than that? Rock'em Sock'em Robot success!

True love. Magic swords. Magical killer creatures that are unstoppable. Hordes of undead that aren't all human sized shamblers. 2000 women who can control magic? Aes Sedai anyone? That really stood out to me this time. It just seemed a very blatant ripoff where as back in '09 I didn't even make the connection. Either way, I enjoyed it this time around.

The storyline dealing with Dorian Ursuul, the prophet and son of the Godking, was wicked hard to deal with. He sees the future, gives up his gift because of what he sees and then ends up becoming something just as bad as his father ever was. Since he was introduced as a character who wanted to only do good since the beginning, that fall from grace was just brutal! Weeks really digs into what it could cost to see the future.

The violence is not ratcheted down any either. There was one scene where I just put my kindle down and had to catch my emotional breathe. Kylar was bound on a water wheel to kill him for him killing the queen. His own friend Logan, who became king of that action, was the one who had to pass sentence. Logan also knows that Kylar heals super quick, so the water wheel will take days. He breaks a table leg off and just smashes Kylar's arms and legs so that he'll die. A friend having to execute his best friend, having to physically destroy him, it was intense. I had ALL the manly feelz.

While the writing definitely shows that this trilogy was Weeks' first go, it is in no way sub-par. It just isn't as nuanced as experience will make him. Heck, comparing this to the latest Light Bringer Novel, Blood Mirror is a good exercise in watching someone grow their literary wings.

It would be cool if at some point Weeks returned to this universe, but at the rate the Light Bringer novels are coming out, I don't see that happening any time soon.


Monday, July 17, 2017

That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy #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: That Hideous Strength
 Series: The Space Trilogy #3
 Author: C.S. Lewis
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 394
 Format: Digital Edition


The NICE Institute begins to take over Britain. Ostensibly a mere research company that is out to better humanity, NICE is actually controlled by the bent eldila of our own world. They have begun the conquest of Earth in earnest, which means the total destruction of everything. Just like the moon is lifeless, they desire the Earth to be so.

Opposing them, or more accurately, gathered together against them, is Ransom and a small group of nobodies. Housewives, old professors, maids, even one man who doesn't believe in the eldila.

NICE is bent on resurrecting Merlin, the last descendant of Atlantis. With his knowledge of mystical powers and NICE's control of technology, it looks like their plan cannot fail. What they don't count on is that Merlin might not be the evil warlock they assume him to be or that the eldila from the unbent worlds will stand idly by.

But God works in mysterious ways and evil always destroys itself.

My Thoughts:

I really needed this read.

Storywise, it was just kind of ok. In all honesty, there wasn't much going on. Most of what happens is revealed between a husband who is trying to join NICE and his wife who is drawn into Ransom's circle. But we don't meet Ransom until almost the end, he doesn't play much of a part besides being a cripple and even Merlin, when he joins them, only casts a babel spell on the badguys. This is NOT an action book.

This was a book where the principals of warfare according to Christianity were in the fore. You didn't have Ransom and Company assaulting the NICE headquarters with shotguns and shooting everything with rocksalt or dishcleaner water, ala Supernatural. What you had was people doing almost nothing except the tiny little bit they were told to. That is so contrary to common sense, and even that issue is addressed, that it was fantastic.

It is good to be reminded that I am not responsible for taking down evil, Evildead style. It doesn't work that way. It is good to be reminded that God is in control, that He is responsible and that He has a plan already in motion and all laid out in Revelations.

While this was explicitly Christian, it wasn't in the same vein as something by Frank Peretti. You didn't have spirits duking it out with swords while flying around. In fact, Lewis does his best to show just how much we cannot understand about the creatures not of this world. A little confusing but like I first said, refreshing.

When you are battered and worn, sometimes you just need to cling to the truth.

On a non-review note, I FINALLY understand the old cover. It never made sense to me before. Now that I've read this again, it makes total sense. It isn't necessarily the kind of thing I can just type up and explain out of the blue, but if you read the story, you'll understand too.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen #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: Memories of Ice
 Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #3
 Author: Steven Erikson
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: SFF
 Pages: 945
 Format: Digital Edition


The Pannion Domin is a threat both martial and magical and it will take the combined forces of the outlawed army of Dujek Onearm, former High Fist of the Malazan Empire, and their former enemies in the guise of the combined might of Caladan Brood's army and the sorcerous might of Anomander Rake and his floating city of Moonspawn.

At the same time, Silverfox [the fully grown woman encompassing the souls of 3 other mages] has called the T'lan Imass together again for the first time in over 300,000 years. She is the physical embodiment of an Imass magician and has the power to reverse the oath the Imass took in their war against the Jhagut. She refuses and this has fallout for her personally and for the forces of Dujek and Brood who were counting on the Imass to counter the undead forces of a race thought to be extinct, the K'chain Ch'maile.

All through this, the gods continue their own war. The fallen/broken god has declared war on the pantheon and he wants to destroy them all for bringing him to this world. Fenner, the god of war, has fallen and a new risen god, Treach the Tiger, has ascended. Old lost gods are finding their thrones and each god is choosing for or against the broken god. And amid the total destruction and war on the souls of the men themselves, it is revealed that this part of the story is but a small part of the overall narrative.

Now THAT is depressing.

My Thoughts:

First thing I noticed was that with this 3rd read, I was able to not focus on all the shiny little bits and put the story together as a whole. In previous reads I found a huge disconnect from the leadup to the battle of Capustan to the final showdown at Corel. This time around there was no disconnect and the story naturally flowed without any jarring. It was really nice to UNDERSTAND the slightly bigger picture.

Erikson shows once again that he is a freaking master of writing. The battle scenes were incredible. Vivid, intense and brutal. You can feel the slippery blood, the complete exhaustion, the fear and the adrenaline rush. The interactions between characters was excellently done as well. There was NO cardboard, only flesh and blood come to life on paper. What's more, everyone was “distinct”. They weren't archtypes, or ideas, or variations on a theme. They Were People.

And that leads into the start of my issues. With the characters being so real, the hearbreak and despair and utter desolation that they one and all suffer is wrong. In previous reads, I was taken up with the story, trying to figure out how everything fit together. In being focused on that, the emotional side of things were glossed over. Not this time. The death of main characters hit hard. They weren't alone but had made connections, so when those threads were cut, it was like a spiderweb quivering all over. No on person was ever alone in their anguish or loss. It hurt to read as it was so real to me.

The second, and far bigger issue for me, was the wholesale injection of existential philosophy in a huge way. Existentialism is one of the most depressing philosophies, in my opinion. In small doses, it provides a way for men to show their true grit against completely overwhelming odds. However, in larger doses, it can overwhelm the reader with utter despair and destroy your psyche.

It is probably apparent which happened to me.

By the end of the book I was dreading every instance where I saw italicized walls of text. That meant that some character was thinking and every thought of every character was nothing but despair and hopeless angst. It wore me down.

On my first read through of the whole series, it took me until Book 8 to feel this way. Since then, I've had some “experience” with the hard side of life and reading about despair and suffering isn't theoretical anymore. Reading about suffering isn't so fun once you've had a taste of it yourself. I think I'm going to be taking an extra cycle before dipping my toes into this series again.

More specifics about the story itself can be found in my Memories of Ice Readalong Updates.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Instinct (Chess Team Adventure #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: Instinct
 Series: Chess Team Adventure #2 
Author: Jeremy Robinson
 Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Action/Adventure
 Pages: 365
 Format: Digital Edition


A rogue Vietnam General comes across a super plague that he weaponizes. He uses it against the President of the United States and that sets the stage for the Chess Team. They are sent in to find a cure [as the plague has the potential to wipe out mankind within 2 years] but of course nothing can go easy, or they wouldn't be the Chess Team.

They run across a Vietnam special forces who are dedicated to wiping them out. They come across monstrous, devolved neanderthals who are all female and who eat humans and rape men to continue their race. They also come across a lost scientist who has started his own race of neanderthal/human hybrids and who wants the plague to succeed so his “children” can rule the world.

That is a lot to overcome. Plus the burden of saving the whole world. Phhhh, just a day's work for the Chess Team.

My Thoughts:

This was easily on track to being a 3.5star adventure. Then the author started talking about shoving guns down the throats of Fox News anchors and calling them fear mongering haters, or something close to that. That tanked this for me. It makes me suspect the author is a dickwad and someone I'd gladly punch in the face. But rather than give in to my baser instincts to hunt him down and beat him to within an inch of his miserable life, I chose to let it go. You don't see ME threatening to KILL anyone just because I don't LIKE them. Beatings are VERY different from killing.

On to the book then.

Pretty good adventure and action. The devolved neanderthals and their Lost City of Blah, Blah, Blah and how they used to be Masters of Humanity was a bit much for my taste in conjuction with the whole Plague Wiping Out the Whole World thing, but hey, it's better to have too much adventure than not enough.

Lots of fighting, lots of guns and stuff. What I expect and what I like in a military action/adventure story. And Bishop, the guy who got super human powers in the last book, he gets his head ripped off, regenerates and comes back badder than ever. And gets a “magic” crystal so he doesn't go all ravening zombie anymore. Quite convenient that. I guess the neanderthals were good for something.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This Is American Football (Eyeshield 21 #30) ★★★★☆

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: This Is American Football
 Series: Eyeshield 21 #30
 Author: Riichiro Inagaki 
 Artist: Yusuke Murata
 Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
 Genre: Sports Manga
 Pages: 200
 Format: Digital Scan


Sena takes over being quarterback for a couple of plays and allows the Devilbats to make a touchdown. Kurita is just sitting around numbly from his failure to protect Hiruma and it takes his apprentice getting the stuffing beaten out of him to bring back his fierce, protective spirit.

Hiruma comes back in the game and no one can tell, except Sena and Musashi, if he's ok or faking it. Either way, Hiruma gets in the heads of the Dinosaurs and really messes them up. So much so that the score is tied at 35-35 with only 5 minutes to go in the final half.

My Thoughts:

Much better than the previous volume. Gaou is stopped by Komusubi, who gets the heck beaten out of him time and time again. Just when it looks like he's done for, Kurita finally wakes up and realizes it is up to him to protect the whole team from Gaou. And he does. Gaou's power drives are stopped cold and the Devilbats begin to make inroads.

Hiruma coming back was something else. It was supposed to show his grit, his determination, his pure will power. But my only thought was, “grow up kid, you have your whole life ahead of you. Don't waste it by destroying yourself right now”. Back in my teens or even 20's I would have been eating up Hiruma's attitude with two spoons! I guess I'm mellowing.

I kept wondering if they were going to end this game in this book but as soon as the page came up all dramatic about “Only 5 Minutes Left!!!” I knew another volume was on the way. Sure enough, 3 pages later the volume ended. It didn't actually bother me, which surprised me. I think it is because it brought home to me that I am nearing the end of this series. Only 7 more volumes to go!