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Bookstooge 2018 Part 1

This is a continuation of the topic Bookstooge 2017 Part 5.

The Green Dragon

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1BookstoogeLT
Dec 31, 2017, 5:29pm Top

I am Bookstooge...
...and that pretty much sums it up.

Anyway, I read about 90% SFF, read around 150'ish books a year, review every book I read and also write a lot of non-review posts over on Wordpress.

I spoil the heck out of my reviews, mainly so that I can read the review in 10 years and not have to re-read the whole book unless I "want" to. I don't do spoiler tags.

I will copy my review from the appropriate book here at LT and put them in this thread. I will also just put a link to any non-review post. You don't have to be signed in or anything to read any post over on WP.

Carry on...

2Narilka
Dec 31, 2017, 7:27pm Top

Already pre-starred. I love LT :)

3BookstoogeLT
Jan 1, 12:08am Top

Bookstooge Reviews 2017

A rather long post, with stats, graphs, pictures and lots and lots of links!

4aqeeliz
Jan 1, 7:39am Top

>1 BookstoogeLT: I spoil the heck out of my reviews... I don't do spoiler tags.

Are you trying to scare us away?

5YouKneeK
Jan 1, 7:41am Top

>3 BookstoogeLT: Very cool, congrats on another impressive reading year! :)

It was interesting to read about your current site status and realize that all those changes really happened in the past year or so. It seems like it’s been longer, I guess because I feel pretty settled now. I actually ditched BL myself a few months ago (Octoberish?). I did it for a variety of small reasons and not any one big reason, but I haven’t missed it either.

6BookstoogeLT
Jan 1, 9:54am Top

>4 aqeeliz: Kind of. I consider it a "Fair Warning", you know?

>5 YouKneeK: Thank you.
And I know, it "seems" a lot longer! Probably because so much of '16 was taken up with trying to find alternates :-( I was still linking to old reviews though right up to about November. Then I realized I just needed to write individual posts on WP and get it over with. I feel bad for anyone who subscribes by email now :-D

7SylviaC
Jan 1, 12:01pm Top

Looking forward to seeing what you're reading this year, and enjoying your reviews!

8BookstoogeLT
Jan 1, 12:16pm Top

>7 SylviaC: Thanks! I'm glad you are enjoying them :-)

9majkia
Jan 1, 1:13pm Top

I'm spoiler averse but do enjoy the reviews of books I've already read. Good luck with your reading this year.

10aqeeliz
Jan 2, 2:36am Top

>6 BookstoogeLT: Good to know, I am not a fan of spoilers, so going to be careful when reading your reviews. :)

11zjakkelien
Jan 2, 4:52pm Top

I'll be reading your reviews, unless the book is on my tbr then! I do enjoy them, so far I've read most of your reviews here.

12BookstoogeLT
Jan 2, 6:20pm Top

>11 zjakkelien: Thanks Z.

13BookstoogeLT
Jan 2, 6:21pm Top

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Patricia McKillip
4 Stars

The Review:

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 Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Series: ----------
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 242
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


Sybel is the grand-daughter or great grand-daughter of a nameless mage. She has inherited the power to control things by naming them. She has no bigger ambition than to call the Lyralen.

Until one day a knight drops off a baby boy in her lap and rides away. As the boy grows, Sybel's heart grows and she comes to love Tamlorn as her own. But Tamlorn is the son of a king and the king, one Drede, comes looking for him. Tamlorn was given to Sybel by Drede's enemies, the house of Sirle. Once Tam realizes he has a father, he goes to live with him and Sybel tells Drede that she has no interest in the war between him and Sirle.

Then the knight comes back, one Coren. He wins Sybel's heart and manages to give up his hate of Drede and all that he has done. Drede, afraid of Sybel's power and not believing she won't use it against him, buys the service of another wizard who will take Sybel's name, break her will and make her a willing, loving puppet for Drede to marry. Sybel escapes and tells Coren's brothers that she will use her power for them against Drede, wthout telling Coren what happened to her or why she is suddenly fighting against Drede.

In a fit of remorse, Sybel frees all her magical animals who were to lead the attack against Drede and she flees back to her home in the mountains, convinced that Coren can no longer love her and that Tam can no longer love her since she orchestrated the attack on his father Drede.

It ends with things not turning out at all like Sybel imagined, as her animals do their thing and Tamlorn becomes king without bloodshed. She and Corin are re-united and he teaches her the lesson of love.

My Thoughts:

This was the first McKillip book that I would say had a real edge to it, some bite. It takes some uncomfortable subject matters and deals with them specifically but non-graphically.

Sybel's forebearers all took their mates by force. They used the power of naming to call and control them. Sybel gets a taste of this very thing when the wizard takes control of her. It wasn't just attempted, or in the case of her ancestors, actual, rape, but also the complete loss of self within the mind. It was the rape of body AND mind and McKillip doesn't shy away from showing how it affects people.

She then goes on to show how Sybel reacts in some really bad ways, such as erasing her husband Corin's memories of what he sees when he catches her plotting with his brothers for war. She violates him just like she was violated and it destroys hers inside. So much that she tries to lose herself at the end of the book by calling the Lyralen.

And yet, at the very end when Corin AND Tam come to her and show her the power of real love, it redeems it all. I think that was what this book was all about. Just how strong love is and just what it can conquer.

I love a Love Conquers All story and this was that in spades.

When I read this back in '07, looking at my rating and review, I can tell I wasn't really impressed back then. But a decade more of life experience, being married and some down and dirty church politics has shown me that yes, Love is the be all and end all. Being a Christian helps narrow down what Love actually is and I'm even more convinced today than I was 10 years ago of just how much God loves His creation.

I'll end this like I began it. This has an edge and a bite that most of McKillip's other books don't. If it bothers you, try some of her others. If you like it, don't expect it to be there.

★★★★☆

14Sakerfalcon
Jan 3, 11:48am Top

Looking forward to following your reading again this year! I always enjoy your summaries and reviews.

15Narilka
Jan 3, 3:44pm Top

I tried McKillip's Riddlemaster series and she's just not for me.

16BookstoogeLT
Jan 3, 5:49pm Top

>14 Sakerfalcon: Thanks. Sometimes I find that when I don't know what to write about a book, the summary kind of jumpstarts me and then away I go. It's been a while since I wrote a "I read it, the End" kind of review :-)

>15 Narilka: I can't blame you actually. From what I can remember, those were my least favorite of hers. Thankfully, by the time I realized they were her stuff, I had a bunch of her other stuff under my belt so I could kind of coast through them. I think she's better when telling a single book story. But when I get around to re-reading them this year, I'll see if I still think they're mediocre or not. After my change of mind about The Forgotten Beasts of Eld anything is possible :-)

17BookstoogeLT
Jan 3, 7:25pm Top

Consider Phlebas
Iain Banks
4 Stars

The Review:

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: Consider Phlebas
Series: The Culture #1
Author: Iain Banks
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 545
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


There is War between the Idirans, a culture of 3 legged beings with religious mono-mania and The Culture, a decadent collection of self-serving beings who live for pleasure and are ruled by AI and their machines.

We follow the story of Horza, a humanoid with the ability to change his face and body, a Changer, who is allied with the Idirans, as he attempts to capture a Culture Mind that has done the impossible and * insert super science term * jumped onto a planet, against all known rules of everything.

The Iridians want to capture the Mind to learn it's tricks or at least to prevent The Culture from learning how it did what it did and The Culture wants it to learn how it did what it did. Unfortunately, it chose to jump onto a Dead World, a world that is supervised by a vast, intellectual non-corporeal being. One that brooks no interference or even cares about the differences that the Iridians and The Culture have.

Horza goes from one bad situation to another right up unto the end where he is betrayed by the Iridians, who view the Changers as no more than vermin even while using them. In the process he loses his lover and newly conceived baby and most of his Changer compatriots.

The book ends with everyone involved dying in one way or another and a history of the war and it's conclusion. Bleak stuff.

My Thoughts:

Whereas the Player of Games really struck me as a dishonest take on the idea of Utopia, this book felt more honest and how humans would actually react. This was a novel about The Culture from it's enemies perspective. That allowed us the reader to see things that we couldn't in Player of Games. I would definitely recommend reading this one first just so Banks can't sell you on the idea that The Culture is a true Utopia.

I ended up feeling bad for Horza for most of the book. He's rescued from a death sentence only to be tossed out of an Iridian spaceship that's about to go into battle. He's then captured by pirates and has to kill a crew member to join. He then participates in several failed piratical ventures and in the final one is stranded on a Orbital that is going to be destroyed by The Culture in 3 days. He does escape and make it back to the pirate ship and takes it over as it's captain. But a Culture agent is on board. The same agent who got him the death sentence at the beginning of the book. He then makes his way to the Dead World and gets permission by the Overmind to land. Only to have Iridian Covert Ops teams try to take him out even though he's on their side. And while all the Iridians die, they also manage to kill everyone except Horza and The Culture agent. And it gets better. Horza dies just as he's taken to a ship with the medical facilities to heal him. The Culture Agent can't handle the guilt and so she goes to sleep for 300 years only to commit suicide when she wakes.

Now normally that much bad stuff would depress me. But this time around? It simply re-affirmed my faith in human nature, ie, that we're a bunch of no good sinners who can't pull ourselves up by our bookstraps. I love it when Utopia minded people get a good dose of fallen nature. Wake up and smell the coffee you idiots.

So far, all threats to The Culture have been external. I'm wondering when Banks will write about some local, internal threat that wants power. While the AI's might be in charge, it's definitely not as pronounced as it is in Neal Asher's Polity series. I'm also still not convinced of The Culture as something real or viable. No central authority, no defining characteristics. It just doesn't jive with my understanding of humanity.

What makes this a 4star book is the fact that the author is aware of everything that I've mentioned and takes it into account. I might think he's wrong, but he's not oblivious and it takes some good writing to promote something even while mainly showing its flaws.

★★★★☆

18YouKneeK
Jan 3, 7:50pm Top

>17 BookstoogeLT: This one’s on my list and I have the first book, so I only skimmed your review, but I’m glad to read you enjoyed it pretty well! I've thought about starting this a few times, but the series is a bit on the long side and something else always seems more appealing.

19BookstoogeLT
Jan 3, 8:42pm Top

>18 YouKneeK: As of right now, I'd recommend Neal Asher and his Polity books over this. Very similar and Banks wrote first. But Asher isn't a dewey eyed Utopianist...

20Narilka
Jan 3, 8:43pm Top

>17 BookstoogeLT: I see this one pop up in my recommendations a lot. I think I'll wait for you to get to book 3 before I decide if I want to try the series or not.

21BookstoogeLT
Jan 3, 9:07pm Top

>20 Narilka: That sounds like an excellent plan. Even though I rated this a 4, I suspect I'll be doing nothing but complaining about the whole series even as I enjoy it :-)

22zjakkelien
Jan 4, 9:45am Top

>17 BookstoogeLT: Hey, I bought that one just a few days ago! Didn't read your review to avoid spoilers, but at least I can see you liked it from the number of stars. If I may ask, I know it's the first in a series, but does the story stand on its own?

23BookstoogeLT
Jan 4, 10:02am Top

>22 zjakkelien: Yep, it's a complete standalone. From what I understand, all of Banks' The Culture novels are standalones.
So it stands on its own and if you don't like it there is no hook forcing you to try to read further :-)

24ScoLgo
Jan 4, 12:45pm Top

>22 zjakkelien: >23 BookstoogeLT: I've read three Culture novels so far, (Consider Phlebas, Player of Games, and Use of Weapons). They were all stand-alone. If those first three books are anything to go by, The Culture is not a series so much as it is a universe where unrelated stories are told against a consistent backdrop.

25zjakkelien
Edited: Jan 4, 2:58pm Top

>23 BookstoogeLT: >24 ScoLgo: Great! It can be a bit annoying to have to read 3 books to get the whole story, even if you enjoyed the first book. (Or, come to think of it, 5 or 14 or any number, really...)

26BookstoogeLT
Edited: Jan 4, 3:14pm Top

27BookstoogeLT
Edited: Jan 5, 11:46pm Top

Bookstooge & the Robinverse

In which I lay out the plans for some graphic novel reading over the next couple of weeks and/or months...

28BookstoogeLT
Jan 6, 10:20pm Top

Survival Saturday - Mac N Cheese Attempt #1

Yeah, our first real flop, that was all our own fault no less...

29YouKneeK
Jan 6, 11:03pm Top

>28 BookstoogeLT: LOL, the boiling confusion sounds exactly like something I might do. I have no natural cooking skills whatsoever. My mom still makes fun of the time she gave me a recipe for a potato soup when I was in my early 20’s. She didn’t spell out the fact that the potatoes needed to be cooked before I added them to the soup, so I ended up with mostly-raw-potato soup.

I would have expected mac-n-cheese to be pretty tolerable, so I look forwarding to hearing how it goes next month! :)

30BookstoogeLT
Jan 6, 11:17pm Top

>29 YouKneeK: Well, if there is anything to give pasta a run for it's money in the Crunch department, raw potato has to be up there! :-)

I'm hoping I'll be able to comment a bit more next month on how the cheese sauce tasted. This time around we just couldn't get past the crunch, crunch, crunch, sigh...

31Narilka
Jan 7, 12:39am Top

>28 BookstoogeLT: I use a silicone whisk that doesn't scratch my pots and tolerates high heat. Mine was from Costco so came in a set but I've seen them almost everywhere, Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, etc. They come in a whole rainbow of colors too.

32BookstoogeLT
Jan 7, 1:03am Top

>31 Narilka: Thanks. That's the second recommendation I've gotten for a silicone whisk. I didn't even know they existed, so this Survival Saturday has been a REAL learning experience! Guess I'll be picking one up at Target in the next couple of weeks...

33MrsLee
Jan 7, 9:23am Top

So, in a real survival situation, would it not work to add a bit more water and return it to the heat to cook some more? Or bake it in the oven? Or Dutch oven if you were over a campfire, or whatever? I hate throwing food out, even when it's nasty. Always try to save it. I'm much better at quitting a book that isn't pleasing me. :P

34BookstoogeLT
Jan 7, 12:05pm Top

>33 MrsLee: That very well might work. Not being a cook, I don't know off the top of my head though.

35BookstoogeLT
Jan 7, 1:10pm Top

A Death in the Family
Batman/Robin #1
4 Star

The Review:

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: A Death in the Family
Series: Batman/Robin #1
Author: Jim Starlin
Artist: Jim Aparo & Mike Decarlo
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 144
Format: Digital Scan

Synopsis:


Batman has taken Jason Todd under his wing and trained him as his new Robin. Unfortunately, Jason lost his mother to illness and his father to crime and so he's got a lot of anger and he lets it out while on the job.

Going through some papers of his parents one day he comes across his birth certificate where he finds out that his “mother” was actually only his step-mother and his birth mother is still alive and either in the Middle East or Africa. After “quitting”, in a note no less, Todd runs off to Israel to check on the first of three possible “Mom” candidates and then ends up in Lebanon.

At the same time the Joker has broken out of Arkham Asylum, again and with most of his secret funds being not so secret and impounded by the US Government, heads to Lebanon to sell off a nuclear cruise missile. Batman is tracking him down and runs into Todd. It turns out the people they each are looking for are connected. So they team up, foil a bunch of arab terrorists who want to launch a nuke into Tel Aviv and find out that the Israeli Secret Agent isn't Jason Todd's birth mother. The Joker is out a million dollars with no more missiles to sell and a large grudge.

While Batman and Robin go after Candidate Number 2, the Joker makes a run for Ethiopia and blackmails Candidate Number 3, who is in charge of large amounts of medical supplies from the UN. The Joker doesn't know she's Candidate Number 3 of course. Candidate Number 2 turns out to be Lady Shiva and she wants nothing more than an all out, one on one fight with Batman. After defeating her and doping her up with sodium pentathol, it is revealed that she too is not Todd's mother.

The Joker not only blackmails Candidate Number 3 but drops off a load of his lethal laughing gas in the place of the supplies he takes. This will kill off whole camps of refugees. Bruce and Jason discover that CN3 IS Jason's mother and there is a tearful reunion. At least until Jason discovers what the Joker is doing and informs Batman. Batman chases down the tainted supplies and Robin goes in to rescue his mom, against Batman's express orders, only to discover that she's been dipping into the medical funds and is as dirty as a sewer herself. She delivers him over to the Joker who beats him bloody with a crowbar and leaves him and his mother to die in a bomb blast.

Batman is devastated and returns home, vowing to never take on another apprentice. The Joker is caught by the Iranian Secret Police and given the job of UN Ambassador for Iran by the Ayatollah. As such he has immunity for all past crimes and Batman can't touch him without setting off WWIII. Superman delivers the bad news to Batman and keeps him from going thermonuclear. The Joker has his time at the UN Assemblage, sets off a gas bomb and when that is foiled by Superman, a regular bomb. Batman chases him down and it ends in a fight in a helicopter, which crashes. Batman escapes but the Joker's body is not recovered.

My Thoughts:

My first thought on starting this was “What a jerk Jason Todd is”. While he's angry about his parents being dead, how does that excuse his going against Batman's direct orders to wait on the police to break up a criminal ring? And then his actions in going after his birth mother? Leaving Gotham, stealing credit cards, breaking into secret bases, compromising secret agent identities? And then again ignoring Batman's direct order to stay away from the Joker because he's too dangerous? You would have thought that being taken out so easily by Lady Shiva would have shown him some of his limits, but no, Jason Todd was a selfish, arrogant jackass who brought his death upon himself. I have NO sympathy for him and was rather glad he died. He's the kind of person that leads into the Watchman universe and the fear of Superheroes/Vigilantes. Jason Todd is a Taliban Fighter to Superman's United States Marine.

My second real issue is the handling of the Joker as the Ambassador for Iran. I'm sorry but that is NOT how Ambassadorship works. It would be like saying that Osama Bin Laden could have become Afghanistan's Representative and gotten off scot free. We still would have put a bullet in that bastard's head. I realize this is a comic book and played up for drama, but come on!? My real issue is that I can see the kind of attitude that allowed this to happen in the comic book happening in real life. It makes me sick because it could happen for real.

Now I'll talk about why I still liked this story and gave it 4 Stars.

Batman. With the recent movies, Batman has become just another vigilante. Willing to kill if it's convenient. In this book Batman is back at his “I won't use a gun and I won't kill people” attitude. When he goes after someone, he drugs them, cuffs them and then lets the Authorities dole out the justice. That ethos is sorely tested here and I found that inner battle quite well displayed. It was fascinating to watch Batman realize that Law does not equal Justice and how that tore him apart. Batman is a Hero with strong internal ethics and not just doing whatever he wants because he can.

Superman. He played a very small part but it was interesting to see how he was portrayed in the late 80's. I didn't really get into Superman until the mid-90's and by then some things had changed. Here he's portrayed as acting upon the orders of the United States Government. Not quite what I'd call a government Stooge, but only one decision away from that status. His decision to side with the “Law is the Law and so it is Right” way of thinking was a bit disturbing. Yet at the same time how many people in the nation thought that way? Today, with the scads of laws promoting perversions, that are knee jerk reactions to special interest groups, that are passed with no intention of ever being enforced, I find myself being cynical. It simply wasn't quite that way 30 years ago. It was eye opening to be reminded of how much of a sea change in attitude has gone on in our nation and in the whole world.

Lady Shiva. I simply liked seeing her because I recognized her from the Knight Fall/Quest/End storyline from later in time. Just one of those interesting tidbits.

Finally, I like the cover a lot. At a time when Superheroes did not die, but simply stopped having their stories told, seeing a Robin undeniably dead is shocking. It shows Batman being vulnerable, it shows just how murderous the Joker truly is and it gets at the pathos of the human factor in a Superhero story. Much like the iconic cover for the Death of Superman years later, this cover will always mean more to me than just the story.

On a side note, I read the original 1988 edition that JUST had the 4part “A Death in the Family” storyline. Later editions of A Death in the Family do include a A Lonely Place of Dying. I'll be reading and reviewing that next.

★★★★☆ ,

36MrsLee
Jan 7, 5:10pm Top

>35 BookstoogeLT: Holy Dark And Depressing, Batman! I remember when comics were much more back and white, good-guy bad-guy.

37BookstoogeLT
Jan 7, 5:18pm Top

>36 MrsLee: And this was 1988 too. Probably the first real foray into super dark territory. Even Superman's death wasn't until the 90's. Of course today, it's nothing BUT Grim and Gritty :-(

38MrsLee
Jan 7, 5:22pm Top

>37 BookstoogeLT: LOL I probably read my last official "comic book" in 1978 or 1977. I have watched movies recently and read wiki articles to keep up.

39BookstoogeLT
Jan 9, 7:03pm Top

Chapterhouse: Dune
Frank Herbert
4 Stars

The Review:

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: Chapterhouse: Dune
Series: Dune Chronicles #6
Author: Frank Herbert
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 452
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


The Honored Matres are wiping out Bene Gesserit worlds while on their search for Chapterhouse, the nerve center of Bene Gesserit'ness.

Duncan Idaho and Murbella are on Chapterhouse and Murbella is being trained as a BG Sister to see if Honored Matres CAN make that transition. Duncan is just doing his thing and staying in the no-ship so nobody can find him. He becomes the Teg ghola's weapon master as he has visions of face dancers and somehow steals info about super advanced weapons from their minds and in the end takes off in the no-ship with Sheena, Scytale and others.

Scytale continues his bargaining with the Sisterhood but is pretty much stymied.

Darwi Odrade is now Mother Superior and has plans to tame the Honored Matres by melding them with the BG. But to do this she must kill the High Honored Matre and convince the rest of the BG to accept Murbella as a synthesis of the two sisterhoods. She succeeds and dies and Murbella is confirmed as leader of both groups.

It is revealed that the Honored Matres have been fleeing something even more powerful than them and it is now up to Murbella to guide humanity to survival against whatever this “other” threat is while combining the best of the Bene Gesserit with the best of the Honored Matres.

And some Jews. I don't even know why Herbert put them in, but they are shoehorned into this story like nobody's business.

My Thoughts:

This really felt like 2 books. One of those books I liked, the other I thought was a steaming pile of poo poo. And I mean really stinky poo poo.

One book was about sexual obsession (by the author) and child rape and pages and pages of philosophical gobbledy gook that was batted back and forth by cardboard characters like a badminton birdie.

The other book was filled with planets being wiped out by super weapons and the discovery of eternal life through ghola memory being awakened and threats so large that they might be the end of all humanity all across the universe.

I enjoyed the first 10% of this book, then went out of my mind for the next 45% and finally enjoyed the last bit, thankfully. All of that is just to show that I don't hold it against anyone who hates this book, doesn't like it or just think it stinks (like really really really stinky poo). But being the man I am, I was able to go beyond Frank's weaknesses and still enjoy the strengths this book has to offer.

But I had the mantra “why Frank, why?!?” running through my head the entire time. He has huge awesome plot material and tons of cool action stuff and he focuses on conversations about power and sex and religion? For phracks sake man, let it go and just tell a great story like you did with Dune. I think that is what each book after Dune lost out on, telling a good story. Each sequel became the vehicle with which Herbert drove us around his little personal psychology museum and bored us to tears with his ramblings.

One thing about this re-read that I enjoyed, or at least noticed without feeling like I needed to pass judgement, were terms and conditions that ended up being used in the Dune 7 duology by Baby Herbert and KJ Anderson. Noticing those things made me a little more forgiving of them and made me wonder if perhaps they weren't the total wankers I think them to be. Yeah, that'll last until I start reading the Dune 7 duology. Don't worry, there will be no good feelings of comraderie and brotherly love then. Nothing but cold scorn and derision for ruining such an epic as the Dune Chronicles.

So why the 4stars? I'm beginning to wonder myself!
1) The Action. When it happened, it happened fast and furious and there was NO messing about. Death and carnage and billions snuffed out in a heart beat.
2) The Ideas. Once you got past Herbert's obsession with power and the really weird ways he expressed that obsession, some of the points on humanity and how humanity acts and interacts were quite intriguing. I suspect they're not very original, but in SF, it really works.
3) The Direction. This series had moved beyond the Atreides family directly and towards the Gene Gesserit as a whole being a shepherd to humanity. Humanity had gotten larger and so the need for some guidance had gotten larger. Where this was leading was great.

Of course, it ends on a cliffhanger with Duncan and the No-ship in unknown space just hanging out. Like, duuude, where's my spaceship? If you read my initial review from '12 you'll see how I reacted to that. This time around, knowing I had the completed story, no matter from who, that made a difference.

★★★★☆

40BookstoogeLT
Edited: Jan 16, 3:34pm Top

...Done with self-editing...

41BookstoogeLT
Jan 12, 6:57am Top

The Rite
Richard Lee Byers
1 Star

The Review:

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 Rite
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #2
Author: Richard Lee Byers
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352/Abandoned
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


More and more dragons go rogue and the various characters attempt to figure out what the badguy Sammaster has done by backtracking him. One group to a mystic monastery currently under siege by dragons and another group to a some wizards who are working on Sammaster's notes.

DNF'd at 30%

My Thoughts:

My first DNF of the year. Man, I was bored with this story. There are several factors leading into that though.

First, I have had a string of 4star books since the beginning of the year. My standards were thus higher.
Second, I was on the fence about Forgotten Realms the whole of last year and kept giving them chance after chance. This year, No More Mr Nice Guy.
Third, I don't want to keep on eating badly cooked literary mac-n-cheese where I KNOW that half the stuff is half-baked.
Finally, work was physically brutal this week and I ended up taking today off because of how hard Monday-Thursday had gone. Hiking an hour using showshoes, carrying 60lbs of equipment, shovelling out traverse stations all day, breaking trail, pulling a sled filled with 200lbs of equipment during the day, then ending the day by hiking an hour out with 60lbs of equipment again.

If I had read this last year, I probably would have given it 2.5stars and struggled through the final book in the trilogy. Not this year. I am done with this book and this trilogy and the whole Forgotten Realms series. It is written for a completely different target audience than me and I need to stop trying to shoehorn myself into that demographic. Objectively, it was the same as the first book, but I just don't have the patience to deal with it anymore.

I have enough books on my Oasis and in Calibre to last me 2 years. That's if I don't add a single thing. So why should I persist in adding books that have an extremely high chance of being lower than 3stars? Not worth it.

★☆☆☆☆

42Narilka
Jan 12, 8:23am Top

>41 BookstoogeLT: Good for you. Life's too short to read bad books especially when there is so much great stuff out there.

43YouKneeK
Jan 12, 3:01pm Top

>41 BookstoogeLT: Regarding the badly cooked literary mac-n-cheese… did you try boiling the book at medium heat? ;)

44BookstoogeLT
Jan 12, 3:37pm Top

>42 Narilka: Yep, time to cut my losses and start finding other "mediocre to poor" books to rant about :-)

>43 YouKneeK: heheheheee. Sadly, that wasn't an option. I was just so incredibly bored that I couldn't believe it. Didn't hate it, just completely apathetic. It's easy to DNF a book that I hate, or easier, but those completely mediocre ones, you keep hoping that maybe in the next chapter things will get better and they never do.

45majkia
Jan 13, 7:13am Top

Pearl Rule rules!

46BookstoogeLT
Jan 13, 8:18am Top

>45 majkia: I had actually never heard of those rules before.

*********** investigates**********

Son of a monkey gun!!!!! Great minds think alike! A couple of years ago I decided, arbitrarily, that a book needed to grab my attention in the first 50pages, or in my case since I read a lot of ebooks, 10%. I've really not used that lately but after checking out the Pearl Rules, it sounds like she's pretty happy with it and so I think I'll try to use it better this year!

Thank you!!!! Especially now that that gives me some blog fodder for another rambling post in the future ;-)

47BookstoogeLT
Jan 13, 8:20am Top

>45 majkia: And Mrs Bookstooge actually HAS the Nancy Pearl Librarian action figure. I just made the connection.

What a great day this turning out to be!!!!!

48majkia
Jan 13, 10:05am Top

>46 BookstoogeLT: >47 BookstoogeLT: Glad to be of service ;)

49BookstoogeLT
Jan 13, 3:13pm Top

Surviving a Bad Book - Freeware

This is the first SaBB post that I felt like I needed to put a warning in front of, so I did. Some rather disgusting subject matter :-(

50Narilka
Jan 13, 6:11pm Top

>49 BookstoogeLT: Wow. And that was published as scifi? So very glad I've never heard of that series or author. It really makes you wonder about people.

51BookstoogeLT
Edited: Jan 13, 8:30pm Top

>50 Narilka: My first thought was that it was self-pubbed, but now, looking at it, I'm not so sure. I'd have to go digging into the publisher to find if it was a vanity press or not. I don't care enough :-)

It certainly made me wonder!

52BookstoogeLT
Jan 14, 10:23am Top

A Lonely Place of Dying
Batman/Robin #2
4 Stars

Since one of the authors in this comic chose to make a political statement and I address that, I'll be providing a link to my WP review as well.

A Lonely Place of Dying on Wordpress

53BookstoogeLT
Jan 15, 8:50pm Top

Sympathy for the Devil
Oh My Goddess! #5
4 Stars

The Review:

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: Sympathy for the Devil
Series: Oh My Goddess! #5
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 160
Format: Paperback

Synopsis:


Mara causes a lot of ruckus trying to divide up Belldandy and Kei and in the process it is revealed that Mara is a demoness.

Bell and Urd's little sister Skuld comes to fix some bugs and Kei is almost sucked into another dimension while hijinks ensue.

Other hijinks, involving Megumi, the Motor Club, Sayoko and Aoshima, happen and laughs are called for by the audience.

My Thoughts:

It is really being brought home to me that this is a comedic, episodic manga. It is nothing like Eyeshield 21 and I need to stop expecting something inspiring. This is for laughs and 3 Stooges style of humor, ie, poking of eyes, hitting with hammers, etc.

One thing that did make me smile pretty good was the fact that Urd is put to sleep by Polka music and that's used against her by Mara. At the same time, Mara has to dance if she hears Disco, and Urd uses that against her! Speaking of Mara, I don't understand why the “mystery” of her gender until now? It was good for one gag, and that was it.

With the introduction of Skuld, we now have the 3 Norns and the author can play around with Norse mythology interwoven into modern Japanese culture all he wants. Urd and Skuld fight a lot and if that continues, it will get old very fast. Skuld is young and impetuous and very much a “little sister” figure, which makes me wonder just what part Megumi, Kei's younger sister, is going to end up playing.

Most of the stories were much more focused on Bell, Urd and Kei this time around instead of having them mixing with all 72 other side characters.

The cuteness factor continues to ramp up, especially when you get multiple chibi versions of BOTH Belldandy and Urd!

INSERT CHIBI PIX

This felt like a very busy volume yet beyond the introduction of Skuld, not much actually happens. Fujishima the author really doesn't seem to have an overarching story and is just playing it by ear week to week ie, chapter by chapter. When that is done right, like with Yotsuba!&, it is fantastic. Here, it is walking the line of feeling frenetic and slightly directionless.

★★★★☆

54BookstoogeLT
Jan 18, 4:34pm Top

Holy smokes, this was a big book! Kept me occupied for days!!!

The Bonehunters
Steven Erikson
4 Stars

Due to Erikson really shoveling out the Existential Philosophy, here's my wordpress link as well:
The Bonehunters on WP

55BookstoogeLT
Jan 20, 9:17am Top

Lord of Light
Roger Zelazny
2.5 Stars

Buddhism 101, so here's my WP link:

Lord of Light on wordpress

56Narilka
Jan 20, 7:15pm Top

>55 BookstoogeLT: I've been curious about Zelanzy but none of the blurbs I've checked out for his books really made me want to read them immediately. I think I'll stay on the fence a while longer.

57ScoLgo
Jan 20, 7:40pm Top

>56 Narilka: Roger Zelazny happens to be one of my favorite authors. For anyone that has not yet read him, I think he's worth checking out. OTOH, if a reader doesn't like Lord of Light, then the rest of his works are unlikely to appeal either.

58Narilka
Jan 20, 8:26pm Top

>57 ScoLgo: Good to know that Lord of Light is a nice place to start.

59AHS-Wolfy
Jan 20, 8:45pm Top

>55 BookstoogeLT: Shame you didn't like that one as it's on my tbr shelves. The only Zelazny that I've read so far are the first 5 of the Amber books. Still need to get to the other 5 of those at some point.

60BookstoogeLT
Jan 20, 10:02pm Top

>56 Narilka: Can't say I'd recommend him. Not unless you're just looking to read some classic SF.

>59 AHS-Wolfy: I didn't like the Amber books either :-) But this just confirms, no more Zelazny for me...

61BookstoogeLT
Jan 21, 7:28am Top

The Thorn of Dentonhill
Marshall Maresca
2 Stars

62BookstoogeLT
Jan 23, 6:30am Top

Thraxas and the Icedragon
Martin Scott
3.5 Stars

63BookstoogeLT
Jan 24, 10:29am Top

City of Night
Dean Koontz
3.5 Stars

64BookstoogeLT
Edited: Jan 25, 5:29pm Top

My Antonia
Willa Cather
4 Stars

65BookstoogeLT
Jan 26, 6:30pm Top

Stranger of Tempest
Tom Lloyd
4 Stars

66Narilka
Jan 26, 10:47pm Top

Just playing it safe and linking all your reviews now?

67BookstoogeLT
Jan 27, 3:43am Top

68aqeeliz
Jan 27, 5:19am Top

>67 BookstoogeLT: You know, I actually started liking your reviews :P

69BookstoogeLT
Jan 27, 5:53am Top

>68 aqeeliz: Thanks. If you're not a fan of wordpress, you can always use the rss feed provided by LT too. Not sure how well it works, but it's there.

70BookstoogeLT
Jan 27, 3:51pm Top

71BookstoogeLT
Jan 27, 5:24pm Top

Curse of the Wendigo
Rick Yancey
1/2 Star

DNF@64%

72Narilka
Jan 27, 6:06pm Top

>71 BookstoogeLT: Though different that reminds me of the horrid sex scene Yancey put in The Last Star. Makes you wonder what's going on with him.

73BookstoogeLT
Jan 27, 6:30pm Top

>72 Narilka: And these are a teen imprint too! I'm rather horrified. Of course, it just means parents need to be the gatekeepers...

74cmbohn
Jan 27, 9:33pm Top

Stopped by the blog to comment.

75Sakerfalcon
Jan 29, 2:27am Top

>64 BookstoogeLT: I'm glad you liked My Antonia so much. Cather is a great writer, and really captures the spirit of a place and its people.

76BookstoogeLT
Feb 3, 8:02pm Top

>74 cmbohn: Thanks! Sorry I didn't reply back, but this has not been a very good past 2 weeks.

>75 Sakerfalcon: Another blogger gave me a list of books that they thought I'd like based on my liking Cather so much. I'm rather hopeful :-)

77BookstoogeLT
Feb 3, 8:06pm Top

January Roundup & Ramblings

Bad end to the month. Going to be affecting February and my time spent online.

78Narilka
Feb 3, 8:42pm Top

>77 BookstoogeLT: That sucks. And the month ended with two bad books on top of it all. I'm sure you and Mrs B will make it through.

79Sakerfalcon
Feb 4, 2:51am Top

>77 BookstoogeLT: I hope your plan for February bears fruit and you can see the way ahead clearly.

80BookstoogeLT
Feb 4, 5:33pm Top

>78 Narilka: & >79 Sakerfalcon: Thank you both. This past week felt like it was a month long, so I suspect February is going to be one very long month :-)

81BookstoogeLT
Feb 4, 6:11pm Top

Blood and Bone
Ian Esslemont
4.5 Stars

82BookstoogeLT
Feb 5, 8:16pm Top

All's Well that Ends Well
Willy Shakes
3 Stars

83YouKneeK
Feb 5, 9:04pm Top

>82 BookstoogeLT: That one wasn’t on my radar at all. In fact, to show off my complete ignorance, I didn’t even realize there was a play by that name. I’m sorry if you’ve already said this and I missed it, but do you have a schedule for how often you’ll be reading these? Or is it mixed in with your series rotation? I’m particularly looking forward to your thoughts on Hamlet.

My understanding of “comedy” in Shakespearean terms is that it referred more to a happy ending than to humor, even though it might have humor also. So if everybody wasn’t dead at the end, I think that does mean it was a comedy. :)

84BookstoogeLT
Feb 6, 6:57am Top

>83 YouKneeK: I have a book entitled "The Complete Shakespeare" and am making part of my regular rotation. So every 5-8 weeks I'll be getting to another Shakespeare play. I haven't looked at the table of contents but I think it is simply alphabetical. I suppose I could pay some money and get a good, historical, annotated, blabbety-blab, edition. But for now, I just want to read his stuff. Maybe the next time I'll get a "good" version.

I will keep those definitions in mind. That should definitely help in determining how I look at each one.

85MrsLee
Feb 6, 9:20am Top

>84 BookstoogeLT: My compilation of Shakespeare has the plays sorted by type, with some sonnets at the end, which makes it easier. I have decided that will look for (in a rather passive way, as in, if I chance upon it) certain of my favorites hardbound in good editions. Or at least hardbound on their own. I have Macbeth, would love to find Hamlet and a couple of the comedies. I have a shortened version of Midsummer Night's Dream with beautiful illustrations.

I had planned to read one play a month at one time, but was distracted by other books on my shelves. Books can be so needy.

86BookstoogeLT
Feb 6, 4:19pm Top

>85 MrsLee: I guess I'll be finding just how mine is organized :-)
If I come across any that I particularly like I might think about buying them in hardcover. But I'd have to like it a lot at this point. Too many books already!

I look at books like the orphan master looked at Oliver Twist. Whip them into line! Hahahahaa

87BookstoogeLT
Feb 7, 8:04am Top

Conventions of War
Walter Jon Williams
2.5 Stars

88BookstoogeLT
Feb 8, 9:43am Top

Ghosts of Tomorrow
Michael Fletcher
3.5 Stars

89BookstoogeLT
Feb 10, 12:30pm Top

The Potter's Field
Ellis Peters
3 Stars

90BookstoogeLT
Feb 13, 2:54pm Top

Revolution
Joshua Dalzelle
3 Stars

91BookstoogeLT
Feb 17, 6:28am Top

Temple of the Serpent
C.L. Werner
3 Stars

92Narilka
Feb 17, 8:44pm Top

>91 BookstoogeLT: I've always been vaguely curious about the Warhammer books. Thanks for the review. I think I'll pass :)

93BookstoogeLT
Feb 18, 7:15am Top

>92 Narilka: Yeah, I always just thought of them as an alternate to the Forgotten Realms. Not so much! I doubt I'll be reading any more of them past 2018.

94BookstoogeLT
Feb 18, 7:30am Top

Robin: A Hero Reborn
Robinverse #3
4 Stars

95BookstoogeLT
Feb 22, 8:27am Top

96BookstoogeLT
Feb 24, 4:39pm Top

Sackett Brand
Louis L'Amour
3 Stars

97Darth-Heather
May 9, 9:02am Top

Where has Bookstooge gone?

98mattries37315
May 9, 1:26pm Top

>97 Darth-Heather: Except for coming around to read threads of friends who don't have outside blogs, he's stay away from LT and just doing stuff on his own Wordpress blog.

99BookstoogeLT
May 9, 5:40pm Top

>97 Darth-Heather: Yeah, pretty much what Matt said :-) I realized in my year here last year at the Green Dragon that groups of people, and the rules needed to make them all get along, weren't for me. So I'm pretty much just over on my blog at bookstooge.wordpress.com

I crosspost all my review to LT, but without a "comment" section, there isn't much interaction with me here at LT. This is kind of a backup backup site :-)

100Darth-Heather
May 10, 9:25am Top

>99 BookstoogeLT: If it's ok with you, I would like to follow your blog. I miss your book reviews.

I'm sorry your experience on LT hasn't been quite right; it's not ideal for everyone and I'm glad you have alternatives.

101Karlstar
Sep 15, 2:17pm Top

>99 BookstoogeLT: I would be happy to see more of your reviews here!

102BookstoogeLT
Sep 15, 5:56pm Top

>101 Karlstar: Glad you used the "interesting libraries" function. That's probably the best way to keep track of my reviews here on LT. I stick with wordpress for the interaction...

103Narilka
Sep 15, 7:05pm Top

>102 BookstoogeLT: Completely random. I'm listening to Revenger right now, almost done. I really really wish I'd remembered you had reviewed it before I had downloaded it. Its pretty terrible and your review sums up my thoughts nicely.

104BookstoogeLT
Sep 15, 7:10pm Top

>103 Narilka: Yeah, it is a very good thing Revenger wasn't my first Reynolds or I'd have never read another one by him...

105Karlstar
Sep 15, 9:16pm Top

>104 BookstoogeLT: Thanks for steering me away from Revenger. Is there a Reynolds you'd recommend? If I remember correctly, I didn't care for Revelation Space, but honestly I don't remember a darn thing about it.

106BookstoogeLT
Sep 15, 9:34pm Top

>105 Karlstar: Well to be honest, I'm a pretty newby when it comes to Reynolds. I was hooked with his collection of short stories Beyond the Aquila Rift: The best of Alastair Reynolds and I just read Revelation Space and liked it.
I recommend trying his Best Of and if that doesn't work for, then he's probably just not for you. I had to admit defeat about Iain Banks, as I wanted to like his Culture books but ended up hating the ones I read very forcefully :-(

And have you tried Neal Asher? His Polity is splatterrific and chockful of tech and aliens.

107Karlstar
Sep 16, 1:20pm Top

>106 BookstoogeLT: I haven't but I will give them a try! I am the reverse on Banks - I loved The Player of Games, Look to Windward and Consider Phlebas. Some of his others are so-so.

108Sakerfalcon
Sep 17, 8:20am Top

>105 Karlstar:, >106 BookstoogeLT: I thought the Revelation space trilogy was great, but I liked the related novel Chasm City even more, and reading it doesn't commit you to other books if it's not your thing.

109BookstoogeLT
Sep 17, 4:13pm Top

>108 Sakerfalcon: I am reading the Revelation Space Collection, and I think that has 6 or 7 books in it? Works for me because then I don't have to try to chase down a bunch of stuff...

110Karlstar
Sep 18, 7:54pm Top

>108 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, maybe I'll give Chasm City a try.

111ScoLgo
Sep 18, 10:56pm Top

>105 Karlstar: To date, I have only read one Reynolds; Century Rain is a stand-alone that I enjoyed quite a bit. The story is described on Wikipedia as, "a noir science fiction alternate history mystery novel", and I would say that sums it up pretty well. It's not perfect but it contains a lot of big ideas and some really interesting world-building. Might not be a bad one to dip the toes, so to speak...

112Karlstar
Sep 19, 10:31pm Top

>111 ScoLgo: Thanks very much for the suggestion, adding it to my TBR list.

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