Warlock ★★★☆☆

warlock (Custom)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: Warlock
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 221
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

The Darklands, a loose coalition of city states presided over by General Dark, have been at war with the Orogonians, led by the tyrant Justin Matabain. There have been credible reports that the Orogonians have breached the Mountains and found the fabled land filled with technology left over before The Blank, a time of crisis 1,000 years ago.

General Dark sends a small detachment led by his most trusted Captain to Shaker Sandow. Shakers are powerful men with powers beyond the normal. They need the Shaker and his 2 apprentices to help them find this Orogonian outpost and take it for themselves, or at worst, deny it to both sides. Before the expedition even starts out though, 20 men are murdered in their beds and the 3 Shakers are set upon. Thus they all realize that the Orogonians have some spies within their midsts.

On their journey to cross the mountains and find the fabled city of treasures, the spies kill almost half the group before being revealed themselves. But they aren’t human. They are wire worm things inhabiting the bodies of their hosts and taking over. They are dealt with and killed.

Once over the mountains, the Darklanders must deal with Orogonians who have made use of such technology as airplanes and guns. Shaker Sandow uses his powers to find an unused entrance into the city where the remaining Darklanders fall victim to the descendants of genetically modified humans inhabiting the bodies of massive blue apes.

Turns out the apes were just incapacitating them all to be on the safe side, since the Orogonians had been treacherous and tried to kill all the apes. They all team up, wipe out the Orogonians in the city, take a super-submarine back to their land and wipe out most of the Tyrant’s stores of technology and his castle where he lived, thus hopefully wiping him out.

Shaker Sandow and his apprentices realize they have brought the potential for unending war back to life and envision a time when all the Shakers can come together and lead the world into a utopia of peace and knowledge.

 

My Thoughts:

This was written in 1972. It reminded me a LOT of John Christopher’s middle grade series The Sword of the Spirits trilogy that was released in 1970. Post-apocalyptic Earth with humanity rising again. Koontz is a bit more on the positive side though, with his ending foreseeing a return to the stars and a Utopia established. I did have to roll my eyes because the idea is predicated on the “fact” that knowledge alone will temper humanities’ worst impulses. Koontz has definitely bought into the Religion of Scyenze in this book. Sadly, Hitler, an extremely educated man, really taught that Generation nothing.

A decent story with some action but I didn’t feel any of the tension that I think Koontz meant to inhabit the pages. Part of that is I’m a widely read reader so nothing of this is new any more and I’ve read enough Koontz to know what he likes to write about. He likes to write about new flesh that is super in some way and while not an exact replication of that idea, the wire worms taking over the bodies were as close as could be gotten.

In regards to that “widely read reader”, there was a small section of the story where the darklanders came across an oasis of jungle land that was converted all to crystals of various kinds, ie, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, etc. Plants, animals, all turned to jewels. It immediately made me think of JG Ballard’s short story, The Illuminated Man from his Complete Short Stories Collection. That was published at least in 1964 and I’m sure Koontz “used” the idea because he thought it was cool. However, as a reader, it came across as”I don’t have enough of my own ideas so I’ll use somebody else’s to pad my own story”. That can be a fine line. Sometimes it is cool to see an idea recycled from one author to another and sometimes it really isn’t cool.

Overall, I’d call this a decent story. While it lacked the pizzazz and tension I prefer, it also didn’t end on a “pull it out of a hat” ending that I’ve experienced with some of Koontz’s other stories.

★★★☆☆

 

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Book Give-Away: Myth Adventures Series

giveaway

The Rules:

United States only unless you’re willing to pay shipping for out of country. Should that be the case Paypal will be involved and paypal fees’s will be added. So if you’re not living in the US, think real hard about entering. I’ll be paying for shipping in the US, as the bookrate is still pretty cheap these days.

I’m going to try to vary what I’m offering, but most will be of the SF/F variety, from paperbacks to hardcovers. Some manga might be involved in the future. I’ll be putting up pictures each post so you know what you’ll actually be getting. 

If you win a giveaway, you can’t try again for the next 2. Kind of arbitrary, but I really don’t want one person to sweep in and take everything 😀 But when that 3rd one rolls around, enter away! If I get a lot of spammers and non-followers entering, well, they’ll be “dealt with”.

To enter, just shoot me an email at Bookstooge at Gmail with “Book Giveaway – (Insert Book/Series Name)” in the subject line. I’ll be using a random dice selector to determine the winner. I will announce the winner in the next Give-Away post and email them to work out the details. 

These rules are subject to change without notice. And don’t blame me if the police arrest you for winning that “How to Murder Your Boss and Get Away with It” book. You didn’t have to enter.

 

Last Month’s Winner:

HP over at EveryDayShouldBeTuesday won the give-away for the Barsoom/Mars omnibus books. Congrats HP,  your books will be getting to you soon!

 

This Month’s Books:

This month I am giving away 8 of the Myth Adventure books by Robert Asprin in mass market paperback. They are short, light and humorous. I believe I picked them all up at a yardsale for $2 many years ago. This is not the complete series and beyond the first 2 books listed, I’m not sure which order they go in.

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The 8 books are:

Another Fine Myth
Myth Conceptions
Myth Directions
Hit or Myth
Mything Persons
Little Myth Marker
Mythnomers & Impervections
Myth Inc. In Action

 

This give-away is open until November 16 and I will announce the winner Sunday, November 17 with the next entry in the Book Give-Away series.

Enjoy!

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Ministry of Healing (Non-Fiction) ★★★☆☆

ministryofhealing (Custom)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 Ministry of Healing
Series: ———
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 355
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

White reiterates how Jesus’ ministry was as much physical healing as it was a forgiving of sins. She then talks to physicians and nurses about how they should ministering to both soul and body in their duties. Finally, she goes over various healthful habits that the laity can do on their own to help keep themselves healthy, thus ensuring that they are able to reach out to non-Christians.

 

My Thoughts:

Most of my issues with this book are the same exact ones that I had with The Great Controversy. So no need to re-hash them all. With just a couple of exceptions. Those I will add right now.

White claims that cheese is completely unfit for human consumption. My guess is because the process of creating cheese is pretty much letting milk rot. Be that as it may, I vehemently disagree. I’ll agree that cheese can be unhealthy in terms of fat and cholesterol, but completely unfit for consumption? I don’t think so! I would give up beef before I give up cheese (and to be honest, I really don’t eat red meat any more. Turkeys and chickens for me). The second issue is her saying that pickles aren’t to be eaten either. I’m not nearly as big a proponent of pickles as I am cheese, but I regularly eat a small jar of Vlasic kosher dill spears every week. For me, they are a great way to get salt back into my system from the physical labor I do all day and get some yummy crunch. They serve a purpose and I am not just eating them for the taste (even though I do like the taste of dill pickles a lot).

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With that out of the way, I’ll talk some about what I do agree with. Just like in my Quote Post earlier this month, White directly addresses Appetite. All aspects of a Christian’s life is to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. A loss of self-control, which is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, shows that you aren’t as mature as God wants you to be in your Christian Growth. And a deliberate loss of control is a spurning of what God offers you. Overeating is a small thing in and of itself, but the consequences of a life of overeating lead to what we see in America today (obesity numbers ballooning up and causing all sorts of health issues) AND it shows that Christ is not in control of your life, your Appetite is. Gluttony isn’t something we hear preached about from the pulpit any more, but considering the typical American lifestyle, I think it should be. White wrote this back in 1905 and it is just as appropriate today as then, if not more so.

Alcohol. I am a teetotaler, someone who abstains from alcohol completely. I was brought up this way and nothing I’ve seen in in other’s lives, even Christians, makes me think that another option is open to me. White was part of the Temperance Movement of her times, which had a big hand in passing Prohibition back in the 20’s. Where White and I part ways is that she categorically condemns alcohol. That goes beyond what the Bible says. The Bibles tells Christians to NEVER get drunk but it does not forbid alcohol. However, the amount of people who can walk that line is small and from my own anecdotal evidence, should not be used to justify drinking at all. I don’t think Christians should drink. The negatives of alcohol far outweigh the positives and I have seen too many lives destroyed, or seen the collateral damage from such a self-destruction. It is like having a lion on the end of a chain attached to your wrist.

Finally, White goes over the importance of proper dress (both for modesty and health), fresh air, exercise and proper ventilation in any living quarters. A lot of the specifics are kind of like “well yeah…” to anyone who lives today, but it just goes to show how far ahead of her time White was. I also found that most of these things I was already doing, as I work outdoors at a physically laborious job.

To end this, I would re-title this something along the lines of “Aunt Ellen’s Big Book of Homilies”. Bits and pieces of wisdom but not something you should create any theology from.

★★★☆☆

 

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Quick Fire Fantasy (Tag)

fire-033

Bookstooge IS the Fire!

Joelendil tagged me with this and since it was his first time doing a tag on his blog, I wanted to make sure to actually do this instead of letting it languish in my “saved drafts” like the 3 other tags I currently have sitting in there.  I guess the point of this tag is to just react quickly to the questions with fantasy titles and not think, like a flame of fire racing along dried wood, devouring everything in its path.

Hope you have your s’mores ready!

 

5 STAR BOOK

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The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen. One of the few times that the art overpowered me & one of the few graphic novels that impressed the ever-living daylights out of me.

 

ALWAYS GOING TO RECOMMEND

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Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher.  This is the first book in the Codex Alera series and the whole series is just fantastic.  Never could get into Dresden and almost gave up on Butcher, until I tried this. Now I am a fan of the author, just not Dresden.

 

OWN IT BUT HAVEN’T READ

warlockholmes

The Warlock Holmes books (to date). I’m saving them to read until the series finishes. That is how I roll, yo, power to the people! #englishlivesmatter

 

WOULD READ IT AGAIN

eyeoftheworld

Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Not only WOULD I read this book again, but I WILL be reading this book, and series, again. Hopefully by the end of year if not a little sooner.

 

IN ANOTHER WORLD

magickingdom

While MOST fantasy does take place on another world already, the book that sprang to mind was Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold! by Terry Brooks. Ben buys a magic kingdom in a cataloge, thinking it’s a joke. Only to have it turn out to be a Real Magic Kingdom in another world and he is king indeed.

 

BACK ON EARTH

thirteenthchild

The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede.  The Frontier Magic trilogy by Wrede takes place in an Alternate American West.  Wrede is one those female writers who doesn’t write warrior women grrrl power books and hence seems to not have caught the wave of social pukeitude sweeping the world. This is middle grade, so while it isn’t deeply complex, neither is it simplistic. Wrede is too good a writer for that!

 

I don’t tag people, just in case you didn’t know. But if you want something quick and easy, this definitely fits the category.  I will leave you now with the words from a song that are very apropos, even if I have nothing good whatsoever to say about the band.

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Ragged Man (Twilight Reign #4) ★★★★☆

raggedman (Custom)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 Ragged Man
Series: Twilight Reign #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 612
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

At the end of the previous book Isak killed the son of Lord Styrax, the most powerful man in the world. In his rage, Styrax did not just kill Isak, but sent him directly to Ghenna (hell) to be tortured forever. Isak had dreamed about this scenario and he and his friend Mihn, the failed Harlequin, had set in motion a plan. Mihn had covered himself in magical tattoos of invisibility to both physical and spiritual entities. With the help of a witch, Mihn travels to Ghenna and recovers Isak. Upon their return though, Isak is a thoroughly broken man and it is up to Mihn to nurse him back to some normalcy.

Styrax is a broken man by the death of his son and heir and it takes the child Azeur to snap him out of his funk and to begin leading his Menin army again. Azeur posits a passive coalition with Styrax without revealing it’s actual goal and Styrax agrees. Styrax forces a non-aggression pact with the Farlan since Lord Isak is dead and half their army destroyed. They accept since if they refuse they’ll face civil war. This allows Styrax to concentrate on the one man who might be able to stop him, King Emin.

Azeur has set in motion its plans for the Harlequin nation and has recruited them to act as preachers and messengers for it. They begin by slightly changing their stories to make the gods appear more buffoonish or tyrannical or any extreme than originally intended. The Harlequins also begin preaching about a child savior that will lead the entire land without any interference from the gods. King Emin sees the danger of this and hires men and women to kill these preachers. Many Harlequins are killed but almost nobody understands what is going on, as Harlequins have always been neutral parties before this.

Styrax and his army marches on the kingdom of Narkang and begins razing it to the ground. Isak and Emin concoct a plan, one throw of the dice, where all will be won or lost. Emin confronts Styrax and his army at a castle and a huge battle ensues. Isak catches Styrax in a trap because he doesn’t try to kill him. Isak forces the gods to help him and they strip all memories of Styrax from the land and take Styrax’s identity from him. Styrax is now the Ragged Man, a legend of a man who lost his soul and now kills in the shadows to try to get it back. The Menin army falls apart without any memory of Styrax but Emin and the kingdom of Narkang have paid for this victory in more blood than they can truly afford.

Azeur can begin its plans in earnest now that Styrax isn’t around to keep it in check.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I’ve said it before, but I am watching Lloyd’s writing skill increase right before my eyes with this series. The first 2 books were pretty rough but now, things are flowing smoothly. His skill in handling multiple points of view no longer leaves me stumbling about and the awkwardness from before is almost gone. It’s not perfect, but it is noticeably different. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever noticed such a skill increase from an author before? Maybe I never started with one that was so amateurish though. But whatever, this was good!

Mihn’s journey to hell and back was a bit slow and not very action oriented. It had me worried that the entire book was going to be like that. Thankfully, once the main story switched back to Styrax and King Emin, things got moving. The battle at the end of the book was massive. It was enjoyable. It was everything I wanted from a big epic fantasy book.

While I had serious reservations about recommending this series based on the previous books, I’d now recommend this series as long as you’re willing to deal with Lloyd’s lack of skill in the first couple of books. I realize that is a back-handed compliment, but it’s the truth. But even with that, I’d still recommend starting with Lloyd’s God Fragments series. It starts off, skill-wise, where Twilight Reign ends.

★★★★☆

 

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Superman II: The Donner Cut (1980 Movie)

220px-supermaniiricharddonnercutI guess that directors and studios having tiffs isn’t a new thing. While Zack Snyder and Warner Brothers parted ways with the recent DC Extended Universe movie franchise, Supes has experienced this kind of panty-twisting before. Hence this version of Superman II.

Most of the differences are in timing and tone. You can tell that this and the first Superman movie were meant to be a two-part story. That wasn’t evident from the theatrical release. In this, the missile that frees Zod and Co was the missile Lex Luthor launched, not a hydrogen bomb in Paris. In fact, that whole terrorist scene was cut from this version, or technically I guess, it was never filmed. Another difference was in how Lois realized Superman and Clark Kent were the same. Her life threatening stunt was different too. She throws herself out of a window on the 30th Floor of the Daily Planet instead of jumping into the river at Niagra Falls.

However, I found one of the biggest changes to be the inclusion of Jor-El as the brain at the Fortress of Solitude.

spacedad

Marlon Brando played Jor-El.  This riff on that never fails to amuse me. This is from Mega Mind, an animated movie I plan on reviewing in the future.

I guess there were money/rights issues with Brando and his ego, so the theatrical release cut everything with him out and replaced most of his dialogue with Supe’s mom. If you ever read much of the comics, the scanned brain of Jor-El tended to be an arrogant ass-hat. Well, that was true here for sure. He was a pompous, arrogant control freak who would have been a horrible father. He basically kicks Supes in the yarbos when he returns asking for his powers back. It was down right unpleasant to watch. Him sacrificing himself to give back Kal-El his powers didn’t move me at all like I’m guessing it was supposed to. It made me feel glad that the jerk was going to be gone!

Finally, the ending. In the theatrical release Clark super-kisses Lois so she forgets he’s Superman. In THIS version he flies around the world and turns back time, just like in the first movie. It made me roll my eyes so hard but in many senses it simply tied the first and second movie together even tighter, like it was originally supposed to be.

Overall, I actually enjoyed the theatrical version better. I thought the story flowed better, the lack of Jor-El the ass-hat was a huge plus and while super-kissing is stupid, turning back time AGAIN is even stupider (and if you think stupider isn’t a word, you’re stupider!).  I’d only recommend this movie if you’re a huge Superman movie buff. Or if you want to see Superman grovel before his over-bearing father.

 

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An Odd Conversation

Mrs B related the following story to me that she was reading:

Main Character is learning to fly a plane. He learns. Then Side Character says he wants to learn and Main Character puts on a space suit. They end up in space while flying the plane. Side Character teaches Main Character how to survive without breathing and they give the spacesuit to the flight instructor. They promptly crash into the space station, where the flight instructor and an American astronaut get mixed up and the astronaut flies back to Earth with Main Character and Side Character. End of related story.

I was going off about how that made NO SENSE whatsoever and Mrs B says something like “magic” and I replied “yes, stupid writer treating physics and ballistics like magic”. She then says “No, literally magic. Side Character is a magician.”  I end the conversation with “Well, as odd as it sounds, THAT actually makes way more sense.”

Ever have those really weird conversations?

 

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