The Over Soul (Shaman King #4) ★★★☆½ (Manga Monday)

oversoul (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 Over Soul
Series: Shaman King #4
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

The Patch Tribe have been the overseers for the Shaman Fight for quite some time. Their connection to the Great Spirit allows them to determine if a Shaman is capable of being part of the Shaman Fight. Silva and 9 other Patch overseers are sent to Japan to test various candidates and weed out the failures before hand.

Silva tests Yoh and all Yoh has to do is touch Silva. However, Silva manifests his spirits through totems and his mana (chi) gives them physical form, thus preventing Yoh from simply flinging Amidamaru at him. The test is to determine if Yoh can actually channel his own mana and what strength as a shaman he has. Yoh figures out how to manifest Amidamaru using his sword and is able to land one blow on Silva. Yoh now has a genuine Patch Pager Oracle, which will tell him who to fight, when to fight and any conditions.

Ren Tao also defeats his overseer, but kills the guy. The overseer was a friend of Silva and Silva can’t figure out why Ren is still allowed to continue in the Shaman Fight even though he has demonstrated he is a little psychopathic killer. The rest of the Overseers basically tell Silva to shut up and do what they say.

Yoh has his first fight against a young shaman named Horohoro, who uses a snowboard as his totem. Horohoro has a dream to make all mankind live in harmony with nature and Yoh almost gives up to allow him to proceed. Thankfully, Anna is there and smacks him around and he gets back on track. But now he has his own dream, of living the easy life, and of making Horohoro’s dream come true. The fight is just beginning when the volume ends.

 

My Thoughts:

I dropped this a half star for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, while harmony with nature has been chatted up before, here it felt like a date. I too have a dream. To pave the entire planet. I wish more people WOULD get out into nature, REAL nature, not the fake stuff you have around cities and suburbs. Then maybe all those people would die and everyone else would realize how terrible nature is and how it should be conquered.

Second, the whole Patch tribe and the Great Spirit schtick. There is a 2 page long talk about how the Great Spirit is the supreme being of the entire universe but that it can’t actually foresee the future, blah, blah, blah. It is a bunch of nonsense (in that it really makes no sense and contradicts itself) and is so amorphous that Takei (the manga-ka) can use it as he wishes. Also, the vibes given off by the Patch Overseers is rather tyrannical.

But if you don’t overanalyze things and just let those things drift on by, this was a lot of fun. Yoh is learning new things and picking up new allies, maybe without even realizing it. His Entourage was already started with Anna, Manta and Ryu but now he has made friends with Silva and I’m pretty sure he and Horohoro become good friends. A King needs allies.

The Patch are obviously going to be involved way more than just as Overseers. The whole thing between Silva and the others over the death of his friend showed clearly that the Patch are just as human as any of the shamans. Thus they have their own agendas and schisms. I suspect corruption and collusion at some point in the narrative to help drive the drama.

I think the most amusing part of this volume was when Horohoro finds out that Anna and Yoh are engaged. He starts feeling inferior because he doesn’t even have a girlfriend. It made me laugh because it is SO how a boy would think.

★★★☆½

 

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#6degrees – from The Outsiders to His Sombre Rivals

Bookwyrm Knits did this association thing this month and I figured I’d try my hand at it. It was pretty fun making the connections.

 

 

I read the Outsiders, along with Rumblefish, back in my middleschool days. I don’t remember much about the books except thinking what a bunch of sad people the stories revolved around.  The local library, where I volunteered in highschool had several of her books.

The local library was where I found Way-Farer, one of my favorite books of all time and one I still rave about today. That cover, with that sword, that was just pure teen boy magnet. I’ve written quite a few posts on Way-Farer, so no need to go on here.

A sword on the cover leads to the next book, King’s Dragon by Kate Elliott. That was the first of seven in her Crown of Stars series. A 7  books series was not the longest series I had read, nor would it be the last, but it was the one that I realized that a long series isn’t always a good series. I finished it but ended up selling the hardcovers soon afterwards.

The opposite of a long series is not a short series. No, the opposite is the Standalone. A standalone that I really enjoyed in 2006 was Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates.  Dealing with time travel, history and time paradoxes that aren’t time paradoxes, The Anubis Gates was fun, interesting  and had just enough history to show that Powers was a fan of history but not afraid to play around behind the scenes. He’s writing like history isn’t real.

What is real though, is war. What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes was one of the few non-fiction books I read in 2011, if not the ONLY non-fiction book of that year.  Getting a soldier’s perspective is a good thing for civilians, as we just don’t know jack-squat about what they are dealing with. Marlantes being a Rhodes scholar as well as a Vietnam vet upped his credibility in my eyes.

The American Civil War was vastly different from the Vietnam War. His Sombre Rivals by Edward Payson Roe is set during that time.  A bromance where 2 guys both love the same woman but the unsuccessful one doesn’t whine or allow his feelings to destroy the friendship he has with both his friend and the woman. True Manliness. Probably the best book I read in 2015.

 

 

There you have it, 6 book associations from the early 90’s up until 2015.  You can see all the rules and blabberywhatnot the creators/hosters of this association thing put up (seems like almost everyone who starts something like this can’t resist making everyone else goosestep to their tune). I’ll probably check in at the original place every couple of months and see what another starting book is. It is fun to make these links 🙂

 

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Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book of the Fallen #9) ★☆☆☆½

dustofdreams (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: Dust of Dreams
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #9
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 950
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The White Faced Bargast, now returned to their ancestral lands, are hemmed in by the lands current sets of clans and misused.The Bargast are now led by Onos Toolan, a resurrected T’lan Imass. He is trying to change their ways but in the face of a hostile land, the Bargast reject Toolan’s leadership, kill him, hobble his wife and drive off his children. Toolan comes back as a T’lan (hence the Dust of Dreams). The Bargast face their enemies but everyone is destroyed when “something” simply freezes them all into little pieces. Toolan hunts down the survivors and kills them all to fulfill his vengeance against the Bargast. In doing so, he ignores a summons by Adjunct Tavore and the Bonehunters.

The Bonehunters are leaving Lether to head through the Wastes into a kingdom where a piece of the Fallen god is. The Adjunct’s plan is to destroy said piece. They are supposed to meet up with the Bargast (that obviously doesn’t happen) and the Grey Helms, a mercenary branch. The Bonehunters are accompanied by Brys Beddict and his elite guards from Letheri.

A Skykeep of K’chain Che’Malle origin, with the help of a lone surviving human, must find a Shield Anvil and a Mortal Sword if this set of K’Chain want to survive. They get Stormy and Gessler. They meet up with the Bonehunters.

Icarium is now a ghost and haunting a group of people who have found an abandoned Sky Keep. They begin to awaken the Keep, which was created just to destroy the short-tailed K’Chain, the Narruk.

The Narruk, who have a dozen skykeeps from another realm, invade the world of Malaz and end up in the Wastes. It is up to the Bonehunters and everyone else in the area to destroy them. But without the help of the T’lan Imass, the outcome is in doubt.

There is a huge devastating battle at the end and whole armies are destroyed. We don’t know who survives.

 

My Thoughts:

Before I started writing this review, I went and read my original one from 2010, just to see if my perspective on this book had changed. A lot of the time the years give me a new viewpoint and something I used to like I no longer do or something I hated I now enjoy. Unfortunately, the review from 2010 is pretty much exactly the same as what I’ll be writing here.

With this book Erikson has cemented in my mind that he is a real bag of crap. Out of 950 pages, the plot is only forwarded by maybe 200 of those pages. The rest is devoted Erikson spewing out depressing cant and nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. When somebody does do something good and heroic, Erikson makes sure to piss on it by having other characters destroy the moment with their own regrets and melancholy and depression. Any possible good thing Erikson squats over and craps on with a diarrhea quality.

This is a junk book and once again, while the series starts out so awesomely with Gardens of the Moon, it has descended into a morass of soapbox preaching and what’s worse, extremely BORING soapbox preaching. I no longer recommend this series because of the last 3 books.

This is the level of bloviated writing that destroyed the sales of his Karkanas trilogy (which is stuck at book 2 and looks like it will never get finished). Thankfully, Ian Esslemont seems to be doing a good job of actually writing a real trilogy with a real plot and keeping the world of Malaz alive. I do plan on reading the last book in this series but after that, I’ll just stick to Gardens of the Moon if I ever feel the need to dip my toes into the world of Malaz. It just isn’t fun sticking my head under this faucet of filth.

★☆☆☆½

 

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A Thousand Words for Stranger (Trade Pact #1) ★★★★☆

thousandwordsforstranger (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: A Thousand Words for Stranger
Series: Trade Pact #1, Clan Chronicles #4
Author: Julie Czerneda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A young woman comes to consciousness without her memory but with something inside insisting she get to the spaceport and get off whatever world she is on. After several mishaps, kidnapping by slavers being one, she gets on board Jason Morgan’s ship and signs on as a crew. Without her memory, Jason chooses the name Sira Morgan for her.

What Sira doesn’t know is that The Clan, a race of humanoids with telepathic powers, has contacted and contracted Jason to bring Sira to a particular destination. Morgan has had dealings with the Clan before and even though fully human has some small telepathic power himself. Due to his previous dealings, Morgan doesn’t feel it is safe to deliver Sira to anyone, so he keeps an eye on her and reveals what little he knows to Sira.

Sira is captured by a rogue Clan member who wants to marry her, mind wipe her and then impregnate her so his offspring will have her ultrapowerful Clan power. Morgan rescues her and brings Sira’s sister and guardian into the picture. They deliver Sira to the Clan Elders and Sira’s father reveals that everything was all according to Sira’s own plan and that Sira Morgan will die when Sira di Sarc regains her memory. Sira Morgan has fallen in love with Jason and he with her. He comes up with a plan to rescue her but Sira recovers her memories and realizes everything, even her own plans, were a ruse by her father to brainwipe her and use her like an auction piece to gain power for his own House.

Somehow Sira and Morgan escape without alerting any of the Clan that Sira has recovered her memory but not reverted back to Sira di Sarc. She and Morgan are now on the run and just one mis-step away from disaster and annihilation.

 

My Thoughts:

For some time I was on a real kick with the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I had to stop reading them due to some of the moral content but I enjoyed them as they scratched that Jane Austen in Space itch that I had but didn’t know I had until I read those books. This book had that exact same vibe. So much so that I went and did a little investigating, thinking that maybe Czerneda had got the idea from the other duo. Turns out this book came out the year BEFORE any of the Liaden books came out (as far as I can tell).

So to set the stage, this IS a romance book. However, unlike that horrible, horrible woman Lindsay Buroker, this is definitely more Austinesque in the romance. It is NOT about beating hearts, or smoldering glances, or tight pants or revealing of various body parts. Nor is it like a Janette Oak book that is nothing but feelings dumped like a hogshead of maple syrup all over the reader. In other words, this is romance that I, the manliest man I happen to know, like. Considering that someone once asked me if it was true that I beat Chuck Norris at Arm Wrestling, I think I’m pretty bleeping manly!

There were times I was a bit frustrated with Sira’s memory loss and how she reacted but that was strictly because I had more information than she did. It’s always easier to tell somebody what to do when you have more information than them. The other thing that left me a bit confuzzled was just WHAT the Clan actually is. It is never spelled out and little hints are given here and there about their history. Knowing, or not, doesn’t affect the story as far as I can tell, just one of those things that I as a reader “want”.

When I started this I was not sure what I was going to get. Thankfully, the book and I hit it off right from the start and I enjoyed my time reading this. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. There is a prequel trilogy, the Clan Chronicles but since they were published AFTER this Trade Pact trilogy I plan on reading everything in publication order.

So remember, Telepathic Jane Austen, In Space and you should be good to go!

★★★★☆

 

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The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories ★★☆☆½

mistletoemurder (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 Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories
Series: ———-
Author: P.D. James
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 176
Format: Hardcover Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of 4 stories about murder. None are connected nor did I care enough to outline each story or even bother to list them.

 

My Thoughts:

* Spoilers *

Sordid. That is the one word that I felt best described this small book of short stories by P.D. James. One of the stories is told by the murder/rapist and left me feeling disgusted. Another one was told by the Granddaughter of the murderess and it is justified in their eyes. Homosexuality, blackmail and suicide. Filth.

Two of the stories dealt with James’ detective character Adam Dalgliesh (which I still can’t spell without looking it up) and he might as well have been as invisible as a hat on a hat rack. You could have changed the name to John Smith and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. He had zero personality and almost no part to play in either one.

From an entertainment standpoint, this was a complete failure. I was not impressed and I suspect I would not have liked James and her disgusting love of all things perverse.

That being said. She can WRITE. I hate it when this happens. Why does someone who writes like she can have to delve into the filthy underbelly of humanity and seem to ENJOY it so much? Upon finishing this I immediately went to the library and got the first Adam Dalgliesh book. I’m giving that 2 books for James to convince me that she doesn’t actually like murderers and rapists. But if I get that sordid vibe again, James will be off my list.

★★☆☆½

 

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Surviving a Bad Book – Prince of Thorns

cover

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

2 Stars

 

 

Back in 2011 I kept hearing about this new up and coming author, Mark Lawrence and what a wunderkind he was. He was on the forefront of this new fantasy sub-genre, something called “grim dark”. I figured I had nothing to lose and dived into it.

Oh my goodness.  I was shocked, to say the least. Jorg was a 13 year old psychopath who raped and murdered his way through the book. There wasn’t a single good thing I could point to and it left me feeling betrayed and angry at Lawrence.  I don’t even remember any details about the plot, as Jorg dominated everything in my mind.

If I wanted that kind of entertainment, I can turn on the news. Seriously, there is enough horrible stuff in the real world, every single minute, of rape, of abuse, of neglect, of despair and of death for any sicko to get their rocks off. So why someone voluntarily reads this for fun is beyond me. What amazes me even more (in a bad way) is that someone wrote this. It boggles my mind that such filth was given the light of day. How does Lawrence go out in public knowing he penned, for any and all to read,  such things?

cigptrwweaajaya

 

And those strong feelings are why I’ve never read another Lawrence book since.  In the last couple of years I have heard good things about his Red Sister trilogy. Once the final book is out and if it doesn’t stoop to frenzied levels of despairing violence, I’ll probably give Lawrence another chance. But even if I like it, I’ll always remember that this guy wrote someone like Jorg.

 

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Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth #1) ★★☆☆☆

wizardsfirstrule (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: Wizard’s First Rule
Series: Sword of Truth #1
Author: Terry Goodkind
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 852
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Richard Cypher, still dealing with his father being brutally murdered, and forbidden from investigating by his elder brother who is about to become the most powerful man in Westland, rescues a young woman from the clutches of four men. Her name is Kahlan.

Kahlan is from the Midlands, a land where magic abounds and that is cutoff from Westland by the Border, a magical construct. But the Border between the Midlands and D’Hara has already fallen and Lord Rahl, lord of D’Hara, has taken over the Midlands. A prophecy says that Kahlan will find the Seeker, the wielder of the Sword of Truth, in the Westlands. This Seeker can only be appointed by the last remaining wizard, a wizard so powerful that he cast a spell that made everyone in the entire world forget his name and his face.

Richard takes Kahlan to his old friend Zed, a rascally old man who has trained Richard throughout the years in woodcraft and various other skills. Richard does something or other that makes it obvious that he is the Seeker Kahlan is looking for, but where will they find an unkown wizard who has the Sword of Truth to give to Richard? Oh wait…

Richard, Kahlan and Zed are on the run, as Lord Rahl is able to send magical creatures across the Border to hunt down Kahlan. Richard has memorized a secret book and Lord Rahl has done some magical stuff with some magical boxes. These boxes will either give Lord Rahl complete power, certain death or the destruction of all living things. Only Richard knows the correct box to pick.

Lord Rahl pulls shenanigans and ends up with everybody at his castle. Everyone is so busy trying to protect everybody else that they give Lord Rahl exactly what he wants. He opens a Box of Orden, only Richard, being such a super smart Seeker, tricked him. Lord Rahl dies and it is revealed that Richard Cypher is actually the son of Lord Rahl and the grandson of the Wizard Zeddicus. Long Live the Good Lord Rahl!

 

My Thoughts:

Awwwww man! This went from a 5star read in ’04, on my Loved side of the 100 books of Bookstooge down to a 2 star! Folks, that is a crushing blow. I am not sure that Life itself is worth continuing. With a blow like that, my confidence is shattered, my ego destroyed and my ham-handed self-righteousness has been shish-kebabed.

Where do I start?

Well, the writing I guess. It was bad. It was clunky. It was choppy. It did not flow. When I read the words I felt like I was in a wagon going over a cobblestone road. Richard did things. Richard said things. Kahlan also did and said things. Zed AND Lord Rahl both said and did things. It felt like watching a marionette show. I have no memory of the writing being this unskilled 14 years ago. Guess I’ve matured in that time. Thank goodness!

The characters. Most of the issues with the various characters stems from the writing skill (or lack thereof) and not because of any inherent flaws in the characters. They are mainly flat without any real individuality. The romance between Richard and Kahlan has all the texture, flavor and excitement of drying cement. Zed, for being a wizard of great strength and age, is as much an idiot as Richard.

The Mord Sith. This was just disturbing this time around. A group of women broken in every single way so that pain is pleasure to them. Lord Rahl then somehow makes them able to control any magic used against them and the Mord Sith can torture the magic user until they are the Mord Sith’s slave. This was gone into in way more detail than was needed and I just felt dirty after reading it.

Everything is resolved because Richard is the golden boy. I usually like a protagonist who is capable and smart and able to handle everything thrown at him. This time though, Richard didn’t work that way for me. He’s so golden King Midas would be envious. It didn’t encourage me, it made me nauseous. It didn’t help that Goodkind uses Richard as a mouth piece and Goodkind blows the trumpet loud and long.

Overall, a very bleh read that really crushed me with how disappointed I was because of my memories.I will be removing this from the Bookstooge in 100 Books list once I find a suitable replacement to go on the “Loved” side. Way to go Goodkind, make MORE work for me almost 15 years after I read your book. You’re a real peach…

★★☆☆☆

 

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