The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings #3) ★★★★★ & ★★☆☆½

returnoftheking (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 Return of the King
Series: Lord of the Rings #3
Author: John Tolkien
Rating: 2.5 & 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 770
Words: 209K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

Book V: The War of the Ring

Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith in the kingdom of Gondor, and there Pippin gets to view for the first time the mighty city built on seven levels and with the Tower of Ecthelion high above the Pelennor Fields. They meet Denethor, the Lord and Steward of Gondor, and deliver the news to him of Boromir’s death (which Denethor already knows of, because he holds Boromir’s cloven horn in his lap), as well as the fact that a devastating attack on his city by Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, is imminent. Stung by the scorn of Denethor, Pippin enters the service of the Steward as repayment of a debt he owes to Boromir, Denethor’s dead son and preferred heir. Pippin then meets Beregond, a guard of the Citadel, who tutors him in his duties, and his young son Bergil, who guides him around Minas Tirith. In the middle of the night, Gandalf returns to their room, frustrated that Faramir has not yet returned.

Meanwhile, in Rohan, King Théoden and his Rohirrim are recovering from the Battle of the Hornburg, in which they defended Rohan against the forces of Saruman at great cost. On their way back from Isengard, Aragorn, the king, and his company are met by the Company of Rangers from Arnor in the north (the “Grey Company”), led by Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond, and Halbarad, a leader of Rangers from the North. They had answered the summons of Galadriel to join Aragorn in his cause. When they return to Hornburg, Aragorn informs the king that he shall not ride with the Rohirrim, having confronted Sauron through the palantír (seeing-stone) of Isengard. Instead, able to see a new threat to Gondor, he decides to travel the Paths of the Dead and find the lost army of the undead oathbreakers who dwell under the Dwimorberg, the Haunted Mountain. These spirits were cursed because they did not help Isildur during the War of the Last Alliance. Helped by his companions Legolas and Gimli as well as the Grey Company,  they ride to Dunharrow.  When they arrive, Éowyn, tries to dissuade Aragorn from going and then—desperate to stay with him—tries to go as well. Aragorn cannot release Éowyn from her duties and cannot return the love she has for him and reluctantly sets out the next morning to recruit the Army of the Dead to his cause. The company then passes under the Haunted Mountain where they come across the bones of a missing prince of Rohan, who had foolishly ventured on the Paths of the Dead. The company then comes out on the other side of the mountain into the valley of the Morthond River in Gondor and then proceed to the Stone of Erech. There, the Oathbreakers gather around the Grey Company in the middle of the night and resolve to fulfill their oath. They all then ride east to the great port of Pelargir and vanish into the storm of Mordor.

After Aragorn departs on his seemingly impossible task, King Théoden, Éomer, and Merry arrive in Dunharrow to muster the Rohirrim (mounted warriors) and come to the aid of Gondor. They enter the upper hold of Dunharrow via a narrow switchback path where they see old “Pukel-Men” sculptures guarding the turns. Merry is so moved by the kindness of Théoden that he enters his service and is made a Knight of the Mark. Seeing Éowyn grieved by Aragorn’s departure, Merry then asks about the Paths of Dead and is told the story by Théoden of how King Brego and his son Baldor discovered the entrance to the chambers under the Haunted Mountain and how Baldor rashly spoke an oath to travel the Paths of the Dead. The next morning was dominated by the darkness of Mordor and two riders from Gondor showing Théoden the Red Arrow, which was Gondor’s official call for aid from Rohan. The King and Éomer then gather the riders and set out from Dunharrow and then Edoras. Eager to go to war with his allies, Merry is refused by Théoden several times. Finally Dernhelm, one of the Rohirrim, secretly takes Merry up on his horse so that he can accompany the rest of the Rohirrim.

Back in Minas Tirith, Pippin is now clad in the uniform of the tower guard and watches the fortunes of war unfold. Faramir, Boromir’s younger brother, returns from his campaign with the shattered remnants of his company from Ithilien where he reveals that he has met Frodo and Sam and allowed them to continue on their mission. When Gandalf hears that they are heading for Cirith Ungol, he becomes afraid, and Denethor becomes angry at Faramir for what he thinks was a foolish decision. The next day, Denethor orders Faramir to ride out and continue the hopeless defence of Osgiliath against a horde of orcs. Osgiliath is soon overrun and a gravely wounded Faramir is carried back to Denethor. Denethor then descends into madness as the hosts of Mordor press ever closer to Gondor’s capital city of Minas Tirith, burning the Pelennor Fields and then the first circle of the city. His people seemingly lost and his only remaining son all but dead, Denethor orders a funeral pyre built that is to claim both him and his dying son. A fearful Pippin witnesses all this and runs down to the first circle to find Gandalf. There, the hosts of Mordor, led by the dreaded Witch-king of Angmar, have succeeded in breaking through the gates of Minas Tirith—using a terrifying battering ram named Grond, and only Gandalf is left sitting on his horse Shadowfax to oppose him. Just as the Witch-king raises his sword to strike the wizard, the horns of Rohan can be heard coming to the aid of Gondor.

Aided by a tribe of Wild Men of the Woods who resemble the Púkel-men of Dunharrow, Théoden’s forces travel through the long-forgotten path to avoid an Orc ambush on the main road and reach Minas Tirith by stealth. At first it seems that they are too late, but then the winds change and begin to dispel the darkness. Revived, the Rohirrim charge into the enemy on the Pelennor. Théoden is mortally wounded when the Nazgûl cause his horse to go mad and fall on him and placing him at the mercy of the Witch-king. In the following Battle of the Pelennor Fields the Witch-king is slain by Dernhelm, revealed to be Éowyn the niece of King Théoden, with help from Merry. The battle is also joined by a “black fleet with black sails”. The forces of Mordor initially rejoice at its arrival; and then are horrified to see the banner of the King upon the ships. Aragorn has succeeded in using the Oathbreakers to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar; the men of Gondor who were once slaves on the ships are brought back to fight the host of Mordor. Thus the siege is broken, but at heavy cost: many warriors of Gondor and Rohan fall, among them King Théoden.

While the battle is raging, Denethor attempts to immolate himself and Faramir on his funeral pyre, but Gandalf and Pippin succeed in saving Faramir, aided by Beregond, who has deserted his post and killed several of Denethor’s servants in order to save Faramir. When Gandalf advises Denethor to put aside his madness and go out into battle, Denethor reveals that he has used the palantír of Minas Tirith and declares the situation hopeless. Denethor also reveals that he knows of Aragorn and his claim to the kingship but will not accept him. He then burns himself with the palantír on the pyre. Gandalf realizes that Denethor—in his desperation—had looked into the seeing-stone several times. Unlike Saruman, Denethor was too noble of purpose and too great of will to submit to the will of Sauron, but the Dark Lord duped the Steward into despairing of the situation. The resulting madness kept Gandalf from joining the battle and perhaps saving Théoden and keeping Éowyn and Merry from harm. Faramir, though, is brought to the Houses of Healing where Gandalf awaits the wounded and Pippin and Beregond guard Faramir, the new Steward of Gondor.

Aragorn comes in secret to the Houses of Healing, removing his regalia of the kingship (to which he has not yet made his claim), and wearing only his elven-cloak and elven-brooch. Aragorn heals Faramir, using athelas or kingsfoil (the same weed he used to ease Frodo’s pain at Weathertop and outside of Moria). Aragorn also heals Merry and Éowyn, who were hurt by the Witch-king before he fell, and he then turns his attention to the numerous wounded, fulfilling the prophecy in an old Gondorian wives’ tale saying that “The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.” This earns him the love and admiration of the people of Minas Tirith, who name him “Elfstone” for his elven-brooch, which also fulfils the prophesied name of the legitimate king. Legolas and Gimli are reunited with Merry and Pippin and tell of their great journey on the Paths of the Dead and how Aragorn could even command the spirits of the Dead. They then tell the story of the capture of the Black Fleet and the rescue of Minas Tirith.

The kings and warriors then hold a final council with Gandalf, who has been chosen as the leader of the forces opposed to Sauron. Knowing that it is only a matter of time before Sauron rebuilds his forces for another attack, Gandalf and Aragorn decide to draw out the hosts of Mordor with an assault on the Black Gate, providing a distraction so that Frodo and Sam may have a chance of reaching Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring, unseen by the Eye of Sauron. They realize that it may be a suicide mission, but they also know it is the only hope for the Ringbearer.

Gandalf, Aragorn and the other Captains of the West lead an army to the Black Gate of Mordor and lay siege to Sauron’s army. In a parley before the battle, the Mouth of Sauron, a messenger from the Black Gate, displays Frodo’s mithril shirt, his elven-cloak and Sam’s barrow-blade and then demands the surrender of the Captains and their obeisance to Sauron as conditions for Frodo’s release. Despite the shock of seeing the objects and the complete loss of hope, Gandalf perceives that the emissary is lying, seizes the items, and rejects the terms. The battle begins and Pippin kills a Troll, which then falls onto him, and he loses consciousness just as the Great Eagles arrive.

Book VI: The End of the Third Age

Bearing the One Ring in Frodo’s place, Sam resolves to rescue his master from torture and death by Orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. He enters the tower through the front gate and overcomes the silent sentinels using the Phial of Galadriel. He discovers that the orcs have mostly killed each other over Frodo’s mithril coat and then confronts the orc-captain Shagrat, who has just finished off his rival Gorbag. Shagrat escapes with the mithril coat, the elven cloak, and the Barrow-sword. Sam goes up to the top chamber of the tower, kills a small orc hurting Frodo, and then discovers his master lying naked on the floor. Sam reveals that he has saved the Ring, and Frodo becomes nearly insane demanding it back from him. They are forced to disguise themselves in Orcish armour and manage to escape the tower and the Watchers just as the Nazgûl flies in to take over command of the tower. Frodo and Sam navigate the barren wasteland of Mordor. Unable to cross directly to Mount Doom, they travel north, are nearly discovered by two orcs tracking them, and realize that Gollum is still on their trail. Just as they are about to reach the pass into the Morannon, they are overtaken by a company of Orcs. They escape, but the burden of the Ring and the torrid conditions begin to break Frodo’s will.

Gandalf’s plan to distract Sauron from the Ring is successful: Mordor is almost empty as all the remaining Orcs have been summoned to defend the land against the assault of the army led by Gandalf and Aragorn. After a weary and dangerous journey on the road to the Dark Tower itself, Frodo and Sam finally reach their final destination of Mount Doom. As they climb up the Mountain, Gollum attacks them once more; but Frodo is easily able to throw off the starving and emaciated creature. Sam spares Gollum’s life in one last show of pity and kicks him down the Mountain. As Frodo is preparing to throw the Ring into the Crack of Doom, he succumbs to the Ring’s power and claims it as his own. Just then, Gollum attacks Frodo and bites off his finger and the Ring. Gollum gloats over getting his precious back, but he ends up losing his balance and falls to his death and takes the Ring with him. The Ring is finally destroyed, freeing Middle-earth from Sauron’s power. Mount Doom erupts violently, trapping Frodo and Sam among the lava flows until the Great Eagles eventually rescue them. Upon Sauron’s defeat, his armies at the Gate flee. Sauron finally appears as a gigantic shadow trying to reach out for the armies of men, but is now powerless and is blown away by a wind. The men under Sauron’s command that surrender are forgiven and allowed to return to their lands in peace. Frodo and Sam are saved from the lava, meet again with the other surviving members of the Fellowship, and are then honoured on the Field of Cormallen in Ithilien.

In Minas Tirith, Faramir and Éowyn meet in the Houses of Healing and fall in love with each other, with Éowyn choosing to eschew any further hopes of glory with Aragorn. Aragorn comes to Minas Tirith and is crowned King of Gondor outside the walls of the city in a celebration during which Frodo brings Aragorn the ancient crown of Gondor, and Gandalf places the crown on Aragorn. A healed Faramir is appointed Prince of Ithilien, and Beregond—who saved Faramir’s life from the madness of Denethor—is named captain of Faramir’s guard. Gandalf and Aragorn go off high above the city and find a seedling of the White Tree, which Aragorn then plants in Minas Tirith in place of the dead tree. Soon after, Arwen, daughter of Elrond of Rivendell, as well as Celeborn and Galadriel come to Minas Tirith, and Aragorn marries Arwen.

A series of goodbyes then takes place, with many riding to Rohan for the burial of Théoden and the wedding of Faramir and Éowyn. They then return to Isengard and find that Treebeard has removed the stone circle, planted trees, and created a lake out of which Orthanc still stands. He informs Gandalf that he let Saruman and Gríma go out of pity, but Gandalf says that Saruman might still be capable of doing some harm. Aragorn says farewell at Isengard. They then overtake Saruman and find that he has completely devolved into meanness and Wormtongue is barely able to act human.

Elrond, Gandalf, and the hobbits return to Rivendell and find that Bilbo has aged tremendously now that the Ring has been destroyed. Elrond advises Frodo that he should be ready to meet them on one last journey soon. They then leave Rivendell and arrive at Bree and find that the little town is in a great state of fear. The innkeeper Butterbur informs the travellers that evil men had come up the Greenway and started trouble, even killing some of the inhabitants, while others like Bill Ferny had joined in with the vagabonds. Butterbur is put at ease and finally understands when they tell him that things will soon improve because Strider is the new king and will come north to stabilize the region. They leave Bree and come to the borders of the Shire where Gandalf leaves them to go and visit Bombadil.

The Hobbits finally return home to the Shire, only to find that the Shire was in ruins, its inhabitants oppressed by Lotho Sackville-Baggins (usually called “The Chief” or “The Boss”) who is in reality controlled by a shadowy figure called “Sharkey”. Sharkey has taken complete control of the Shire using corrupt Men and half-orcs, and had begun felling trees in a gratuitous programme of industrialization (which actually produces nothing except destruction and misery for the locals). The worst area was around the villages of Bywater and Hobbiton, leading the hobbits to realize that Mordor had come home to them.

Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam make plans to set things right once more. With the help of the Cotton family, they lead an uprising of Hobbits and are victorious at the Battle of Bywater which effectively frees the Shire. At the very doorstep of Bag End, they meet Sharkey, who is revealed to be the fallen wizard Saruman, and his much-abused servant Gríma. After Saruman reveals that Gríma has murdered (and probably cannibalized) Lotho, Gríma then jumps on his back and slits his throat. Gríma is himself slain by hobbit archers as he attempts to escape. Saruman’s soul is blown away into the east, and his body decays instantly into a skeleton.

Over time, the Shire is healed. The many trees that Saruman’s men cut down are replanted with Galadriel’s gift of dust used to facilitate growth and a small nut that is planted to replace the party tree; buildings are rebuilt and peace is restored. Sam marries Rosie Cotton, with whom he had been entranced for some time. Merry and Pippin become the Master of Buckland and the Thain of Tuckborough respectively and become renowned as heroes throughout the Shire along with Sam, who will eventually become the Mayor. However, Frodo recedes from the picture and also cannot escape the pain of his wounds, having been stabbed by the Witch-king and poisoned by Shelob in addition to losing a finger. Furthermore, his long burden of carrying the Ring has left him with post-traumatic stress.

Frodo departs for the Undying Lands in the West with Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and many Elves, including Elrond, and Galadriel. Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel all carry with them the Three Elven Rings out of Middle-earth. With their departure, the Third Age ended. Sam, Merry, and Pippin watch Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo, and the Elves depart and return home. Now heir to all of Frodo’s possessions, Sam returns to Bag End, saddened by Frodo’s departure. When Sam returns home at the end of the book, though, he is greeted by Rosie and his daughter, Elanor.

Then the next half of the book is the Appendices and you should skip it and just read somebody elses’ synopsis because otherwise your brain will shrivel up and die.

 

My Thoughts:

I really should have looked at my review from 2012 before attempting this. I loved the first half of the book, which is the story part. It was 5 stars all the way and I simply loved it. Next time I read this, I’m reading the story in one volume and NOT reading the appendices.

The appendices simply killed this book for me. I got to the 75%’ish mark and that was when Tolkien started writing about how to pronouce names or letter combinations. I simply gave up. I’m not going to read another almost 150 pages of boring stuff like that that has zero meaning for me. If you enjoy it, have at it. But as for me and my household, we will not serve the Appendices.

So I’m giving this 2 ratings. One for the book part and one for the overall.

I realize this portion of the “review” is wicked short, but recently I’ve just been worded out. Depending on how the month goes I might end up taking a break from all non-review stuff just to re-charge myself. Since I’m writing this before April actually starts (I’m usually a couple of weeks ahead in scheduling stuff) I might change my mind, but I doubt it.

★★★★★ & ★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

A Quote from: Entrepreneurship

entrepreneurship (Custom)

Entrepreneurs can adopt behaviour and strategies to mitigate the effects of these liabilities. For example, innovative new firms can establish alliances with incumbent large firms. These links enable them to access resources to develop the technology further, as well as to gain downstream access to final customers when they do not have the sales and marketing skills to do so. Such alliances may be a precursor to the entrepreneur being able to sell the business to reap a capital gain. On the downside, the more powerful larger partner can dictate terms and expropriate some of the entrepreneur’s potential gains.
-Page 28

 

So far, this book is filled with industry insider buzzwords like this. While not gobbledy gook, it is not something I would expect an Every Man Joe to just sit down and easily pick up and inculcate into their own personal knowledge base. I don’t think this is going to be a highly rated book by the time I finish if it stays like this.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Petty Pewter Gods (Garrett, PI #8) ★★☆☆☆

pettypewtergods (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: Petty Pewter Gods
Series: Garrett, PI #8
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 296
Words: 80K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

TunFaire is in a state of unrest; with the sudden end of the war in the Cantard, returning former soldiers are at odds with the half-breeds and immigrants who have taken their places in society. Garrett, however, has his own problems to worry about – he gets knocked out, brought before a group of small-time gods known as the Godoroth, and forced into working for them. The goal: find the “key” to the one remaining temple up for grabs in TunFaire, and do so before the Shayir, the Godoroth’s rivals. The Shayir find out about the Godoroth’s plans. The Shayir capture Garrett and give him their side of the story. Only with the help of a renegade Shayir called Cat does Garrett manage to escape.

As the civil unrest escalates into full-fledged street warfare, the Godoroth and Shayir elevate their search for Garrett, and Cat, who has her own agenda, is apparently the only one Garrett can trust. When the battle between the Godoroth and Shayir spills over into the world of the living, causing madness in the streets of TunFaire, the more powerful gods of the city decide it is time to intervene. After an epic battle between gods, Garrett hopes the trouble is over, but the Dead Man thinks there is still a missing piece or two to the puzzle. Eventually, the Dead Man deduces that there was yet another party behind the struggle between the Godoroth and Shayir. When everything settles down and is sorted out, the remaining gods go back to their own business, leaving Garrett to go back to his beer.

 

My Thoughts:

The only reason this got 2 Stars from me is because of the momentum the series has built up previously in how it entertains me. Well, it just used up all that capital getting me through this piece of drek.

Garrett has always been a pig but this book it seems like Cook relied exclusively on that and man, it really frustrated me.

In one example, he sees that a beautiful redheaded woman is spying on him but making no effort to hide. Which he deduces that she wants him to chase her for some reason. When she takes off into a bad part of Tun Faire Garrett deduces there will be an ambush, and he still keeps chasing her. And there is an ambush, that he’s not really prepared for. It just made me mad. Then, after he’s gotten involved with the petty pewter gods and has to try to avoid detection, he goes and gets roaring drunk with some bum and pretty much blows his cover and makes it impossible for him to help himself. Garrett was at his worst in this book and I hated it.

If the next book is just as un-enjoyable, I’ll quit the series before it gets even worse.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The 10th Kingdom, Disc 2 (2000 Mini-Series)

10thkingdom

 

When I slipped the second disc of this mini-series into my bluray player, they had a very helpful “previously on the 10th Kingdom” so I was able to slide right back into the movie without any annoying “now, what did I watch last month”.

The quick and dirty synopsis has Virginia being rescued from the Huntsman by Tony and Wolf. They continue chasing after the Magic Mirror so that Virginia and Tony can return to our world.  They have several adventures and each time get a hold of the mirror only to have circumstances force it out of their hands. In the Town of Love, Wolf wins a huge jackpot but instead of spending the money on buying the Mirror, spends it all on woo’ing Virginia. When she realizes what he’s done, she casts him off. Tony finds the Mirror in the clutches of the Huntsman but in the process of stealing it, drops it off a roof and destroys it. Tony is now cursed with bad luck and they begin another adventure to find the makers of the mirrors.

They argue and fight but eventually make it to the mountains of the dwarfs. They sneak in, get some help and find out there is another traveling mirror they can use. Of course, Tony’s bad luck kicks in and he ends up breaking another 100 magic mirrors. He and Virginia begin being chased by the dwarves and in a tunnel Tony falls down a hole and breaks his back. Virginia goes on alone to find an exit and runs into the ghost of Snow White. She is given a magic mirror, granted a wish (which she uses to heal her father) and then they escape the mountain. The disc ends with the magic mirror revealing the Evil Queen and Tony realizing it is his ex-wife and Virginia’s mother.

trap-your-hero-1024x512-1

 

By the end of this disc I was begging for it to be over. This was also 2 3/4hrs like the previous disc, but this time around things really dragged. The Quest to recover the mirror became annoying as they kept “almost” getting it only to have go out of reach by directorial fiat. It wasn’t even subtle.  Wolf’s obsession with his feelings for Virginia was also very annoying. He was so concerned about himself that he never once took her into consideration. Then Virginia acts like a drama queen the entire time and Tony, well, he’s Tony. I found it funny but I know that won’t appeal to everyone. The reveal about the Evil Queen at the end would have had a lot more impact if I wasn’t already bored to tears.

What this needed, and I think newer releases have done, is to break this up into its component episodes so you can watch just one 90minute episode and then take a break, with a clear beginning, middle and ending. This version just mashed everything together into a ginormous movie that became bowed down under its own weight. I would have enjoyed this a lot more in smaller chunks.

I was hoping that the Evil Queen would be something more, but sadly, she pretty much spends her time training Dog to act like Wendell and once again is more of a tired, put upon grandmother than an evil queen bent on taking over the entire land.  The further reveal that she was crazy didn’t really do much besides invoke one tiny, brief spurt of pity.

I know I’m complaining a lot but this wasn’t a bad story. It just needed to be broken up.

pinhead

 

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Bell at Sealey Head ★★★★★

bellatsealeyhead (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 Bell at Sealey Head
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 245
Words: 71K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The small ocean town of Sealey Head has long been haunted by a phantom bell that tolls as evening falls. The sound is so common that many of the town’s inhabitants do not even notice it, let alone questions its existence. Ridley Dow, a scholar from the city, comes to investigate the mystery, and sets up residence at the old inn owned by a young man named Judd and his ailing father. To aid Ridley, Judd enlists the help of his friend and love-interest Gwyneth, a young woman who writes her own stories to explain the bell.

On the other side of town is the ancient manor Aislinn House, whose owner, Lady Eglantine, lies dying. Emma, a servant in the house, is able to open doors that lead not into another room, but into another world. On the other side of Aislinn House’s doors is castle where the princess Ysabo moves through her daily rituals, tasks that Ysabo hates and does not understand, but cannot question. While Emma and Ysabo are able to speak to one another, neither has ever tried to cross into the other’s realm.

When Lady Eglantine’s heir Miranda Beryl comes to Aislinn House, Sealey Head’s secrets begin to reveal themselves, sometimes with dangerous consequences. Miranda brings to Sealey Head an entourage of friends from the city, as well as a strange assistant. As the town gets pulled deeper into the strange magic that Ridley, Judd, Gwyneth, and Emma uncover, Ridley breaches the border between Aislinn House and Ysabo’s world. It is only when the bell’s location and owner are discovered that Aislinn House and all of Sealey Head are able to return to safety.

 

My Thoughts:

I so enjoyed the time I spent reading this. While my reads in March were pretty cool, there is just something about McKillip’s writing that soothes my soul.

Everything I might have to say I’ve said about McKillip before. I’m not going to repeat it ad nauseum. Beautiful language, highly recommended, go read it.

You Are Welcome.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

March ’20 Roundup & Ramblings

03march-8a0303

Raw Data:

Books – 12

Pages – 6228

Words – 1753.6K (ie, 1.75 Million words)

Average Rating – 3.75 Stars

 

The Mediocre:

SF Hall of Fame, Vol. 2A – 2 Stars

NPC’S – 3 Stars

 

The Good:

The Great Hunt – 5 Stars

Academ’s Fury – 5 Stars

The Arcane Casebook Series – 4 Star Average!

 

Movie:

Started the 10th Kingdom mini-series by Hallmark and had a blast.

 

Ramblings & Miscellaneous Posts:

I read some real Chunksters this month and as a result my page and word count were pretty impressive. Or I messed up my count. I’m going with “Impressive” 😀

I wrote a lot this month, so I’m just going to bullet point them all, sorry. 

 

Personal:

March was something else, for sure. Work stress, car stress and Wuhan-chan stress.  I ended up stress writing and that gave me a whopping 24 posts this month (including this one I believe). 

Car stuff. We’re a two car family and I’ve known since last year that the car I drive wasn’t going to pass inspection this year. The mechanic barely passed it last year and he told me he wouldn’t do that again. It was rusting out all over the place so I knew I needed a replacement by the first week of April.  I began scanning craigslist (we can’t buy a new car outright and won’t go into debt for one) and eventually found one.  Coordinating schedules was stressful enough, but then my car just outright died about 3 days before we could pick up the new car.  And then dealing with the town offices as they all were preparing to shut down due to Wuhan-chan.  It just made for an incredible amount of stress over something that really shouldn’t have been. 42c

Then of course, right at the end of the month joining the rest of the World in shutting down until May. Thankfully, both Mrs B and I work in “Essential Businesses” but for me, work is now on a day by day basis. A lot of uncertainty swirling around, that is for sure.

Thankfully, the reading was great. The Arcane Casebook series was a delight to read and I looked forward to a new book every week. That was a nice feeling. Highly recommend the series.

 

Book Give-Away:

Doing a Hardcover Michael Crichton book giveaway this month. It is open until April 11 and I’ll contact the winner April 12. Due to the uncertainty of just about everything, I think I’m going to be holding off doing any more Give-Aways until we’re in a more settled place.

 

Cover Love:

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I talked about this cover in my review of Ghost of a Chance, but my goodness, is that cover spiffy looking or what!?!? Best of the bunch in my opinion.

 

Plans for Next Month:

I don’t know if this will be a regular new feature for my Roundups, but I’ve seen other bloggers do them as a separate post and I like the idea. It also works well to help me construct the narrative for the blog for the coming month. I realize most of you are never going to notice something like that, but it helps me as the content creator.

Even though I only wrote a tiny bit more than I did in January,  March just felt like I wrote and wrote and wrote. So I’m going to use April to re-charge. I’ll be doing my book reviews and the next 10th Kingdom movie review, but I suspect that will be about it.

Oh, Mrs B says she’d be interested in showcasing some more artwork so maybe you’ll see some of her drawings on random weekends. I should probably come up with a clever series title for them but nothing immediately springs to mind. Suggestions are welcome.

And with work being so uncertain, I don’t know if I’ll be stuck inside reading, whatever. So I might end up needing to write to vent and blow all of the above right out the window.  Things are changing so fast that planning for an entire month is almost impossible now.

 

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Dead Letter (Arcane Casebook #0) ★★★☆½

deadletter (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: Dead Letter
Series: Arcane Casebook #0
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 96
Words: 31.2K

 

Synopsis:

In 1930 New York, the sorcerers are the powerhouses of magic and the runwrights are the poor cousins. Private detective Alex Lockerby is definitely in the latter category, plying his meager magic skills to help people the regular cops ignore while barely making ends meet.

What Alex needs is a break. Just one good case to get his name out there and start bringing in business. When ambitious beat cop Danny Pak gets stuck trying to solve a John Doe murder, it might just be the break Alex has been looking for.

As Alex and Danny team up they begin to unravel a tale murder, jealousy, and revenge stretching back over 30 years. A tale powerful forces don’t want to come to light. Now the cop and the private detective must work fast and watch each other’s backs if they hope to catch a killer and live to tell about it.

Alex meets Leslie, Danny and his sister Amy and several of the cops we know from the series.

 

My Thoughts:

I didn’t bother with putting up the conclusion to the “mystery” as it was almost more of a side note that was the vehicle to introduce us to all these various characters.

In that regards, this novella was a complete success. Even while Leslie (the secretary) is leaving the series in book 4, it was still nice to see how she and Alex were introduced. Amy was a fun include, even though she has zero presence in the series. Danny, I have to admit, I was hoping for more of a connection between him and Alex. They came across as just 2 people helping each other out rather than friends, but now that I write that, that is how it comes across in later books as well.

Alex is a loner and while he intersects with other people, he doesn’t seem to need a group of friends. I can totally relate to that 😀

★★★☆½

 

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The Wanderlust Book Tag

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The last time I did a tag was back in October, so when Ola and Pio Bushwhacked me and threatened to skin me alive in their Wanderlust Book Tag, I (being the cultured and suave gentleman that I am, known in higher circles as Dr. Lord Bookstooge) acceded to their barbaric demands. Of course, I did draw the line at cannibalism, but every gentleman has a line he won’t cross, even when bushwhacked. So without further ado, lets jump into this hive of scum and villainy!

 

1. SECRETS AND LIES: A BOOK SET IN A SLEEPY SMALL TOWN

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I think that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow fits this perfectly! It even has “sleepy” in the title. I told myself I’d read this every year, as it was just a short story and fits into Halloween so perfectly.  Of course, I haven’t read it since 2014!

 

2. SALT AND SAND: A BOOK WITH A BEACH-SIDE COMMUNITY

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Jane Austen’s Persuasion slots in here nicely.  There is a nice dramatic scene where a young lady gives herself a coma while walking along a wall on the beach and it provides some necessary emotional push for one of the side male characters.  Persuasion has always been my favorite Austen book.

 

3. HERE THERE BE DRAGONS: A BOOK WITH A VOYAGE ON THE HIGH SEAS

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Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the 3rd book in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Not only does the entire book take place on the Dawn Treader, but one of the characters, Eustace Scrubb, gets turned into a dragon for quite some time. Good stuff!

 

4. TREAD LIGHTLY: A BOOK SET DOWN A MURKY RIVER OR A JUNGLE

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My first though was The Heart of Darkness, but since Ola and Pio used that, I wanted to be a bit more original.  Lord of the Isles has the characters tramping all over the place, but one memorable scene has them in a jungle where a hard bitten old warrior mage commits an atrocious act of blood sacrifice (of the remaining soldiers, not himself) to save himself and his young protege.

 

5. FROZEN WASTES: A BOOK WITH A FROST BITTEN ATMOSPHERE

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Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster. Even the cover fits this description perfectly! Then the fact that it takes place on Tran-Ky-Ky, a world covered in ice, well that is just “icing” on the cake *ohohohoho*

 

6. THE BOONIES: A BOOK WITH ROUGH OR ISOLATED TERRAIN

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A Wizard of Earthsea starts out on the island of Gont, an island of mountains, cliffs and fog. Young Ged saves his village from Kargish pirates using just those elements.

 

7. HINTERLANDS AND COWBOYS: A BOOK WITH A WESTERN-ESQUE SETTING

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Three by Jay Posey. Starts out So Western with the whole mysterious gunslinger vibe! The rest of the Duskwalker trilogy was fantastic too. I don’t talk too much about this series in general because it seems that Posey has dropped off the radar after starting, but not continuing, a Mil-SF series 😦

 

8. LOOK LIVELY: A BOOK SET ACROSS SWEEPING DESERT SANDS

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Dune by Frank Herbert. The quintessential Desert book if there ever was one. Being a Chosen One myself, I understand Paul Atreides better than most readers do. We have a bond of responsibility and duty that mere mortals simply cannot comprehend.

 

9. WILD AND UNTAMED: A BOOK SET IN THE HEART OF THE WOODS

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The Tower at Stony Wood by Patricia McKillip. I had to get at least ONE McKillip book onto this list and the fact that it has a Kinuko Craft cover just makes it perfect.  I am not a poetic kind of guy, but McKillip’s book bring out the one drop of poetry my soul possesses.

 

10. WILDEST DREAMS: A WHIMSICAL BOOK SHROUDED IN MAGIC

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Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Jones. While I watched the Miyazaki anime film first, I was glad to read this. Anime is better though 😉

 

And that’s a wrap. I like doing these tags as it allows me to show some of the older books that I’ve read/reviewed that some of you might not have seen from me.  Plus, it helps me organize my blog, which really needs all the help it can get! Feel free to do this yourself if you so desire.

 

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Librarything: ♪Free as♪ an Eagle♪

Just wanted to pass the word along. It used to be that you could only have a library of 200 books with a free account and then you had to pay a one time fee to go unlimited. Well, that limit has been removed. Official Announcement.

I’ve been using LT for a while. It’s a back up site for me, just another place to dump my book data. I only belong to one group (that I’ve left and rejoined multiple times) so I can’t speak to the group dynamics. Much smaller than Devilreads, which depending on your needs, can be good or bad.

They are also in the pre-process of getting LT ready for an upgrade. It does have a steep learning curve that I’m hoping the eventual upgrade will smooth out some. I only use the basics and it’s good enough for me.

Acts of the Apostles ★★★☆☆

actsoftheapostles (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: Acts of the Apostles
Series: ———-
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 570
Words: 155K

 

Synopsis:

A commentary going over the book of Acts and the various Epistles by Peter, Paul and John.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, this is the final book of White’s that I’ll be reading. Not because of any real disagreement on Theology or anything important, but because I simply cannot stand her style of writing. It isn’t even near the level of having your foot cut off, but more of having that pebble in your shoe for the whole day. At some point I realized the irritation was outweighing the good I was getting. There isn’t a hard line of demarcation in the text between her thoughts and the Bible, as she incorporates Bibles verses into her text willy nilly. That doesn’t make studying very easy for me.

I’m including a quote that I felt was the best paragraph out of the whole book:

It is no part of Christ’s mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, who seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederated with evil angels sometimes bring suffering upon their fellow men in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love.

I do want to make clear, so that it can’t be taken out of context, that not being compelled is very different from not being judged. God gives us Choice and He also has told us the outcomes of that choice. When you face God Himself at the Day of Judgment, your eternal fate will hinge on whether you’ve accepted Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God as your savior or not.

On a note that isn’t directly related to a review, I started reading my non-fiction differently. I was inspired by Matt who has what he calls his “weekend exclusive” reads. Since non-fiction is a different beast, I wanted to try a different approach. Instead of reading this straight through, I simply read this on Sabbath. So starting each Friday night until Saturday night, I would read non-fiction. My goal was to read 25% of the book each Sabbath. That had the effect of breaking up the book into managable chunks and made me more aware of keeping Sabbath. It also has the positive side effect of getting me to read more non-fiction (12-13 a year instead of 6 or 7).

★★★☆☆

 

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