Count to Infinity (Count to the Eschaton Sequence #6) ★★☆☆½

counttoinfinity (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: Count to Infinity
Series: Count to the Eschaton Sequence #6
Author: John Wright
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 321
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Montrose survives for another 18+ billion years and he and Rania see the Universe become perfect through outside influence.

The End of the Series. THANK GOODNESS!!!!

 

My Thoughts:

This book went from a very few really cool sequences to me skimming 10+ pages at a time as the author whacks off to his own words. If philosophy wrapped in a hard sf container is your thing, this might be for you.

Wright is a Roman Catholic and that shows through so strongly here. In many ways, his theistic evolutionist outlook and how he reconciles that to Scripture takes over this book and I actually enjoyed reading his viewpoint (while being in total disagreement). But that wasn’t what this series started out as and it really shouldn’t have ended that way.

However, like I mentioned previously, the plot is burdened by stretches of description that bored me to death. Really, this could have been a short story and been more appealing for it. I would have dnf’d this at the 10% mark but I wanted to see how Montrose and Rania finally get together and since that didn’t happen until over the half way mark, I figured “in for a penny, in for a pound” and finished it.

However, I have NEVER skimmed so much of a book as I did here. I deliberately skipped huge swathes until I saw key words that were action words. Sadly, they were few and far between. While book 1 intrigued me greatly, each successive book got progressively more descriptive, less action’y and more boring. I’m going to have to think long and hard about if I want to try any of his other series.

★★☆☆½

 

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Odysseus Awakening (Odyssey One #6) ★★★★☆

odysseusawakening (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: Odysseus Awakening
Series: Odyssey One #6
Author: Evan Currie
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 318
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Empire sends out another expeditionary force and they head out to a small Priminae system to gather information. A small Priminae fleet with the new hybrid human’priminae technology attempt to stall the fleet in hopes that more reinforcements will arrive.

Commodore Weston and the (very) small Earth fleet make a rescue run and eventually drive off the bigger Imperial fleet, but not before the Imperial Fleet gets a data core dump from a captured Priminae ship.

And at the very end of the book, Odysseus manifests.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness, such pulpy spaceship and space marine fun! Obviously, from having read about the Priminae world consciousness and Weston learning about Earth’s world consciousness, I was not at all surprised when a ship consciousness happened. I just don’t know how it will impact the storyline in later books.

Earlier in the month I complained about Croma Venture and the whole Spiral Wars series by Joel Shepherd being a never ending series. As I was reading this book I had to stop and question myself as to why I didn’t feel the same about this Odyssey One series. One part is that each book in the Odyssey One series is at least 25-35% shorter than in the Spiral Wars. I don’t feel like I’m “investing” my time in these, I’m just having a short fun read. Secondly, each book here is an almost self-contained story. While we learn little bits about the Empire or the Priminae, etc, Currie is NOT trying to setup galaxy spanning Empires and boring me to death with politics between them all. Thirdly, the focus of each book is on itself instead of feeling like nothing but super long setup for the NEXT book, which then repeats. I feel satisfied with each of the Odyssey One books where I really didn’t with the later Spiral Wars books.

If you want romance, look elsewhere. If you want deep characterization where every thought and possible permutation is hashed out inside a character’s mind, look elsewhere. If you want a grand space opera with a good balance of ship to ship fighting and ground pounder action, then look here.

I don’t ever plan on re-reading this series and usually that means only a 3.5 rating. However, after realizing just how stingy I am with my ratings, (3.31 average in 2018 for goodness sake) I’ve decided that if I enjoyed the heck out of a book, then it deserves 4 stars. So 4 stars with the caveat that this is not great literature. It also isn’t a waste of time. So decide which is more important to you and choose.

★★★★☆

 

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[Manga Monday] The Tortured Princess (Shaman King #14) ★★★★☆

torturedprincess (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 Tortured Princess
Series: Shaman King #14
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Joco’s back story continues. His new master, Olona, wants to make the world a better place through laughter and comedy. But Joco’s old gang doesn’t want to let him go and beats up Olona. Since Joco now controls Mic the Jaguar, Olona is defenseless. Olona tells Joco that he has an incurable disease and that he would rather die at the hands of the gang members than see Joco resort to violence and death to save him. The gang kills Olona and the story reverts back to the present.

Joco shows a new move against Tecolote and immobilizes all his bone dolls with terrible jokes. He uses up his mana but gives Ren the opening he needs to move against Tecolote. He and Bason, his spirit ally, blow Tecolote away with one smashing blow and everyone see’s that Ren’s mana has increased exponentially. Hao, who is watching, comments that maybe it will be worthwhile to recruit Ren later on.

We get a cut scene of Lyserg, now one of the X-Laws, along with Marco the nominal leader of the X-Laws, unloading an Iron Maiden encased in chains.

The next Shaman fight starts, between one of the X-Law sub-groups, X-1 and Team Nile, an Egyptian themed group. Lyserg is now part of X-1 and takes on the challenge of fighting Team Nile all by himself. Marco and the Iron Maiden step aside and leave everything to Lyserg. Ryu is crushed that Lyserg has joined the X-Laws but Our Gang is cheering him on anyway. However, Lyserg has fully drunk the X-Law kool-aid and threatens to kill Team Nile. They refuse to surrender and continue the fight. Lyserg can’t bring himself to kill them and so Marco and Jeanne, the Iron Maiden step in. Jeanne unleashes her power and eventually kills each member of Team Nile as punishment for not surrendering to her.

The volume ends with Yoh realizing that an X-Law member as the Shaman King will result in an age of tyranny and blood and he vows that he will become the Shaman King to stop such a thing from happening.

 

My Thoughts:

Yeah! I like fighting and I get it in spades here. Thankfully, the manga-ka leavens the action scenes with humor, so things haven’t descended into dark, gloomy angst. For instance, when Iron Maiden Jeanne comes out of the iron maiden, both Ryu and Yoh exclaim “she’s hot!” and the picture shows Anna putting her hand over Yoh’s eyes. I’d definitely include that scene here but the digital version I’m reading is a pdf and I don’t know how to extract a particular image from a pdf.

Between Marco and Jeanne, we get a pretty good idea of just what the X-Laws intend. A world of Law without mercy and death as the final sentence for any infraction. It is very harsh and unforgiving. Unfortunately, the manga-ka takes the cheap and easy route and portrays them as simply Hao-lite because their Justice ends in death. The thing is, Justice is about death. Only when Justice is paired with Mercy can death be avoided. There is just lots to go into with all of that and just like his handling of the “great spirit” philosophy, Takei neatly sidesteps any deeper thoughts to paint the X-Laws as no better than Hao. Sigh…

Thankfully, while talking about that took up a whole paragraph in this review, it doesn’t play nearly so big a part in this volume and now that Takei’s gotten it out of his system, I’m hoping we won’t see a repeat of this particular shallow philosophy. I do expect to get lots of philosophy-lite as each new group appears though.

This was a good ending place for the month, as a battle is concluded and no other one has started. I’m thinking I’ll try to find a good ending volume each month to conclude on, as long as it doesn’t run over 5 volumes.

★★★★☆

 

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Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn (Lucky Starr #6) ★★☆☆☆

ringsofsaturn (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: Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn
Series: Lucky Starr #6
Author: Isaac Asimov
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 144
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Sirians have colonized a moon of Saturn and claim that under inter-galactic law they are quite within their bounds to do so. To dislodge them will start a war that will unite every spacer world against Earth.

A (space) UN meeting is called and due to Lucky’s forward thinking the Sirians are routed and told to get out of the Solar System.

The End of the Series

 

My Thoughts:

Well, first off, I have read the previous book, Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, but never recorded it nor reviewed it. According to Librarything, I never even added it to my “Currently Reading” stack. Baloney. I blame LT for screwing me up. Totally their fault and my own absent mindedness in no way has anything to do with this miscarriage of justice.

Anyway.

I just wanted to get through this book. It is too middle grade for me and I just wanted it over. There is nothing any worse about this book than the previous ones, I had just reached my limit of what I could take. And I had had enough that I didn’t even care about recording the previous book that I had forgotten about. I think that says it all.

Now, I did enjoy the covers for each of these books. That 50’s, 60’s 70’s astro-puff look, it works for me.Probably the best part of the whole series.

Man, me and SF are just not hitting it off right this year! First Reynolds leaves me with forgettable writing and now Asimov makes me reach my limit? I need some exciting SF!!!

★★☆☆☆

 

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Treasure Mountain (Sacketts #15) ★★★☆½

treasuremountain (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: Treasure Mountain
Series: Sacketts #15
Author: Louis L’Amour
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 208
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Tell Sackett along with one of his brothers, is trying to find out what happened to their father. Their mother is reaching the end of her life and she wants to know what happened to her husband those many years ago. Tell begins tracking down the last known job his father took and in the process finds out that his father might have been killed for a hidden fortune in gold.

Tell stirs up some issues that people would prefer to stay hidden. While Tell isn’t on the trail of the gold, others are and they don’t want Tell or his brothers to get any of that gold.

Tell finds out what happened to his father and finds his burial place. At the same time, the gold hunters close in and begin hunting the Sacketts, as Tyrel and Orrin have joined up with Tell. Tell plays hide and seek on a mountain with some of the killers and wins. The other 2 brothers take care of the rest of the badguys off-stage and everything is hunky-dory.

Tell meets a Trelawney girl and plans on settling down in the area so his Ma can live the last of her days in peace.

 

My Thoughts:

First things first. L’Amour in no way was concerned with story continuity when writing these Sackett books. There is a very loose continuity, but unlike a series today, he deliberately writes in the moment. As he says in his little blurb, he’s a myth teller, not a historian. It’s only taken me 15 books to really realize this. Wish it had sunk in a little sooner, would have made me stop trying to tie all the books together.

I’ve noticed that L’Amour likes to have his characters fight it out on the tops and sides of mountains. Raining or at night or something. It does make for a good exciting fight scene.

I like having a dash of western genre in my reading cycle so when I’m done this Sackett series (only 2 more books to go) I’ll be checking out either Zane Grey or Max Brand. Probably whichever one my library has a bigger collection of will decide which I go for.

★★★☆½

 

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Fool’s Run ★★★★☆

foolsrun (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: Fool’s Run
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 221
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Seven years ago Terra Viridian turned a laser array on her own location at a military base in the desert, killing 1500 people. Afterwards, she was found alive and babbling about the dark and visions. She was sentenced to life in the Underworld, a high security, solitary confinement prison on the moon.

Aaron Fisher’s pregnant wife was just about to get out of the military seven years ago. She was one of the victim’s of Terra. Aaron has been working on hunting down Terra’s twin sister Michele to find out from her why Terra suddenly snapped and destroyed Aaron’s world. So far, Aaron has had no luck.

Aaron is friends with Sidney Halleck, the owner of a bar where musicians play. One of these musicians, Roger Restak, known as The Magician, has the disturbing ability to get lost in his music and to ignore literally everything around him while playing. He and Aaron have become unlikely friends. A world weary cop and a genius musician.

A Dr. Fiore wants to study Terra and her “visions” that she has continued to talk about. He brings up a new machine to the Underworld that can visualize what Terra is thinking. What he finds is baffling and incomprehensible. He asks the Warden of the Underworld, Jason Klyos if he can bring up a band to see how music affects Terra. He hopes that by understanding how her visuals change in regards to the music that he can begin unraveling what the images of her “visions” means.

Sidney is contacted and puts The Magician up for nomination. The Magician assembles a band, only to find out that his “cuber” not only can’t stand heights, but can’t travel off the ground without becoming deathly ill. The Magician is at a loss until a former friend, the Queen of Hearts comes back into his life and she volunteers. Aaron and the Queen of Hearts strike it off immediately. Even though Aaron knows she is going to the Underworld and then a tour of the solar system, he opens his heart to her.

The Band makes it to the Underworld, where The Magician meets Terra and while everyone else is looking at the machine where her “visions” come out, The Magician is given a glimpse directly into her mind. This somehow transfers the vision to him. It is also revealed that the Queen of Hearts is Michele Viridian, Terra’s twin sister. The Warden calls up Aaron, as he’s suspicious of everything going on.

Terra breaks loose and with help from The Magician, flees the Underworld. The Magician takes his own band hostage, locks down the Underworld and begins seeing visions himself. Aaron and the Warden give chase in the only available ship, only to find that Terra has hidden away and has a laser rifle trained on them. They are in contact with the Magician and he must convince them that he and Terra are not crazy. It turns out that both The Magician and Terra were psychic and picking up the emanations of an alien being born. It is born and Terra dies. The Warden pulls his weight and convinces everyone that The Magician was not a criminal terrorist intent on breaking Terra free. The band goes free, Aaron lets go of his hate and hooks up with The Queen of Hearts.

The book ends with The Magician telling both Aaron and Sidney that the alien is now here and watching them.

 

My Thoughts:

This has got to be the weirdest book I’ve ever read. When I read it in ’07 I was pretty mesmerized by the use of poetic language that McKillip is so good with, but this time, I was just weirded out the entire time. If my time had been a Smallville episode, Allison Mack would definitely have this on her Wall of Weird.

I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 because every time that The Magician would start to explain what was going on, either Aaron Fisher or Jason Klyos the Warden would interrupt him with exclamations of usually disbelief or anger at the subject, ie, aliens. It was super frustrating to read. Magician was trying to put into words something that he had no words for and these 2 idiots just kept making it harder and harder. Thankfully, they finally did shut up and things moved forward.

My initial reaction when I finished this was to simply read it again to make sure I had read what I thought I had read. If I could have written this review and use the word “weird” and nothing but that, I think that would capture the essence.

Quite enjoyable for the trippy experience but unless you’re a hardcore McKillip fan, I wouldn’t recommend this.

★★★★☆

 

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Return of Faust (Shaman King #13) ★★★★☆ [Manga Monday]

returnoffaust (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: Return of Faust
Series: Shaman King #13
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

This volume starts out with a nearly naked Yoh drifting through a bizarre landscape and eventually entering an ocean. He then wakes up in the Patch village where Silva explains that Yoh had a vision from the Great Spirit. Yoh looks outside and sees a massive column of souls, all of which make up the great spirit. All the contestants who made it through the maze have to face the great spirit and have a vision. If they survive the vision, they move on in the competition. All of Our Gang survives but Lyserg has gone off on his own after seeing “something” that involves Yoh’s father.

Yoh runs into Anna and everyone runs into another shaman named Joco. He reveals that the next step in the competition is a tournament of 3 man teams competing against each other. With Lyserg gone, Our Gang can’t form the requisite 2 teams and Joco wants to join Our Gang.

Joco has done a ton of research and monologues to Our Gang, and us the readers. Hao’s team is being opposed by the X-Laws, but there is another group of Shamans banding together to oppose Hao, a group of Buddhist monks. Each group is being led by a Shaman in the Kami Class. Joco is a terrible punster and has named his spirit ally Mic the Jaguar, ie, Mick Jagger.

Ren takes this time to create his own team of 3 from Our Gang and Horohoro and Joco are the “lucky” ones chosen. Manta goes looking for Yoh and runs into Faust. Faust brings Manta to Yoh and asks to join Team Yoh. Ryu rejects his request out of hand but Anna, as Queen Shaman to be, makes an executive decision and puts Faust in play. Of course, Anna’s choice springs from her desire to open a hot springs in the future and having a shaman doctor indebted to her will be a great attraction for the hot springs.

2 months go by and the 3 man teams are all transported to a deserted island named Tokyo where an Arena style fighting tournament is going to take place. There are 21 teams and they must battle each other in a ladder style order. First up is Team Ren. They are fighting Team Earth, one of Hao’s sub-groups. Team Earth consists of the 2 monk team Boz along with a mysterious masked man. Ren and Horohoro leave Joco to deal with Boz and Joco shows what he’s got.

While Joco easily defeats Boz, that was Tecolote’s plan all along. He uses bones as his medium and begins using the bones of Boz to fight Joco. Joco won’t attack Boz, as another attack will kill them. We then get a flashback into Joco’s past about why he has vowed to never kill. Joco’s parents were killed and he ended up becoming the head of gang. One Christmas he tries to kill someone who turns out to be a shaman and Joco can see his spirit ally. This decides the shaman to take Joco on as his protege, even if Joco doesn’t want it.

 

My Thoughts:

Ok, this volume brought the game back. It did feel like there was a missing volume, since Yoh wakes up in the Patch Village and everyone else is there too but hey, if the manga-ka wants to mess around, that’s his business.

Lyserg’s desertion wasn’t unexpected but he sure was replaced quickly with Joco. I didn’t care for Joco upon his introduction as I hate puns, but once the fighting started, he was solid. I also liked his backstory and introduction to being a shaman.

The further along this series goes, the more and more it adapts the fighting shonen stereotypes. Tournaments inside a ring is such a staple that it is now a cliché. In the anime Yu Yu Hakusho (which I highly recommend if you want fighting shonen out the wazoo) the ring tournament takes up almost half the series and since we’re only on book 13 of 30+ here, I fancy we’ll see about that same ratio. Expect lots of shenanigans and cheating by Team Hao.

The beginning of the book, with the vision of the great spirit being nothing but a collection of the total souls ever in existence or ever to exist, was a cheap knockoff of the philosOphy of nirvana. Not a big fan of that line of thought at all. Obviously the manga-ka is enamoured of the idea though. I expect to see more buddhism-lite ideas to trickle forth over the upcoming volumes.

However, overall, this got me excited again. I’m going to go read the next volume right away!

★★★★☆

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