The Lives of Tao (The Lives of Tao #1) ★★★★☆

livesoftao (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 Lives of Tao
Series: The Lives of Tao #1
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Tao is an alien. An amorphous creature that along with a whole ship of his kind, crashed on Earth 1 bajillion years ago. They cannot long live in our atmosphere but have found that if they inhabit a terrestial life form, it protects them. And they can communicate with and in some cases control, their host. Tao has been in symbiosis with some of the greatest characters in human history, as the aliens want humans to advance enough so they can build them a spaceship to get the aliens back home.

Some hundreds of years ago the aliens split along lines of domination and mutualism in regards to humans. The Gengix want to dominate humans and force them into endless wars to produce better and better tech, hence getting the Gengix home quicker. The Prophus, of whom Tao is part, want humans to advance peacefully so the Prophus leave the planet in better condition than they found it when they all leave.

Tao’s latest host was killed and Tao had to inhabit Roen Tan, a lazy, fat, apathetic and generall all around useless piece of humanity. But Tao, a high ranking Prophus, doesn’t let Roen stay that way. With help from other Prophus members and humans working for the Prophus, Roen is turned into a decent fighting machine. Which is good, because the Gengix end up kidnapping his girlfriend and training mentor and he has to lead a group of special forces to rescue them both and find out just what the Gengix are up to.

 

My Thoughts:

If you had had me read Time Salvager and this back to back, I would have sworn they were written by different people. Glad I didn’t give up on Chu after TS was such a phracking load of debacle’ness.

Now, with that being said, I still didn’t care for Roen Tan for the entirety of the book. His attitudes were everything I’ve ever despised, namely, that selfish apathy that is impermeable to any and all reason and takes the path of least resistance every single time. He got better by the end but was still thick as mud sometimes and had me shaking my head. It was obviously deliberate on Chu’s part and I can roll with it, but it is something to be aware of. It is also something that had better not be in the next 3 books or I’ll dnf. One book I can handle, not an entire series.

For some reason I was under the impression that this was going to be funny and comedic. Not so much really. A few quips here and there were really about it. It was dealing with humanity as a whole being used by an alien race for their own ends and some of the horrific things the aliens had caused, like the bubonic plague, Chernobyl, World War I and II, the atomic bomb, etc. Death and Destruction on a scale that is almost unimaginable.

The split of the aliens into factions between the Gengix and the Prophus, I’m not sure why Chu chose to do that except to show that all life is approximately the same the universe over, ie, corrupt and terrible? I repudiate that, but on theological not philosphical grounds.

I was reminded a couple of times of the tv show Chuck. While Tao doesn’t magically allow Roen to become a super karate expert like the Intersect did for Chuck, the whole idea of having a wealth of knowledge in one’s head was almost the same.

The badguys were pretty good badguys. The Gengix and their human hosts were wonderfully despicable and the only thing I love better than a bad badguy is a good goodguy. Since I didn’t get that, I had to settle for the first half of the equation.

I guess why I’m giving this 4stars is that I stayed up past midnight to finish this because I wanted to see how things worked out. That says a lot to me when a book can hook me like that. Hopefully the next 3 in the series can keep that hook in.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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The Holy Thief (Brother Cadfael #19) ★★★☆½

holythief (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 Holy Thief
Series: Brother Cadfael #19
Author: Ellis Peters
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Medieval Mystery
Pages: 288
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Two fellow Benedictines from a neighboring enclave come in search of offerings of money, prayers, skilled labor and materials for help in rebuilding their plundered abbey. A great amount of all 4 are raised and sent on back to the abbey while the 2 brothers head to other abbey’s to keep on raising more support. The cart and its inhabitants are waylaid by bandits and while the men escape with their lives, all the materials and money is gone.

At this time, it is discovered that the reliquary supposedly containing the bones of the welsch Saintess has gone missing. Suspicion falls on the younger of the monks from the ruined abbey and a witness is called to prove he did take the reliquary. Said witness ends up dead and discovered by the younger monk. Lots of twistings and turnings later, it all comes out that it was done by the assistant to a travelling musician who had stolen the valuables and then murdered the witness to the stealing of the reliquary on the off chance he had seen the assistant take the gold and jewels.

Said young monk, who has a voice from heaven, runs off to Wales with the slave girl of the travelling musician who also has the gift of singing. The bones of the Saintess are returned safely to Shrewsbury, the murderer is taken and everything works out for the best, with the exception of the murdered shepherd, poor sap.

 

My Thoughts:

It is about phracking time that this series got back to having Cadfael as a main character again. I bumped this up at least half star just for that reason alone!

The other thing I really liked was that brother Jerome, that sniveler, that ass kisser and general sucker upper to Prior Robert, lost control and whacked the shepherd over the head. He thought he killed the guy but sadly, it turned out to be someone else put the finishing kabosh on the poor shepherd. I have to admit, I was hoping it WAS Jerome just so the sheriff, Hugh Beringar, could string him up and hang him dead. Jerome has been a worm since the first book and I want him dead. Oh well.

The whole young love thing is just such a trope in this series at this point that I just shrug my shoulders and think “oh well”. The problem I do have it is that it allows Peters to give voice to her rather ecumenical and unscriptural theology using a monk and so add weight to her thoughts.

I enjoyed this read from start to finish, which is a good change from the last couple of Cadfael books. I only have 2 more to go in this series and I’m really hoping they end strong and not with a whimper.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Code of the Woosters (The Jeeves Omnibus #1.2) ★★★☆½

codeofthewoosters (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: Code of the Woosters
Series: The Jeeves Omnibus #1.2
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 263
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bertie Wooster is bamboozled into helping out various friends and relatives as they try to get what they want, whether it be a wife, a husband, a policeman’s helmet, a diary, a superb chef or even a silver cow creamer, Bertie is at his best, messing everything up. Since he has ignored Jeeves’ recommendation to take a world tour on a cruise ship, Jeeves is less than completely helpful.

But in the end Jeeves doesn’t let his master down and everything works out ok for everyone except for the Justice of the Peace who once fined Bertie Wooster 5 pounds. Imagine the gall!

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this but it was just a touch too long. If Wodehouse had knocked it back to 200 pages, the humor would have been more palatable. I mean, after a point rich people having problems like not being able to keep their cook just isn’t funny when you’re dealing with 8 other rich people, almost all of whom are so stupid it is surprising they haven’t walked in front of a bus yet, all dealing with similar “problems”. It starts out funny but like a fish, starts to smell after a while.

That being said, up until the 75% mark, there were quite a few instances where I was just chortling to myself at the pure outrageousness of the happenings. I mean, Bertie is such a good hearted idiot that you want him to succeed even while knowing he’s an idiot and is going to flub things up.

I only gave this 3stars back in ’02 even while my review from then leads me to believe I found it funnier back then than this time around. However, I wasn’t actually using a 5star system (that started in ’07 or ’09 with my time at Goodreads) but retconn’ed all my books into the 5star system. I was using some vague and completely subjective 100 point system based on my highschool grading system. Man, how the times they have a’changed!

Despite all my complaining, I did enjoy this quite a bit and laughed out loud enough times so that Mrs B stopped asking me what I was laughing about. I think that says just how good this book actually was.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Man with One Name (The God Fragments 2.5) ★★★★☆

manwithonename (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 Man with One Name
Series: The God Fragments 2.5
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 68
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Lynx is wandering and comes into a small town. He accidentally kills an employee of the local warlord. He is then made Reeve by an enterprising old woman and has to survive the wrath of Therien, the man he has bucked.

After killing half of Therien’s crew, Lynx proposes a duel of mage pistols at dawn and Therien agrees, knowing that if he kills Lynx, he will then be the legitimate authority in the town. Lynx simply snipes him and heads out of town.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a story of Lynx before he joined up with the Cards. Honestly, I was expecting a prequel novella to book 3, much like Honour Under Moonlight leads up to Princess of Blood. Seeing what Lynx dealt with as an ex-Hanese soldier wandering around was enlightening and it definitely made him a slighter fuller figure (ha, yes, that is a pun on him being fat).

Knowing Lynx from the previous books and novella, I suspected that the ending would go the way it did. Lynx is pragmatic until it runs counter to his set of morals. Sniping a warlord who had used his underlings to try to kill him presented no moral qualms for Lynx.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Comedy of Errors ★★☆☆½

comedyoferrors (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 Comedy of Errors
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

20+ years ago, a family with twin sons and a servant with twin sons, were separated at sea. Now they all come together in the city of Ephesus and mistaken identity comedy errors ensue. With a lot of beatings for the servant twins, who both can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.

The error is realized and everyone ends up happy. The End.

 

My Thoughts:

This completely did not work for me as a read. The humor was not funny on the page nor did the situational humor do a thing for me. I kept wanting to shout “Somebody USE YOUR BRAIN!”

I can see this being very funny if acted out, much like a 3 Stooges scenario. But those wouldn’t be funny either on paper. The actors are what make the situations funny, not just the situations themselves.

I also don’t find humor about marriage funny. Me and Willy have very different outlooks, that is for sure. That doesn’t stop me from being glad to read this or to appreciate it. I just don’t like it * grin *

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

 

The Return ★★☆☆☆

thereturn (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
Series: ———-
Author: Joseph Helmreich
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 256
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Andrew Leland was abducted by aliens on national tv. Six years later, he is found wandering in the desert but claims to have no memory of ever being abducted.

College student, and genius, Shawn Ferris practically worshipped Leland for his ideas in whatever science they both are in. But being a Millennial, Shawn doesn’t believe that Leland has any right to keep his experience a secret. So he begins a correspondence under false pretenses and discusses theory and such stuff with Leland. Shawn then hunts Leland down only to be abducted himself by a super secret agency that Leland ran away from.

Shawn is convinced to work for them to help defend Earth against an alien invasion. But when he is chased and shot at by security for not toe’ing the company line, Shawn realizes somethin is off. On the run, Shawn is rescued by Leland and together they try to avoid detection by Ambius. It turns out Leland built a protective barrier for the aliens to keep humans out and Ambius used Shawn to reverse engineer it and figure out how to invade the aliens planet. Meanwhile, the aliens want to invade Earth to put a stop to the threat that humanity poses but they can’t because of the barrier. So when Ambius invades, they’ll be opening Earth up to an invasion as well.

Shawn and Leland kill some people, steal the artifact that it was all about and Shawn destroys the artifact. Leland realizes too late that the artifact is actually the alien he was in love with while on the planet.

The End.

 

My Thoughts:

What a piece of trash this was. While I noticed absolutely nothing wrong with the grammar, etc, both Shawn and Leland are Grade A jackasses. And since they are the supposed good guys, you can imagine what the bad guys are like.

Shawn is a know it all, butt hurt little prick. His insistance that Leland has no “right” to keep what he knows to himself is the epitomy of everything I despise today. Privacy, phhhh. I did not like Shawn at all. Leland was even worse though. He was super powered due to something the aliens had done to him and could almost literally walk through a hail of bullets but all he could think about was his lost alien love back on Planet X. He wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t even try. He just wanted humanity to die. He made the choice to come back and then does nothing but wish he had stayed.

I enjoyed the idea of the story and if the characters had been more likeable or sympathetic, I probably would have enjoyed this and recommended it. But as it is, I won’t recommend this to anyone and will be staying away from anything that Joseph Helmreich may write in the future.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) ★★★☆½

beastlybonesThis 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: Beastly Bones
Series: Jackaby #2
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 305
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Jackaby solves a case of a shapeshifting creature and when that creature’s owner is killed, ostensibly by a vampire, Jackaby and Abigal Rook are on it. When another victim turns up in Gads Valley, where Charlie Cane is now living and with the promise of dinosaur bones, both of our main characters are anxious to be off.

Once in Gads Valley, along with 2 competing archeologists and a strong willed journalist, Jackaby reveals that the bones belong to a dragon, not a dinosaur and there appears to be a live dragon as well. Carnage and mayhem ensue as the dragon, really a shapeshifter from the litter that Jackaby solved right at the beginning of the book, runs rampant. It violently explodes when Abigal throws a lit torch down its throat.

Jackaby and Abigal realize everything has been a distraction to keep them from the mastermind of it all. Abigal kisses Charlie at the train station and once back in New Fiddleham, both protagonists come to the conclusion that the death of their ghost Jenny is tied to everything. Solve her case and the mastermind of supernatural evil will be revealed.

 

My Thoughts:

A cracking fun read. Everything was a slow build up and I have to admit, I did not see the whole changling thing coming at all. That completely surprised me, in a good way.

Jenny the ghost does some poltergeist’y stuff near the beginning so I did know that her story was going to be important and sure enough, by the end of the book, her case is going to be the case that reveals who this supernatural meddler is.

The 2 archeologists and the journalist, along with a hunter who is a friend of Jackaby all provide nice background noise and are pretty much perfect side characters who are good for one book. Charlie and Abigal and their whole romance thing played a bigger part in this book, but more for various characters to tell Abigal what she should do or feel and for Abigal to finally decide on her own. Very modern young lady * eye roll * It was laid on a little thick, but considering this is YA bordering on middle grade, that is kind of to be expected.

Abigal is a great narrator and I’m glad the author didn’t try to change things from the first book and make somebody else do that. She’s feisty and smart and yet at the same time can be very human with being clumsy or not understanding something blindingly obvious to everyone else.

In many ways these remind me of Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic trilogy. The tone is very similar and while Abigal is a little bit older than Eff, Eff had to grow up fast while Abigal had the protection of money. But after this second Jackaby book, I suspect if you like one, you’ll like the other. I sure know I do.

And I have to end this review talking about the cover. I’ve included a large version if you click the pix by the info block. I’m not sure if it is the colors or the simplicity of it or what, but this is just as gorgeous as the first book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)