[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! #14 ★★★★☆

yotsuba14 (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: Yotsuba&! #14
Series: Yotsuba&!
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yotsuba has a ton of adventures. She learns to make bead necklaces and helps her daddy run his business. She also gets a princess dress from one of her neighbors and goes to yoga. Then the big adventure is when she and daddy go to Tokyo. They eat cotton candy and crepes and see aliens in the park! Then they meet daddy’s sister who gives them a car. They go to a fancy restaurant which has big pans of pudding. Yotsuba is happy.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, it’s been 3 years since I read the previous volume. Even longer than the wait between 12 and 13. I think this is done.

If it is done, this was a great way to end things. Yotsuba has tons of little adventures, is as cute and bold as always and ends the book in a car on a highway than can go “anywhere”. Unlimited possibilities, isn’t that what childhood should be?

I read my review for Vol. 13 and many of the same things apply. This wasn’t funny even while it was super cute. I didn’t have a problem with that this time around, probably because it’s been so long since I’ve read any Yotsuba&! that I kind of forgot it started out as humorous and not just cute.

This definitely was cuteness overload, in a good way. The manga-ka definitely nails the whole cute kid thing spot on, probably to the idealization level. Not having any kids of our own, I can’t tell. But I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to take your cues for real life from a manga, so I bet I’m safe.

I just checked and there have been 4 more chapters released between 2018 and now in the monthly magazine Yotsuba&! is in. This volume has 7 chapters, so we’re talking at least another year or 2 before there is enough material for another tankoubon. I’m ok with stopping this now. It ends on a great note and with no over-arching plot, there are no loose ends to tie up.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Prefect (Revelation Space #7) ★★★★☆

prefect (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 Prefect
Series: Revelation Space #7
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 516
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, an officer in the Panoply, a police force that enforces the few laws of the Glitter Band that orbits the planet Yellowstone.

Things start off with a bang as an Ultra ship uses its engines to wipe out 1 of the 10,000 Habitats. Dreyfus is sent in to investigate by his boss, Jane Aumonier. Jane had a run-in several years ago with an entity named the Clockmaker and has a mechanical tick on neck that places all sorts of restrictions on her or it will kill her.

During Dreyfus’s investigation it becomes apparent that the Ultra Captain was framed to cover something else up. While this investigation is going on, Dreyfus’s newest underling, Thalia Ng, is sent out on a routine software patch update to 4 of the Habitats. Said patch closes a loophole that allowed those habitats to sway the voting in their habitats, which is strictly against the Law. Thalia installs the code but finds out that it hid some other code that allowed another entity to take over those Habitats.

Thus is revealed the Bad Guy, Aurora Nerval-Lermontov. She is the only surviving member of the 80, an experiment by the Sylveste’s to truly digitize humans. She has been hiding and found a ship full of Conjoiners. Said conjoiners could see the future and saw the melding plague, which spells the end of the Glitter Band, and thus Aurora, as she would be destroyed by the melding plague. Aurora wants to prevent this plague but the only way she thinks is viable is to take over and control the entire Glitter Band, no matter how many people she has to kill.

Thalia must survive on the Habitat she is on while the rest of the Panoply tries to deal with Aurora, who has a traitor inside the Panoply. She uses the resources of the 4 Habitats she controls to create drones to spread her control code to other Habitats. Panoply ends up nuking several of them to contain the spread but realize they can’t really stop Aurora.

Dreyfus realizes that the first Habitat destroyed by the Ultra ship probably contained the Clockmaker and that Aurora was behind it, as the Clockmaker is the only entity Aurora truly fears. Dreyfus races against the traitor in their midst to find the Clockmaker and release it.

The Clockmaker and Aurora end up inhabiting the entire data band, which slows them down and makes them a non-threat for at least a century or two. The Panoply and the Ultra’s get together to clean up the remnants of Aurora’s forces and Dreyfus deals with the traitor, regains some memories he never knew he’d even lost and Life Goes On.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a decent end to my Revelation Space series read. Since I had already read about the melding plague and the glitter band, the situation presented to me wasn’t completely outside what I could comprehend.

That being said, this was only a decent end to my Revelation Space series read. I enjoyed what I read but I was neither wowed or impressed nor disgusted.

Dreyfus came across as this careworn, stoic, tired man who could barely function. I didn’t enjoy him as a character even while he wasn’t boring. No character was boring though. Each and everyone was unique and made the story what it was. I didn’t feel like anyone should have been cut out nor did I feel like I wanted “someone else”. But by the end of the book I realized that my time with Reynolds was over.

It feels kind of funny to be giving this 4stars and yet saying it wasn’t good enough to keep me reading more Reynolds, but hey, thems the breaks! Reynold’s style just never grabbed me like Neal Asher’s writing did, so take from that what you may.

Glad I read this compendium of 7 books but I’ve had enough.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Superman III (1983 Movie)

supermanIII

So, Superman III with its boring as all get out bluray cover. That barely looks like Christopher Reeve anyway!

This was released in 1983, has no “directors cut” and as far as I know generated ZERO controversy.  Let’s look at an alternate cover, shall we?

 

 

supermanIIIA

 

Now THAT cover does a MUCH better job of showcasing just what kind of movie this is going to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Pryor is an out of work bum whose unemployment benefits have been denied. He sees a computer programming training course on the cover of a book of matches and next thing we know he is working at a computer coding computer. Oh, we get sequence from his training where he makes his computer do something that even the trainer thought was impossible. Thus is set the stage for Pryor’s genius as a computer programmer. He gets his first paycheck and sees that 1/2cent is missing. He wonders where all those 1/2cents goes and programs the computer to put them all into his account. Next payday he gets an extra paycheck for $85K. Of course, this doesn’t go unnoticed by the Big Evil Capitalist running the company but they have no way of tracking who did it. Until Pryor screeches into work driving a new ferrari.

A lot of silliness ensues. Trust me, it isn’t worth typing out. But needless to say, a secret government satellite that can control the weather is involved.

Pryor, under the direction of the Evil Capitalist, creates a supercomputer capable of destroying even Superman. It attacks Superman, Pryor has a change of heart and rescues Supes. Supes gets some super acid and one little canning jar’s worth sends the entire computer system (about a large cave’s worth) crashing into a fiery, lava’y pit of destruction.

superman319

Yep, one little canning jar destroyed all of this!

 

Supes fixes all the problems his silliness caused (synthetic kryptonite was involved) and is once again the world’s hero. The movie ends with Lana Lang moving to Metropolis and working at the same paper as Clarke and Lois, as a secretary.

Now, I had memories of this being silly, campy and almost stupid. I definitely got the silly and campy part right. I think the “stupid” would depend more on just how mean you were feeling at the moment. Pryor was supposed to be comedic and in many ways he was, but it was over the top, rub most people the wrong way funny.

There was one scene where Superman has to fight himself, as he’s possessed by the kryptonite. I thought they did an excellent job and that Reeve did an absolutely fantastic job of showing a mean, brutish, 5 o’clock shadow drunk Superman. He looked mean and animalistic. I’m not one to usually notice an actor’s ability, but between Reeve making Clarke Kent and Superman truly different people and this time around portraying a good and bad Superman, I have to admit that the man was an ACTOR! It was also pretty fun to realize that the actress who plays Lana Lang is the same actress who plays Martha Kent in the tv series Smallville.

This was definitely the campiest of the movies so far. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this but I’d only recommend this to others if they are a huge Superman fan or like watching the acting skills of Christopher Reeve.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Taming of the Shrew ★★★☆½

tamingoftheshrew (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:
Taming of the Shrew
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 133
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The play starts with a rich lord taking a drunk at an inn and doing everything in his power to convince the drunk that he, the drunk, is actually a lord who has been crazy for the last several years. He brings in some players to put on a play and thus the main story begins.

Younger Daughter is sought by all and sundry, as she is beautiful, accomplished and generally pleasing in every way. Her Older Sister is a Shrew with a tongue that can remove metal. Their father declares that he won’t allow the younger daughter to even be courted until the Older Sister is married. Thus several suitors put into action a plan to be tutors to the Younger Daughter and secretly woo her while teaching her.

A Bold Young Man enters the city and hears about the situation from his friends. He decides that Older Sister is the woman for him and he’ll have her no matter her tongue. He approaches the father, gets his approval, has a run in with the Older Sister where words are exchanged like primed grenades and the wedding is set for a week later. Bold Young Man begins acting irrationally to drive his almost wife to distraction and after they are married head back to his home. There he tames her to his behavior and forces her to accept his behavior and mood or go hungry. They return to the city.

The Younger Daughter has fallen in love and with some shenanigans she and the Suitor are married. The Older Sister and her husband return for the wedding and the Tamed Shrew is shown to all, eliciting amazement from all and sundry.

The End.

 

My Thoughts:

I was very annoyed when the play ended and the secondary play about the drunk and the nobleman didn’t end as well. It was obviously just a ploy to start the primary play and to get the audience into a jocular mood. I however, wasn’t jocular at the end, as I like things wrapped up neatly.

I definitely enjoyed this more than some of the other Shakespeare plays I’ve read. I am realizing that in those old books where characters quote Shakespeare from memory and everybody in the book recognizes it, well, that is a lot of bilge. Much like Pop Culture references, it isn’t somethat that EVERYBODY gets, but only the group that cares about it. Reading Shakespeare doesn’t mean you’ll recognize the many quotes that were tossed around in yesteryear. Only those who study the Bard will be able to do that.

Ok, enough of that. Let’s talk about that cover shall we? It took me a tiny bit to realize it was a movie cover, but once that clicked, 5 seconds of Gugle-Fu showed that it was from the 1967 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Obviously THIS cover was meant to draw the male eye while the movie poster I found has a virile Burton striding along with a huge smile while carrying Taylor over his shoulder while she pounds on his back with her fists. I wish I had chosen another cover from Librarything but that was the highest resolution one, I think, and the others (if I’m remembering correctly) reminded me of modern impressionistic paintings, brrrrrr!

Cover aside, I’d call this a successful foray into Shakespeare. With my enjoyment level so varied, I simply never know what I’m going to like or dislike every time I crack the cover on one of these plays.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Red Iron Nights (Garrett, PI #6) ★★★☆½

redironnights (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: Red Iron Nights
Series: Garrett, PI #6
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Garrett has been coasting on the success of the last several cases but the money is getting low. Dean moves in full time to escape all of his nieces and bugs Garrett every day. Even the Deadman gets in on the action, taking a job and handing it off to Garrett.

Then the Watch hires Garrett. Against his will. Young women, from The Hill (where the rich and aristocratic live), have been slumming it down with the plebes and something has been ritually kidnapping them and then eviscerating them, on a downward spiraling time cycle. Garrett figures out that the killer is going after a certain “type” of woman, ie, black hair in a certain style with a certain body type. They catch the killer, only to have him die and the process start all over again. Garrett realizes a curse is involved and does some digging to get to the origins of it all.

At the same time, the daughter of the local Crime Lord is on the run from the 2 cronies who are her father’s head men. The Crime Lord is being used as a puppet by the Head Men (as they tried to kill him in the last book and didn’t quite succeed) and they want to get the daughter out of the way. Said daughter also fits the bill for the type of woman the curse is seeking. Garrett helps the daughter meet many of the rich and influential while “protecting” her and she makes a power play of her own. She takes over, ousts the 2 Head Men and ends up doing the same exact thing as them.

Garrett and the Deadman finally figure out what the curse resides in and tell the Watch. They capture the latest carrier of the curse and lock the cursed object away for wizards to study when they all come back from the Cantard.

Speaking of the Cantard. Glory Mooncalled makes a huge push and partially succeeds. This cripples the ability of one of the two kingdoms fighting over the region (for the silver mines. Silver is essential for magic users). Things are looking good for Mooncalled’s Republic until the Kingdom that Garrett belongs to begins using aerial recon. This gives them such a huge advantage that everyone is talking about the war ending in a year or less. The Deadman is heartbroken, as Glory Mooncalled is his hero and Garrett realizes that things are going to change in TunFaire if all the soldiers suddenly return home.

During the process of catching the Cursed Object, the Watch begins to function like it is supposed to. However, one of it’s more zealous members initiates a new group within the watch, a nascent secret police. It is super successful and Garett and the Deadman realize that social changes are about to happen to TunFaire as well.

The book ends with Garrett having a lot of money, no woman and with the realization that the whole world is about to change and not necessarily for the better.

 

My Thoughts:

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. There is nothing spectacular that I can point to and say “THIS is what I like about the Garrett, PI books” but so far, every book I have read I simply enjoy a lot. Cook is a solid author and he knows his stuff. This is no work of art, but at the same time neither is it some grade school finger painting.

The whole thing with the Cantard and the possible changes to the city of TunFaire makes me wonder if Cook is going to go down the “Social Changes Propel the Plot” route. The whole economy of TunFaire is based on a war footing and a sudden change in that will almost literally shake the town up. Throw in the Secret Police and people not being real happy with the Nobles, well, stories with those elements can almost write themselves. Personally, I liked the Glory Mooncalled aspect, how it is revealed through dispatches and with talks between the Deadman and others. I’d be sorry to see that disappear.

I don’t ever plan on re-reading these books, hence the overly long synopsis. But if all my 3 ½ star rated books were this enjoyable, I’d be a very happy camper.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Places in the Darkness ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@Page11

placesinthedarkness (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: Places in the Darkness
Series: ———-
Author: Chris Brookmyre
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 448/DNF on page 11
Format: Digital Edition

 

My Thoughts:

Main character was talking to her male coworker and brings up the fact he might be leaving the space station to go be with his male partner.

At some point I will simply have to give up on SFF because of the pervasiveness of such perversions presented as normal. I don’t know what my tipping point would be though. A monthly total, a yearly total, something else? I take this subject matter pretty seriously and so I guess I really need to sit down and think about just what my tipping point actually is. I have to admit I’ve been avoiding thinking about it but as this seems to be happening more, I just can’t shrug it off as an aberration on the writer’s part. Giving up a whole genre seems like a lot but at some point the apple is so riddled with worms that it is better to throw the apple away than to try to eat the few remaining good parts.

All choices have consequences.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Warlock ★★★☆☆

warlock (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Warlock
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 221
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)