Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 2 (Cthulhu Anthology #5) ★★★☆☆

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: Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 2
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #5
Editor: Pyrate Press
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Weird Fiction
Pages: 194
Words: 74K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Out of the Jar by Charles R. Tunner (1941)

Bothon by Henry S. Whitehead & H.P. Lovecraft (1946)

Something From Out There by August Derleth (1951)

Confession in Darkness by Gerald W. Page (1979)

Jendick’s Swamp by Joseph Payne Brennan (1987)

The Big Fish by Kim Newman (1993)

The Vicar of R’lyeh by Marc Laidlaw (2007)

Dark Blue by Alan Dean Foster (2007)

Copping Squid by Michael Sea (2009)

Crawlin’ Chaos Blues by Edward M. Erdelac (2010)

The Nyarlathotep Event by Jonathan Wood (2011)

My Thoughts:

After the success I had with Vol. 1 of Pyrate Cthulhu, my expectations were pretty high. You might say I had Great Expectations for this second volume. Sadly, just like Pip, my expectations were completely dashed and oblivionated (that’s what happens in Cthulhu-land).

Nothing was actually bad, but the magic I felt in the first volume was completely lacking. It was like Pyrate Press took all of the best stories and released them in Vol 1 and then all the leftovers they made a cash grab with a second volume.

None of these stories really grabbed me. They kept me entertained, but so does Spongebob. Oh man, wouldn’t a cosmic horror version of Spongebob be awesome? And the franchise already has Squidward too! Sigh, I’m just chockful of good ideas sometimes. So there was a lack of “something” to these stories. I can’t really describe it, but when I read a story with “it”, I know it. It’s like eating a pizza without oregano. The lack of it, once you’ve had it, is more powerful than having it. That’s what I felt like these stories were, a pizza without oregano.

I tried to find out some more about Pyrate Press, but apparently they only edited these 2 collections and that was it. No website, no twitter, no nothing, that I could find in 10minutes of searching on the internet. Even “I’m” easier to find than them (not that I’m trying to hide myself, but you get the idea).

Rating: 3 out of 5.

On the Eve (The Russians) ★★★☆☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: On the Eve
Series: (The Russians)
Author: Ivan Turgenev
Translator: Garnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 209
Words: 60K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story revolves around Elena Stakhova, a girl with a hypochondriac mother and an idle father, a retired guards lieutenant with a mistress. On the eve of the Crimean War, Elena is pursued by a free-spirited sculptor (Pavel Shubin) and a serious-minded student (Andrei Berzyenev). But when Berzyenev’s revolutionary Bulgarian friend, Dmitri Insarov, meets Elena, they fall in love. In secretly marrying Insarov Elena disappoints her mother and enrages her father, who had hoped to marry her to a dull, self-satisfied functionary, Kurnatovski. Insarov nearly dies from pneumonia and only partly recovers. On the outbreak of war Insarov tries to return with Elena to Bulgaria, but dies in Venice. Elena takes Insarov’s body to the Balkans for burial and then vanishes.

My Thoughts:

This was translated by Constance Garnett and a Edward Garnett wrote the introduction. I am assuming he is her husband, because otherwise I have no idea how so much brown nosing could be packed into a simple introduction. It was embarrassing (Edward is sucking up to Turgenev, not his wife) and ol’ Ed put a WHOLE LOT of meaning into the story that I’m not convinced was actually there.

Overall, this was all about the author being angsty about the russian psyche and why they were a bunch of big babies who were selfish and irresponsible instead of being like European and American men, who did their duty come hell or high water. It was a character study more than a story and while I enjoyed my time reading this, I really couldn’t call it a story.

The book ends with someone saying that yes, the mature russian man WAS coming and then the world would be complete. Or something like that. It was bologna. Sadly, if you follow Russia in the news for the last 100 years they haven’t grown up one bit. From Lenin to Stalin to Khrushchev to Putin, you see no change in the national character.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought in this vein if stupid ol’ Ed hadn’t shoved it directly into my face. What a stupid arrogant jerk. I bet he would have changed his tune if he’d been in the camps set up by Stalin!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Asterix and the Cauldron (Asterix #13) ★★★☆☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and the Cauldron
Series: Asterix #13
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story introduces Chief Whosemoralsarelastix, the chief of a neighboring Gaulish village: a miser who often does business with the Romans. When the Romans levy new taxes, Whosemoralsarelastix asks the people of Asterix’s village to guard a cauldron full of sestertii, ostensibly to keep the money away from the imminent visit of the Roman tax collectors. Despite Asterix keeping watch, the cauldron is stolen during the night, whereupon the strict laws of the Gauls demand that Asterix be banished until he has atoned for his negligence. Obelix immediately “banishes” himself to accompany Asterix, until they find money to refill the cauldron and repay Whosemoralsarelastix.

Asterix and Obelix engage in many futile attempts to earn back the money: questioning the Romans at Compendium (only to start a riot when the Romans know nothing about the theft), attacking the pirates in the belief that they stole the money (after the pirates have converted their ship into a restaurant), selling boars (at a ridiculously low price), prize fighting (only to win worthless statuettes), acting (foiled when Obelix insults the audience and ruins the company), gambling on a chariot race (only to lose their money on false information), and even trying to rob a bank (which is empty of money after the recent tax increases). With little else to gain or lose, they take the cauldron back to Whosemoralsarelastix’s village, Asterix hoping to save the village’s honour by clarifying that he alone is responsible for the loss. En route they rob a Roman tax collector of sufficient money to fill the cauldron; and Asterix catches an onion-like scent on the coins, recalling that the cauldron had previously been used for cooking onion soup, and thus proving that these are the very coins seized from Asterix’s care.

At Whosemoralsarelastix’s village, on a high cliff at the coast, Asterix confronts Whosemoralsarelastix with the onion-smelling money, having correctly guessed that Whosemoralsarelastix stole back his own money in the hope that Asterix, to repay the supposed debt, would reimburse him. Here, Asterix and Whosemoralsarelastix duel with their swords (Asterix having exhausted the magic potion granting him superior strength), while Obelix repels Whosemoralsarelastix’s followers. When Whosemoralsarelastix wins the duel and prepares to kill Asterix, a section of the cliff beneath his feet suddenly gives way, and the cauldron falls toward the ocean while Whosemoralsarelastix hangs above. Asterix then rescues Whosemoralsarelastix and re-unites with Obelix, with whom he returns home.

The money itself falls into the ship and possession of the pirates. At Asterix’s village, a celebration is held for the return of the two heroes and the recovery of their honour.

My Thoughts:

Yeah, as soon as the other chieftan walked into the village, it was obvious he was a schemer, scraper and general ne’erdowell. So of course he stole his own money and tricked Asterix into returning even more money to him. Losing it all at the end was about the worst punishment he could get.

And the pirates get a stroke of good luck for once! The first time in 13 stories 😀 They deserved it, hahahahaa.

Otherwise this was the funny adventures of Asterix and Obelix trying to earn money, or in one case steal it from a bank, and failing absolutely miserably. Their strengths and weaknesses are on full display and it’s pretty amusing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Tales of Terror ★★★✬☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Tales of Terror
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 771
Words: 306.5K



Synopsis:

From the Inside Cover & TOC

Be afraid—be very afraid: the master of suspense is serving up 58 bloodcurdling tales for your delectation. These suspenseful stories all appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and in the words of Hitch himself, they “are guaranteed to chill and unnerve.” Bill Pronzini contributes “The Arrowmont Prison Riddle,” Margaret B. Maron has “A Very Special Talent,” Barry M. Malzberg offers “A Home Away from Home,” and Patricia Matthews chronicles “The Fall of Dr. Scourby.” Meet a girl who stalks Jack the Ripper, a clairvoyant writer of newspaper obituaries, a homicidal partygoer in a sanatorium, and a police detective who lives vicariously through the exploits of one of his most notorious suspects: they all populate these frightening pages. Caution: not recommended for late-night reading—except for the very brave!

Includes the following 58 stories:

NEDRA TYRE – Killed by Kindness

JOHN F. SUTER – Just a Minor Offense

ROBERT BLOCH – A Home Away from Home

JOSEPH PAYNE BRENNAN – Death of a Derelict

BILL PRONZINI – The Arrowmont Prison Riddle

LAWRENCE BLOCK – The Dettweiler Solution

VINCENT McCONNOR – The Whitechapel Wantons

ISAK ROMUN – Cora’s Raid

NELSON DeMILLE – Life or Breath

WILLIAM BRITTAIN – A Private Little War

JOHN LUTZ – Have You Ever Seen This Woman?

BRIAN GARFIELD – Joe Cutter’s Game

JOHN COYNE – A Cabin in the Woods

EDWARD WELLEN – The Long Arm of El Jefe

JACK RITCHIE – Kid Cardula

JAMES HOLDING – Career Man

LIBBY MacCALL – The Perfidy of Professor Blake

HENRY SLESAR – Sea Change

DONALD OLSON – The Blue Tambourine

WILLIAM P. McGIVERN – Graveyard Shift

BORDEN DEAL – A Bottle of Wine

DONALD HONIG – Man Bites Dog

MICHAEL ZUROY – Never Trust an Ancestor

EDWARD D. HOCH – Another War

ALICE SCANLAN REACH – Sparrow on a String

CLAYTON MATTHEWS – The Missing Tattoo

PATRICIA MATTHEWS – The Fall of Dr. Scourby

STEPHEN WASYLYK – The Loose End

FRANK SISK – That So-Called Laugh

MARGARET B. MARON – A Very Special Talent

BETTY REN WRIGHT – The Joker

HELEN NIELSEN – The Very Hard Sell

RON GOULART – The Tin Ear

CHARLOTTE EDWARDS – The Time Before the Crime

BARRY N. MALZBERG – After the Unfortunate Accident

PATRICK O’KEEFE – The Grateful Thief

TALMAGE POWELL – The Inspiration

ROBERT COLBY – Death Is a Lonely Lover

FLETCHER FLORA – The Witness Was a Lady

PAULINE C. SMITH – Scheme for Destruction

MARY BRAUND – To the Manner Born

RICHARD O. LEWIS – Black Disaster

HAL ELLSON – The Marrow of Justice

IRVING SCHIFFER – Innocent Witness

SAMUEL W. TAYLOR – We’re Really Not That Kind of People

HAROLD Q. MASUR – Pocket Evidence

S. S. RAFFERTY – The Death Desk

AL NUSSBAUM – A Left-Handed Profession

THEODORE MATHIESON – Second Spring

ARTHUR PORGES – Bank Night

BRYCE WALTON – The Contagious Killer

GARY BRANDNER – Bad Actor

MICHAEL BRETT – Free Advice, Incorporated

JAMES M. GILMORE – The Real Criminal

WILLIAM DOLAN – The Hard Sell

BOB BRISTOW – The Prosperous Judds

ROBERT W. ALEXANDER – The Dead Indian

AUGUST DERLETH – The China Cottage

My Thoughts:

There is another anthology that was titled the same but was put together directly by Hitchcock and only had 12-14 stories. This was put together by some chick name Eleanor Sullivan. Good for her.

Overall I enjoyed this quite a bit and thought it was on track to be a solid 4star read. I only saw 2 or 3 stories that I’d read in some of his other collections and with 58 stories thought that was pretty good! Then came the last story, a Pons and Parker story. And Bancroft Pons, Solar’s older, smarter and fatter brother is introduced. It was too much. Solar Pons is a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes and I think it is terribly done. I wish I had never read any of the Pons and Parker stories by Derleth.

The book’s first story was the perfect opener though. A husband and wife are both having an affair and want to kill off the other because divorce would just destroy the other spouse, who lives and breathes to please the other. No need to be mean, just off them and everyone will be happy. Of course, they end up killing each other and it was PERFECT! It was exactly what I would expect from a story edited by Hitchcock.

The rest of the stories ran the gamut from ok to pretty good with the exception of the last as I mentioned above. This is the 12th Hitchcock anthology I’ve read and I’ve still got 8 more to go. I am loving it!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hunting Zero (Agent Zero #3) ★☆☆☆☆

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: Hunting Zero
Series: Agent Zero #3
Authors: Jack Mars
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 293
Words: 102K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

“You will not sleep until you are finished with AGENT ZERO. A superb job creating a set of characters who are fully developed and very much enjoyable. The description of the action scenes transport us into a reality that is almost like sitting in a movie theater with surround sound and 3D (it would make an incredible Hollywood movie). I can hardly wait for the sequel.”–Roberto Mattos, Books and Movie ReviewsIn HUNTING ZERO (Book #3), when CIA operative Agent Zero finds out his two teenage girls have been kidnapped and are bound for a trafficking ring in Eastern Europe, he embarks on a high-octane chase across Europe, leaving a trail of devastation is his wake as he breaks all rules, risks his own life, and does everything he can to get his daughters back.Kent, ordered by the CIA to stand down, refuses. Without the backing of the agency, with moles and assassins on all sides, with a lover he can barely trust, and being targeted himself, Agent Zero must fight multiple foes to get his girls back.Up against the most deadly trafficking ring in Europe, with political connections reaching all the way to the top, it is an unlikely battle—one man against an army—and one that only Agent Zero can wage.And yet, his own identity, he realizes, may be the most perilous secret of all.

My Thoughts:

I am so done with this series now. Agent Zero acts like an angry dad without one ounce of professionalism and breaks every rule even though he knows the rules are his best bet. He acts stupid, emotional and the man I read about would never in a million years have become a top agent of the CIA, or an agent for anything other than a Jihad. His emotionally driven reactions reminded me EXACTLY of jihadi’s in other books I’ve read.

So goodbye Kent Steele, you’ve wasted enough of my time with your lying ass claims to be a secret agent. You’re a dumbass, that’s it.

Rating: 1 out of 5.
  • Not Even Going to Link to the Other Books So You Don’t Waste Your Time On This Garbage

The Red Menace (The Shadow #4) ★★★☆☆

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 WordPresss & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Red Menace
Series: The Shadow #4
Authors: Maxwell Grant
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 176
Words: 53K



Synopsis:

From Thelivingshadow.fandom.com & me

The Shadow lives by darkness, gliding through the waiting night unseen, a mocking laugh his only calling card. None who have trafficked in crime will ever forget him. The may sneer at the law… but not at The Shadow. Each generation of evil breeds a newer, stronger root, and The Shadow’s latest adversary is no exception: The Red Menace. This brilliant, diabolical political assassin has decided to play both sides of the Revolution in order to steal the ultimate weapon… and invincible power. Time is running out if The Shadow is to stop this crimson-masked megalomaniac from making his insane dreams come true!

Harry Vincent is sent on a mission to watch over a scientist who is developing an areal torpedo that the commies want. The Red Menace sends his own minions as well. The Shadows saves Harry from drowning and takes down the minions but they have already given the torpedo plans to the Red Menace. Meanwhile, the Shadow is dealing with a Russian Prince who appears to be fighting for his life against the Red Menace and his cabal of secret masked commies. The Shadow uses the Prince’s loyal aide to kill the cabal with a bomb. Then the Shadow makes a transatlantic flight, tracks down the Red Menace on a train in Europe and unmasks him, as the Russian Prince! The Shadow steals the torpedo plans back and lets the Prince live to face the torture in store for him for his failure by his commie masters.

My Thoughts:

Boo yah! Damned commies. Getting shot and blown up and scheming. They were perfect in this story and I loved it.

The Red Menace was a great copycat of the Shadow and emulated some of his best traits. In many ways he reminded me of Schwartzvold from Big O (the anime) and how he imitated Roger Smith and Big O with his Big Duo. Subtly different, bad and just not quite good enough. It’s exactly what you want in a badguy who you know is going to be defeated. The Red Menace follows this formula perfectly and it suited him to a T.

I still wonder why the Shadow bothered rescuing Harry Vincent in the first book, or bothers continuing to use him. Harry is brash and has enough common sense to fill a thimble (and no more) and needs continual rescuing. In fact, I’d say his role in this series is more akin to the Lady in Distress (Nell Fenwick from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons) than as an actual aid to the Shadow.

Nell Fenwick, aka, Harry Vincent

I really thought about giving this a halfstar bump up just for how many commies get kaboomed, but that’s a small enough personal pleasure that I didn’t feel quite right about it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Muppets Now (2020 TV)

After ABC tried to revive the Muppets with the one season show of The Muppets, in 2015, the franchise lay fallow for another 5 years. Once Disney+ got its feet under itself and established itself as a bona fida streaming option. Then they started streaming various Muppet franchise IP’s and tried to re-start the franchise with brand new stuff.

There were only 6 episodes and since they didn’t make a billion dollars within 24hrs Disney decided to drop this show after 1 season as well. Which was too bad, because this show had potential. I had some issues with how the episodes were structured but that was something you expect from a first season.

Once again Miss Piggy is front and center and honestly, it works. She’s dynamic and just the right amount of “diva” to be funny and yet tough and no non-sense. She had a bit every episode where she and Taye Diggs did a lifestyle segment and then another bit where she and Linda Cardellini. do a group zoom chat. Both segments were brilliant.

The next biggest and regular bit was a cook-off between the Swedish Chef and some guest cook. Sadly, the opening to this bit was really long for such a short show (20min show and the opening to the skit is close to a minute) and detracted from the overall humor. They really leaned into the Swedish Chef and his bad attitude when he lost the cook off (every time).

Scooter is the MC and has to upload the show to stream and we see him having troubles every episode. We get little one-off bits throughout and I enjoyed them as well. If more seasons were created, I would definitely watch them. But this being a failure, I suspect the Muppets will go on another hiatus. There is one more movie for me to watch that came out in 2021 and then I’ll be done my Muppet Journey.

The Hotel Bookstooge – Now Open for Business

Back in 2018 I started working on my blog to neaten things up (Site Update). Four and a half years later, I have finished. All 4060 of the books I have read since April of 2000 now each have their own little room in The Hotel Bookstooge. (+/- for omnibus and the occasional stray manga volume I lost track of)

And the best part? They can’t check out NOR can they leave. Mwhaahahahahahaa.

I’d like to thank everyone of you who gets posts emailed to them for putting up with this construction. I know this added up to a LOT of emails over time (and sometimes even within just a couple of days) but you can rest assured, the last beam of lumber has been cut, the final coat of paint has been splashed on the walls and the staff have all been vetted and are ready to cater to my every whim. So please, enjoy!

I would say feel free to wander around and check out the over 4000 rooms, but there is a small cover fee to keep the riffraff out. I’m sure you understand. Oh, and watch out for security. I’ve set them on “kill” instead of “stun” because it’s more fun that way. That way as I watch you on the cameras I can be sure you’re genuinely terrified as you run screaming down the falls, begging for mercy and desperately trying to find the way out. My goodness, I’m already chortling in glee just thinking about it! Sounds like a great time, eh?

And to help you take the first step on your fun filled adventure, just click the following link which will take you to a random page on the blog. And THAT service is on the house! Yes, yes, I know, I’m just too generous.

CLIKCC MEE (or else. jus’ sayin’)

Of course, the only problem is what do I do next? I shall have to give that some serious thought. Cheers!

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes #5) ★★★☆☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Series: Sherlock Holmes #5
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 420
Words: 114K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

“The Adventure of the Empty House”

“The Adventure of the Norwood Builder”

“The Adventure of the Dancing Men”

“The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”

“The Adventure of the Priory School”

“The Adventure of Black Peter”

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”

“The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”

“The Adventure of the Three Students”

“The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”

“The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”

“The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”

“The Adventure of the Second Stain”

My Thoughts:

While Sherlock returns from what should have been certain death, in this collection, it wasn’t the fantastic return it should have been. Doyle seems to have run out of vim and vigor and most of these stories felt very plodd’y. To the point he abandons all continuity and has Sherlock and Watson once again living at 221B Baker Street. Mrs Watson seems to have been disappeared, to the point where I had to wonder why Doyle had ever introduced her in the first place.

All of these were new to me except for the Dancing Men and even that I had forgotten pretty much everything except that the dancing men were a code. With all new (to me) stories, I have to admit I was hoping for a bit more punch and some rock-em-sock-em robot action. What I got was workmanlike stories written to pay the bills.

Personally, I don’t see why “I” should be punished by Doyle’s bad attitude; “I” didn’t ask him to write more Sherlock. He did that all on his own because going out and earning a living with his hands was too much for the namby-pamby wuss. He should have become a land surveyor, that’d put hair on his chest, pennies in his pocket and mush on the table. But nope, instead he churns out spiritless stories and the hoi poloi of his time are too stupid to even reject them. So here I am, left with a legacy of spiritless stupidity. My goodness, the stuff I put up with just to write reviews. And I’m not even getting paid. And if I was getting paid, I’d spit in the eye of the company paying me because only book hookers write reviews for money.

Ok, enough of that.

Despite my complaining, there was nothing bad about this collection. It just didn’t feel inspired and for a 400+ page book, you a little inspiration to keep that plodd’y feeling away.

Rating: 3 out of 5.