Bookstooge Reviews 2016

2016 was on the whole a very good year for me. There will be lots of pictures and links in this post and the wordcount is the highest so far this year, so lets get cracking!

The Year in Visual Review. I continue to use Ipiccy.com for my collages, as their 25picture box works very well with the number of books I read each month and their iphone4 setting keeps all the squares pretty close to the cover sizes so the covers don’t get chopped off. I am sure there is a lot more I could be doing, but a monthly roundup is about the limit of my artsy-fartsy’ness.

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I read 228 books this year. This was up from last years 183. Much of that is due to starting up Manga Monday again.

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My pages read went up as well. From just under 63000 to just over 77000. Even though, in all fairness that includes the full number of pages for books that I DNF’d and abandoned. So take that number with a pinch or two of salt.

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Each month stayed pretty steady in terms of overall books read with only 3 months dipping below the 18book mark. Even in August when I had to take some emergency time off to go move my parents when they unexpectedly sold their house in 2 weeks instead of the 3 months everyone was planning on. Which just means that I’ve made reading my main hobby this year and put most of my time and attention into it.

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The Stars shall speak

13   star50-custom-custom

  star45full-custom

58  star40full-custom

53  star35full-custom

49  star30full-custom

13  star25full-custom

12  star20full-custom

1    star15full-custom

14  star10full-custom

4    star05full-custom

3    star00full-custom

That makes my average for the year right around 3.25. Considering that a 3 is a good and completely average read, 3.25 means I pulled ahead of just plain good. I am more than satisfied with that.

 

On to the Books themselves!

Venetia was probably the best 1Star of the Year. It was fun to do a buddy read outside of my genre. It did reinforce my thoughts on the Romance genre however.

Worst 1Star was a tossup between Obsidian Worlds and The Store. Both got my stomach churning with disgust and outrage.

Best Non-Fiction wasn’t that hard because it was the only real N0n-fiction I read AND it was a 5Star’r. The Many Faces of Evil. It was just what I needed this year with my friend Amy losing her preemie twins and dealing with stage 4 cancer, all at the same time.

Best 5Star was once again a tossup. This time it was between 2 Re-reads, Dune & Way-farer. If I had to pick a new book, I’d go with Heirs of Empire, as it just hit me right at the right time.

Weirdest book of the year was definitely Gregor Xane‘s TaboogasmIt just doesn’t get any weirder than that. If it does, I don’t want to know about it 😀

 

Project ReRead

This was a complete success. 11 books that I had read before being read again with the aim of comparing how my tastes had changed and how that was reflected in my enjoyment and rating of said books. I still enjoyed every single book. However, I was able to determine that this was the last time I would read some of them.

I cherry picked specific books just so I wouldn’t bog down. That did lead to me realizing that some of these books are going to be favorites of mine for quite some time.  It also lead to the realization that while I’ve matured as a reader and can articulate the why’s and wherefores better, at heart, I’m still just a big geek/nerd.

Because it was such a success, I decided to expand upon the whole idea in a big way for ’17 and quite possibly into ’18. I’ve got a whole bunch of SERIES that I’m going to be rereading. They are:

I) Malazan books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

II) Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

III) Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede

IV) Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

V) Patricia McKillip’s books

VI) Space trilogy by C.S. Lewis

VII) Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

VIII) The Malaz Empire novels by Iain Esslemont

IX) Swan’s War trilogy by Sean Russell

X) Polity books by Neal Asher

So be prepared for a lot of whining and angst from me as I rip into these. I did choose books that I think will stand up to my high standards, hahhaaha.

For my other plans for 2017, please feel free to read them HERE.

 

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2016 is the year that Booklikes crashed. Crashed and Burned. Staff literally disappeared, the site kept breaking in new and varied ways, people left, people couldn’t join up. Some of the more patient and determined members made a supreme effort to stick around, figure out ways to work around the broken bits and keep members from totally hemorrhaging away. One staff member has returned at the end of the year but the site still crawls or doesn’t load right for long stretches at a time.

I am staying at Booklikes but it is no longer my primary social booksite. When it takes me 3 tries and 5minutes to just comment, that pretty much kills my desire to be there. You can find me there at: Bookstooge.booklikes.com

To anyone who I have followed at wordpress who also is on booklikes, just let me know which site you prefer interaction at. I unfollowed a lot of people at Booklikes who started up blogs at WP but I know not everyone will make the move to WP and I don’t want to lose interaction if I can help it 😀

 

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I joined Librarything with a free lifetime membership, thanks to some other Bookliker’s. I am using it as a backup catalogue site since I can’t export from Booklikes and I don’t know how long BL will last.

It is VERY different from what I am used to and you’re going to hear me complain about those differences, a lot! That doesn’t mean I will stop using it or that I hate the site. It just means that I am set in my ways and learning a new way brings out my inner cranky. You can find me there at: librarything.com/profile/BookstoogeLT

 

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I’ve been on WP.com since ’13, but more as a backup than as anything serious. As BL kept pushing me away, I started looking around at other booksites to find an alternative. I tried a lot of places but one thing or another just made them unpalatable. So finally I started making a serious effort to find new people here on WordPress and connect with fellow Booklikers who also had backup blogs here.

I’d like to thank you all who I follow for writing such fun things and I’d like to thank all of you who have chosen to follow me. It is nice to know that I am not screaming into the void. I plan on find another handful of bloggers to follow and to refine those I already do, as I see who posts regularly and who does it sporadically.

 

 

AND I think that about wraps it up. I’m plum out of words anyway, so that forces the issue. So onward to 2017 and a lot of Good Books!

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December ’16 Roundup & Ramblings

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Another good month overall.

Only Tropic of Serpents was 1star and that was because it bored me rather than because it was poorly executed. Several 4 & 4 1/2 Star reads, so I’m pretty happy with that.

The Blood Mirror was probably my best read this month, as it had a mix of Epic SFF, Complete Tomenosity [weighing in at just over 700 pages] and a solid hefty storyline. However, Heirs of Empire was definitely the most fun book of the month and it hit the sweet spot even while I was able to acknowledge that it wasn’t in the same league as Blood Mirror.

Manga Monday is continuing strong with Eyeshield 21. This manga series is really keeping my interest and is doing a great job of mixing the sports with the personal. Christmas brought me lots of giftcards so I’m going to be using them to start buying my next manga series to read, Oh My Goddess!. With 48 volumes, I’m going to need all the time that the next 20 volumes of Eyeshield 21 can give me.

Project Re-Read finished on a decent note with the rest of the Icerigger Trilogy. I’ll be talking more about that in my 2016 Yearly Roundup tomorrow or Sunday.

Working out the kinks with being on WordPress, Booklikes and now Librarything. Once again, more of that in detail in the Yearly Roundup.

My reading of Don Quixote slowed down but that was because of Christmas and New Years and not working so much. Once I hit January and am back to a vacationless working schedule, Sunday’s should be filled with updates from it again.

And to end, here’s some cover art love:

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Now is that just great looking or what? I also happened to love the story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who ever is doing Week’s covers for the hardcovers sure has my number. They are great!

Thraxas Under Siege (Thraxas #8)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 
Title: Thraxas Under Siege
Series: Thraxas #8
Author: Martin Scott
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 272
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:   Spoiler

Turai is besieged by the orcs. Everyone, including Thraxas, must pull duty on the walls. At the same time, it gets out that there is an artifact that can raise storms and it is missing. If it falls into the hands of the Orcs, Turai is doomed. The head mistress of the Sorcerer’s guild hires Thraxas to find said artifact. He is also hired to find 14,000 gurans of hidden treasure, the finders fee which will enable Thraxas to get in on a high stakes card game. Because hey, being under siege doesn’t mean life has to stop.

While this is all going on, it is deep winter and the winter malady is hitting people right and left. Sometimes a little to close to Thraxas’s circle of acquaintances. The book ends with the orcs over running Turai and Thraxas dragging Makri and Lisutarius into a boat and escaping.

 

My Thoughts: 

Thraxas is dense. There is no denying it. People literally falling ill, with no symptoms beforehand, as soon as they step into the Avenging Axe and he doesn’t suspect a thing? Throw in that an orcish sorcerer named Dazeez the Unseen is known to be out and about and you have to roll your eyes.

This was exactly like the previous books. Thraxas complain, Thraxas eats and fights, people harass Thraxas, Makri prances around in her chain mail bikini, Thraxas ignores said spectacle. Thraxas solves some of the issues and not others.

The card game was the highlight for me. In it Thraxas is playing against an orcish sorcerer and other high lords of Turai. The stakes are Makri’s hand in marriage or the storm artifact. What a game.

The ending was ok.  It could either be taken as the end of the story and series, or just a temporary set back. In the omnibus edition, this is the last story but i know there are 2 more, as I have them in my tbr list. So I’m wondering if Martin ended the series and then picked it back up again. I am glad to know that there are more Thraxas stories. We all need more stories about fat gluttons who are more worried about their bellies than beautiful women. Even beautiful women who fill out chainmail bikinis 😀

star30full-custom

Steal the Sky (The Scorched Continent #1)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Steal the Sky
Series: The Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

A lighter than air substance, the basis of the power for most nations, can be found on the Scorched Continent. One city in particular is being brought into the Empire.

One law enforcement officer is trying to stop a military butcher from being elected governor. A former lord and his “servant” are running from the Empire because it uses those who have power of the substance and said lord has great power of it.

Throw in another power user who is out for revenge and things just get messy, very quickly.

 

My Thoughts: 

I would like to thank Irresponsible Reader for initially bringing this to my attention.

Unfortunately, I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. I think the most positive thing I can say is that it reminds me of a mediocre  Wax & Wayne story by Sanderson.

It had all of the elements that I could like. A roguish lord who is more powerful than he lets on. A sidekick who makes the quips and yet keeps the lord under control. A strong police woman who is trying to keep order. A blood thirsty military genius who is playing games and counter games. A driven mother who wants the death of those who killed her son.

There were times where the direction of the story or a revelation just came from sidewise and completely caught me off guard. It also didn’t help that while this is the first book in the story, there is a lot of previous history about the characters, that they mention in passing. Kind of like listening in on 2 old school chums who’ll say something like “boofer” and burst out laughing because of a shared experience. It isn’t very nice to be on the outside looking in. And it just dragged.

I’ve got the second book on my tbr list. However, while this wasn’t bad by any means, it wasn’t nearly good enough for me to continue. Maybe if it was a Forgotten Realms book or some such, I could continue but for a “serious” SFF book, I expect more if I’m going to continue.

star30full-custom

The Deluge Drivers (Icerigger #3) (Project Reread #11)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

Title: The Deluge Drivers

Series: Icerigger #3

Author: Alan Dean Foster

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 320

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Project Reread:

I am attempting to reread 10+ books in 2016 that I have rated highly in the past. I am not attempting to second guess or denigrate my younger self in any way but am wanting to compare how my tastes have changed and possibly matured. I am certainly much more widely read now [both in the good and bad quality sadly] than then.
I will hopefully be going into the reasons for any differences of opinions between then and now. If there is no difference of opinion, then it was a hellfire’d fine book!
Links may link to either WordPress, Booklikes or Blogspot, depending on when the original review was.

 

Synopsis: Spoilers

Just as Ethan and Skua are getting ready to leave Tran-Ky-Ky, Ethan gets suckered into taking a job for his company as the Representative for the world, meaning that he has to stay on Tran-ky-ky.

At the same time, some egg heads on station find an anomaly in the weather, which upon investigation, shows that the whole of Tran-ky-ky is in danger. With the help of Ethan, Skua, Milliken, the Slanderscree and the eggheads, that danger is proven to be man made.
Mad scientists, renegade Tran, a melting world and the genocide of an entire species. Has Ethan stepped in it or what?
My Thoughts:
 The weakest of the trilogy, unfortunately.
My Review from ’05 pretty much nails the story line.
This just felt worn and old. While Icerigger excited me even upon my latest re-read, this didn’t excite me at all. I certainly have no desire to ever re-read this again. The shallowness of the characters really shows up here.
In fact, this is exactly like the Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold series by Brooks. First book is great, but since all the characters are cardboard, that flaw shows up in greater detail in each successive book. Problem is, to get deeper characters, you’d seriously up the page count and the plot couldn’t handle that.
Now, that doesn’t mean this was a bad book. It was just a generic SF book that was written for pure entertainment and absolutely nothing else. It fulfills that mission quite admirably. And back when it was written in the 80’s that was all we as readers were looking for. The tome-meisters hadn’t gotten on the scene yet and publishers wouldn’t have published them anyway.
Good to finish up the storyline and that was about it. Read it and forget it.
star35full-custom

The Demons vs. the Gods of the Sea (Eyeshield 21 #14) (Manga Monday)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.
Title: The Demons vs. the Gods of the Sea
Series: Eyeshield 21 #14
Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis: 

The game between the Devilbats and the Poseidons has begun. With each team pulling out new abilities, it is a real toss up of a game.

The book ends with 1:18 on the clock and the Devilbats behind 5 points.

 

My Thoughts:

Where the previous book had jammed the games into 2-4 pages, here we get a full game stretched out for the full book and in fact it doesn’t finish up by the end.

This shows that while tricks are good, brute strength is the basis of football.

star40full-custom

Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (Calvin and Hobbes #7)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

Title: Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons
Series: Calvin and Hobbes #7
Author/Artist: Bill Watterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 128
Format: Kindle digital scan

 

My Thoughts: 

Another fine collection by Watterson. I found myself laughing a lot more in this collection than in the previous one. I don’t know if that is because this was truly funnier, or if it was because more time had elapsed since my last C&H read.

I’ve got a few more collections left. Once I’m done with those, I don’t know that I’ll ever plan on re-reading these. As a teen, C&H enthralled me. As an adult, they’re amusing me. I suspect that as a mature adult, they will come across as tedious or shallow. I don’t want that and I’d rather never read them again and keep the good memories.

Finally, is that title a mouthful or what? I had to go to Wikipedia and just search out Calvin and Hobbes and then copy/paste the title or else I would have gotten it wrong.

star40full-custom

Red Son (Superman: Elseworlds)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.
Title: Red Son
Series: Superman: Elseworlds
Author/Artist: Mark Millar, et all
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 160
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis: 

Superman lands in the Ukraine and a Communist Collective instead of in Smallville, USA.

The Man of Steel promotes communism and once Stalin dies, takes over as President Superman. Lex Luthor, last hope of the Free World, makes it his mission in life to bring down the Man of Steel, even at the sacrifice of his marriage to Lois Lane. Superman is being guided by Brainiac and can Wonder Woman, Boris Wayneski, a newly minted cadre of Green Lantern US Marines and even Superman himself stop Brainiac from completing his nefarious plans?

 

My Thoughts:  Spoilers

I enjoyed this the first I read it but I never recorded that I read it, so this is my first time rating and reviewing it.

I always enjoy the Elseworld stories because they do what all the phracking ridiculous and completely unnecessary reboots attempt, and miserably fail at, doing. IE, bringing us the characters we know in new ways with new stories and new variations. In fact, I would say that is the main fun of these, seeing the familiar turned at a 37° angle, just enough to skew everything but still the same enough for you to recognize.

First off, lets get through the bad. Stalin. For all that Hitler is vilified and made the devil incarnate, Stalin was truly worse. He was a butcher, plain and simple. So, for Superman to admire him was a bit of a let down. I’m not talking about Superman and communism, but Superman and Stalin.  Then there is Boris Wayneski. I don’t even know if that was his name in the book, he was simply the Russian Batman. He was almost a caricature and I would have enjoyed the story more if it had been someone else. However, the frenemy status between Supes and Batman goes way back, so it makes sense why it was included.

The good stuff.

Superman looked good. He looked good in his suit and with the hammer and sickle on his chest. I’m pretty picky about my Supes, as I liked Dan Jurgens version from the 90’s, but this was a creditable job and the art didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

Lex Luthor. He is portrayed as the smartest man alive here. While his quest to overcome Superman takes the lead, the advances he makes in doing so drags humanity upward, in all ways. In fact, his name becomes so great that his descendants take on his name, as L, or eL. You can see where that is going.

And that brings me to the ending. I loved it. I can see it pissing people off though. Superman is NOT from Krypton. He is from Earth, sent back in time to try to change the future created by Lex Luthor and the House of L. Of course, the story ends with his little craft landing in the Ukraine, hence beginning the whole cycle again.

star40full-custom

Black Mountain (Alex Hunter #4)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.
Title: Black Mountain
Series: Alex Hunter #4
Author: Greig Beck
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 312
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:  Spoilers

Alex Hunter has recovered physically while in Israel. Unfortunately, his mind has not and he can’t remember who he is or who anyone else is either. Upon realizing he has been lied to and with some of his powers returning, Alex returns to the United States seeking out his mother.

At the same time, “Something” has come out of the Black Mountain and people are missing. Matt Kearns, a scientist from the first book, is roped into investigating.

One Night. One Black Mountain. Many disparate and dangerous groups. And one monster. All come together in one explosive orgy of violence and death.

 

My Thoughts: Spoilers

This was fun, and probably more so because Alex Hunter isn’t as big a part of things. That does seem to be the formula Beck likes. Ramp the tension up and THEN bring in the Arcadian.

There were a lot of different threads here. Alex and Israeli Commando Lady. Scientist Matt and his pals and the cops. Mossad Hit Squad going after Alex and Lady. HAWC’s commander Hammerson seeking out Alex and Lady. Cops seeking out the lost people. A slightly successful version of the Arcadian formula being field tested against Alex. And then the monster/s killing people, taking people, eating people. It all worked together pretty good and I never felt like POV was ever too short or too long. It was a skillfully woven tapestry of a story.

It did have it’s eye rolling moments though.

The monsters have supposedly been underground for 13,000 years living by the light of lichens and they’re just acclimating to the light fine and being super de dooper killers? Guns have little effect on their hides but knives stop them? They don’t blink at modern tech at all or feel confusion at it? Finally, the whole “oh, they’re not really the bad guys, we just treated them badly” bullshit. That turned my stomach.

Then there is the people side of things.

One of the scientists with Matt refuses to go into the cave but then they find the boot of a missing little girl and suddenly said scientist can’t be stopped from going in and all they have is a hand gun? Cops disobeying direct orders from the Chief of Police, to his face?

Some of the good stuff. The 3 experiments of the Arc-044 formula. They’re as strong as Alex and even more determined but completely gone round the bend and literally rotting away. Super soldiers indeed. We’ll definitely be seeing more of them. Alex and another HAWC fighting the bigfoots. That was just cool. Alex taking out a group of terrorists in Egypt before coming to the U.S. He throws a terrorist out a window, who has explosives strapped to his body, and shoots him so he blows up in the air, 3 stories up. Now is that cool or what?

By the end of the book though, Alex is wanted by the Israeli’s and the United States more as a lab specimen than anything else. He disappears but I wonder how he’ll survive on his own or if Hammerson will covertly supply him. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

star30full-custom