Bookstooge Reviews 2017

 

 

 

LONG POST AHEAD  – NOT KIDDING – NO REALLY – VERY LONG!!!

 

2017 was quite a different year from 2016 for me, not bad, just very different. Before I run down the differences, I’ll do some quick stats, as I LOVE stats. These stats are only for 2017 unless otherwise stated.

 

Blog  Stats:

Total Posts: 321

Total Views: 15.8K  +/-

Followers: 166 (subject to culling)

 

Book Stats:

Books Read:  194

Pages Read: 67,400 +/-

 

Star Stats: 

 

 

Average Rating –  3.47

 

 

 

General Thoughts’ish:

Here’s my 2016 In Review from last year.  My overall Book and Pages numbers are down but my average rating went up almost 1/4 of a star from 3.25 to 3.47.  Probably because I did a lot of re-reading of excellent books.

 

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Stopped being active on Booklikes in April. Wrote my Final Booklikes Post then and haven’t looked back since.

 

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Made the move to WordPress fulltime. That led to me perusing WP a lot more and hence cut into my reading time. I follow about 60 people and most of them are pretty constant posters. So I’ve spent a lot more time reading blogs than in previous years and that’s ok. People are worth investing in. Plus, now I don’t have to read all those books because I’ve already read the reviews 😉

 

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Using Librarything as my catalogue site and while I post reviews and try to be somewhat active on the forums, I find that the forum format is limiting to how I like to communicate. I can be found at  Bookstooge on LT.

 

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I’ve also fully moved over to Calibre for keeping track of my reviews offline. While it is actually an ebook manager, it works just as well for managing my reviews. Just like a spreadsheet in terms of data but with pretty covers so I can make it a visual experience! That and I can copy it, back it up and not have to worry about losing 17-18 years worth of data.

 

I’ve started doing some varied series of posts.  Some of My Favorite Things came to an end. It was a good time of listing off all of my favorite books and authors. Of course, I then went in the other direction and started the Surviving a Bad Book series which allows me to vent about some of the really bad stuff I’ve read. I’ll continue that this year for sure.  Survival Saturday took me into the dangerous world of food. It also led to a lot of followers who are willing to follow me for just one post a month. Kudos to you, kind folk!

I’ve also created the Movie Category as I’ve found that reviewing a movie here and there allows me cleanse my mind since most movies now are almost all brainless fluff. Action’y, explosion’y fluff mind you, but fluff nonetheless.

My manga reading went well and I loved my time with Eyeshield 21. That was a great sports manga. Now I’m diving into the RomCom Oh My Goddess! and that is a big series that I actually own. Time to make a large dent in it this year!

 

THE BOOKS

Best book of the Year:

This actually is going to get split into 2 categories, as I did a lot of re-reading this year and most of those re-reads were really good books to begin with.

Deadhouse Landing Dancer’s Lament tied for Best New Book. Nothing deep, nothing of real substance but so much fun and worth buying in hardcover.

Gardens of the Moon definitely took the spot for Best Re-read. However, that wasn’t an easy choice for me to make, as I had some seriously other enjoyable books that I Re-Read.

But the world of Malaz took my reading by storm this year.

 

Worst Book of the Year:

I didn’t start using this tag until October, so I just perused my 1/2 star and 1 star books in Calibre. Most of my half-star books this year were because of (im)Moral Content and not necessarily because I hated the book.

The Midden gets this dubious honor. It just left me in a bad mood for 24hrs after I was done. Books have to be extremely bad to do that to me.

A VERY close contender was Light. That piece of excrescence was a boil on my literary butt. Disgusting.

Night Parade is the runner up because it was just so trashy. Poorly written book that gives the Forgotten Realms series the bad rap that it has.

 

Plans for 2018

Not a lot actually. I’ll keep on with the couple of series of posts that I mentioned above.

I want to do a Robin Read in January. Basically, I have 4 Graphic Novels dealing with various Robins [Batman’s sidekick] that I want to read. Lashaan spurred me on in this endeavor when he reviewed Under the Red Hood I plan on reading A Death in the Family, A Hero Reborn, Tragedy & Triumph and finally Under the Red Hood. 

I also plan on reading, and watching Murder on the Orient Express and doing some sort of Buddy Read/Watch with Read, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. A month or so after the dvd for the latest movie comes out. If any of you want to do a Buddy Read at some point, shoot me an email and we can work out details.

Also, since I’m pretty much making WP my home on the web now, I’ll be creating individual posts for all of my old reviews, since I only have them in monthly clumps. So if you follow by email, I apologize ahead of time. Just going to try to work on entries that I’m re-reading though. Not like I’m going to go through and do all 3000+.

I have to admit, my main “selfish” goal is to have that first post that breaks the 100 view mark. I’ve got a couple that are pretty close, but I’m hoping that something I post in 2018 will be the first. That is about the limit of my personal ambition 😀

 

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Other than that, I’ll continue on with my regular reading schedule. Here’s what that looks like as of now:

Books by Patricia McKillip

Shadows of the Apt

Sacketts

High Priority (currently 5 books in this collection)

Books by Charles Dickens

Warhammer: Thanquol & Boneripper

Polity

Omega Force

Wayward Pines

Brother Cadfael

Dread Empire

Dread Empire’s Fall (not related to the above series AT ALL)

The Complete Shakespeare

Malaz Empire

Monstrumologist

Bookburners

Misc (currently 6 books in this collection)

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein

Thraxas

Maradaine

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Forgotten Realms: Year of Rogue Dragons

Dune Chronicles

Culture Novels

As I finish one series, I’ll roll another one in from my Calibre Library.

 

Personal: 

Life continues. We got a new pastor in March. His focus appears to be on the churches that he’s in charge of (all 4 of them) and not on climbing up the corporate ladder of the SDA business side of things. That has meant that both me and Mrs B. have spent more time at church doing stuff as we feel that our contributions are actually wanted.

I don’t have any grand plans to expand my blog or to try to grow it any more. I feel comfortable with the number of people I follow and while I’m always glad to welcome new followers (and hopefully new commentors!) I have no desire to become the next rival to Emily May on Goodreads (may she rot for betraying Leafmarks!). I actually stopped posting on Tumblr so I’m back to crossposting just on WordPress, Blogspot and Librarything. I’m finding that is just about the right size of community for me.

I’d really like to thank all of you who follow me and who do like and comment. For all my protestations of blogging for myself and not caring what others think, that’s only somewhat true.  Being an inveterate introvert, I still find myself beset by that weakness of humanity, the need for others. So thank you all for putting up with my rants, my silliness, my stomping around like a 2 year old.  I know none of you has to stick around but you still are here, so thanks for that. At the same time I hope no one ever sticks around if they don’t feel comfortable with any of my content. Don’t be a guilt-ridden follower, please!

I have updated my About Me post and I recommend any relatively new people check it out. Always good to know who you are following.

 

 

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TOP 5’s:

 

– Book Review Posts –

Night of Knives

Moon Over Soho

Way of Shadows

Dune

The Kantovan Vault

These reviews really surprised me. I know part of it is that by the end of the year those reviews got more views because of a bigger audience, but still, Night of Knives? That went up in March and stayed on top all year. Weird…

 

– Non-Review Posts – 

Mr Mercedes – I’ve Read 3%

A Milestone

Survival Saturday – The Intro Post

I Will Make Them Cry

Bookstooge & the Invisible Reader

Mr Mercedes  post got top billing because of the smiley face picture I used, I think. Turns up in a lot of google searches. If it isn’t that, then I’m super confused. The Invisible Reader post rocketed up the rankings making it into the top 5 in less than a week.  Either my whining was super annoying effective or it resonated with a lot of readers.

 

– Commentors – + Bonus Commentors

OrangutanLibrarian

Lashaan

Manuel

Space and Sorcery

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Mr and Mrs NW

DragonsandZombies

While I do bite peoples’ heads off when the occasion calls for it,  I do try to be nice to first time commentors; unless you are a troll/sjw, an author peddling your book or some random blogger trying to guilt me into following you. Other than that, you’re more than welcome to comment away. And as the above people prove, you can comment on multiple posts and live to tell your grandchildren about it! Well, except that one guy. But I buried him pretty deep and am sure no one will ever find the body. See, you’re totally safe here!

 

– Movies –

Since I reviewed less than 10 movies this year, and the Death Note franchise took up 4 of those places, I’m going to wait until  next year to list a Top 5 for these. That being said,  I will list my top 2. Cause you have to have more than one to truly have “A List”, right?

Doctor Strange

John Wick 2

 

 

I think that wraps up the year. Whether it actually does or not, I’m plumb out of words, so there’s the end.

Hope you all as good a 2017 as I’ve had and I hope that 2018 will be even better!

 

bookstooge

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December ’17 Roundup & Ramblings

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I trust you notice the clever use of snowtopped letters and the candycane color motif. I feel that I really let loose my inner artist with this collage.

 

This month is dedicated to Mrs. B’s dead grandmother. Her passing away allowed me to take some vacation time and while Mrs B went to a funeral, I read books. Lots and lots and LOTS of books. 20 of them to be exact and 7665 pages.  * stifles really inappropriate comments* ….hahahahaaa…ahem…. I also got sick with bronchitis and had to take off from work on the doctor’s orders, so that helped my reading time as well.

My average for the month was 3.28. That was DOWN quite a bit from last month. Not that I had a bunch of bad reads, more of just a lot of middle of the roaders.

 

The Bad:

Light by M. John Harrison. 1star. This book stank worse than all of the vomit scenes that were in it.

Crossover by Joel Shepher.  1/2star, never good.

 

The Good:

Skinner by Neal Asher, which was 5stars.

The Sea Watch by Adrian Tchaikovksy. Also 5stars. Two 5stars in one month, whoo!

Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian Esslemont came in at 4.5stars.

 

 

Manga:

Put away 2 more Oh My Goddess! volumes. Only 44 more to go *wink*

 

Survival Saturday:

The Breakfast Edition was a good chance for me to try out granola and whey milk.  I didn’t do a separate post for when I used the whey milk later that week for some cooking but I ended up tossing the Hamburger Helper mix I made with it.  So while ok for cereal, I’ll never use it in cooking again. Too strong an odor.

 

Surviving a Bad Book:

An Enemy Reborn was more an introspective look at an author making a bad choice than a really bad book.

 

Non-review Posts:

The Invisible Reader was definitely my most commented and viewed post this month.

Subverting the Sunshine Blogger Award was the most fun to write.

Merry Shelfmas was a close runner up for comments and also allowed me to show off in true Bookworm style.

 

Cover Love:

A Fortress in Shadow: With Mercy Towards None won the cover love mainly because of its atrocious older cover. Compare for yourselves.

 

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Not sure what this exactly screams, but it sure isn’t “Read Me!”

 

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Now that tells you to Read It, Or Else!

 

 

Going to be spending most of today finishing up my Year in Review post and getting that ready to drop at 0001hrs on Janurary 1st.

HAPPY NEW YEARS! (in case I don’t see you until after then)

 

bookstooge

 

The Sea Watch (Shadows of the Apt #6) ★★★★★

seawatch (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 Sea Watch
Series: Shadows of the Apt #6
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 720
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The city of Collegium is trying to catch it’s collective breath since the cease-fire agreement with the Wasp Empire has gone into affect. Stenwold Maker continues his job as an embassador and is trying to get 2 more Ant Cities to at least become trading partners with Collegium.

Of course, the Wasp Empire has it’s own agents in the city and they are doing what they can to undermine Collegium for when the Empire resumes it war footing.

At the same time, it is revealed that the Spider Family Aldenrael, which pretty much rescued Collegium during the last war with Vek, has been preying on Collegium ships and playing pirate. When one of those “pirates” is killed and turns out to be a minor Aldenrael member, the entire Spider Nation goes on the warpath and prepares an armada to take over Collegium.

Since that’s obviously not enough, it turns out that there is an entire underwater culture of Kinden, which wants to invade and take over Collegium as well. Stenwold is kidnapped by these kinden while dealing with the other 2 issues (Wasps and Spiders) and gets sucked into another whole world. He must survive, escape and somehow broker a peace deal with these Sea Kinden. To seal the deal, he must find the lost ruler who is now a young man.

Neither the Empire nor the Spiders want peace, so treachery continues to abound and things look really bad for Collegium. Until Stenwold finds the heir, brokers a deal with the Sea Kinden, sinks a whole bunch of Spider ships and wipes out a nest of Rekef Inlanders (Wasp agents) in Collegium.

Now it’s back to business as usual with the Wasp Empire being the main threat.

 

My Thoughts:

My Review for This from back in 2011 still stands true as all get out.

This was the perfect way to end my reading year, on a very good note. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and since it’s been 6 years, enough things were dulled that it wasn’t a slog. In many ways, this re-read made me appreciate Tchaikovsky’s writing skills even more. I liked this book. I begrudged my time away from it and made the most of when I was reading it. I read the final 30% this afternoon in one sitting.

To see Stenwold having almost everything taken from him (Che’s not returning from Khanaphes, Arianna’s demise, Teornis’s betrayal, Sten’s capture and imprisonment under the sea) and not have it break him? I thought Tchaikovsky did a fantastic job of creating Sten and turning him into someone I want to cheer on and hope that things work out for. He was a true Hero, even if deliberately not cast into the Warrior Knight mold.

It was also nice to simply have the focus be on one character. Stenwold is our point of view for the whole book and everything is through him and revolves around him. It made for a nice linear read. It also wasn’t a puzzle with trying to fit 5 different storylines together. Sometimes I like complexity but other times I just want something straight forward. Tchaikovsky gave me that in spades with this.

When I bought this series in trade paperback (I’m going to try to do a shelfie of just these 10 books for the last book) I almost immediately had buyers regret as I wasn’t sure I was going to like them enough to read them again. Well, this re-read has grabbed those regrets and tossed them into the Marianna Trench. These have been BETTER this second time around and I’m already looking forward to another go in 10 years or so even while I’m not finished this first Re-read!

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

Love Potion #9 (Oh My Goddess #4) ★★★★☆ (Manga)

lovepotion9 (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: Love Potion #9
Series: Oh My Goddess #4
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 117
Format: Paper Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sayoko and her cousin Aoshima continue their scheming to break up Bell and Kei so that they can have their respective picks. Of course, with Urd running interference and Bell’s love of Kei, things never turn out for the dastardly duo like they had planned.

There are also several instances of completely ridiculous things being overlooked and ignored. How do you bulldoze a clubhouse that is also a mechanics garage, overnight and have NO repercussions? You really have to enter the spirit of the manga, ie, campy and silly and just flow with it.

The other major plot point is the introduction of Mara, demon first class. While a very androgynous looking fellow, Mara is indeed a fellow. Somehow he’s tied to a Demon music cd and he ends up in cahoots with Sayoko, promising to get rid of Bell so Sayoko can be Queen of the Campus and have Kei all to herself.

While Mara is foiled at every point, he’s not banished and it’s obvious he’s here to stay and cause nothing but problems.Yet another recurring character. The character list is really starting to grow.

 

My Thoughts:

Every chapter was once again a single episodic adventure. Now, most of them revolved around various schemes by Sayoko and Aoshima so the whole book kind of felt more like a romantic comedy than anything.

I can’t really remember what part Mara ends up playing in future volumes, but I think he’s the beginning of the multi-volume story arc. It’s also our first introduction to the opposite of Belldandy’s family. Fujishima is obviously thinking ahead and planning on opening up this world for a full on experience. Having extra powerful beings, on opposite sides of the moral spectrum, is the obvious way to go.

Urd is involved, but not nearly so much as in the previous book. She really is eye candy and comedic relief. The funny thing is, she “represents” eye candy more than she actually is. That makes for a surprisingly clean “smexy” fun drawings without going anywhere near smut. Of course, this is still male driven fantasy, so you get little bits like this. And how cute is a mini-Urd anyway?

 

 

Now on a different note. I am reading the original Darkhorse release manga. I am finding that the chapters are out of order in regards to the original intent and that that has been rectified with the re-release of the OMG manga in it’s original numbered format. Not that I’m going to go out and suddenly buy volumes 1-20 just to be a completist but I am realizing that I’d recommend people start with the new numbered versions and not these “Titled” Darkhorse editions.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

Bookstooge & the Invisible Reader

 

RANT AHEAD

 

2 1/2 years ago I wrote a post on Booklikes where I lamented the Invisible Reader. Said post was entitled “Why Do You Follow Me?”. Moving over to WordPress this year hasn’t really changed those questions very much.

I mentally understand that there exist people who follow others but don’t like or comment. But I don’t know why they do it. Just like I mentally understand that pressing a button on my magic box allow me to talk to my folks who are 1000miles away, but I sure as heck don’t know the mechanics of how my phone actually works. It is that gap between knowing and understanding that continues to fascinate me.

Personally, when I follow someone, I don’t expect them to follow me back. I am following them because I am interested in what they are writing AND how they are writing it. I won’t follow someone who regularly posts things that I am against. Also, if I find out something about someone I follow that I don’t really care for, I have no compunctions about not following them. I also try to give the same liberties to anyone who follows me. That is one reason why I really recommend people read the About Me section. I have no problems if people stop following me because of things I write. That is their choice and since they’re adults, I give them the right to make up their own minds. I just expect the same in return 🙂

Back to the Invisible Reader.  The whole idea fascinates me, mainly because on a place like WordPress, where everything worthwhile is expressed through Words [gifs aren’t worthwhile but that is another whole post unto itself], I would have thought that the very process of being on here would weed out people who make up the Invisible Reader.  My blog isn’t a magazine with 10,000 faceless people who read it. It is followed by fellow bloggers who also write their own blogs. In other words, by people who know how to use their words. I certainly don’t expect every person who follows me to comment on every post. Not even I do that on the people who I follow.

But that gap between the Likes and the number of Views per post is big enough that I can’t get over it. It comes down to the fact that there are people who follow me, read what I post but don’t interact with me. I have to admit, I simply do not Understand it.  It really bugs me when I can’t understand people.  It isn’t about a numbers game, a popularity conquest, even while it may sound like that.  A blog is not a forum. I don’t write my posts JUST for you to read them. But that is what people DO.

I am writing all this because I’m just frustrated about not really understanding. The other thing is that I’ve recently had a couple of followers who blatantly followed me and commented on a post just to try to get me to follow them to boost their numbers. THAT pisses me off. Those kind of lowlifes I can actually understand. I despise them, would gladly consign them to a death in an arena with hungry jackalopes, heck I’d probably be ok with kneecapping them, but I understand them. They are the shallow, vacuous pond scum floating on the top of the ocean with no depth to them. But the Invisible Reader is the deep strong current running through the ocean that you don’t see and you don’t see their presence except in a small area, ie, views.

All right, got that out of my system. I should be ok for a year or two now. Thank you for reading. Thankfully, Grumpy Cat is my Co-pilot * wink *

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Mojave Crossing (Sacketts #9) ★★★☆☆

mojavecrossing (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: Mojave Crossing
Series: Sacketts #9
Author: Louis L’Amour
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 160
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Tell Sackett has a bagful of gold and some unknown people on his trail. In some little town he helps out a damsel in distress and ends up shot, robbed and without water in the Mojave Desert.

Being a Sackett, that’s not enough to kill him. So he sets out after his assailaints. He catches up with the Damsel in Distress and finds out there is a lot more to her than he first thought. He gets involved with an old Mexican Pirate who fought his granddaddy and tracks down the man who has his gold. Only to find that another Sackett is acting as his bodyguard.

But since blood is thicker than gold, both Sacketts do the right thing and lots of badguys die and they head off into the sunset.

 

My Thoughts:

This felt very disjointed. In the previous book Tell was all setup to get hitched and settle down and now in this book he’s out and about and getting involved with another woman? It kind of gets explained, but at first I didn’t even realize I was reading about the same character as in Sackett.

Everything felt that little bit off for the whole book so it was hard to get into the flow of things like the previous books. I would almost say that this was a “commitment” book on L’Amour’s part to fulfill a publishing contract more than an actual story. It just didn’t have that same feel. I know that’s not very helpful to anyone who hasn’t read it but that’s my take away from it.

I hope the next one is a little more of what I expect.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

Merry Shelfmas!

While I am not a fan of selfies, as they glorify narcissistic self, I am a HUGE fan of shelfies. I find that it says a lot about someone what books they have on their shelves and in what order, if any.  I find shelfies to be little snapshots into someone’s soul. All Shelfies should be clickable for bigger versions. Using my phone so I’m not sure how clear individual titles would be.

But here’s my favorite Christmas present this year. Mrs Bookstooge got it for me and we read it aloud while sipping hot cocoa sitting on our couch watching the snow come down through our sliding door window.

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LET THE SHELFIES BEGIN!

 

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This first shelfie is completely doublestacked, so it is missing almost half the books. The majority of them are Terry Brooks though, so you’re not missing out on anything :-/

 

shelfie2

There are a lot of books on this shelf I wouldn’t mind not having any more. I used to buy books whenever, unlike my now maturer and wiser self. Now I only buy books if I think I’ll read them again.

 

 

shelfie3

The two books lying down are the Space Trilogy by Lewis and Through Wolf’s Eyes by Lindskold. They are simply too tall to stand up on these shelves.

 

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While I’ve read a lot of Classics, that top shelf is about all I actually own. Probably not even 1/20th of my collection 😦  If only the Government would hand out free, leather bound hardcover editions of Dickens, Austen, etc.  Then I’d be a Socialist for sure!

 

 

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This is kind of our catch-all, misc shelf. The books on the bottom row are ones I have on Paperbackswap, but to be honest, I’m just about ready to throw them out instead of spending money on mailing them to other people.

 

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Mainly Manga. Just about all doubleshelved too. All 38 volumes of Yugioh are behind other books as well as all of XxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. And Graphic Novels on the bottom row.

 

shelfie7

From when I USED to be a Star Wars fan. Then my collection of Wheel of Time books. I bought them all through the SFBC and am now slowly trying to find them in first edition hardcovers. I’m in no hurry. Then mostly paperbacks classics and middlegrade books.

 

shelfie8

College books and papers, reference books and our very small selection of theology related books. On par with my Classics.

 

 

There you go. I hope you enjoyed looking at those as much as I did. Feel free to oooh and ahh, ask questions, or even simply give me money.

 

bookstooge