Mr Mercedes (Bill Hodges #1) ★★★☆☆

mrmercedes

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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Mr Mercedes
Series: Bill Hodges #1
Author: Stephen King
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 449
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis: Spoilers!!

A madman runs through a crowd of jobseekers, using a stolen Mercedes. He is never caught and the detective in charge, Bill Hodges, retires and always regrets that he never caught Mr Mercedes.

Then Mr Mercedes sends a letter to Bill, taunting him. And the chase is on. Mr Mercedes wants to break Hodges and make him commit suicide while Hodges wants to catch Mr Mercedes. Other people get involved. Things get personal for Hodges with the death of a lady friend. Mr Mercedes decides to go out with a bang at a teeny bopper concert put on by the nations latest and greatest boyband.

Hodges, with help, prevails and Brady, aka Mr Mercedes, ends up in a coma.

* very weak cheering *

Yay…?

 

My Thoughts: Spoilers!!

Did a buddy read of this with BookCupidity. Unfortunately, due to life circumstances, BC wasn’t able to participate as much as hoped in the back and forth. However, I was able to do a couple of updates as I read this, so this review is pretty much a compilation of those updates.

First, and most importantly in my mind, there is NOTHING supernatural going on in this book. This is just a detective thriller about chasing a madman who is halfway intelligent. I read King, once a year in October, for his supernatural, other worldly, stuff. So that was a huge disappointment for me.

Second, the whole relationship between Brady the villain and his drunk mom. It was incestuous and while they never actually had sex, it was clear that they toed that line. It turned my stomach. Also, being inside Brady’s mind was not a pleasant experience nor was it one I ever wish to repeat. Which leads into the next point.

Third. I am done with King now. Every year I vacillate about whether I’ll keep reading him. He can write a heck of a story. He draws me in every time and makes the characters and situations come to life. But this? It was just filthy and disgusting and I am done using my brain as a filter for that kind of thing. In some ways that is a relief, as I don’t have to wonder every year what I’ll be exposing myself to in my next King read, but there is also a tinge of regret as I know that King has some great stories that I probably would have really enjoyed. But there are things that are not worth desensitizing myself to just for entertainments sake.

And the ending, where Brady wakes up from his coma, caused by being bashed in the head multiple times to prevent him from blowing the plastic explosives at the concert, was just lame. That should have happened in the 3rd chapter and he is then possessed by supernatural powers and Hodges goes toe to toe with Evil Incarnate. THAT is what I expect from a King book. This was like a weak version of the Strawmen Trilogy by Michael Marshall, in tone.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Bookstooge’s Mr Mercedes Posts
  2. BookCupidity’s Mr Mercedes Posts
Advertisements

Survival Saturday – Tortilla Soup

maxresdefault

For all the Why’s and Wherefore’s of Survival Saturday, please visit the Intro Post. Thanks!

 

This month’s selection is Tortilla Soup by Efoods Gold, also known as Efoodsdirect.com. This is dehydrated, vacuum sealed so it should last about 20 years in the packet before becoming dust. Yum!

All pictures should be clickable for higher resolution images.

 

 

Things Needed:

4 cups water [calls for 4 1/2, but that seemed a bit much]

2 tablespoons butter – optional and we used it -recommended

1 Package Tortilla Soup

 

Ingredients:

Black bean, red bean, potato, textured soy flour, cheddar cheese [long string of ingredients for that], whey, buttermilk, onion, carrot, green chili, garlic, yellow sweet corn, sea salt, red bell pepper, oat fiber, maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavors, corn starch, sun flower oil, hydrolyzed corn protein, thiamine hydrochloride, dextrose, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, disodium phosphate, spices.

 

Directions:

Boil water

Stir in packet. Says to whisk, but since I use Pampered Chef pots, no metal is touching the insides of my pots! I stirred it up with a bamboo spoon. Seemed to do just fine. Stir thoroughly, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

I stirred it once at the 10minute mark then let it cool for 5minutes afterwards before pouring it out into 3 bowls. One is for Mrs B so she can add sour cream, chips, etc, one is a plain bowl for me so I can taste just the soup and the 3rd bowl is another for me with all the fixings.

 

Impressions:

With 4cups of water, it is a little thick, reminds me of the Campbells Chunky Soup brand. Mrs B says she’s glad she put sourcream in hers, as it was a bit spicy for her taste.  I was ok with it but certainly wouldn’t want it any spicier. That being said, both of us have a pretty low tolerance for that kind of thing, so it might be bland for some of you gourmands of chili peppers and the such*coughmanuelcough*

bowl8

 

The vegetables and soy protein are little tiny chunks and add texture more than any flavor.

spoon

 

Overall flavor is what I’d call American Mex, ie, what you’d get from an El Paso brand taco seasoning mix. When I had the bowl with chips and cheese, it was definitely more mild and felt more like a meal than just a bowl of soup.

cheese

 

 

Mrs B says she’d like to make it with less water next time, probably 3cups, and use it as a gravy/base for tortillas or something.  Thinking on it, I’d be tempted to add the packet to a crockpot of chili just to add a little bit of a different flavoring to my usual chili.

I was actually impressed with how good it tasted. I was expecting something bland, lumpy and watery, but this tasted like a good bowl of stew. While I wouldn’t want to have to eat this every day, once or twice a month on a Saturday night seems like a good thing and if things were bad and I was starving, I bet this would taste like heaven. Of course, like I mentioned in the Intro Post, take a multivitamin with this stuff. It is NOT nutrient heavy.

flintstones

 

I’m sitting down now and letting things settle. Reading the final Gundam: Origins book. Been a while since I read one of those.

 

Later Impressions:

Ok, nothing. Which is good. Never can tell how things might affect the tummy and the gurgly insides.

Thank you all for being subjected to this experiment. While I’m not Emeril or Cedric the Entertainer, I do hope you enjoy these food posts. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, please, leave a comment!

 

bookstooge

 

–All Survival Saturday Related Posts–

 

The Compleat Bolo ★★★★ ½

compleatbolo (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Compleat Bolo
Series: ———
Author: Keith Laumer
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories and whatever you call a 50page story, not really a short story but not a novella either. Anyway, stories about the evolution of the tanks known as Bolos. From their mechanical beginnings to their self awareness to their “we’re smarter than humas so lets help them out”ness.

Bolos are loyal, brave, determined, nigh unstoppable and better representatives of humanity than any human. In other words, they are great mechanical main characters without the Skynet vibe.

 

My Thoughts:

I really needed this read. After The Punch Escrow I needed something to remind me that not all humans are bastard baby killers. So of course, I read a book where tanks are the main characters.

The humans in these stories are props for the most part. While they figure more prominently in earlier stories, as the stories progress the Bolos take center stage more often than not. Honor and duty are big points in these stories and I actually teared up at one story about a bolo sacrificing itself to save the humans. Sometimes I’m so weak.

This is probably more of an actual 4star book, but when compared to Punch, it rockets up. Some of the problems might be insurmountable for some. While this book was published in 1990, the stories come from the 60’s through the 80’s. In places, it shows. Word plays making fun of a politician’s name [McCarthy anyone?], communications, the 40 people in the one town on one world all talking like Jeb Clampet. I read more “hick talk” in this short book than I have in a long time.

Having read this in the 90’s soon after it came out and then during college and then again in ’01, I can’t say that I’m exactly unbiased. I like this collection of stories. I’ve never been tempted to try the full length spin off Bolo novels by other authors though. This book I recommend. Those others, try them at your own risk.

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. The Compleat Bolo [2001 Review]

Mr Mercedes Buddy Read – 95%

mrmercedesWell, the story part of the book is done. So don’t read further if you are against spoilers and all that jazz. I’m going to be spoilering the heck right out of the ballpark.

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

King sucked me right back in with this last 20%. I was right back to caring about the characters like they were real people again. Thankfully King didn’t gut me.  The suspense of whether Brady would commit the mass murder or not was kept taut right up until it is decided. I felt like I was on the edge of my seat right up until that moment. Then I was able to relax.

Things wrap up pretty happily. Jerome seems to be ok, Holly [Janey’s nutcase cousin] is on the road to being a semi-normal, take care of herself kind of person and Hodges can sit back and do some sidework to keep him active.  Brady ends up in a hospital with his head bashed in and in a coma. But of course, he wakes up right at the end of the book. Not sure if King is going to re-use him as a villain in the next Hodges book or if it is one of those throw away “will they/won’t” they kind of things. Either way, Brady should have died.

Brady also waxes philosophical on what death means and gives a decent description of oblivion and nihilism. My only thought during this was “Boy, is he going to be surprised when he wakes up and faces judgement before God”.  Couldn’t tell if that is King’s personal belief or just one he inculcated into Brady to make him a real character.

No supernatural. Not one tiny bit. That was the biggest disappointment for me.

I still have to read the Afterwards by King and hope to do a proper review this coming weekend. Don’t be surprised though if I just recycle bits from these updates. They really sum up how this book worked, or not, for me.

bookstooge

 

Bookstooge’s Mr Mercedes Posts

BookCupidity’s Mr Mercedes Posts

The Punch Escrow ☆☆☆☆ ½ DNF@42%

punchescrow (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Punch Escrow
Series: ———-
Author: Tal Klein
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 333
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things
 yet to be
among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

English Standard Version

 

My Thoughts:

 

SYLVIA
“I had an abortion, Joel.”

….

“I guess about a month later , I realized I was pregnant. Keeping it was never an option. I had career plans, and my dad wasn’t well,so I…”

….

“I’m sorry I never told you.”

….

 

JOEL

“I love you, Syl. You made the right choice.”

That “you made the right choice” killed this book completely. Between the, once again, complete lack of originality [go watch the movie The Prestige, or read some foundational science fiction] that I moaned about in Dark Matter and that complete disregard for the most helpless of human life, I am done.

☆☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

 

The Night Parade (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4) ★☆☆☆ ½

nightparade (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Night Parade
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4
Author: Scott Ciencin
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 310
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Myrmeen, ruler of a successful city, is approached by her ex-husband. He tells her that their only child never died but that he instead sold the baby girl into slavery to pay off his debts. After lopping off her ex’s head, Myrmeen calls together some of her former compatriots, who are all Harpers.

Their research leads them to the conclusion that every so many years a hideous group of supernatural beings kidnaps children for nefarious purposes and said group is known as the Night Parade. The group finds Krystin, Myrmeen’s daughter but in their rush to leave the city, things happen, people die and the Night Parade is no longer content to let them be.

The Myrmeen and Co group meet up with a vigilante who has a magical item that he uses to kill the Night Parade. They all start hunting down the badguys, For The Children, and the Night Parade hits back, hard. Harpers die left and right, betrayals happen even after death and hardly anybody is who they say they are.

Krystin was a plant to lure in Myrmeen, the Night Parade are barren creatures from another realm that they can’t return to and through the Power of Luv, Myrmeen and Krystin rack up a serious body count of all their friends and tear away the shadow hiding the Night Parade. The Night Parade is prevented from ever recruiting more members and Myrmeen finds out that her biological daughter is being raised in a neighboring kingdom as a Poet Princess. Myrmeen lets her go and sets off on living life with Krystin as her stand-in daughter.

 

My Thoughts:

Wow! And here I thought Red Magic bad. This is the kind of Forgotten Realms book that gives the series its b-class, sub-standard, fantasy is crap, kind of reputation.

I suspect that Ciencin was told to write for horny 13 year old boys, as there were lots of descriptions of generic cleavage and legs and beauty and desire and crap. Sadly, the rest of the writing I’m not sure that even a 13 year old boy would put up with. Maybe?

Myrmeen. Where do I even start? She doesn’t think, she reacts at all the wrong times, she doesn’t consider anyone else but herself and then the eyerolling, gag inducing saccharin sweetness of her desire to be a mom. It was done wrong and it was done lazily and it was done stupidly. It doesn’t help that she seems to be attracted to every male she comes into contact with and that every single one of them dies. Seriously, she’s worse than a black widow.

The only reason I’m not complaining about the other characters is because except for Krystin, they ALL die. That’s just laziness to me. Don’t know how to handle someone’s future? Easy, kill them off. Don’t know how to engage your readers on a gut level? Easy, kill off a trusted companion. Don’t know how to even write effectively? Easy, kill somebody.

If you stuck a gun to my head and forced me to answer the question, which was worse, this book or Bloodwalk I would be really hard pressed to know what to say. I have had a recent string of bad books in the Forgotten Realms and I have to wonder when it is going to end. This Harpers series is on life support and it’ll only take 1 more stinker to sink the ship. I just hate wasting my time on trash.

While I rated this 1/2star higher than Bloodwalk, I am giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as its Mother/Daughter thing was so badly done that I felt nauseous. Bravo! And it turns out that this is the FIRST book to ever have that dubious honor. Double Bravo!!

★☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. Red Magic (Book 3)
  2. Elfshadow (Book 2)
  3. The Parched Sea (Book 1)
  4. The Wizards series
  5. Threat from the Sea trilogy
  6. Return of the Archwizards trilogy

 

Line War (Polity: Agent Cormac #5) ★★★☆ ½

Linewar (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Line War
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #5
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 580
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Erebus, the rogue AI that has been corrupted by Jain nodes, is on the path to destroying the solar system. With fake attacks and whatnot, he manages to clear the way to Earth itself. Standing in his way is the haiman who committed murder for a jain node and Ian Cormac.

Cormac has been running all over the Polity, ostensibly chasing down Erebus but in reality picking up clues that lead him to only one conclusion. ECS, the Head Honcho AI, colluded with Erebus right when Erebus first found jain nodes. Its justification was that humanity was stagnating,but with millions and possibly billions dead, Cormac puts the smack down on that particular AI and kills it. A submind takes over but with the spectre of Cormac haunting it should it ever decide to go so outside of bounds.

The Dragon Sphere takes Mika and allows her access to Jain AI, which in turn allows her to deal with the gabbleduck/Atheter AI, possibly.

 

My Thoughts:

Nothing from my original review from 2010 has changed. This was a particularly wordy story and there were a lot of details that just didn’t need to be there. It really bogged the story down. Instead of an adrenaline filled gorefest of robots and monsters I got an indepth tour of things I didn’t care one whit about. That’s why I knocked half a star off this time.

There is still a lot of action but sometimes it felt like it was really hidden away. Also, Cormac played a MUCH smaller part. The biggest thing he did was at the end when he killed ECS. I guess this just didn’t stand up to a re-read as well as some of the previous books. The ideas were really cool the first time around and covered up all the weak points. This time around, I was seeing the weakpoints.

I had forgotten that the Atheter memcrystal came into play so early in the Polity books. I just read a big part of it’s conclusion in the Polity: Transformation trilogy last year. That is one nice thing about re-reads, seeing various threads that you’d forgotten about being more deeply woven into the story.

I do wonder if we’ll ever see Agent Cormac again. He hasn’t shown up, that I’m aware of, in later Polity books. But if we don’t, I’m completely satisfied with how this 5 books sub-series ended.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. Line War (2010 Review)
  2. Polity Agent (Book 4)
  3. Brass Man (Book 3)
  4. The Line of Polity (Book 2)
  5. Gridlinked (Book 1)
  6. Polity: Transformation Trilogy