The Pickwick Papers ★★★★★★

pickwickpapers (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 Pickwick Papers
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 6 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 943
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Samuel Pickwick, gentleman bachelor and amateur scientist, has formed a small group of like minded men and they all decide to go exploring the Countryside of England to expand their knowledge of their Great Country.

As such, the 4 Gentlemen, Mr Pickwick, Mr Snodgrass, Mr Tuddle and Mr Tuppman, set out to see what they can see. Along the way Mr Pickwick picks up a servant by the name of Sam Weller, the company meets an honorable countryman by the name of Mr Wardle, the 2 younger gentlemen of the group fall in love and marry the niece and daughter of Mr Wardle, Mr Tuppman is disappointed in love with Mr Wardle’s spinster sister Miss Rachel. Mr Pickwick becomes embroiled in breach of promise suit with his landlady due to the machinations of the dastardly duo Dodson & Fogg, attorneys at law and ends up spending 3 months in debtors’ prison for refusing to pay the fine, as it would all go to the lawyers instead of the landlady. Pickwick and Weller have multiple runins with their lowclass counterparts, Jingle and Trotter and are made fools of several times over. Sam Weller’s father comes into the story with his own adventures of his second wife, a widow who owns a tavern and is a strict adherent to the sect of Preacher Stiggleton, who preaches teetotally while cooling drinking pineapple rum punch by the hogshead.

These are but a part of the adventures the Pickwick Club has over the course of 2 years and at the end of the book everything turns out for the best. Marriages and children abound, bad characters reform, love and generosity overcome all hardships and obstacles and Mr Pickwick retires to a city house with Sam and his wife Mary to keep him in order.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, yes, I did give this 6 stars. I know circumstances played a part, ie, several dnf’s had my reading expectations abysmally low. But even without that, this was just a fantastic book.

It started a little rough and in a rather formal vein but that was for the first chapter only. Then it turned into Dickens’ more relatable style. I’m a Dickens’ fan through and through.

This was an interesting little plot-less book. I say little because even though the “official” page count is over 900 pages, when I used Calibre’s page count plugin, this was barely over 600 pages. I suspect the pictures and chapters each had their own breaks which artificially inflated the page count.

I think humor was the most prevalent of the emotions that Dickens was trying to call forth and my goodness, he did a grand job. Sam Weller, Pickwick’s man servant was a font of pugnacious, pugalistic one liners and retorts that had me in stitches. He was also a bit more knowledgeable about the world at large than his master and thus was able to guide him safely through some troubled waters.

Romance, pathos, politics, social justice’ing of the day (Dickens was dead set against the whole idea of Debtors Prison. But to be fair, he actually had solid reasons, not just vapid, idiotic, baseless, pointless and generally useless ideas like the sjw’s of today), hijinks and lots and lots of drinking.

Through it all, Pickwick navigates the adventures as best he can and we can cheer him on, groan with him, laugh with him (and Sam Weller) and generally love every second spent reading this book. I’m also giving this the Best Book of the Year tag.

★★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (Lucky Starr #3) ★★★☆½

oceansofvenus (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: Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus
Series: Lucky Starr #3
Author: Isaac Asimov
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 174
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Science Council has had a call for help from the domed Cities of Venus. They sent in a top operative but they received a letter of recall from the Head of the Science Council on Venus accusing the man of corruption. Lucky knows this man and doesn’t believe a word of it. He heads to Venus but receives a radio communique from said operative warning him away.

Lucky and Bigman barely make it to Venues, as their pilots mysteriously black out and almost crash their craft. Lucky begins his investigation and is shown a whole slew of incidents where rational people have performed very irrational acts and then had no memory of it. The Head of the Local Council is convinced it is a Syrian trick so as to steal the rare Venus yeast formulas.

Lucky thinks otherwise and after some hair raising adventures in the oceans, finds out that telepathic frogs are the culprit! But the mystery doesn’t stop there. It turns out one of the engineers on Venus has learned how to control the v-frogs (venus frogs. Get it? Pretty clever right?) and has been planning to become dictator of Venus.

Thanks to Lucky and Bigman, said Engineer is brought to Justice and the benevolent rule of the Science Council continues apace. Heil Scyenze! * salutes *

 

My Thoughts:

Maddalena pointed out in the comments of the previous book that this was written for middle graders. So when I went into this, I deliberately kept that in mind and you know what? It worked wonders for my expectations and how I read the book itself. I had a lot more fun this time around. I could see myself as a 5th grader eating this up with a spoon. I wish I had known about these way back then but oh well.

A good rousing adventure tale. It also shows unabashedly, or perhaps unknowingly(?), just how strong a belief in science as a force for good permeated the society of the 50’s. Science was going to solve every problem, only the best of men would be scientists and they would all get along because obviously, once you know something you have to act rationally and logically to that knowledge. Phraaaaack, what a naive outlook. Makes me wonder what Asimov was thinking at the end of his life, as he was a humanist and from what I understand didn’t believe in God or any sort of afterlife.

Anyway, with that aside out of the way, this book gave me some hope that I was sorely lacking from the previous. I am now looking forward to the next couple of volumes instead of dreading them. Ha!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Empire (Warhammer: Legend of Sigmar #2) DNF@5%

empire (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: Empire
Series: Warhammer: Legend of Sigmar #2
Author: Graham McNeill
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 420/DNF@5%
Format: Digital Edition

 

My Thoughts:

After slogging through The Deaths of Tao and giving up because I didn’t care 2 farthings for Tao, I realized that I didn’t care even 1 farthing about Sigmar or the ultimately failed world of Warhammer. So I dnf’d this before I got frustrated. As such, I’m not rating this. If you like most other Warhammer books, I’m sure you’ll like this one. If you don’t like Warhammer, then I highly doubt this book will change your mind.

Sorry Dave, I tried. But the Warhammer universe just isn’t for me. But at least my initial interest helped get you online and blogging, right? And our friendship is definitely worth this little adventure, no matter how it turned out for me.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Deaths of Tao (The Lives of Tao #2) ★★☆☆☆ DNF@67%

deathsoftao (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 Deaths of Tao
Series: The Lives of Tao #2
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464/DNF’d at 67%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Four after the previous book, Roen is married to Jill and has a 3 year old son named Cameron. Unfortunately, under the urging of Tao, Roen has pretty much abandoned his family to fight against the Genjix and find out what their master plan is. Tao is convinced that the Genjix no longer wish to return to their homeworld and have nefarious plans for Earth and humanity.

This appears to be the plan and the Prophus, now very much decimated due to botched leadership, must play catchup, if at all possible.

 

My Thoughts:

I gave up on this book so late in the game because I was realizing I simply didn’t care. I didn’t care about stupid Roen Tan. I didn’t care about the miserable alien Tao. I didn’t care about the idiots at the top of the Prophus. I didn’t care that the aliens were attempting to terraform earth to their own standards.

For phracks sake, I am more competent at command than those idiots in the Prophus. That really annoyed me. Not my can of energy drink at all and I’ll be avoiding anything by Chu in the future. 3 tries is enough.

This book gave me the exact same vibe that I got from Time Salvager. So nothing particularly wrong with this book and I can’t point to something specific and say “I don’t like that” but it’s just apparent that I don’t like Chu’s books and writing style and choice of protagonists.

I feel rather generous giving this 2 stars, but honestly, there is nothing wrong here to take it lower, I simply didn’t like it.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Kung Fu Master (Shaman King #2) ★★★★☆ (Manga Monday)

kungfumaster (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: Kung Fu Master
Series: Shaman King #2
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 20
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh survives his battle with Ren but ends up in a coma for 3 days in the hospital. He has flashbacks to when his grandfather was training him and we the audience learn all about The Shaman King. Yoh wakes up and a girl named Anna walks into his room, abuses Manta, claims she is Yoh’s fiance and then states that’ll she be training Yoh over the summer. Fast forward 3 months, school is starting and Yoh and Manta think things have settled down, only to find that Anna has transferred to their class. Those poor guys.

Ryu, ie, Pompadour Man, and his gang of hooligans finally find their happy place, only to have it taken over by Ren. Ren’s big sister Jun shows up and promises him she’ll get him Amidamaru. She sets up a battle between her and her corpse ghost and Yoh and Amidamaru. The Tao’s had a super skilled martial artist killed and Jun has been using him, one Lee Bailong [think Bruce Lee]. Bailong beats the crap out of Yoh and Anna just watches to see if Yoh is strong enough to eventually be the Shaman King. Manta goes and confronts Wooden Sword Ryu, beats the crap out of him with a dictionary and steals his wooden sword. This allow Amidamaru to defeat Bailong.

Unfortunately, an uncontrolled Bailong goes full spirit berserk and starts trying to kill Yoh, even though Yoh just set him free from Jun’s control. Anna, who can control any ghost in existance, calls forth Bailong’s old Master and he integrates with Yoh. Old Master/Yoh have a good chat with Bailong while beating him senseless for being such a stupid student.

Everyone comes to their senses and its all happy smiles and thumps on the shoulder. Bailong wants to perfect his martial art and so goes along with Jun so he can continue to use his body. Yoh learns his limits and realizes he has to get a whole lot better if he hopes to become the Shaman King.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a very good blend of humor, kick butt fighting scenes and info dumping. I have to admit, when Yoh was flashbacking to his 4year old self and he asks if Jesus was a Shaman King, I could only picture a “Ninja Jesus” complete with throwing stars and katana.

The introduction of Anna is a good choice, as at this point she’s tougher than Yoh and can make him do the stuff he needs to, unlike Manta. Poor Manta. Anna beats on him like a ragdoll. Yet he shows his devotion to Yoh by getting the wooden sword from Ryu.

Poor Ryu. He has the worlds most awesome pompadour and it just keeps getting cut off. He’s definitely going to be a “punk with a heart of gold” kind of character.

The fight scene with Lee Bailong was just right. That is the nice thing about earlier books in a shonen fighting manga like this, everyone isn’t ridiculously overpowered yet so the battles can’t stretch out for multiple volumes. We also learn a lot about the various types of shamans and that not everybody is going to be like Yoh.

One thing I found very interesting, and I might really be reading too much into it, is that both Anna, as Yoh’s family appointed fiance, and Jun, as Ren’s older sister, don’t want to be the top Shaman themselves. At this point, both of the females are stronger than the male characters but they evince zero interest. I’m going to just say that the simplest explanation fits and let it go at that.

Happy so far with this. Much more enjoyable than Oh My Goddess and I suspect that having a goal for the series, for Yoh to become the Shaman King, helps keep the manga-ka focused.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Hilldiggers (Polity #10) ★★★★☆

hilldiggers (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: Hilldiggers
Series: Polity #10
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 564
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Back before the AI’s took over the Polity in the Quiet War, a group of humans had left to follow their own dreams. Unfortunately, there was a violent split in the group and one group went to one world and the other group to the other world. Both performed lots and lots of gene-splicing and mucking about to stay alive on their respective planets. Once their civilizations reached a certain point they became aware of the other planet and war ensued. The war ended when one side used gravity weapons, the eponymous Hilldiggers, to totally wipe out the underground cities of the other.

The winning side had gotten a hold of an “Object” and learned a lot from it. They held this Object in various cylanders on a space station. A woman conceives at the moment that the object tries to get loose and 9 months later gives birth to quadruplets. These quads are the brightest humans on the planet and seem driven to succeed at whatever task they want.

The Polity has been monitoring this system for quite some time and is now sending in a Consul to see if the system would like to join the Polity. They send in an Old Captain, a man of Spatterjay who is more virus than man. But this man has a countervirus working in him as an experiment.

When one of the Quads leads a military coup, the Consul must navigate between 2 worlds, the Polity and the mysterious Object, which seems to have its own agenda.

In the end, the coup, which was instigated by the Object, fails but ends up freeing the Object, which continues its travels and recon. The 2 worlds make peace once it is realized the victorious world started the war for profit and both worlds decide to slowly look into entering the Polity.

 

My Thoughts:

Even though I read this back in 2011, I didn’t remember anything besides the Object so this was like reading it ♪for the very♪ first♪ time♪. I have to say, I enjoyed this a lot and reading my review, I enjoyed it a lot more than last time.

I know last time I was convinced that the Object was the Dragon that we are introduced to in the Agent Cormac series. This time around, I’m not really sure and actually rather doubt it. It just didn’t fit the description. It would be nice to know for sure one way or the other though.

There was a lot of fighting in this book and having an Old Captain, with a twist, made for a good character to represent the Polity. We also get viewpoints from each of the quadruplets and a Polity Drone. While Asher seems quite able to handle so many viewpoints and to tell one cohesive whole of a story through them, trying to summarize it all is a real pain in the butt.

I am trying to think WHY I enjoyed this so much more than last time. Part of it is that I’ve read enough of his newer books to realize that he’s not going to be writing a Spatterjay trilogy ever again and so I don’t expect his books to be that. I think that it didn’t help that I simply gorged on these back in ’11. I read 5 of his books within a month and that can really detract.

I was able to sit back, take in the various viewpoints and just let the story roll on. I have found that I’ve been doing that a lot more recently and it helps me to enjoy the book.Instead of trying to guess or predict, I just let the author guide me along. I don’t try to fight the current of the book. I am The Tai-Chi Master of Book Reading, hahahahaa!

Another greatly enjoyable book by Asher in the Polity universe.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Mustang Man (Sacketts #13)★★★☆½

mustangman (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: Mustang Man
Series: Sacketts #13
Author: Louis L’Amour
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 176
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Nolan Sackett is on the run. Again. He runs across an abandoned wagon and the woman and man try to ambush him to steal his horse, then when that fails they try to poison him. He gets their horses back for them anyway but then leaves them to their fate.

In the next little settlement he is hired as a guide to a young woman, an older man and a halfbreed. They wish to find a hidden cache of gold that the young woman’s grandfather supposedly hid when attacked by Mexicans way back when. Nolan is to lead them to a particular area then his services will no longer be needed.

However, the previous couple is also after the gold and they hire some pretty bad men. The older man escorting the young lady isn’t so virtuous either. Nolan chooses to protect the young lady and through hardwork, the help of a tough old salt, some fancy machinations, a bit of fast gunplay and plain old luck, ends up with the gold and the girl.

The only “outlaw” Sackett makes good.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, what do I say about these? Beyond a synopsis and whether I enjoyed it or not, these books aren’t deep enough for much of a review.

I did enjoy this a lot and there was a lot of action and badguys galore and the lone gunman (who wasn’t quite so alone) and the plucky heroine. It made for a fun, fast read.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)