A Midsummer Night’s Dream ★★★★☆

amidsummernightsdream (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: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 111
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Lysander and Hermia are in love. Hermia’s father however, wants her to marry Demetrius. Demetrius claims he’s in love with Hermia but had previously woo’d and declared his love to Helena. Helena is in love with Demetrius. Lysander and Hermia plan to run away from Athens and get married. Helena tells Demetrius (I’m not sure why) and all 4 meet in the woods at night.

During this time, the King and Queen of the fairies are having a tiff because of a little serving boy. Oberon, the king, gives his servant Puck some magic herbs to cause trouble for Titania, the Queen. Puck also uses this magic herb on Lysander and Demetrius and lots of problems ensure between the 4 humans.

At the same time, a group of workmen are practicing a play in the same woods for the Duke of Athen’s upcoming nuptials. Puck turns one of them into a creature with a donkey’s head and everyone runs away. Titania ends up falling in love with Bottom due to the magic herbs. Oberon tells Puck to fix everything, which he does and it is all sweetness and light between everyone.

The play is performed at the wedding and the Duke and Company have as much making fun of the play as they watching it. The players are rewarded and everyone is happy.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this back in highschool in the 90’s and have watched the movie, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, at least twice since 2000 so I’m relatively familiar with the story.

Finally, a “comedy” that I could laugh at. There is a reason this is one of Shakespeare’s more produced plays. There is something for everyone and for almost every kind of humor. Whether word plays or physical comedy or situational comedy, this has it all.

I don’t have much to say. I enjoyed this, am glad I really enjoyed something by Shakespeare and it has given me a shot in the arm to keep on reading. You’re never going to hear me quoting Shakespeare like Jeeves though.

★★★★☆

 

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Old Tin Sorrows (Garrett, PI #4) ★★★☆½

oldtinsorrows (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: Old Tin Sorrows
Series: Garrett, PI #4
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 252
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Garrett is resting on his laurels. With enough money, why take on work and do more than you have to? Then his old army Sarge comes calling and Garrett makes the mistake of letting him in the door thinking it is a social visit. He is quickly disabused of that notion when his old Sarge hires him to find out who is trying to kill Sarge’s employer, a retired general.

Garrett is ostensibly hired to find out if any of the General’s staff are pilfering items and he is to use that as cover to find out who is slowly killing the General. Problem is, there is a very small pool of staff still around, as the General isn’t well liked. Those still around are there because in the General’s will he states that his estates will be divided half to his daughter and the rest divided up among the staff. Staff have been leaving for years though and Garrett suspects one of those who left has a grudge against the General.

Garrett also finds out the house is haunted by a ghost. A beautiful blond that no one seems to see or even know who she might be. Eventually Garrett rules out poison and calls in an exorcist for the General. But not before he has slept with the ghost (yeah, for real) AND the general’s daughter. Turns out the ghost was the General’s first wife who he had murdered and she’s been haunting him. The disappearing staff members though are a different matter. They haven’t been leaving, they’ve been murdered. By the daughter, who is a crazy psychopathic killer who wants to keep the failing estate all to herself.

Garrett reveals all, the ghost confronts her killer and crosses over and the daughter runs off a 4th story balcony while trying to kill Garrett. Garrett goes home and finds solace in the arms of the young woman he met in the previous book.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, from that synopsis, I would never read this book or this series. A womanizing, alcoholic private eye who is lazy? No thank you. However, Cook got his literary claws into me with his Black Company books and I have to say, I am glad.

Once again, I really enjoyed this book. While a bit drearier and less humorous than the previous 3, and my eyes definitely rolled when Garrett had a roll in the sack with a ghost and the general’s daughter, I just found myself WANTING to read more. I seriously considered just ignoring my own rules of rotation and reading the next Garrett book. Thankfully, I didn’t give in to temptation. I’m not Garrett after all. I didn’t really try to analyze the “why” of my enjoyment but now that this has happened for 4 books, I think during my read of the next book I’ll be taking a look at myself while reading to see if I can nail down just what I actually enjoy.

Part of my enjoyment springs from the fact that while these are part of a “series”, each book has been a standalone story. Something I can sink my teeth into for a day or two and then just let go. Also, these are not taxing books. I’m not desperately trying to keep track of a whole host of characters nor a slew of plot lines. While Cook likes to throw in some misdirection here and there, we as readers are still just moving in a straight line from Beginning to End. I really appreciate that.

★★★☆½

 

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John Hobo (2020 Movie)

 

johnhobo1

 

John Hobo: : They Stole His Lunch, Now He’s Stealing Their Lives

 

Synopsis:

John Hobo was a man of the streets. Brought up rough and tough, he was hungry for success. And breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. And elevensies.  And afternoon tea. One day he hit the jackpot.

 

 

 

 

roasted-rat

3 roasted “rat on a stick”,  good as new, only been in the trash bin 30 minutes. But then tragedy struck. They stole his rats, called it “unsanitary”. John Hobo knew The Man had gone after him. So he’s returning the favor, one dead useless civil servant at a time. Detroit will never be the same!

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I’m beginning to think that Hollywood REALLY HAS run out of ideas.

hollywood-undead-five-2017-18883

Almost like there are no brains left and all the zombie who pretend to be alive are just regurgitating the brains they ate last year. Yeah, pretty gross.  That’s how I’d class this movie.  The whole revenge thing is really getting old.

The language? My goodness, I never knew there was a whole hobo sub-culture of profanity. Who knew that “ultra fresh” meant THAT! I was rather shocked. And when the Swiss hobos, who I would have thought would be the most refined and peaceful of the hobos just turned into toilet mouths, well, nothing could shock me after that. Or so I thought.

Everyone in this movie gets shanked. With a shiv. You thought a pencil was bad ass. I almost threw up when John Hobo killed that dude with a banana!

bananashiv

 

I found John Hobo to be a very dirty character. And the people he was offing were even worse. I mean, who doesn’t want to off the officious DMV lady who tells you that you “X”‘d the wrong box and makes you go fill out a new form and stand in line all over again? Or that shyster lawyer hired by the city to tell everyone that the city is taking over the whole block and is tearing it down and they have to move, in 2 weeks?

Honestly though, I think my biggest issue was how disconnected John Hobo was. He had no place to call home and it really showed.

Final verdict: Don’t waste your time with this piece of trash.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

What I’m Currently Reading…

best-books-for-men-1

 

Since I have a reading cycle and it seems to be a bit different than most peoples idea of a TBR, I try to list what series I’m currently reading once or twice a year. Helps tie things together since it can be up to 2 months before cycling through everything. Some are actual series and others are just grouped together by author, whatever is easiest for me to deal with.

So without further ado!

 

The Complete Shakespeare

The Jeeves Omnibuses

Alistair Reynolds

Ravenloft (a Forgotten Realms spinoff)

The Sacketts

Charles Dickens

Piers Platt

Patricia McKillip

The Faithful and the Fallen

Torchship Omnibus

Lord of the Rings (including the Hobbit)

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Kurtherian Gambit

Gaunt’s Ghosts

Drenai Chronicles

The Keiko trilogy

Polity

Non-fiction

Misc (standalones by single authors)

Twilight Reign

Dean Koontz

Garrett PI

 

books

Not QUITE that many, but sometimes it feels like it!

Sacketts has only one more book to go and then I’ll be cycling an omnibus edition by Zane Grey into its slot. Gotta keep the westerns going, 6000 pages of “going” in fact!

Faithful and Fallen is on probation and unless book 2 really impresses me, will be replaced with something else. Gwynne made a bad first impression on me and I’m not very forgiving.

Platt has 6 books in a new series I’ll be trying, but unless he ups his game from his Oz books, he’ll be getting the sack too.

Ravenloft I’ll keep reading until I get sick of the puerile, franchise fiction level of writing.

Everything else I’ll probably stay the course.  Because I’m….

Captain Obvious!!!!!!

 

 

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Anti-Man ★★★☆☆

anti-man (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: Anti-Man
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror – Thriller
Pages: 142
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Scientists have created Sam, an android made up of unique flesh and capable of great feats. The problem is, Sam saves lives and the Earth is over populated with 9billion people. Not only can Sam save lives, he reveals that he is virtually immortal and can give immortality to humanity. This puts him up for first place in the “quick, let’s destroy this monstrous creation” contest. A scientist takes pity on Sam and runs off with him. They evade the authorities and Sam reveals that he is evolving and needs a place to hide.

They hide at some rich man’s vacation home and the scientist leads the authorities away to give Sam the time needed to evolve. The scientist is caught and when released, something that looks exactly like Sam tries to kill him. Sam claims to be god in the “new” flesh and that the Sam that tried to kill the scientist is a rogue part of him. Together, they kill the bad Sam and the scientist is converted to the “new” flesh and begins going around converting everyone he meets to allow mankind to fulfill their destiny.

 

My Thoughts:

This is going to get a bit theological, as Koontz unabashedly goes down that path and I have to take some serious exception to what is written.

The short version, I enjoyed this even though it has all “10” plot points in every other Koontz book. Considering this was written in 1970, and you can see the exact same things in the Odd Thomas books from the 2000’s, Koontz seems to have hit upon a fanbase that doesn’t mind complete recycling of ideas. Maybe he’s writing for those once a year readers? There are psychological aspects of doubt and horror that I found extremely well done and I wish Koontz had stuck to those.

Now we get into the longer version.

I’ve known that Koontz styles himself a Christian and writes at least semi-Christian ideas directly into his books. As a lure, a talking point, a place to begin conversations with others, I don’t mind when I disagree with what he’s writing. However, in this book he crosses some lines (which I suspect he backed away from so as not to be controversial in later years, hence the more veiled way of writing about it) when he has his character talk about God. Sam claims he is god but just a higher order being that could only come into our world because of the new flesh the scientists discovered and clothed the android in. The scientist claims to be “some kind of christian” but categorically denies that any religion is actually correct because God is “too big” to be contained by just one belief. This bothered me so much because it means that God is not actually God, that Jesus is not God and that the Bible is not the Word of God. Those 3 things are foundational to Christianity and to deny any of them places one in grave danger of heresy and unbelief.

God is not a created or evolved Being. He has always been and He always will be. One of the ways He describes Himself to us is “I AM” connoting that He is the End All and Be All of Everything. It might sound nice to describe a god as a higher order being, but it mis-represents who God says He actually is. It undercuts the truth of what God has spoken about Himself.

Jesus was fully man and fully God. That means that while on earth He ate food, his flesh was like ours and he pooped, peed and farted just like me (and I’m guessing you 😉 ). He also claimed from the beginning of His ministry that He was God. What Koontz writes would deny that Jesus could EVEN BE God as His flesh couldn’t take it. While what Koontz writes might be metaphor, it came across much more as deistic evolution amped up.

Finally, the idea of God being “too big” for one religion directly contradicts what the Bible itself says. The Bible states it is the Word of God, a revealing of Himself to us. While the idea of All Religions Lead To god sounds very kumbai ya, that is fuzzy feeling, new age thinking and isn’t what the Bible states. Once again, it undercuts the very underpinnings of Christianity.

With things like this, I can see why my parents never let me read Koontz as a teen. As a mature man who believes in Christ and knows WHY, this doesn’t cause me any doubt. I just find it troubling, as anyone finding a dead ant baked into their birthday cake would find that troubling. This book won’t cause me to stop reading Koontz but it has really put a damper on my enthusiasm for his veiled references to Christian ideas.

★★★☆☆

 

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[Manga Monday] Epilogue (Shaman King #20) ★★★☆½

Epilogue (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: Epilogue
Series: Shaman King #20
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh convinces Anna to attend a public New Years Festival with him. Anna is overcome by all the emotions and ends up creating a Giant Demon, one that is intelligent. Matamune knew this was going to happen and prepared himself for the fight of a life. The demon tricks him though and kidnaps Anna to force her to create more spirits it can consume to become even bigger. Matamune has used up most of his power fighting the demon so it is up to Yoh to rescue Anna.

Matamune integrates with Yoh to give him enough power to overcome the demon. In doing so, he gives up all his power which sustained his physical body. Matamune is now a ghost. Anna realizes that there is more than just hate in the world, since Yoh is risking his life and Matamune is sacrificing his, for her. She takes back control of her power and Yoh is able to destroy the demon. Anna realizes she must learn to control her powers at all times and stops hating Yoh.

We jump forward in time back to the Shaman Fight. Yoh realizes he’s broken his promise to both Anna and Matamune but Anna reminds him that his real goal has always been to defeat Hao, even though he didn’t realize it. Becoming Shaman King was just a way to do that. Now Yoh must accomplish this goal on his own.

Lady Jeanne and the X-Laws are reviving Ren Tao but one of the X-Laws is planning on killing Ren again as soon as Ren show any aggression against them. Manta and Ryu are worried and head over to where the ceremony is taking place.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a good flashback storyline but it feels incredibly awkward to have it happen while Yoh is bowing out of the Shaman Fight. It’s a tossup I guess.

However, I totally saw the whole thing with the X-Laws coming. Lady Jeanne will keep the letter of the law but they want Ren dead so the X-Laws will become the hypocrites we know they are. I have to admit, it really bugs me that the manga-ka is focusing so much on how evil the X-Laws are. It comes across more as “Anyone who claims to want to follow the laws and enforce the laws is automatically a scumbag deep inside and if they had the power they’d just be tyrants”. It is almost like the manga-ka can’t figure out how to show how bad Hao is, so he’s using another team opposing Hao and saying “See, Hao is even worse than these guys”. The X-Laws should be paragons of Justice and circumventing their own rules on technicalities isn’t what Justice is about.

The intro by the manga-ka said there would be 2 more volumes in this “Epilogue” arc, so I’m guessing a lot of setup is going to happen for Yoh somehow opposing Hao outside of the Shaman Fight. But I could be completely wrong. When Yoh resigned from the Shaman Fight to save Ren, that just threw everything out the window as far as my expectations went.

Sometimes that is ok!

★★★☆½

 

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Twilight Herald (Twilight Reign #2) ★★★☆☆

twilightherald (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: Twilight Herald
Series: Twilight Reign #2
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 564
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Some city is a convergence point. Fell powers are gathering, whether crystal skulls or beings of power. It is all being orchestrated by some non-god, non-demon entity who hates the gods and wants to show mankind how powerless the gods are. It does this by enspelling an entire city to go mad and to kill as many people as possible.

Lord Isaak is there to gather up a spare crystal skull, or two, if he can manage it. Various characters from the previous book are also there on different pretexts, but it all comes down to everyone being manipulated by this being.

Where Lord Isaak was supposed to be the Savior of Prophecy but isn’t due to him breaking the chains of Fate in the first book, a new white eye is claiming the title. The same white eye that killed Lord Baal, Isaak’s mentor.

All the main characters survive the city’s destruction but alliances aren’t as strong and it looks like the New Savior is a protege of this Entity, the Shadow.

 

My Thoughts:

Enjoyed this but still had some serious issues.

The style choice for paragraphs. In a chapter there might be several changes between characters or location and this change is only shown as a new paragraph. The problem is that it is exactly the same paragraph style as when you stay with one character and you have multiple paragraphs. It is very disconcerting to be reading along and then realize that you’ve changed character, time or place with NO warning. There are multiple ways to accomplish, most of them quite easy, so I’m guessing Lloyd didn’t read his own book after he wrote it.

My other main issue is how big, epic AND mysterious this is trying to be. A lot of things are thrown at the reader with no explanation and where this worked for me in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series (due to excellent writing and just enough hints to keep you from falling on your face) here it feels like the author has just left crucial information out of the readers grasp. I was really struggling to figure out just what was going on. It doesn’t help that half the time I’m re-reading a paragraph or two to readjust my thinking about WHO I’m reading about now.

What I did enjoy about this book? Let me tell you.

A whole city going mad due to a malevolent spelled carved into the walls of a theatre and in the flesh of the playwright. Near the end Isaak ends up calling 5 aspects of Death to protect him and his allies and ends up having to face down several of the Aspects. The whole idea of a shadow entity working against EVERYONE for goals only it knows. A white eye that can kill legendary vampires and not blink twice about it.

This time attention is scattered around more and I wish things had focused more on Isaak. He’s definitely growing on me as a character and I’d like to see some real character growth, as he’s at the age where that happens quickly and shows quickly as well.

★★★☆☆

 

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