Bookstooge Reviews 2019

2019Review

 

THE STATS

 

Annual Blog Stats:

Total Posts: 225

Total Words Written: 125.2K

Total Views: 17.9K

Total Visitors: 7.2K

Followers: 275’ish

 

Book Stats:

Books Read:  135

Pages Read: 45,814

Average Rating:  3.28

 

 

General Thoughts:

 

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I’ve changed my presence here on WP due to the new job change back in October.  Not following nearly so many people and not reading or reviewing as much.  Considering that some of the main people I used to follow have also dropped off the radar or severely curtailed their own online presence, it seems that I am caught up in one of the waves. It has also made me really appreciate those bloggers who have kept on blogging on a regular schedule. While I am affected by those coming and going, I don’t want to take for granted those who just keep on going. More power to you!

 

 

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Blogger is simply a backup in case of some catastrophic event. I don’t really even take it into account any more.

 

 

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Librarything just rattled along this year. I interact with 2-3 people on a regular basis there and that is about it. LT has been touting some changes coming in 2020 but I don’t use the site enough for it to matter to me.

 

THE BOOKS

 

Best Book(s) of the Year:

There was some severely stiff competition for this title this year, so I gave up and I’ll list the top 3.

  1. The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell
  2. Death Wish by Brian Garfield
  3. The Burning White by Brent Weeks

 

Worst Book(s) of the Year:

Once again, I read some stinkers, so I’ll post the top 3.

  1. Torchship Captain by Karl Gallagher
  2. Valor by John Gwynne
  3. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson

 

 

Plans for 2020:

The only “change” is that I am going to start including a word count for the books I read. I’ve been using Page Numbers as an additional metric besides just straight up number of books, but I am finding huge variations even with using the same format (ebook to ebook for example) depending on WHO I get my info from.  I am going to start using Kobo.com (a book seller) which has both page and word count for books. Accurate data just makes my metrics that much more relevant the longer I read.

I do plan on keep doing the Give-Aways, #6 Degree series and Survival Saturday’s when I can and a movie a month. Beyond doing a re-read of the Wheel of Time, I have almost no plans for 2020. I’ll be satisfied if I can do a post every other day on a consistent basis.

 

Personal:

The job change has really buggered my non-work life up. My reading has dropped over 50% and my overall life satisfaction is much lower. This is not what I was expecting. The problem is if I had stayed where I was, I might be happier but I’d be so much poorer that it would bring about its own set of worries and stress. So since I have to stress, I’ll take this.  But I don’t have to like it! And in all fairness, I am getting exactly what I asked for (office experience and full time help in the field). I also talked to a relative who works in HR for another company and she said that 6 months is how long it takes to fully integrate into a new job. So while it annoys me that I’ve still got 3 months to go, it also encourages me that maybe I don’t hate the new job so much as I think, I just hate the change 😀

Thankfully, almost every other part of life IS going well.  I am thankful for that.

 

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Here are the top 5 viewed posts in each of the various categories. It isn’t quite equal, as posts from November and December just don’t have the time to accumulate the views.

 

Book Review Posts

The Hobbit

The Scarlet Letter

The Hatching

Fellowship of the Ring

The Silmarillion

 

 

Non-Review Posts

Book Blogger Insider Tag

PSA: The Etiquette of Commenting on Comments

Ratings as Sandwiches

Rage Against the Whiny Pants Momma’s Babies!

Seven Deadly Sins Tag

 

Commentors + Runner Up

Nicole Bookwyrm

Lashaan

Ola G

Savage Dave

Orangutan Librarian

+Maddalena

 

Movies

Despicable Me

Elektra

John Hobo

RED

Penelope

 

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bookstooge (Custom)

 

December ’19 Roundup & Ramblings

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Raw Data:

Books – 8

Pages – 3823

Average Rating – 3.69

 

The Bad:

It’s Hell to Choose – 1 Star

 

The Good:

The Burning White – 5 Stars

Furies of Calderon – 5 Stars

 

Movie:

Superman IV: the Quest for Peace was bad enough that it made me embarrassed for everyone involved in it.

January I’ll either be watching Alien vs Predator or King Kong. Feel free to chime in if you have an opinion.

 

Miscellaneous And Personal:

Between having Thanksgiving off at the end of November and a conference right at the beginning of December, I had a lot of time to read, which is reflected in my page numbers even if not my book numbers.  I was pretty happy with how everything turned out.

My non-review posts went kind of like this:

I plan on doing my Year in Review on January 1st, which is only 2 days way, aye yi yi! so I’m kind of mailing this month’s Roundup in.

 

Book Give-Away:

Announced the Winner for the Dragon Jouster series and decided to hold off until January to do the next one. Christmas time is just so busy that I didn’t need one more thing on my plate.  Hoping to have the next one up January 12th.

 

See you all next year!

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Burning White (Lightbringer #5) ★★★★★

burningwhite (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 Burning White
Series: Lightbringer #5
Author: Brent Weeks
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1325
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY

This book has several main Point of View characters. We follow Teia, Kip and the Mighty, Gavin Guile, Andross Guile and his daughter in law Karris the White and also Liv the Ferrilux. With each main viewpoint we also get stuff from minor characters.

Teia has been ordered by the Broken Eye to follow Gavin Guile (now a prisoner) onto a ship and kill him once he completes whatever task the Broken Eye has given him. The Order holds Teia’s father hostage and claims they will exchange his life for Gavin’s. Teia backs out at the last second and decides she will hunt the Order down. She contacts Karris but has a fit of the feelings because of something that Karris did so Teia goes it alone. This leads to her getting captured by her Order mentor, Murder Sharp, and being tortured for information. She tricks Murder into killing himself while he reveals just enough info for her to continue her hunt. She takes some poison and finds a wagon of wine that the entire Order is going to drink from and poisons every barrel, pretending to be the poison tester. Of course, she doesn’t know she is masquerading as the poison tester until after she poisons it all. Then she has to taste test the wine and take the poison herself. Which means when the sun rises the next day that the poison will interact with the light and kill her, along with every other Order member. She succeeds and in killing the Order foils a plot by them to open the city gates to the White King. She misses the Old Man of the Desert however. Kip does what he can to save her and succeeds. By the end of the book she is being re-integrated back into the Mighty.

Kip and the Mighty start out still in Blood Forest, where they have to decide whether to save the town they are currently in or to save another larger town that is a lynchpin in holding the current Satrapy together. If the White King gains either town, the entire Satrapy will fall to him. Tisis, his wife, figures out that Kip is being hemmed in not to prevent him from saving either town but from heading back to the Chromeria, where the White King is going to attack with all his forces and all 7 of the Banes. Kip takes on the mantle of the Lightbringer and takes the best of his forces back to the island of Jasper to fulfill a prophecy about the Lightbringer being on the Island to prevent a world wide disaster. He has also discovered, through a message from Liv, that the mirrors on Jasper are part of a network that are capable of killing the Banes. Kip and the Mighty get to the Island, delay the initial attack by the White King and bring some needed news to Andross Guile, who as the Promachos, is the military leader. Andross is still playing games with his grandson and Kip lets the title of Lightbringer go because he realizes he needs to focus on his people instead of his grandfather. Kip begins killing off the Bane by using the Mirror System but Zyman Guile, his insane half-brother, kills him and proclaims himself the Lightbringer and Prism and Emperor of the Chromeria. Kip’s last actions are to send a stream of White Luxin to some point in space. A wave of Black Luxin returns and turns everything darker than night and then Kip is brought back to life by Orholom’s intervention. He is out of the battle but has done enough to allow others to finish things up. At the end of the book he publicly proclaims Andross as the Lightbringer and he and Tisis will head back to Blood Forest to reign as Satraps, while still investigating more about what Orholom actually meant all the various luxins to do.

Gavin, who is really Dazen, is taken to an mythical Island where Orholam Himself supposedly used to meet with mortals. Grinwoody, the Old Man of the Desert and leader of the Broken Eye, tasks Gavin with ascending the tower on the island and destroying whatever he finds on top with a dagger of black luxin. Grinwoody holds the life of Karas and Kip in his hands as leverage. Gavin, now blind in one eye, crippled in one hand and completely color blind and unable to draft, does as he is bid. He meets up with a former rowing slave, coincidentally nicknamed Orholam for his self-righteous preaching. Gavin makes the journey to the top of the Tower, where he expects to find a nexus of magic (Grinwoody doesn’t believe that Orholam is real) and that by slicing it with the Blinding Knife that he will destroy all magic in the world. What he finds is Lucidonious, the First Lightbringer, who is now immortal and apparently evil. He fights Lucidonious and somehow banishes him back into the mirror world from which he came. The Orholam Himself appears. He is Real. He and Gavin have a long conversation and Gavin gets a lot off of his chest but also realizes just how bad a life he has led to that point. He pledges his life to Orholam and sends a wave of Black Luxin to the Chromeria to stop the White King and his Banes. It isn’t enough however and with his wounds he can’t do any more. Until a massive wave of White Luxin hits him and regenerates him. He then uses all the Black Luxin from the Tower and turns it into White Luxin. He then hitches a ride with Orholam and gets to the Island of Jasper in time to take part in the battle. By the end of the book he and Karris are re-united and Dazen (having given up all false pretenses) decides he is going to go into the color dungeon and kill some immortal Fallens.

Andross’s point of view begins with a split timeline. It starts many years ago when he is trying to court his wife. Even back then he thought he was the prophesied Lightbringer and he married his wife because of her scholarly knowledge and ability to read and interpret so many foreign prophecies. Each new chapter brings the timeline closer to the present and we see all the terrible things that Andross does to fulfill what he thinks the prophecy means, all the way up to killing his youngest son. We see how his obsession drives his wife away, his family away and how despicable a person he becomes. By the end of the book he begins to redeem himself and both Kip and Dazen are reaching out to him to prevent him from going down that path again. Of course, he proclaims himself the Lightbringer and the new Emperor of the Chromaeia and the new Prism. He is still a jackass.

Liv, Kip’s friend from the first book, now a godling herself, is under the thrall of one of the Fallen and doesn’t even realize it. She provides insight into what the White King is doing and his eventual goal to proclaim himself the God of gods and to become one of the Immortals himself. He obviously fails and is obliterated.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, just a warning. As you can tell by the synopsis, this is going to be a long review. I don’t know how long this section will be, but it will definitely NOT be my typical 3-5 paragraphs.

This final book in the Lightbringer series was released at the end of October and I was desperately hoping someone else would have written up a synopsis by now over at the wiki page. No such luck so I had to do it myself. I left out a lot of detail, even major detail because this book was just that big. My kindle page count was just over 1300 pages. That number comes from a character count (letters, not words) with X characters per page, not how many page clicks I had to do on my Oasis (which would change if I changed the font size). I sped through it though. I’d read 25% at one go and then go read another book just so I didn’t over do it. That formula worked out perfectly for keeping me interested but not burning out.

So lets start with the negative and potential negative. The only truly negative for me was that it had been long enough between books that I was lost at sea a couple of times. Weeks does provide a short synopsis of each of the previous books at the beginning and I read them. I’d have been even more lost without them. 5 books over nine years is just a lot to deal with. There were a couple of times that something was referred to that I had NO idea about simply because I’d forgotten about it from a previous book. The “potential” negative is the very long talk between Dazen and Orholom at the tower. I say “potential” because it wasn’t a negative for me at all (it probably was the best part) but I don’t know how other readers are going to react to a theological talk between an Omniscient God and a powerful but broken and hurting man.

I liked the almost continual revelations about the history of the Chromeria and the Lightbringers and the 1000 Worlds and the Immortals, etc. Just when I felt like I was getting my feet under me Weeks would bring in another wave and knock me right over. The revelations about Lucidonious was enough to really rock me.

The action was top-notch and was just as good, if not better, than anything that came before in the series. From the Mighty fighting against the corrupt Light Guard, to civilians fighting against the White King’s forces to Cruxer fighting against Ironfist to Teia and Murder Sharp’s fight, even down to the card game between Kip and Andross, it all had the proper amount of tension. All the scenes were what I wanted in my action. I was satisfied with them, completely.

The ending is a pretty happing ending too. The bad guys are defeated, the good guys win and even the despicable scum get a shot at redemption. I didn’t find it sappy or over the top or too much. I have to admit that I wished that Andross Guile had been killed. He was one of the major despicable scum and while it was in keeping with what Weeks was writing, I wanted to see Andross get some Justice from Orholam instead of mercy.

Speaking of Orholam, the reason this got a full 5 stars from me is because of the conversation between Orholam and Dazen. Weeks doesn’t shy away from having Dazen ask some of the hard questions, questions that I struggle with in real life. There were a couple of times during this part of the book where I just cried. I cried with relief knowing that other people ask the same questions and feel the same way I do, I cried because of the pain that causes such questions to even be asked and I cried because I’m sure that Weeks himself struggles with these issues. He couldn’t have written like he did if he hadn’t fought these things out. Weeks is obviously a Christian but much like CS Lewis and Narnia, he doesn’t shy away from exploring the “What If” in regards to theology and fantasy. He’s not quite as explicit as Lewis, as there is no Aslan/Christ figure, but Dazen and Kip definitely play out the Father/ Son role of God the Father and God the Son at the crucifixion. All of these reasons are also why I am giving this the “Best Book of the Year” tag. It has some stiff competition from the other books I gave this tag to this year, so we’ll see what book actually wins at Year’s End.

Overall, I enjoyed the series enough that I wasn’t crying “foul” over the 2 year wait between books. It did show me though that my semi-recent plan to only read completed series is the right way to go. Whatever Brent Weeks writes next I’ll be reading, but I won’t be reading it as it comes out. If you read the first book, I think whatever you feel about that will guide how you feel about the rest of the series.

★★★★★

 

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Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) ★★★★☆

threemeninaboat (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: Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog)
Author: Jerome Jerome
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 231
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

J, and his two friends George and Harris, along with J’s dog Montmorency, all decide that they’ve been working too hard and they need a break. So they decide to go on a boating trip up the Thames.

What follows are the antics of 3 urban idiots, a dog who likes to fight and a travelogue. A very peculiar mix.

 

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed parts of this. The parts I did not care for, or that bored me really, was where Jerome went into travelogue mode. Travel and I don’t get along real well. Scenery bores me to tears and while I hate cities, I still want to pave the planet and get rid of all that nasty “nature” stuff. So books that are travelogues ♪in disguise♪ don’t do it for me. At all. It is the reason I don’t ever plan on re-reading Dickens’ Pictures from Italy or his American Notes.

Thankfully, those bits were interspersed with the humorous bits. I read a short wiki article on Jerome K. Jerome and it would appear that he was the inspiration for such authors as P.G. Wodehouse. While not quite up to the Bertie Wooster level of helpless obliviousness, J and his companions are doing their best to achieve it. Part of it is that they are not independently wealthy and while they are pretty pathetic at their jobs (one of the friends works at a bank and pretty much sleeps all day there), at least they have jobs. They are the idle middle class as opposed to the idle rich. If you’ve ever read Wodehouse and like or dislike his brand of humor, then I can safely say you’ll feel the same way about Jerome.

Probably not a book that I’ll ever re-read but I am glad to have read it for the first time and to expand my knowledge base. I suspect I’ll be flashing back to this book whenever I read something by Wodehouse in the future.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Merry Christmas!!!

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Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 1-20

The Birth of Jesus

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

 

 

God is not some remote dictator who doesn’t care about you. He sent His son Jesus to be one of us, God Incarnate in human flesh. He was born 2000 years ago and He wants you today. He is calling you, please listen.

Have a Merry Christmas!

bookstooge (Custom)

Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge #1) ★★★☆½

legionnaire (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: Legionnaire
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #1
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 308
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sergeant Chunn, along with his fellow Legionnaires (elite soldiers of the Republic), are on a planet running a political mission, ie, support the natives who want to join the Republic. They’re supported by Repub-Army and are led by a political appointed “Legionnaire”, Lt Devers.

Things go sidewise when the orbiting support ship is destroyed, their base on the planet is over run and their supposed native allies turn on them with help from an alliance that is opposed to the Republic. The Legionnaire’s commander, Pappy, is out of commission and Devers takes over. To disastrously bumble everything, to the point that the soldiers attack a village of natives that are hosting some Republic scientists.

Pappy wakes up long enough to make Chunn a brevet Lt and the current Lt Ford, a brevet Captain. One of the Legionnaire grunts, Exo, tries to kill Devers for all his mistakes but is pulled back by his buddies.

Everybody holes up and makes a last stand, only to have the MCR (Mid Core Rebels) show up with an old star ship and fighters. Only to have the Republic’s Big Guns show up and rescue them.

The book ends with Devers getting all sorts of awards and Exo drinking himself into a stupor wondering why he’s even in the legion. He runs across an old legionnaire who tells him a story to hopefully inspire him to get back in the fight.

 

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Military SF story. It was all about the ground pounders and that is what I like.

I think the authors did a good job with the characters, as I was cheering for the Legionnaires and absolutely hating Devers the political appointee. When you can feel that much distaste for a character you know the authors did their job correctly!

There are no real surprises, which I was perfectly ok with. When it comes to Mil-SF, I prefer the tried and true formula of SNAFU, Fight, Good Guys Win, Bad Guys Lose. It is very comforting. It is like eating mashed potatoes. Good, warm and filling.

This is a longer series, currently running around 9 books. I have no idea if the series goes into a longer story arc or if each book is a standalone’ish story. Personally, I’m hoping for standalone story time but we’ll see. We shall also have to see if the authors do the whole “token SJW wokeness” thing. I’d like to think not, but considering how I’ve seen it in other indie books, I’m not holding my breath.

To wrap up, a thoroughly fun book that hit all the right buttons for me and the start of a series. I hope the series continues as well as this book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

#6Degrees – Sanditon to…

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This month we start with Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript, Sanditon.

 

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I read Sanditon back in ’13 when I read Austen’s Minor Works. Honestly, I don’t remember a thing about it. Not a clue what it was about. It obviously didn’t make much of an impression on me.

 

 

 

 

 

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A book that did make quite an impression on me was Hard Magic. I know this because I shelled out quite a bit of money to get some special edition versions which I’ll be show-casing in one of my book hauls later this month. Totally worth the money and almost worth the aggravation. You’ll get the full story in the book haul. Hard Magic is noir’ish and while I hate Noir, I liked this trilogy.

 

 

 

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Another noir’ish series I liked was Cook’s Garrett, PI novels. The first one, Sweet Silver Blues was just a lot of fun. I’m pretty sure these books were offered by the SFBC in the 90’s as omnibus editions but I never bought them because even back then I knew noir’ish stuff wasn’t my thing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Another SFBC only offering was the Republic Commando omnibuses by Karen Traviss. I enjoyed them immensely, right up to the point where Traviss let her hatred of everything the Jedi stood for take over the story telling. Man, she eviscerated the very idea of the Jedi Order. If you read any of her other books, that won’t come as a surprise to you.  HATRED is hard to read.

 

 

 

 

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Adrian Tchaikovsky, on the other hand, LOVES bugs and his love shines through most of his books. The Empire in Black and Gold is the first of his 10 book Shadows of the Apt series and from the first page you get that Tchaikovsky and bugs get along like pigs and mud.

 

 

 

 

 

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As a fan of science fiction, when I think of bugs, there is one classic book that springs to mind. Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers! I read this in college and this was the cover and it has stuck in my head for the last 2 decades. It doesn’t get much more “buggy” than this book.

 

 

 

 

 

And that is how you get from Jane Austen to Giant Alien Space Bugs, hahahahaa. If you’d like to participate in the #6degrees series of posts, head over to #6Degrees Meme to find out the starting point for each month. They’re not always punctual, so sometimes you have to wait until a week into the month.

 

bookstooge (Custom)