Blandings Castle and Elsewhere ★★★★☆

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: Blandings Castle and Elsewhere
Series: Blandings Castle #5
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 229
Words: 82.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The first six stories all take place at the book’s namesake Blandings Castle; they are set some time between the events of Leave it to Psmith (1923) and those of Summer Lightning (1929). Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle is depicted as a gentleman farmer, growing prize pumpkins and especially concerned with his prize pig, Empress of Blandings; he is also concerned with his nieces and nephews as well as the love life of his younger son Freddie Threepwood. The seventh story concerns Bobbie Wickham, an acquaintance and sometime fiancée of Bertie Wooster, who also appears in three of the stories in Mr Mulliner Speaking. The last five are narrated by Mr Mulliner and are set in Hollywood among the movie studios that Wodehouse knew from his time as a screenwriter in 1930–31.

For more detailed synopses, please visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blandings_Castle_and_Elsewhere

My Thoughts:

A nice light collection of short stories. The Blandings Castle short stories were everything I could have wanted and were close to a 4.5star rating. Sadly, the rest of the short stories about others aren’t as good. In fact, the one with Bobbie Wickham annoyed me to no end. Wickham is the most annoying girl ever and I didn’t like her in the Jeeves & Wooster stories and I certainly didn’t like her here. The hollywood movie stories simply reinforced my views on Hollywood as a den of iniquity that makes Mos Eisley look like a convent by comparison.

I had dipped my toes back into the Gulag Archipelago this past weekend as I was feeling pretty good after reading MHI Bloodlines and I was only able to get through 5 percent on my kindle before I had to stop. Even One Piece yesterday didn’t really get me out of the funk it put me in. Thankfully, this did the trick. Not that I’m recommending that course of action to any of you, but if you do ever decide to read Gulag, then have some lighter material on hand, you’ll sorely need it.

And I’m done. I’m getting worded out here folks. It is a good thing it is almost the end of the month. I’ll have to come up with some sort of plan to change things for June. That gives me just over a week to think of something and talk about it in the monthly roundup & ramblings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hope!! ★★★★☆

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: Hope!!
Series: One Piece #22
Arc: Baroque Works #11
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 188
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(187_388)

“1”

“The Leaders”

“4:15 p.m.”

“Hope!!”

“Water Luffy”

“Nico Robin”

“The Royal Mausoleum”

“Crocodile-ish”

“Red”

“The Sand-Sand Band’s Secret Fort”

Despite his agents’ defeats, Crocodile is still confident that his plans to take over the kingdom are nearing fruition. With Alabasta embroiled in a civil war of his own design, Crocodile needs only to destroy both warring parties in one fell swoop to take control of the country. Knowing that a cannon is the most practical way of fulfilling this purpose, Nefertari Vivi and the Straw Hat Pirates try to find its hiding place before it is too late. Meanwhile, Crocodile searches for Pluton, forcing King Cobra to lead him and Nico Robin to an ancient stone called a Ponegliff underneath the castle. But when Nico Robin says the Ponegliff has no information on the Pluton, Crocodile tries to kill her and escape before his cannon is fired. Monkey D. Luffy, having recovered and learned from their previous encounter, engages Crocodile in battle.

My Thoughts:

Now, with LESS Vivi. Oh thank goodness. She and Sir Crocodile have a little dialogue back and forth and I actually found myself agreeing with him simply because I disliked Vivi so much. Ughh, I don’t like being in that position.

Everybody is pretty much kung-fu fighting everybody else and the Navy gets involved helping the Straw Hats pirates and the Loyalists and the Rebels try to reconcile all the while the forces of Baroque Works are causing chaos and destruction AND there is supposed to be a bomb that goes off at 4:30pm which will leave a crater 3miles wide.

Luffy ends up fighting Sir Crocodile AGAIN while everybody else looks for the bomb or the mechanism to set it off. We get a smidgeon of back story on Nico Robin, the infamous Ms All Sunday who while being Sir Crocodiles #1 helper has also helped the Straw Hats in previous volumes. The following picture pretty much sums up the kerfluffle between Crocodile and Luffy.

The volume ends with Luffy and Crocodile having their final showdown and about 30seconds before the big bomb goes off. Oh no, the suspense is KILLING me. Hohohoho….

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Great Game (Sherlock TV 2010)

This was a fantastic episode. This is where Moriarty is officially introduced and my goodness, does he make an entrance. He finally confronts Sherlock by forcing Sherlock to solve one mystery after another without a letup and the hook is that if Sherlock fails, an innocent will be blown to smithereens by a bomb vest. It is tense, fast and non-stop.

Unfortunately, the gay innuendo is non-stop as well. From Moriarty’s little “love” letters to Sherlock, to Moriarty pretending to BE gay to the continued two guys can’t be friends schtick. I had not remembered it being so blatant or so non-stop. It just felt unrelenting.

Dave asked me some questions, so without further ado:

  • What do you think of Moriarty’s portrayal during this episode? Does he come of as clever as he thinks he is? Do you consider him a threat with all that pomp and show and tell tactics?

He’s definitely a show-off but his little game makes me feel that he IS as clever as he thinks he is. He’s just a crazy psycho too.

That being said, Moriarty was the absolutely PERFECT villain. When that light hearted charming facade switches off and you see the evil monstrous man, oh boy, watch out. His little tantrum while talking to Sherlock while Watson is wearing a bomb vest was like a light turning off and darkness just spreading through the whole room. The cliffhanger ending would have been annoying back in the day but with the series finished, anyone now can simply pop in the next disc (or stream it if they’re extravagantly and filthy rich) and voila, the journey continues.

  • What did you feel about the overall episode.

While I enjoyed watching this, as a nice little break from the Muppet related stuff, overall it was not worth the energy to review. Movies are a whole different beast from books and it takes a different mentality to review them. I haven’t had a lot of practice and so the strain on my moral fibre is incredible. If I watch any more of the series I won’t be blogging about it.

  • Do you think the cat and mouse game between good and bad was well done? If so what stood out, if not, what did you find annoying?

The rivalry between Moriarty and Sherlock was definitely changed for a tv show. Like I mentioned above, it was almost too frenetic for me. And Sherlock thriving on it and losing sight of the goal of bringing a criminal to justice wasn’t very likeable or heroic in my opinion.

  • Do you also keep severed heads in your kitchen fridge?😆

Hahahahahaa! That was just so ridiculous that I actually laughed at it.

Dave has his own review up HERE.

Rest in Peace: Patricia McKillip

Last week Jeroen informed me of Patricia McKillip’s death on May 6th of this year. Here’s an article from Tor.com:
World Fantasy Award Winner Patricia A. McKillip Has Passed Away

I am quite saddened by news of her passing. I had hopes that she would write several more of her absolutely gorgeous lyrical fairytale prose. I guess this means my re-reads will be all that more poignant knowing there will be no more. If you have not read any of her books, here’s a list of my many reviews as I gush over her books like I have for no other author. Gushing over an author, me. That’ll probably never happen again.

All of my Patricia McKillip Reviews

Monster Hunter Bloodlines ★★★★✬

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: Monster Hunter Bloodlines
Series: Monster Hunters International #9 (MHI)
Authors: Larry Correia
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 307
Words: 117.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

The chaos god Asag has been quiet since the destruction of the City of Monsters, but Monster Hunter International knows that he is still out there, somewhere—plotting, waiting for his chance to unravel reality.

When Owen and the MHI team discover that one of Isaac Newton’s Ward Stones is being auctioned off by Reptoids who live deep beneath Atlanta, they decide to steal the magical superweapon and use it to destroy Asag once and for all. But before the stone can be handed off, it is stolen by a mysterious thief with ties to MHI and the Vatican’s Secret Guard.

It’s a race against time, the Secret Guard, a spectral bounty hunter, and a whole bunch of monsters to acquire the Ward Stone and use it against Asag. For as dangerous as the chaos god is, there is something much older—and infinitely more evil—awakening deep in the jungles of South America.

My Thoughts:

It has been TWO WHOLE YEARS since I’ve been able to read a new MHI novel. This is why I’m not a big fan of ongoing series. However, as this is one of those “forever” series (as far as I can tell), there’s no point in waiting for the end book because that will only happen when Correia finally runs out of ideas for the MHI universe. Methinks that won’t happen for a VERY long time. So I’ll pull up my big boy diapers and try not to cry too much because Correia is a meany and refuses to write MHI novels exclusively.

This was pulptastic and I loved it. If you remember from my Currently Reading & Quote post from last week, this book even had a Cowboy Pirate Murder Ghost. Now, as awesome as that sounds, this monster, The Drekavac, is even more awesome in action. He is demon that is under contract to recover the stolen Ward Stone and it takes the entire MHI Compound, Agent Franks AND the Vatican’s Secret Guard to hold him off.

What made this story even MORE interesting was that Stricken is involved (he’s the disgraced former leader of Special Task Force Unicorn) and he’s actually trying to save humanity from something worse than Asag. Apparently there are 2 different factions of Elder Gods fighting in a nearby dimension and it’s spilling over into South America. We’re talking a serious Minions of an Elder God infestation here and only the Ward Stone, properly used, can shut the portal to the other dimensions. Of course, the book ends just as Owen and Co are getting ready to march into Fae Land where the fighting is going on. Which means I’m going to have to wait another 2 year sigh. Grrrrrrrr.

Once again, MHI has not let me down. It is balls to the walls action and pulpy as watermelon. I didn’t begrudge a second of my time reading this and if light hearted gun wielding monster killing heroes are your thing, then I’d encourage you to try this series.

Oh, if you actually go to look at previous reviews you will see that this is actually book 8 in the series but there is a collection of short stories that I include so it’s book 9 for me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Asterix and the Normans ★★★✬☆

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: Asterix and the Normans
Series: Asterix #9
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story begins with Vitalstatistix receiving a missive from his brother Doublehelix in Lutetia (Paris), to ask for the education of Doublehelix’s teenage son, Justforkix. Justforkix then arrives in a sports car-like chariot. The village holds a dance in honour of his arrival; but he is unimpressed by the traditional way of dancing, snatches Cacofonix’s lyre, and sings and plays in the manner of Elvix Preslix (the Rolling Menhirs in the English version). Some of the younger villagers dance to this new form; but Cacofonix tries to show off his own skills, and is struck down by Fulliautomatix. Justforkix thereupon suggests that Cacofonix’s talents would be better appreciated in Lutetia.

Meanwhile, a Norman crew arrive in Gaul to discover “the meaning of fear”, on grounds that they are fearless to the point of not understanding the concept, but have heard of people “flying in fear”, and believe that being afraid will grant them the ability to fly. Most of the Gauls welcome the chance of a fight; but Justforkix is horrified and decides to return home. Viewing Justforkix as an expert in fear, the Normans kidnap him to teach them; but this fails, and he remains their prisoner until Asterix and Obelix come to the rescue. A small Roman patrol is also involved in the resulting fight. At length, Norman chief Timandahaf orders an end to the battle and explains his mission to the Gauls. To teach the Normans fear, Asterix sends Obelix to fetch Cacofonix, while himself remaining as a hostage. When Obelix reaches the village, he finds Cacofonix gone to perform in Lutetia, and pursues him through a series of tell-tale clues.

Meanwhile, Timandahaf becomes impatient and tries to force Justforkix to teach the secret of flight by tossing him off a cliff. Just before this can be carried out, Asterix challenges the Norman warriors; and seeing him surrounded, Justforkix gains the courage to fight as well — albeit to no visible effect. Obelix and Cacofonix stop the fight, and Cacofonix’s discordant songs are exhibited to the Normans, which provokes their first real fear, and an immediate retreat to their homeland. When Asterix questions the Normans’ interest in fear, Getafix replies that courage is achieved only by having first been afraid, and superseding the fear to the desired effect. Thereafter Justforkix is claimed to have gained courage himself, and the story ends with the customary banquet, but with Cacofonix as guest of honour and Fulliautomatix tied up, with his ears filled with parsley.

My Thoughts:

Goscinny and Uderzo use the “hip young kid who is pretty dumb” trope (I wanted to say “again”, but looking at my other Asterix reviews Justforkix hasn’t been in any of them) and they use it well. Justforkix is the absolute epitome of a 60’s teenager and to be honest, a teenager from almost any modern era. He’s brash, rude, thinks he knows everything and won’t listen to his elders.

The Normans were just as amusing as the Gauls. They were trying to find out what “fear” was and as such they were talking about it like it was an artifact. They thought it could make them fly, as they had heard the phrase “fear gives you wings”. It made for some very amusing back and forth conversations.

Sadly, there were several times where I could tell that the characters were making word play jokes but it completely passed over my head. I couldn’t tell if it was me being ignorant of a situation, the translators doing a bad job or if it was referencing something from the 1960’s that I had no knowledge of. Usually Hock&Bell have done a bang up job of translating the jokes into something a modern reader can understand. And I can’t believe I just wrote that. 1967 is not some ancient and hoary mystical time that we don’t know about. While I wasn’t to be born for another decade, it’s part of the modern age. And since this translation was done in 2005, that really negates the “1960’s is Ancient Mystical History” idea.

But the important thing is that Asterix and Obelix got to do a lot of biff’ing and bam’ing of somebody new (the poor Romans, they need a break from all that thumping after all) and roast boar was enjoyed. That’s pretty much all I really want from these books.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Esio Trot ★★★✬☆

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: Esio Trot
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Short Story
Pages: 14
Words: 4.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Mr Hoppy is a shy elderly man who lives alone in an apartment, tending to his many plants, which have been the centre of his life since he retired from his job in a bus garage several years before. For many years, he has had a secret love whose name was Mrs Silver. She lives in the flat below his, and he frequently leans over his balcony and exchanges polite conversations with Mrs Silver, but his courage fails him whenever he prepares to hint at his true feelings for her.

Mrs Silver has a small pet tortoise, Alfie, who is the centre of her world. One morning, Mrs Silver mentions to Mr Hoppy that even though she has owned Alfie for many years, he has only grown a tiny bit and has gained only 13 ounces in weight. She confesses that she wishes she knew of some way to make her little Alfie grow into a larger, more dignified tortoise. Mr Hoppy suddenly thinks of a way to give Mrs Silver her wish and win her heart.

Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver that he — in fact — knows a way to make a tortoise grow bigger. He writes the following words on a slip of paper, and lowers it down to Mrs Silver:

ESIO TROT, ESIO TROT,

TEG REGGIB REGGIB,

EMOC NO, ESIO TROT,

WORG PU, FFUP PU, TOOHS PU,

GNIRPS PU, WOLB PU, LLEWS PU!

EGROG! ELZZUG! FFUTS! PLUG!

TUP NO TAF, ESIO TROT, TUP NO TAF,

OG NO, OG NO, ELBBOG DOOF.

Mr Hoppy explains that these magic words, when whispered in Alfie’s ear three times a day, will cause Alfie to grow bigger and bigger. Mrs Silver is doubtful, but agrees to try. (The words are, reversed, Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Spring up, blow up, swell up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, tortoise, put on fat! Go on, go on, gobble food!)

Over the next few days, Mr Hoppy carries out the second part of his plan. He visits every pet shop in the city, and buys many tortoises of various sizes, but none that weigh less than 13 ounces. Mr Hoppy brings all the tortoises back to his flat and installs them in a makeshift corral in his living room. Next, Mr Hoppy builds a special tool to help him snatch the tortoise from Mrs Silver’s balcony. He fastens a handle to the end of a long metal tube, and a tiny claw at the bottom. By pulling the handle, the arms of the claw gently open and close.

The following day, when Mrs Silver left for work, Mr Hoppy selects a tortoise from his living room that weighs exactly 15 ounces. He carefully picked Alfie up from the lower balcony, and exchanged him with the new tortoise. When Mrs Silver returned home, she faithfully whispers the magic words in Alfie’s ear, but does not notice that an exchange has been made.

Over the next 8 weeks, Mr Hoppy continues to switch Mrs Silver’s current pet with a slightly larger tortoise, but she still does not perceive that her pet is growing in size. One afternoon, Mrs Silver comments to Mr Hoppy that Alfie seems a bit bigger, but can not tell for sure. Suddenly, Mrs Silver notices that Alfie can no longer fit through the door to his house, and exclaims to Mr Hoppy that his spell is sure to be working. Mrs Silver runs inside and weighs her pet, and is surprised to find that Alfie now weighs 27 ounces, more than double the weight he was before. Mr Hoppy summons his courage and asks Mrs Silver if he can come down and see the effect for himself. Mrs Silver, in raptures over her pet’s transformation, gladly grants his request.

Mr Hoppy runs down the stairs, nervous and excited to be on the brink of winning Mrs Silver’s love. Mrs Silver flings open the door, embraces Mr Hoppy, and expresses her admiration for Mr Hoppy’s magical spell. However, the tortoise cannot fit in the house now, so Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver to say the magic spell properly. On the next night he secretly replaces this tortoise with one slightly smaller one. His part works splendidly, and Mr Hoppy, suddenly emboldened by Mrs Silver’s warm smile, asks Mrs Silver for her hand in marriage. Mrs Silver delightedly accepts Mr Hoppy’s proposal, then adds that she thought he would never get around to asking. “All due to Alfie!” she cries.

Mr Hoppy secretly returns all the tortoises in his living room back to their respective pet shops, telling all the owners that they didn’t need to pay. Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver are happily married a few weeks later. The “original” Alfie is bought by a girl called Roberta Squibb after he is returned to a pet shop; moreover, after many years, he does indeed grow to double his size before.

My Thoughts:

You know, I ended up thinking the EXACT SAME THING as I did when I read this in ’12. An overly complicated solution to something that could have been sorted out in 5minutes. That’s not necessarily bad, but I was hoping for a new revelation (as it were).

Of course, being a short story of just 14 pages (with pictures mind you), it’s hard to get to the bones of the story, as it doesn’t have any 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Three ★★★★☆

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
Series: Legends of the Duskwalker #1
Authors: Jay Posey
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 329
Words: 121K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

The world has collapsed, and there are no more heroes.

But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantle of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.

My Thoughts:

When I read this back in ’14 I wasn’t even using half stars yet, officially anyway. I gave Three a “strong” 4 and waxed fulsome about it. So I went into this re-read with a bit of hesitation, as I am realizing that my first impressions that are outstandingly positive don’t always hold up that well.

Thankfully, this still got a 4star rating. However, it wasn’t a “strong” 4 like last time. With this re-read it was more evident to me that this was Posey’s debut (I believe). Descriptions felt a little rough and simplistic, like a charcoal drawing as opposed to a number 2 pencil drawing. What really did bug me this time was just how unexplained the world was. I realize that was deliberate but I did want more and I didn’t get it. So I’m going to complain.

In that regards, I had a lot more questions. The “well, what about X” kind of questions. By not knowing how things worked, or didn’t, I couldn’t figure stuff out on my own. My biggest question is why humanity hadn’t gone after the Weir. If they are reanimated humans but something different, where do they come from, how do corpses get Weir’ized and what are their weaknesses? I could understand if the Weir were a new thing or something, but apparently they’ve been around for the whole of Three’s life? If I were to hand you a machete and told you to cut down that 14inch oak tree, or we were going to die, you’d whack away for all you are worth. If you didn’t know any better. The correct response would be to hand the machete back to me and tell me to give you the flipping full size axe I was hiding behind my back. If you know the problem, you can figure out the right answer.

I must also admit that this read has been colored by the more recent books put out by Posey. He abandoned a second series and the third one he has started did not work for me at all. I’m carrying all of that baggage this time around whereas I didn’t have to on the first go-around.

Overall, I enjoyed this but it wasn’t as awesome as last time. Whether that is because it really wasn’t or because I’ve changed, etc, I can’t tell. I’m going to hold off on recommending this or not until I’ve re-read the whole trilogy and see how the whole stands up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Blind Banker (Sherlock TV 2010)

This second episode of the modern remake of Sherlock Holmes introduces us to Watson’s future wife. It also gives us a view of the international sense of crime that Sherlock is fighting against. We also get some hints about a mysterious Master of Crime.

I thought how Sherlock kept interfering between John and Sarah, whether consciously or not, really showed that he did value John’s friendship and was so unaccustomed to friendship that he didn’t know how to share.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The chemistry between Freeman and Cumberbatch is so perfect that you would think they WERE Watson and Holmes. John and Sarah had pretty good screen chemistry too. They were believable as an odd and uncomfortable couple. The stereotypical English couple.

And I’m still struggling for words. I don’t know why this is going so hard but I feel like I am grasping for every single word I type. Sorry folks, this is all you get.

Here’s to hoping Dave has more to say than me!