September ’22 Roundup & Rambling

Raw Data:

Novels – 21 ↑

Graphic Novels – 6 ⭤

Average Rating – 3.07 ↓

Pages – 6116 ↑

Words – 1919K ↑

The Bad:

Dead Silence – 1star of totally awesome space horror RUINED by scyenze and romance

Hunting Zero – 1star read that killed this already dead series for me.

The Good:

American Assassin – The ONLY 4star read I had this month. sigh….

Movie:

Muppets Now, while quite enjoyable, had some serious flaws as an episodic show, in my opinion. There hasn’t been a season 2 yet and I doubt there ever will be.

Miscellaneous Posts:

Personal:

What a busy, busy month. The only way I got through all the blogging was knowing that October was going to be totally different (more on that in the next section). After August’s R&R and realizing I was on the edge of burnout, I spent this month strategizing. It helped me mentally and emotionally (you try being an introspective introvert who hates people yet still wants to be liked).

Work still continues to be the dominant part of both my and Mrs B’s life. We are both working overtime every week and the holiday season is approaching (Mrs B has already seen Christmas stuff getting readied to be out on the sales floor, boooo!). So Mrs B is only going to get busier and my own work shows ZERO slow down. We’re still running about 2 months behind (so if you call and hire us, we won’t be able to get there for 7-8 weeks) so this winter is probably going to be as busy as ever. I’m tired just thinking about it.

The weather started to change, which was much appreciated. Some mornings it was chilly enough so you could see your breath but the afternoons were still warm enough that t-shirts and shorts were more than enough. With the drought we’re having I don’t know what is going to happen for the foliage. Glad I’m not a leaf peeper.

Utilities are skyrocketing in price. The electrical company instituted a price hike that comes out to about a 50% across the board hike. It’s all in the “service” part of the bill so you can’t even offset it by trying to use less electricity. Once the cold weather hits and we have to turn on the furnace, and the natural gas bills start coming in, well, it’s going to be an expensive winter. Thank goodness I have 3 can of campbell’s chunky soup in reserve!

On the good side of things, Mrs B and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. God has truly blessed us together and we are so thankful He led us to the other. We don’t take it lightly. The stability we provide for each other is priceless.

I’ve also been playing the board game Doom with my brother every 3-6 weeks and that has been a blast. I keep taking pictures of the board and mini’s when we’re playing but my goodness, it is HARD to get even decent pix out of it, much less good ones. I’m going to keep trying though and maybe in the next month or two I’ll have a mini’s update about it.

The Hotel Bookstooge opened up fully for business. That project was probably the biggest one I’ve undertaken in regards to blogging in my whole experience so far. I’m very glad it’s finished and now all I have to do is decide what’s next!

Ended the month being sick with the flu and bronchitis. I was out of work all of last week and this week, while I went back, I was moving like a dead man. I can’t wait until I’m all better.

Plans for Next Month:

I’m still reading up a storm but for October, while I’ll be posting reviews, said reviews will only contain all the data I put in the very beginning. Pretty much going back to my roots of 2000-2001 and how I reviewed books then. That cuts about 90% of the writing so that pressure just isn’t on me. That will have the twofold effect of relieving the pressure and also letting my word well recharge. I won’t even be adding covers. We’re talking straight up text posts. LITTLE text posts too.

Depending on how that goes I might carry that format on for the rest of the year. Once my words get recharged and I keep on doing the minimum for reviews that will allow me to start writing some non-review posts again. It’s been months since I’ve written something based on an idea that popped into my head at 2pm or some such thing. I need the spontaneity back and I can’t do that if all my words go to just reviews. I’m a blogger, not just a book reviewer and it is time to take that aspect back.

I suspect October will be a recovery time for me and not a “hey, look at me blogging about Whatever” kind of month. Lots of tiny review posts. I’m hoping it will also help me to clear my head about blogging in general and using wordpress in particular. I’ll still be commenting away and if you have any questions on any of the reviews, I’ll be glad to answer, in the comments..

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #9 ★★★☆☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #9
Authors: Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 36
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

This is a prequel comic of sorts, but I’m not sure exactly. There’s no April O’Neal or space triceratops or robots or even the Foot Clan, but there are ninja’s with machine guns.

A dying samurai must pass on his heritage to his grandson who lives in America. He possesses Splinter’s body and Splinter and the boys track down the grandson. And are all promptly attacked by gun ninjas. The Turtles save the day, allow the spiritual succession to happen and everyone goes home happy. Except the dead gun ninjas. Because it’s wicked hard to go home happy when you’re dead.

My Thoughts:

Thankfully this was directly involved with the TMNT even while being a standalone story. It was hokey though and was about as 80’s as you could ask for. Samurai, ghosts and machine guns. All together. If that doesn’t scream The 80’s to you, then maybe you’re just too young. Young’en.

While I enjoyed this more than the previous issue with Cerebus the grumpy and dumb aardvark, I am finding that I want an overarching storyline from the TMNT. I get all the standalone I need from the Groo and Asterix comics and don’t need it here. Just gotta hang on while the artists get their act together.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Conan and the Manhunters (Conan the Barbarian) ★★★✬☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Conan and the Manhunters
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 197
Words: 88.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org & Me

Conan, imprisoned by a satrap named Torgat Khan, escapes and is reunited with a band of thieves he’s leading in the deserts southwest of Turan. Subsequently, the thieves plan on looting the Khan’s treasury, held in a vault beneath the newly built temple of the sinister cult of Ahriman, the priests of which hope to revive their ancient god. Persuaded that mystical aid will be needed to ensure success, Conan agrees on accepting the aid of a kind wizard named Volvolicus and his daughter, Layla. After stealing the Khan’s treasure, Conan is pursued by the Manhunters, a band of bounty hunters with specialized skills led by a captain even more powerful than Conan himself. Through his own skills, and those of his new allies, Conan thwarts his pursuers while preventing the resurrection of Ahriman.

My Thoughts:

In some ways this was better than I was expecting and in others it wasn’t as good. First the bad.

From the cover I was expecting Conan to fight some super duper evil monster thing. While there is a monster or two, they end up being on Conan’s side and are as much illusion as anything. Conan doesn’t fight any monsters like that. That was VERY disappointing.

The good is the cosmic horror side of things. Arhiman the evil is an entity of darkest evil, an old god and a tentacled horror. He was banished way back when from our plain of existence. A couple of his priests are trying to bring him back, but Conan’s first raid on the temple upsets things so that Ahriman won’t be brought back as a fully intelligent creature with all his memories. Instead, he’ll be a maddened maw of hunger, ready to devour the whole world. Fighting against that, how cool, eh?

I have to say, when Conan is fighting wizards is when he’s at his best. Mundane earthly problems are nice, but he really needs the “sorcery” for his sword to shine its brightest.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Capriccio (One Piece #30) ★★★✬☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Capriccio
Series: One Piece #30
Arc: Skypiea #7
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 207
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

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

“Shandian Rhythm”

“Maxim”

“Conis”

“Pirate Luffy vs. Kami Eneru”

“Floating”

“Deathpiea”

“Desire”

“On the Front Line of Rescuing Love”

“Sorry”

“Capriccio”

To save her own skin, Nami convinces Eneru to take her with him. They leave for the golden ship, leaving the defeated combatants to their fate. After Luffy escapes from the giant snake, and learns what Eneru has done to his crew, he goes to meet Skypiea’s god in battle. Although initially confident that he can beat Luffy, Eneru soon finds that he is no match for the Straw Hat captain: Luffy’s rubber body makes him immune to all of Eneru’s lighting attacks. Rather than fight, Eneru traps Luffy in a prison of gold and throws him overboard, expecting the gold’s weight to keep him away. Eneru sets sail and prepares to destroy the island in the sky. He is briefly impeded in his efforts by the remaining Straw Hats, Usopp and Sanji, giving the inhabitants of Angel Island, who have learned of Eneru’s plans, time to evacuate.

My Thoughts:

Muuuuuch better. All of the cannon fodder have been expended so now we get Kami Eneru fighting against whoever opposes him. Which comes down to the Straw Hat Pirates. Eneru and Luffy have a tussle and beat the snot out of each other with the balance of the fight being like a teeter totter, first one then the other is winning. Eneru wipes the deck with the rest of the Straw Hats.

Eneru’s plan to destroy the sky island like he did his own sky island doesn’t make any rational sense. I get that he wants to leave and go be powerful down on the world beneath, but why destroy everything? Because he’s a psycho bitch, that’s why. He’s the very definition of power run amuck. Whoever his mother was did a terrible job. And his father? Should have spanked him. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is that Eneru is very powerful and has had no check upon his power to this point.

The volume ends with the plan to destroy the island entering its final phase. While I know that Luffy and Crew are going to defeat Eneru, part of me hopes that he gets away mostly unscathed just so he can run into some other more powerful Pirate Lord and REALLY get his ass handed to him. Eneru needs to die and he needs to die painfully and gruesomely.

I actually want to read the next volume now. Which was not the case after the last couple and that is a really nice change.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Killer (Victor the Assassin #1) ★★★☆☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Killer
Series: Victor the Assassin #1
Authors: Tom Wood
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 436
Words: 140K



Synopsis:

From the author’s website:

His name is a cover

He has no home

And he kills for a living

Victor is a hitman, a man with no past and no surname. His world is one of paranoia and obsessive attention to detail; his morality lies either dead or dying. No one knows what truly motivates the hunter. No one gets close enough to ask.

When a Paris job goes spectacularly wrong, Victor finds himself running for his life across four continents, pursued by a kill squad and investigated by secret services from more than one country. With meticulous style, Victor plans his escape . . . and takes the fight to his would-be killers.

In this first novel in the explosive Victor series, it’s not about right and wrong – only about who lives and who dies.

My Thoughts:

As you can see by this cover, this was originally called The Killer. When I went to the author’s website to track down some synopsis info, I found that it had been toned down to the namby pamby hold your hand while you cry about the beautiful daisies title of The Hunter. I read The Killer and thus I’m sticking with that title. Because I’m not a namby pamby who is going to hold your hand while you cry about the unicorn farts destroying the ozone or some such nonsense.

As you can see, this put me in a fine fettle.

Victor is a loner who goes around killing people for money. So he’s betrayed on one mission (well duh!) and spends the rest of the book trying to track down who did him wrong. Turns out it was the CIA and by the end of the book he’s been hired by the CIA to be their disavowed agent, in return he gets to kill the guy who set him up.

Victor is a blank slate and has as much characterization as Tostito’s Salsa Con Queso.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for an amoral contract killer. He’s not John Wick though.

Overall, this was decent but it felt a bit overlong and drawn out. The addition of the Broker, who is a woman and ends up getting killed after almost making it through the situation alive, could have been cut or handled in a different manner to slim things down. The story felt like an American who is full of Tostito’s Salsa Con Queso, ie, fat and over stuffed.

I’ll read the next book or two and hope the author puts his writing on a diet.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Trouble in Triplicate (Nero Wolfe #14) ★★★✬☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Trouble in Triplicate
Series: Nero Wolfe #14
Author: Rex Stout
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 159
Words: 71K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

BEFORE I DIE:

The meat shortage of 1946[1] has drastically affected the menu at Wolfe’s dining room table and left him in a foul mood. A notorious gangster, Dazy Perrit, arrives at the brownstone to enlist Wolfe’s help and, over Archie’s protests, Wolfe invites him inside. Archie fears that Perrit will tell Wolfe something that Wolfe would prefer not to know, but Wolfe wants meat and thinks that Perrit’s black market connections might enable him to get it.

Perrit gives Archie a phone number to call for a possible supply of meat, and then tells Wolfe his problem. He has a daughter, whose existence and identity he has kept secret in order to protect her from his enemies. One of them, Thumbs Meeker, has recently let Perrit know that his daughter’s existence is no longer a secret; however, he does not know her name or location. Perrit has found a grifter named Angelina Murphy who is on the run from authorities in Utah, and has installed her as his daughter in his Fifth Avenue penthouse in an attempt to draw attention away from his real daughter. Angelina has begun to blackmail Perrit, demanding large sums of money in exchange for keeping his secret, and Perrit wants to hire Wolfe to make her stop.

Wolfe dispatches Archie to make contact with Perrit’s real daughter, Beulah Page. Archie learns that Beulah is engaged to marry a law student named Morton Schane and invites them both to dinner at Wolfe’s house. Wolfe uses the occasion to acquaint himself with the couple’s plans and concerns. Later that night, after Beulah and Schane have left, Angelina arrives for an appointment with Wolfe. He threatens to reveal her whereabouts to the Utah authorities unless she gives him 90% of any further money she extorts from Perrit. Angelina responds by threatening to disclose that she is not Perrit’s daughter, but Wolfe rebuffs her, saying that the information will be of no personal worry to him.

As Archie escorts Angelina home, she is killed in a drive-by shooting outside her apartment building. Archie is taken into custody, questioned, and released; when he reaches the brownstone, Perrit and one of his thugs are waiting to talk to him. These two men are killed in a second drive-by. Later that day, Perrit’s lawyer, L.A. Schwartz, pays a visit to Wolfe with news that he has been named executor of Perrit’s estate and entrusted with documents that prove Beulah’s parentage. Wolfe accepts the responsibility — and the $50,000 fee that goes with it — and schedules an appointment with Beulah, Schane, and Schwartz.

The meeting is further joined by Saul Panzer, Meeker, and an associate of Perrit’s named Fabian. Wolfe reveals Schane as the murderer, having become suspicious at the dinner after Schane made a nonsense comment about a simple point of law. Schane had been in league with Angelina in Utah, but decided to focus on Beulah instead after coming to New York, and Perrit had figured out what he was doing. The fingerprints he left on his wineglass at dinner confirm his identity and criminal background. Schane shoots at the group but misses, and Saul, Fabian, and Meeker return fire, with Saul’s bullet killing Schane.

Six days later, the meat shortage ends. Archie comments to Wolfe on the way in which Wolfe orchestrated the meeting to bring about Schane’s death without leading to criminal charges being filed against anyone else present, then leaves for a date with Beulah.

HELP WANTED, MALE

Publisher Ben Jensen pays a visit to Wolfe’s office, intent on buying protection for himself after receiving a death threat in the mail. [1] Wolfe declines the offer, giving Jensen some advice on how to look out for his own safety, and Archie provides him with the name of an agency that does bodyguard work. Jensen had been involved in one of Wolfe’s earlier cases,[2] in which an Army captain named Peter Root had offered to sell him classified information. Root was brought before a court martial and sentenced to three years in prison.

The following morning’s newspaper carries a report that both Jensen and the bodyguard he hired have been shot and killed; Wolfe denies to Inspector Cramer that he is taking any interest in the case. That day’s mail brings a death threat addressed to Wolfe, identical to the one Jensen received. Since the Root case is all that Wolfe and Jensen had in common, Wolfe and Archie track down current information on everyone connected to it, including Root’s family and fiancée, Jane Geer. Archie hurries to fill his end of the order before he must leave for a meeting in Washington, D.C. with his superiors in Army Intelligence. He locates Jane and brings her to the brownstone, but they are both surprised to find Jensen’s son Emil—an Army major—waiting at the door. Wolfe does not come down to meet them, but instead orders Archie over the in-house telephone to send them away.

While in Washington, Archie notices a help-wanted advertisement in a New York paper, calling for male applicants who are the same height and weight as Wolfe. Sneaking out of his meeting and hurrying back to Manhattan, Archie is surprised to see someone other than Wolfe in the detective’s custom-built chair. Wolfe introduces the man as H.H. Hackett, who has responded to the ad and is being paid $100 per day to impersonate him at home and in public. He is using Hackett as a decoy to draw the fire of would-be killers so that he can determine who might want him dead.

Wolfe has determined, from information provided by Army Intelligence, that Root and his parents had no apparent involvement in the murders. He asks Archie to bring Jane in for an interview, with Hackett doubling for him while he observes from the peephole in the office wall. Archie now understands why Wolfe sent her away earlier; he did not want her to see him in person so that she would be fooled by Hackett as a stand-in. Jane and Emil arrive for the appointment together, having developed a close relationship since Archie last saw them. He puts them in the front room and goes to consult with Wolfe about Emil’s unexpected presence, but the sound of a gunshot startles everyone.

Rushing into the office, Archie finds that a bullet has been fired through Wolfe’s chair and into the wall behind it, apparently from the front room, and that Hackett’s ear is nicked. Archie finds an old, recently fired revolver hidden in the front room, and Wolfe reveals himself to the visitors and takes charge. He calls Cramer to inform him about the weapon, which turns out to be the one that killed Jensen and the bodyguard, and pits Jane and Emil against each other in an effort to draw out the killer. However, the case turns in a new direction when he notices a cushion missing from the front room’s couch. It is soon found in the bottom drawer of Wolfe’s desk; this discovery, along with the fact that one of the guns in Archie’s desk has been recently fired, allows him to solve the case and turn the culprit over to Cramer.

The murderer is Hackett, actually Root’s father Thomas, bent on revenge against everyone he blames for his son’s imprisonment. After killing Jensen and the bodyguard, and sending the death threat to Wolfe, he responded to Wolfe’s ad and smuggled the murder weapon inside. During a time when he was alone in the office, he took a cushion from the couch, wrapped it around the gun to muffle the report, and fired a shot through the chair and into the wall. He hid the cushion in the desk and the gun in the front room, and made sure to sit in the chair so that his head would cover the bullet hole. While Jane and Emil were waiting in the front room, he took a gun from Archie’s desk, fired into the cushion, and used a pocketknife to cut a gash in his ear before returning the gun. Given one more day, Hackett/Thomas would have been able to kill Wolfe and focus suspicion on Jane and Emil.

INSTEAD OF EVIDENCE

Eugene R. Poor, co-owner of a novelty products company, and his wife, Martha, bring an unusual problem to Wolfe. Poor believes that his business partner, Conroy Blaney, is going to kill him and take full control of the company; he wants Wolfe to ensure that justice is done on Blaney when it happens. Martha has tried to persuade Poor to sell his share of the company to Blaney, without success, but Poor is determined to see his own murderer punished. Wolfe accepts a $5,000 fee, agreeing only to inform the police of what Poor has told him if Poor dies within one year.

Helen Vardis had arrived just after the police got there. She said she had come to see Poor on a confidential matter.

That evening, Inspector Cramer calls Wolfe with news that Poor is dead, his head blown apart by an exploding cigar in his own apartment. Visiting the scene, Archie learns from Martha that she and Poor had started off to visit Blaney at his estate in White Plains for a business discussion, but Poor had decided during the trip not to go. She left him at a tavern along the way, went to the meeting alone, and picked him up on the return trip. Once back in the apartment, he had opened a fresh box of cigars and lit one, but it exploded with great force and killed him. Archie also meets Joe Groll, the foreman at the company’s factory, and Helen Vardis, an employee. Blaney also arrives at the scene and is shocked to see Poor’s remains.

The next day, Cramer brings news to Wolfe that every cigar in that box had been rigged with a small but powerful explosive capsule, manufactured for military use by a different company, and that two of Martha’s hairs were found inside. Wolfe considers this to be evidence against her involvement, since a person involved in such painstaking work would be careful not to leave any traces. Blaney visits the brownstone as well to argue for his own innocence, but his annoying manner soon drives Wolfe to send him away. Wolfe calls Saul Panzer in to investigate, having taken an interest in finding photographs of Poor when he was alive, and Archie catches up to Groll for a talk and realizes that Helen has been following them. The three search the company offices and find several hiding places, one of which contains four explosive capsules.

At the brownstone, Wolfe tests one of the capsules by placing it in a coffee percolator and lighting its fuse; it explodes violently enough to damage the percolator and hurl its lid across the office, barely missing him. Wolfe dispatches Archie to take two of the others to Cramer, who threatens to get a warrant for the last one. Wolfe takes a sudden interest in a newspaper article about a man found dead in White Plains with his head crushed, and calls the local district attorney to confirm his identity as Arthur Howell, an employee of the company that had manufactured the capsules. Once the body has been identified, Wolfe sends Archie to see Martha with a photograph of Poor (obtained by Saul) that has the last capsule taped to it. Archie warns Martha that he has orders to deliver her to either Wolfe or the police, but she instead kills herself by putting the capsule in her mouth and setting it off.

A furious Cramer confronts Wolfe at the brownstone, but Wolfe maintains that he has broken no laws in prodding Martha to suicide. He had realized that the man who came to see him was an impostor, since Poor was an experienced cigar smoker and the man had barely been able to light one properly. Martha chose Howell for her plot to kill her husband because he bore a strong resemblance to Poor, and she persuaded him to give her some of the capsules so she could spike Poor’s cigars. During her supposed meeting with Blaney in White Plains, she met with Howell and killed him, running over his head with her car. The photograph that Saul obtained was actually of Howell, but Archie mistook it as one of Poor because he did not know of Howell’s existence at the time.

Cramer points out that it was Martha who paid Wolfe the $5,000, but Wolfe counters by saying that Poor got his money’s worth even if he did not directly pay the fee.

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, the novels about Wolfe that are actually 3 novellas just never work quite as well for me as a full novel.

I didn’t catch on, until I was writing this post and copied the info from Wikipedia, that each story was about a person impersonating someone else. I think part of that is that I don’t try to solve the mystery ahead of time in books like this. I don’t care who did it or why. Just tell me and give me some interesting character interactions along the way.

And dang, the way everybody carries pistols around in their pockets? Sign me up for some of that please. None of this “concealed carry” license nonsense. Not that my state has that nonsense anymore, but there’s enough floating around the rest of the country to make up for it, le sigh.

Part of me wonders how Archie and Wolfe have gotten on so well together for so long. I would have shot Wolfe by now or at least put dog poop in one of his favorite dishes, thus prompting him to shoot me. The friendship and the tension are not something I have first hand experience with, as anyone who bothered me as much as Wolfe bothers Archie, I would have simply walked away from without another word. But that tension, as I’ve written before, is what makes these books. The murders themselves are usually pretty ho-hum and pedestrian but how everyone interacts is what is the peas day resistance. And Freedom Fries. Take that, french language!

Once again, I am pleased with another Nero Wolfe book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 2 (Cthulhu Anthology #5) ★★★☆☆

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: Pyrate Cthulhu Vol. 2
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #5
Editor: Pyrate Press
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Weird Fiction
Pages: 194
Words: 74K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Out of the Jar by Charles R. Tunner (1941)

Bothon by Henry S. Whitehead & H.P. Lovecraft (1946)

Something From Out There by August Derleth (1951)

Confession in Darkness by Gerald W. Page (1979)

Jendick’s Swamp by Joseph Payne Brennan (1987)

The Big Fish by Kim Newman (1993)

The Vicar of R’lyeh by Marc Laidlaw (2007)

Dark Blue by Alan Dean Foster (2007)

Copping Squid by Michael Sea (2009)

Crawlin’ Chaos Blues by Edward M. Erdelac (2010)

The Nyarlathotep Event by Jonathan Wood (2011)

My Thoughts:

After the success I had with Vol. 1 of Pyrate Cthulhu, my expectations were pretty high. You might say I had Great Expectations for this second volume. Sadly, just like Pip, my expectations were completely dashed and oblivionated (that’s what happens in Cthulhu-land).

Nothing was actually bad, but the magic I felt in the first volume was completely lacking. It was like Pyrate Press took all of the best stories and released them in Vol 1 and then all the leftovers they made a cash grab with a second volume.

None of these stories really grabbed me. They kept me entertained, but so does Spongebob. Oh man, wouldn’t a cosmic horror version of Spongebob be awesome? And the franchise already has Squidward too! Sigh, I’m just chockful of good ideas sometimes. So there was a lack of “something” to these stories. I can’t really describe it, but when I read a story with “it”, I know it. It’s like eating a pizza without oregano. The lack of it, once you’ve had it, is more powerful than having it. That’s what I felt like these stories were, a pizza without oregano.

I tried to find out some more about Pyrate Press, but apparently they only edited these 2 collections and that was it. No website, no twitter, no nothing, that I could find in 10minutes of searching on the internet. Even “I’m” easier to find than them (not that I’m trying to hide myself, but you get the idea).

Rating: 3 out of 5.

On the Eve (The Russians) ★★★☆☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: On the Eve
Series: (The Russians)
Author: Ivan Turgenev
Translator: Garnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 209
Words: 60K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story revolves around Elena Stakhova, a girl with a hypochondriac mother and an idle father, a retired guards lieutenant with a mistress. On the eve of the Crimean War, Elena is pursued by a free-spirited sculptor (Pavel Shubin) and a serious-minded student (Andrei Berzyenev). But when Berzyenev’s revolutionary Bulgarian friend, Dmitri Insarov, meets Elena, they fall in love. In secretly marrying Insarov Elena disappoints her mother and enrages her father, who had hoped to marry her to a dull, self-satisfied functionary, Kurnatovski. Insarov nearly dies from pneumonia and only partly recovers. On the outbreak of war Insarov tries to return with Elena to Bulgaria, but dies in Venice. Elena takes Insarov’s body to the Balkans for burial and then vanishes.

My Thoughts:

This was translated by Constance Garnett and a Edward Garnett wrote the introduction. I am assuming he is her husband, because otherwise I have no idea how so much brown nosing could be packed into a simple introduction. It was embarrassing (Edward is sucking up to Turgenev, not his wife) and ol’ Ed put a WHOLE LOT of meaning into the story that I’m not convinced was actually there.

Overall, this was all about the author being angsty about the russian psyche and why they were a bunch of big babies who were selfish and irresponsible instead of being like European and American men, who did their duty come hell or high water. It was a character study more than a story and while I enjoyed my time reading this, I really couldn’t call it a story.

The book ends with someone saying that yes, the mature russian man WAS coming and then the world would be complete. Or something like that. It was bologna. Sadly, if you follow Russia in the news for the last 100 years they haven’t grown up one bit. From Lenin to Stalin to Khrushchev to Putin, you see no change in the national character.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought in this vein if stupid ol’ Ed hadn’t shoved it directly into my face. What a stupid arrogant jerk. I bet he would have changed his tune if he’d been in the camps set up by Stalin!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Asterix and the Cauldron (Asterix #13) ★★★☆☆

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Title: Asterix and the Cauldron
Series: Asterix #13
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story introduces Chief Whosemoralsarelastix, the chief of a neighboring Gaulish village: a miser who often does business with the Romans. When the Romans levy new taxes, Whosemoralsarelastix asks the people of Asterix’s village to guard a cauldron full of sestertii, ostensibly to keep the money away from the imminent visit of the Roman tax collectors. Despite Asterix keeping watch, the cauldron is stolen during the night, whereupon the strict laws of the Gauls demand that Asterix be banished until he has atoned for his negligence. Obelix immediately “banishes” himself to accompany Asterix, until they find money to refill the cauldron and repay Whosemoralsarelastix.

Asterix and Obelix engage in many futile attempts to earn back the money: questioning the Romans at Compendium (only to start a riot when the Romans know nothing about the theft), attacking the pirates in the belief that they stole the money (after the pirates have converted their ship into a restaurant), selling boars (at a ridiculously low price), prize fighting (only to win worthless statuettes), acting (foiled when Obelix insults the audience and ruins the company), gambling on a chariot race (only to lose their money on false information), and even trying to rob a bank (which is empty of money after the recent tax increases). With little else to gain or lose, they take the cauldron back to Whosemoralsarelastix’s village, Asterix hoping to save the village’s honour by clarifying that he alone is responsible for the loss. En route they rob a Roman tax collector of sufficient money to fill the cauldron; and Asterix catches an onion-like scent on the coins, recalling that the cauldron had previously been used for cooking onion soup, and thus proving that these are the very coins seized from Asterix’s care.

At Whosemoralsarelastix’s village, on a high cliff at the coast, Asterix confronts Whosemoralsarelastix with the onion-smelling money, having correctly guessed that Whosemoralsarelastix stole back his own money in the hope that Asterix, to repay the supposed debt, would reimburse him. Here, Asterix and Whosemoralsarelastix duel with their swords (Asterix having exhausted the magic potion granting him superior strength), while Obelix repels Whosemoralsarelastix’s followers. When Whosemoralsarelastix wins the duel and prepares to kill Asterix, a section of the cliff beneath his feet suddenly gives way, and the cauldron falls toward the ocean while Whosemoralsarelastix hangs above. Asterix then rescues Whosemoralsarelastix and re-unites with Obelix, with whom he returns home.

The money itself falls into the ship and possession of the pirates. At Asterix’s village, a celebration is held for the return of the two heroes and the recovery of their honour.

My Thoughts:

Yeah, as soon as the other chieftan walked into the village, it was obvious he was a schemer, scraper and general ne’erdowell. So of course he stole his own money and tricked Asterix into returning even more money to him. Losing it all at the end was about the worst punishment he could get.

And the pirates get a stroke of good luck for once! The first time in 13 stories 😀 They deserved it, hahahahaa.

Otherwise this was the funny adventures of Asterix and Obelix trying to earn money, or in one case steal it from a bank, and failing absolutely miserably. Their strengths and weaknesses are on full display and it’s pretty amusing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.