Wicked Bronze Ambition (Garrett, PI #14) ★★☆☆☆


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Title: Wicked Bronze Ambition
Series: Garrett, PI #14
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 438
Words: 127K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Garrett is a human detective in the fantastical city of TunFaire. And now he’s getting tangled up in the worst sort of laws…

In-laws.

Garrett is set to stow his wandering heart with his fiancée, Strafa Algarda. But for Garrett, even true love comes with its share of headaches—namely, the Algarda family.

Strafa’s family needs Garrett’s unique skills in the worst way. Rumors are spreading that someone is organizing a Tournament of Swords—a brutal contest that magically compels the children of sorcerers to battle until only one is left alive. The winner will absorb the power from those he has killed and thus become a demigod.

Strafa and her family want to protect her daughter, Kevans, from being forced to take part in the lethal contest…and they’ve asked Garrett to find out who is organizing the tournament and nip it in the bud. The only problem is that finding the culprit is most likely impossible. But the Algardas are used to getting what they want….

My Thoughts:

This is the final Garrett PI book and I have to admit, it wasn’t good. Garrett’s new almost-wife (they’re going to be married in a week or so) is killed right from the get-go and then is returned/resurrected/whatevered right at the end. I really disliked her being killed, but to have her return was even worse.

Then Garrett is about the stupidest I’ve ever seen him in the series. Cook uses the old “I’m in shock, I’m stressed, I’m excuse, excuse, excuse” but it was total caca. He wrote Garrett dumb and then shut the Deadman out of the picture to make this last longer. Pile on that many other characters DO seem to know what is going on but are not telling Garrett because of “you have to figure it out on your own” caca and you had a LOT of caca in this book.

Everything in this book felt like a whimper instead of bang. A series shouldn’t end like that. Bleh.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey #2) ★★✬☆☆


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Title: Clouds of Witness
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #2
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 243
Words: 92K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Lord Peter Wimsey’s brother, the Duke of Denver, has taken a shooting lodge at Riddlesdale in Yorkshire. At 3 o’clock one morning, Captain Denis Cathcart, the fiancé of Wimsey’s sister Lady Mary, is found shot dead just outside the conservatory. Mary, trying to leave the house at 3 am for a reason she declines to explain, finds Denver kneeling over Cathcart’s body. Suspicion falls on Denver, as the lethal bullet had come from his revolver and he admits having quarrelled with Cathcart earlier, after receiving a letter (which he says has been lost) informing him that Cathcart had been caught cheating at cards. He maintains that he stumbled across the body after returning from a walk on the moors, but will say no more.

Wimsey arrives to investigate, along with his friend Inspector Charles Parker, who will find himself becoming increasingly attracted to Lady Mary throughout the novel. They find a series of unidentified footprints and a discarded jewel in the form of a cat. It is clear that both Denver and Mary are hiding something: Denver refuses to budge from his story that he was simply out for a walk, while Mary is feigning illness to avoid talking to anyone.

Wimsey investigates several false leads. The footprints turn out to be those of Mary’s secret true fiancé, Goyles, a socialist agitator considered ‘an unsuitable match’ by her family. He had crept into the grounds for a pre-arranged rendezvous at 3 am, when the couple had intended to elope. Mary assumed that he was the killer and has been covering for him, but when she learns that he had fled in terror after discovering the body, she breaks off their engagement in disgust at his cowardice.

Wimsey’s investigations lead him to a violent local farmer, Grimethorpe, with a stunningly beautiful wife. Wimsey finds the lost letter that was sent to Denver wedged in the window of the Grimethorpes’ bedroom, proving that Denver had been visiting Mrs Grimethorpe on the night of Cathcart’s death. This is what he has refused to admit, being determined to shield his mistress even at the price of being wrongfully convicted of murder.

Eventually, the jewelled cat leads Wimsey to Cathcart’s mistress of many years, who had left him for an American millionaire. Wimsey travels to New York to find her, makes a daring and dangerous transatlantic flight back to London, and arrives just in time to present his evidence at Denver’s trial in the House of Lords. Wimsey brings a letter that Cathcart had written to his mistress on the night of his death. After hearing that she was leaving him, Cathcart had written back stating his intention to commit suicide. He had then taken Denver’s revolver from the study and gone out into the garden to shoot himself. The confounding factor in the investigation had been the coincidence of Denver returning from Mrs Grimethorpe’s, just in time to find the body, at the same time that Mary had emerged from the house for her rendezvous with Goyles.

Denver is acquitted. As he is leaving the House of Lords, Grimethorpe appears, shoots at him, flees, and is knocked down and killed by a passing taxi. Mrs Grimethorpe, finally free of her husband, declares that she has no interest in continuing her affair with Denver. In the final scene of the book, Inspector Sugg finds Wimsey, Parker, and a friend on the street after midnight, hopelessly drunk, celebrating the end of the case. Sugg assists them into cabs, and reflects, “Thank Gawd there weren’t no witnesses”.

My Thoughts:

This started out so strong. I was highlighting quotes a lot (for me) and the story was moving right along. Lord Peter wasn’t missin’ his “g’s” as much and I was seriously thinking about giving this 4 to 4.5stars.

Then I came to the last 10% of the book. Which is where the trial of Peter’s brother takes place. And everything screeched to a complete halt and bored me to death. Lord Peter isn’t involved. We get pages of the lawyer pretty much summing up the entire book and showing the “jury” (ie, the readers) what really happened. A linchpin of his argument was a letter from the dead man to his mistress. In french. Fething pages of french letter. Sayers does provide an interpretation after the fact, but the original had no place in the novel. I kept hitting the “next page” on my kindle and it kept going and going and going. The lawyer had slowed the pace to frozen molasses but the french letter? It dammed up the flow completely. It was like the Hoover Dam suddenly appeared from out of no where!

Up to that point, I saw why this series is held up as great writing and great story telling. I was enjoying myself immensely. Sadly, the ending killed this book for me. Bleh and poop!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Darkwalker on Moonshae (Forgotten Realms: Moonshae #1) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@29%


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Title: Darkwalker on Moonshae
Series: Forgotten Realms: Moonshae #1
Author: Douglas Niles
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 351/110
Words: 121.5K/40K



Synopsis:

DNF’d at 29%

My Thoughts:

I haven’t read a Forgotten Realms book in almost 3 years. My tastes had matured enough that I simply could not enjoy them anymore. So rather than rage or rag on them for being what they are, I simply stopped. Then, as has seemed to happen several times this year, I allowed myself to be convinced by another book enthusiast that this one might be a cut above the herd. A really fat juicy cow amongst a herd of starving and anemic animals. Verily, Pharoah himself would have dreamed of this cow and Joseph would have delighted in interpreting it. Well, as a modern day Joseph, I’m declaring that this cow was ugly and bony, more ugly and bony than any cow ever seen in the entire land of Egypt!

I dnf’d this at the 29% mark because I couldn’t take any more. It was trope’ish, written at the level of a 12-15 year old and was EVERYTHING that made me stop reading Forgotten Realms books in the first place. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed. I had had hopes that this just might be enjoyable.

So I quit and began looking for some higher quality covers, as the ones on amazon were blown up to the 500xwhatever from old 165pix. Turns out, this book was written in the late 80’s and was either the first FR book, or one of the first. Which explains a lot.

In all fairness, this really isn’t worse than all the other FR books I’ve read in the past. Don’t let that 1star fool you into thinking it’s somehow worse than them. It is on the exact same level as all the others and that 1star represents my disappointment that it wasn’t a big fat juicy cow that exploded into steaks and then served themselves to me. Douglas Adams would have been disappointed too!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) ★☆☆☆☆


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Title: Rosemary and Rue
Series: October Daye #1
Author: Seanan McGuire
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 287
Words: 106K



Synopsis:

From October-daye.fandom.com/wiki/Rosemary_and_Rue

Prologue: June 9, 1995

Half-fae changeling October Daye is on a stakeout for her private investigator / knight errant job when she gets a call from her human boyfriend Cliff and Gillian. Simon Torquill appears and Toby follows him to the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park in the hopes of locating the missing Luna and Rayseline Torquill. Simon meets up with Oleander, then turns Toby into a fish when he catches her spying. She is kicked into the koi ponds where she and Lily are trapped and forgotten for fourteen years.

Chapter 1-2: December 23, 2009

Toby regains her true form and seeks help from her longtime friend Evening Winterrose to set up a new human identity. She rejects most of Faerie including Sylvester and her changeling friends Mitch, Stacy, and Kerry, choosing instead to work at Safeway and occasionally offer toothpicks as aid in the local pixies’ territory wars. When Mitch visits the store, she pretends not to know him even though Gillian and his daughter Cassandra used to be playmates.

While heading home from a work shift, Toby is caught by the dawn and her human illusions are forcibly stripped away. Tybalt appears while she recovers from the pain of the magic, and they banter before going their separate ways. She arrives home to find a page of Duke Sylvester’s service waiting with a message, but she refuses to hear it as she has refused all the other messages.

Toby dreams about her mother Amandine, who had been married to Toby’s human father until Toby’s Changeling’s Choice, administered by Sylvester, forced mother and daughter back to the Summerlands. She also dreams of the day she escaped the koi pond and sought Evening’s help to get back on her feet, even as Cliff and Gillian rejected her for abandoning them for fourteen years.

Chapter 3-4: Awoken by her cats Cagney and Lacey, Toby listens to several increasingly frantic voicemails from Evening which culminate in Evening binding Toby to find Evening’s killer right before Toby hears Evening get murdered over the line. Toby drives to Evening’s apartment where she magics the human police into believing she belongs there. She finds splatters of Evening’s blood and the human-like corpse left by the night-haunts. She uses her Daoine Sidhe abilities to taste the blood and relive Evening’s final moments, learning that unidentified attackers killed her with iron bullets.

Chapter 5-7: Toby travels to the Court of the Queen of the Mists to announce the death using the fae’s formal customs, but the semi-mad Queen refuses to believe her. Next Toby goes to Home, an underground community of Changelings led by Devin, who had given refuge to Toby as a teenager after she ran away from Amandine and the Summerlands. Toby confronts teenagers Dare and Manuel before they allow her to see Devin. She recalls her own time as Devin’s lover and lackey, and how she and Devin had argued when Toby started dating Cliff and became pregnant with Gillian. In the present, Devin insists that he would have helped Toby after her return from the pond if Toby had allowed it. He explains that Evening was a benefactor for Home, and he pledges Home’s resources to helping Toby find her killer. In exchange, Toby will be in his debt. Devin encourages her to break ties with Sylvester, since although she won’t talk to Sylvester she is still his sworn knight, but she refuses.

Chapter 8-10: On the way home, Toby encounters a rose goblin who gives her an unmarked key. Evening’s binding tells Toby that the key is important, so Toby next heads to Evening’s mortal place of business, Third Road Enterprises. The binding tells her that the key will “open the way into Goldengreen,” Evening’s knowe. Using the key at the mortal business gives Toby access to the offices and leads her to a hidden hope chest. Toby recognizes that she must hide it, so she makes a bargain with Tybalt to keep it safe. He refuses at first, telling her to take it to the Queen or the Tea Gardens, but then accepts it and puts Toby in his debt.

Chapter 11-12: Although she is exhausted, Evening’s binding uses increasingly painful means to urge Toby to keep hunting the truth. Toby visits Shadowed Hills to inform the Torquills of Evening’s death and to ask for help. She recalls that Sylvester went mad when Luna, Raysel, and Toby all disappeared, and only snapped out of it when his wife and daughter returned to him. Toby’s magical abilities are tested by a footman who makes her design a court outfit with her magic, which adds to her magic burn. Quentin, the page who visited her home earlier, announces her to the Torquills. Sylvester is delighted to see her but shocked by the news of Evening, and more shocked by Toby’s binding to find the killer. As the Torquills mourn Evening’s death, Toby flees to the rose gardens and is followed by Connor, who attempts to make small talk with her but is clearly unhappy in his politically arranged marriage to Rayseline.

Chapter 13: Quentin finds Toby after Connor leaves, and she learns that he is in blind fosterage to Shadowed Hills. She tries to relax his pureblood prejudices and formal mannerisms, and they agree to hang out after things calm down. Sylvester and Luna are upset that Toby indebted herself to Home on her quest, and they reiterate her welcome at Shadowed Hills. She promises to stay in touch.

Chapter 14-16: On her way home, Toby realizes someone is in the car with her and she drives manically to keep them off-kilter. The intruder shoots her with iron and she flees the car, escaping on a city bus that takes her to Golden Gate Park. She tricks the Tea Garden’s gate attendant into letting her in and, growing increasingly weaker, she falls into a koi pond only to be rescued by Tybalt, who brings her to Lily. The Undine heals Toby, then chides her for her apparent death wish before sending her off with Julie and Ross as escorts. The trio are attacked en route to the taxi and Ross is killed. Tybalt kills the attacker and claims he helped so he won’t be stuck with the hope chest.

Chapter 17: Toby is driven home by Danny to find Devin waiting on her doorstep. Devin administers to Toby’s latest wounds and they sleep together, Devin trying to convince her to give up her hunt.

Chapter 18: Toby is fired from Safeway for being no call-no show. She can’t make herself care given everything going on. A doppleganger posing as Gillian visits and attacks Toby, who wants to believe her daughter is ready to make amends. Dare and Manuel come to the rescue and Dare kills the doppleganger with her iron knife, but in the attack Toby is yet again injured.

Chapter 19-20:They take her to Home, where Devin yells at the kids for slacking on guard duty. He tries to persuade Toby to give up her hunt for Evening’s killer, which she physically cannot do even if she wanted to. Dare asks how Toby met Devin, and Toby recalls how he rescued her from the streets as a teenager. She encourages Dare to break free of Devin, but Dare brushes her off. Devin tells Toby that he will send word to Sylvester that she is safe. Toby learns that Devin called in a favor from the Luidaeg to heal her.

Chapter 21: Toby, Manuel, and Dare head to Goldengreen to investigate further. She runs into Connor, who was sent by Sylvester, and discovers that Devin lied about updating the Duke. She makes Connor cut himself to prove he is not another doppelganger, identifying him by the scent of his blood and magic. Toby suggests that Raysel might be the killer, and they again acknowledge their mutual attraction even though Toby refuses to let Connor cheat on Raysel. They realize they are not alone in Goldengreen, and in fleeing they accidentally jump off a cliff into the ocean. Connor uses his selkie abilities to rescue Toby from panic-drowning as she flashes back to the pond.

Chapter 22: Dare and Manuel find them on the shore and they return to Shadowed Hills. Luna agrees to give the teens sanctuary. She also recognizes that Toby has been healed by the Luidaeg and tells Toby she must visit the Luidaeg to learn how to escape Evening’s binding. The rose goblin shows her the way.

Chapter 23: The Luidaeg introduces herself, shows Toby a vision of Maeve’s Firstborn, and identifies herself as one of them. Toby barters Evening’s key for the answers to her questions. She learns that hope chests can turn changelings fully human and that Devin has future plans for Toby. Toby does not ask her final question, which leaves the Luidaeg furiously in her debt.

Chapter 24: Back at home, Toby names the rose goblin Spike; the cats have warily accepted its presence. Toby asks Cagney and Lacey to bring her to Tybalt, being his subjects, and they grudgingly take her to the Court of Cats. She asks Tybalt for the bloody shirt he had worn at the park, and Julie attacks her because she blames Toby for Ross’s death. Tybalt asserts dominance over Julie, gives Toby the shirt, and tells Toby to leave as Julie continues to struggle.

Chapter 26: Toby seeks Lily’s help to reawaken the blood on Tybalt’s shirt. Lily tries unsuccessfully to dissuade Toby from riding the blood, and Toby learns that Devin is Evening’s killer. The binding nearly lulls Toby into a peaceful death, but Lily snaps her out of it. Danny takes Toby to Home where she confronts Devin. He says he killed Evening so he could use the hope chest to become a pureblood. He wishes Toby had come back to him, then orders Manuel to shoot her. Manuel hesitates and he, Dare, Devin, and Toby fight. Devin kills Dare. Manuel kills Devin.

Chapter 27: Sylvester and Shadowed Hills arrive for cleanup. Dare is buried. The hope chest is returned to the Queen, who is now in Toby’s debt. Toby accepts her place in the world of the fae.

My Thoughts:

I had seen several reviewers who were long time fans of this series (it’s up to book 14 or 15 I think?) and from what they had written, it sounded very interesting. I knew this was Urban Fantasy, a genre I have a VERY mixed relationship with, but was hoping it would stay away from the tropes that have driven me away from the genre in general. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the rating I gave the book, this read didn’t work out as I was hoping it would.

This was the very definition of female urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned. Everything that bugs the living daylights out of me about UF was here, in spades.

  • Spunky, full of attitude woman
  • multiple love interests from the past
  • family drama ramped up to 11
  • poor decisions by the main character leading to drama ramped up to 20
  • main character “taking care of herself” even while being rescued by others over and over and over
  • did I mention attitude coupled with bad decisions?
  • Bad Decisions
  • doing things for the good of others without asking them, talking to them about it or in any way seeing if it actually IS good for them
  • alienating family, friends and pretty much anyone who could help in the name of being spunky and full of attitude

And that’s enough for me. I will not read a main character who acts stupidly, gets away with it because of authorial fiat and then gets to call it “I can take care of myself” bullshit. Toby Daye (the titular character’s named shortened obviously) is exactly the kind of character who I hate. Not the kind of character I love to hate, or love to hate and read about, but simply hate.

I hated almost every page I read and seriously thought about DNF’ing this at the 9% mark. I guess I fell into the trap of thinking that this couldn’t possibly stay this bad and so kept reading. By the end, I was seething on the inside, almost frothing on the outside and felt like I had wasted my time. Even Psychic Grandma rattled her chains at me for being so dumb as to go all the way to the end. Considering I never listen to her about her ironing tips, I wasn’t about to start with “reading advice” from her either though.

The only good thing is that at under 300 pages I didn’t invest much time and I can now get rid of the whole series from my tbr list. 13’ish books gone in one fell swoop and able to add another series to my reading rotation.

If the bullet list of things sound like something you’d like, then go for it and may you find more joy than I did.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Big O, Vol. 6 ★★☆☆☆

bigo6 (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: Big O, Vol. 6
Series: Big O #6
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

These 4 chapters deal with Dorothy’s memory disk being stolen by Angel. It is revealed that Angel is part of a group that lives outside of Paradigm City. Roger attempts to get back Dorothy’s memories and fails.

The book ends with Roger and Dorothy both accepting that lost memories aren’t as important as the possible future.

My Thoughts:

This was a really sad letdown to the end of this manga. By sad, I do not mean emotionally sad, as in “My grandmother died, I’m sad”, but as in “Dude, your pink, heartshaped skateboard is just sad”.

I have to admit I raced through this as fast as possible just to get to the end. Overall, I found this manga to be poorly done. There were little to no actual story arcs, but proto-stories without any kind of resolution.

As much as I enjoyed the anime, the manga version of Big O has been nothing but a big disappointment from start to finish for a variety of reasons. I won’t be sad to get rid of these. Just not sure if I should simply trash these or not. After the Book (un)Haul post next month I’ll make a decision about whether to throw these away or if there are any other options.

Don’t read this manga. That is my Official Verdict and Judgement.

★★☆☆☆

Petty Pewter Gods (Garrett, PI #8) ★★☆☆☆

pettypewtergods (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: Petty Pewter Gods
Series: Garrett, PI #8
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 296
Words: 80K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

TunFaire is in a state of unrest; with the sudden end of the war in the Cantard, returning former soldiers are at odds with the half-breeds and immigrants who have taken their places in society. Garrett, however, has his own problems to worry about – he gets knocked out, brought before a group of small-time gods known as the Godoroth, and forced into working for them. The goal: find the “key” to the one remaining temple up for grabs in TunFaire, and do so before the Shayir, the Godoroth’s rivals. The Shayir find out about the Godoroth’s plans. The Shayir capture Garrett and give him their side of the story. Only with the help of a renegade Shayir called Cat does Garrett manage to escape.

As the civil unrest escalates into full-fledged street warfare, the Godoroth and Shayir elevate their search for Garrett, and Cat, who has her own agenda, is apparently the only one Garrett can trust. When the battle between the Godoroth and Shayir spills over into the world of the living, causing madness in the streets of TunFaire, the more powerful gods of the city decide it is time to intervene. After an epic battle between gods, Garrett hopes the trouble is over, but the Dead Man thinks there is still a missing piece or two to the puzzle. Eventually, the Dead Man deduces that there was yet another party behind the struggle between the Godoroth and Shayir. When everything settles down and is sorted out, the remaining gods go back to their own business, leaving Garrett to go back to his beer.

 

My Thoughts:

The only reason this got 2 Stars from me is because of the momentum the series has built up previously in how it entertains me. Well, it just used up all that capital getting me through this piece of drek.

Garrett has always been a pig but this book it seems like Cook relied exclusively on that and man, it really frustrated me.

In one example, he sees that a beautiful redheaded woman is spying on him but making no effort to hide. Which he deduces that she wants him to chase her for some reason. When she takes off into a bad part of Tun Faire Garrett deduces there will be an ambush, and he still keeps chasing her. And there is an ambush, that he’s not really prepared for. It just made me mad. Then, after he’s gotten involved with the petty pewter gods and has to try to avoid detection, he goes and gets roaring drunk with some bum and pretty much blows his cover and makes it impossible for him to help himself. Garrett was at his worst in this book and I hated it.

If the next book is just as un-enjoyable, I’ll quit the series before it gets even worse.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Science Fiction Hall of Fame: The Great Novellas (Science Fiction Hall of Fame #2A) ★★☆☆☆

sfhalloffame2a (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 Great Novellas
Series: Science Fiction Hall of Fame #2A
Editor : Ben Bova
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 790
Words: 216K

 

Synopsis:

Consists of the following novellas by these authors:

  • Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson
  • Who Goes There? By John Campbell Jr
  • Nerves by Lester Del Rey
  • Universe by Robert Heinlein
  • The Marching Morons by C.M Kornbluth
  • Vintage Season by Kuttner and Moore
  • …And Then There Were None by Eric Russell
  • The Ballad of Lost C’Mell by Cordwainer Smith
  • Baby is Three by Theodore Sturgeon
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson

 

My Thoughts:

The only reason this volume is getting 2stars instead of 1 is because of the story “Who Goes There?”, which has been turned into the various movies “The Thing” and is the basis for one of the X-Files episodes in Season One.

Part of my disappointment with this book was just how good Volume 1 was, which I read back in ’18. That collection of short stories was everything I expected from the Golden Age of SF. These novellas on the other hand are boring, plain and simple.

Take “Nerves” for instance. It is about a Doctor working at an Atomic Plant because he used to be a brain surgeon but an operation went wrong years ago. It wasn’t his fault and there was nothing he could do about it, but he couldn’t face the fact that he wasn’t perfect, so he ran away from his profession to become a “simple” general practitioner. Only something goes terribly wrong at the Plant and the only way to save the whole world is for him to do brain surgery on a wounded engineer. The lead up was too long and the tension just wasn’t there. Most of these stories I simply found too long. I kept asking myself “when will this story be over already?!?”

On the other hand, you had some horrific ideas. “The Marching Morons” was about a salesman revived hundreds of years later. The world has become populated by morons because all the smart people stopped having kids a long time ago and the remaining thousand or so people with IQ’s above X all live in the North Pole at a secret base. They secretly run the world but are tired of it, as the morons keep on multiplying and nothing the Clever People can do stops them. The Clever People tried to take a hands off approach but the war started by the Morons was too much for them to accept and so they stepped back in and began directing things again. The Salesman tells the Clever People to start a rumor of colonies on Mars or Venus or wherever and to hold a lottery for an entire city to go on rocket ships to this new colony. Then another city would be picked, etc, etc. The salesman puts together the ads and campaign and has the Morons clamoring to go to Venus. Of course, the rockets just go into the Sun and kill all the morons. The Salesman became Dictator of the World (that was what he wanted to give the Clever People his help) and the story ends with all the Morons gone and the Clever People throwing the Salesman into the last rocketship and sending it off. Now, whatever the author was trying to say went over my head, because this was just horrible. The Salesman was horrible, the Morons were horrible and the Clever People were horrible.

There is one more volume, Volume 2B (why they simply didn’t call them Vol. 1, 2 and 3 is beyond me) and I’m going to read it. I am desperately hoping it is better than this. It is another collection of novellas though, so I am keeping my DNF gun handy and my finger on the trigger. I won’t wade through another crapfest like this.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

For Love of Distant Shores (Tales of the Apt #3) ★★★☆☆

forloveofdistantshores (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:
For Love of Distant Shores
Series: Tales of the Apt #3
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Words: 118K

 

Synopsis:

Amazon and Me

For Love of Distant Shores features the exploits of scientist-cum-adventurer Doctor Ludweg Phinagler, as recorded by his (semi-)faithful assistant, Fosse.

A maverick academic, Phinagler is able to charm almost everyone he meets… except for his fellow academics at Collegium, with whom he is frequently at odds. In part to escape the resultant animosity and scandal, and in part to satisfy his own thirst for knowledge, Phinagler mounts a series of expeditions to the far-flung corners of the world (regions which the author always knew were there but which the main narrative of the novels never allowed him to fully explore). In the process, he confronts ancient mysteries and deadly dangers that the majority of kinden would scarcely believe exist.

In the first story, Phinagler and Fosse explore an underwater lake and barely escape slavery and vivisection.

In the second story they head to the Desert of Nem to find lost treasure and find a mad Slug Magician instead.

The third story has them hiking into one of the great forests to track down the Kinden who built a mysterious tower. Not only do they find the kinden, they find 8 wasps who seem to have immortality through being reborn using the aforementioned Kinden as hosts.

The final story has them crossing the Great Sea and discovering a new land where the people don’t talk their language, appear to have no kinden and can apparently change shape. The story ends with Phinagler vowing to come back and Fosse retiring so she can have a polygamous relationship with 2 of the men she met.

 

My Thoughts:

Sadly, each of those Tales of the Apt books has been slowly going downhill for me. With the final story ending up with a menage a trois arrangement, I was very disappointed.

I liked the format of 4 novellas (they’re not really short stories) making up the book. Very pulp. Definitely riffing on the 1900’s Adventure Stories. Yet still fun.

Character wise, I wouldn’t have minded if the main characters had died each time and been replaced. Phinagler was an egotistical jackass and Fosse was a gambling lowlife. I have to admit, there were times I was really hoping they’d die. I really didn’t like them.

The stories themselves were great. I like a good Adventure Story and these were definitely that. Well, I didn’t like the final story, but that is because I knew it tied into his Echoes of the Fall series and I really didn’t care for that series. The other 3 though, they were cool.

There is one more book of short stories in this series and I believe it is by different authors, so we’ll see how it goes.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] A Song Someday (Shaman King #32) ★☆☆☆½ [Final]

asongsomeday (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 Song Someday
Series: Shaman King #32
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

All the various groups are on the beach and Anna projects the mana numbers for everyone. The Gang is fighting the next Patch Officiant and Hao is at the last plant, preparing for the sleep that will put the Great Spirit within his grasp.

The Patch Officiant Number 3 kills Faust to prove how serious he is. He warns everyone to just give up, as they’ll run out of mana before even reaching Hao. Faust resurrects himself. And is promptly killed AGAIN by the Patch. Yoh then defeats the Patch through the Power of Love and Faust is a now a ghost.

The two kids who use the golem disappear from Mikihasa’s supervision. They want to attack Hao directly on Mu. They die in breaching the mana walls surrounding Mu but the golem is revealed to be powered by the soul of their mother and so they all keep on trying to kill Hao. Goldva, the Patch Chief, destroys them with the oversoul of the First Patch but the golem regenerates.

The next officiant takes down Horohoro but Yoh integrates with the ghost of Faust and fixes him up.

Team Gandala has gained 3 of the 5 ElementalSpirits and the Gandala leader is about to fight the King of Hell for the 4th.

One of the golem children, now a ghost, delivers the Spirit of Fire to Yoh, as Hao doesn’t need it anymore.

Yoh realizes, or reveals, or whatever, that the only true way to defeat Hao is to let him have what he wants and realize how empty that desire is.

The storyline ends with Anna and Manta saying they’re going to wrap up loose ends while Yoh and the Gang deal with Hao.

The manga-ka then includes an afterwords apologizing for ending things how he did.

We then jump about 10 or 15 years into the future and follow the son of Yoh and Anna. Anna sends Hana (the son, a 6 year old) to an American Prison with Ryu to find Jocono, now known as the Legendary Warrior. Ryu tries to break him out and ends up in jail himself. Hana then attacks some tourists thinking they’re trying to mug him. He ends up with Ryu in jail. Once released they make their way to a mountain seeking an old hermit. We then see the woman Hana knows as his mom, only she reveals herself to be Tamao, not Anna. She reveals that she’s been taking care of Hana and will tell him the truth on his birthday.

The book ends with 5 mysterious characters making their way towards Funbari Hot Springs and 2 of them appear to be Anna and Yoh.

 

My Thoughts:

So the series got cancelled and that is why the manga-ka wrapped things up, or didn’t. The fight scenes I didn’t care about at all and I gave the rating I felt it and the “ending” deserved. It sucked. The power-up’ing trope was out of control and I was bored. This had become like every other fighting shonen manga I’d ever read or watched and the multiplicity of groups just diluted any connection I had from the beginning.

The ending with Hana and Ryu and the revelations about Tamao was fantastic. It captured the spirit of what Shaman King started out with. The 5 Mysterious Strangers was an awesome thing. That part I gave 4 stars to but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the boring slugfest that came before.

 

Series Thoughts:

Shaman King started out fantastic. The friendships and interactions between Yoh, Manta and Ryu and Yoh and Ryu’s ghost allies worked really well. Ren was a good frenemy and could have carried the villain/anti-hero part for the series.

Things started to go downhill when “Avengers, Assemble!” began happening. While characters like Horohoro and Jocono were ok in and of themselves, including them began to dilute what Yoh had with both Manta and Ryu. Both of those characters ended up being sidelined and not taking much part of the story later on. The main characters became those who had power instead of those who were just friends with Yoh.

When Hao was introduced as the Ultimate Bad Guy and he just kept getting bigger and bigger, that is when I felt this series slid off the rails. Instead of telling an intriguing story, like had been going on, the manga-ka devolved to Power Up and Escalation. It was boring and cliched in the bad way. I’m not surprised the manga was cancelled due to lack of interest by this point.

The Epilogue with the son and everything was a complete return to form and if the manga-ka had managed something like this sooner I suspect the series might have lasted longer. Having said that, I looked up on Wikipedia and the sequel to Shaman King, following Hana, only lasted a couple of books then fizzled out. I’m guessing the manga-ka is great with initial ideas and creating fun characters but then runs out of how to keep them going. Maybe if he’d stuck with writing shorter series he’d have done better.

Overall, considering how this ended I’m pretty disappointed in it. The humor was what drew me in initially and that just slowly drained out as characters kept getting more and more powerful.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Patch Song (Shaman King #31) ★★☆☆☆

patchsong (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:
Patch Song
Series: Shaman King #31
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

The gang must make their way through the 10 Patch officiants to reach Hao. Ryu fights and loses against the first Patch and Ren and Horohoro step up. They defeat the Patch while using the absolute minimum mana.

The scene then shifts to Manta and his dad. And Manta’s dad is tied up and on a leash held by Anna. All of the shamans killed on the beach have been resurrected and everybody is everybody elses friend all of the sudden.

The second Path catches most of the group in a net but Lyserg and Ren are not caught and fight back. Lady Jeanne comes out of her coffin thingy and she and Lyserg take down Patch number two. Patch number three is being taken care of by Ren while Yoh talks to little Opacho about his skills.

Back on the beach everyone is having a cookout. Anna and Mikihisa are keeping track of the group fighting the Patch via an Oracle pager and realize that Jeanne is out of the running with her resurrecting Ren and Ryu and Horohoro.

Then we move on with another installment from Yoh’s parents past. Part way through it switches to a future installment where a young boy is venerating at a shrine for Mikihisa and calls him “Grandpa”. An older Ryu bursts into the room calling him Young Master and the volume ends with the pictures that the young master was venerating. One was the former owner of the hotsprings Inn that Anna runs. The second was Faust. Apparently he died during the final Shaman Fight and refused resurrection. The final picture was of Mikihasa, who died in a car accident while coming home from a pachinko parlor. He was not resurrected due to his wife being mad at him for something.

 

My Thoughts:

At the beginning of the book there is an author’s note where he says “something” is up with Shaman King but he’s going to do the right thing. It sounds like Shaman King got cancelled out from under him and he’s going to have to wrap things up in one volume instead of a bajillion more, ala Bleach.

Yeah, this was feth’ing crap. The manga-ka has lost control of his own story line and even the battles with the 3 Patch wasn’t very good. It was fighting for fighting sake’s and even worse, it was obviously that. I read everything to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important but I just wanted this to end.

The ending with the Young Master venerating at the shrine and the little blurb about each deceased really came across as wrapping things up without having the time or ideas on how to actually wrap it up.

I am very disappointed even while not being surprised by this.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)