The Compleat Bolo ★★★★ ½

compleatbolo (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Compleat Bolo
Series: ———
Author: Keith Laumer
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories and whatever you call a 50page story, not really a short story but not a novella either. Anyway, stories about the evolution of the tanks known as Bolos. From their mechanical beginnings to their self awareness to their “we’re smarter than humas so lets help them out”ness.

Bolos are loyal, brave, determined, nigh unstoppable and better representatives of humanity than any human. In other words, they are great mechanical main characters without the Skynet vibe.

 

My Thoughts:

I really needed this read. After The Punch Escrow I needed something to remind me that not all humans are bastard baby killers. So of course, I read a book where tanks are the main characters.

The humans in these stories are props for the most part. While they figure more prominently in earlier stories, as the stories progress the Bolos take center stage more often than not. Honor and duty are big points in these stories and I actually teared up at one story about a bolo sacrificing itself to save the humans. Sometimes I’m so weak.

This is probably more of an actual 4star book, but when compared to Punch, it rockets up. Some of the problems might be insurmountable for some. While this book was published in 1990, the stories come from the 60’s through the 80’s. In places, it shows. Word plays making fun of a politician’s name [McCarthy anyone?], communications, the 40 people in the one town on one world all talking like Jeb Clampet. I read more “hick talk” in this short book than I have in a long time.

Having read this in the 90’s soon after it came out and then during college and then again in ’01, I can’t say that I’m exactly unbiased. I like this collection of stories. I’ve never been tempted to try the full length spin off Bolo novels by other authors though. This book I recommend. Those others, try them at your own risk.

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. The Compleat Bolo [2001 Review]
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Dancer’s Lament (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1) ★★★★ ½

dancerslament (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dancer’s Lament
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Before there was Cotillion and Kellanved, there was Dorin Rav and Wu. Taking place in the city of Li Heng, this is the story of how they became partners.

The plot of the book, however, is how the city of Li Heng survived a besiegement by a jumped up king who thought he was somebody. The 4 mages of the city, under the direction of the Protectress (a tiste liosan) end up confining Ryllandaras, the man-jackal in a magical prison. The Itko Kan’ians, the besiegers, have the help of a Jaghut and it takes the Protectress unleasing the full might of her Warren of Light to drive back the besiegers.

Wu, and Dorin, have plans to take over the city during the turmoil but they simply aren’t strong enough and end up being exiled from the city. But now they are partners and can begin working together.

 

My Thoughts:

Finally. A Malazan book that I can simply sit down and read straight through and enjoy fully without feeling like I’m juggling 3 different 5000 piece puzzles all mixed together. You have no idea how much that upped my enjoyment of this book.

I think Esslemont showed his true colors with this book. He is a good standard fantasy writing kind of guy. His Malazan Empire novels felt very much like he was trying to copy Steven Erikson’s style and it just didn’t work for me. But this? Besides Gardens of the Moon, this was the most enjoyable Malazan book that I’ve read. Now I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

In the Malazan books, Cotillion/Dancer and Kellanved were shadow’y characters doing things behind the scenes and never being fully fleshed out. Even when they were supposed to be main characters, they were actually hiding and felt like side characters. This time, they were simply people. It was refreshing.

There were lots of hints and little asides from other Malazan characters, so if you’re one of the Book of the Fallen fanboys who who loves unlocking a ton of meaning from 2 sentence fragments, you’ll still have something to chew on with this book. The rest of us can simply sit back and enjoy the story.

In Esslemont’s The Return of the Crimson Guard the malazan army unleashed Ryllandaras and in this book we see how, and why, he was confined. It was nice to make a clear cut connection between one book and the other instead of having to guess and speculate and turn my brain into 77 pretzels to make my pet theory fit.

Another aspect of this that I enjoyed was the lack of Existential Despair philosophy. Everybody was NOT whining about how meaningless their lives were. In fact, they acted like real people and didn’t even think about that. Dorin and Wu had to survive, plan how to take over a newly discovered Warren of Shadow and see if they could take over the city. Not much time to sit on their fat asses and complain about how hard they have it (unlike almost every Steven Erikson character. Man, that guy has his characters doing more talking than doing, in the middle of freaking battles for goodness sake!!!).

To end, I really enjoyed this book. A lot. In fact, I plan on buying it in hardcover, I enjoyed it so much. How don’t know how much more of an endorsement I can give a book. * grin *

★★★★ ½

 

bookstooge

The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition ★★★★★

phantomtollbooth (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition
Series: ——
Author: Norton Juster
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Milo is a discontented, bored little boy. Until one day he gets a tollbooth and goes on an adventure to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. With his friends Tock the Watch-Dog and the Humbug, Milo will learn the importance of words and numbers and just how they can affect everything.

Milo completes his adventure and once back home realizes just how big of a place our world is and how much there is to do. No more boring days for Milo!

 

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books I read as a kid and that has stuck with me ever since. I couldn’t remember every detail, but the clever word plays and number games always stuck in my head. So when I saw this 50th Anniversary Edition a couple of years ago I had to pick it up. Of course, it’s taken me several years to actually get around to reading it.

It is a children’s book so some things are childish. But even now, I never felt like Juster was trying to talk down to his audience or dumb things down. I enjoyed the heck out of this. I had forgotten just how quickly everything happens. Bam, Bam, Bam.

If you’ve never read this book, I highly recommend you do. It is good even for adults. If you happen to know some kids, I’d even higherly recommend this to them.

This 50th Anniversary Edition had a forward from Maurice Sendak [which was actually from the 35th Anniversary Edition] and several “How the Phantom Tollbooth Affected Me” stories from various people at the end of the book. I wasn’t impressed with Sendak’s blabbing and will definitely be skipping that if I read this again. I WAS looking forward to the various stories at the end, but sadly, I only recognized 1 or 2 names and nobody told a good story. It was all the same “I love it, my children loved it, the dog loved it.” blah, blah, blah. It did make me wonder who all those people were whose names I didn’t recognize. Maybe someday I’ll care enough to look them up, but not now.

To end. The story was fantastic, the addons, ie the forward and the stories at the end, not so much. Ignore those, read the story and have a wonderful time! I’m giving it my “best book of the year” tag as well.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge

Sixth Watch (Night Watch #6) ★★★★☆

sixthwatch (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sixth Watch
Series: Night Watch #6
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 403
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

A rogue vampire has started biting people in broad daylight and what’s more, they’re just taking a “sip” from each victim. Anton figures out that the vampire is sending a coded message to him using the initials of the victims.

Once he figures that out, ALL the prophets have the exact same foretelling. Something dealing with the numbers 1-6 and the End of All Life on Earth.

So both Watches, Night and Day, give all acting Authority to Anton to figure out what is going on. It turns out that an old Agreement by the Sixth Watch and the Twilight, in the personafication of the Two In One, has been breached and that gives the Two In One the right to wipe humanity down to 1%.

The solution is to invoke the Sixth Watch, which involves both Watches, the Witches, the Vampires and Other “Others”. Huge sacrifices are made by many people and the Agreement is null and voided. Humanity and the “Others” are all saved.

Anton is sacrificed and gives up his “Other” powers and becomes truly human. Thus ends his story in the Night Watch universe.

 

My Thoughts:

What a great end to this series. This was just as good as all the previous books and had that perfect mix of pathos, humor, tension, fear and maturity.

I think what I liked best about this book and the series, even while I’m opposed to it, is the fact that Anton goes from an idealistic Light One to a pragmatic Human. I suspect I enjoyed his journey because in SO many ways it mirrors my own journey through life.

I also liked how Anton’s sacrifices include having his family make sacrifices. The load wasn’t all on his shoulders and there was nothing he could do about it. Watching his 16year old daughter choose to sacrifice her future as a Zero Ultimate Other, man, that’s tough.

While there are a lot more stories to be told in the Watch series, I suspect that Lukyanenko has reached the end of his interest and thus chose to wrap things up nice and neat. Anton has always been the center of the stories and with his story done, I think the flavor would irrevocably change, enough so to affect any future stories.

This is one of the few Urban Fantasies that I’ve been able to stomach over the last couple of years and I think that speaks well to Lukyanenko’s skill. I also think it shows that somewhere I’ve got some Russian blood in my past. That or I’m the reincarnation of Turgenev. Haha.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Night Watch (Book 1)
  2. Day Watch (Book 2)
  3. Twilight Watch (Book 3)
  4. Last Watch (Book 4)
  5. New Watch (Book 5)

Ready Set Hut (Eyeshield 21 #37) (Final) ★★★★★

readysethut (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission  
Title: Ready Set Hut
Series: Eyeshield 21 #37
Author: Riichiro Inagaki

Artist: Yusuke Murata
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Sports Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Scan

 

 

Synopsis:

The Power of Team Work. Every single player on Japan’s team begins to really play their strengths as part of a team instead of as the “ace” of the team. And they tie the game at 45-45 and no time left. Instead of going into overtime, the NFL player who called the game decides to call it a draw. Nobody from either team is happy and they all go back on the field to play, unsanctioned, to decide who is the best. We never find out the outcome.

The book and series ends 2 years later, when all those players are now in college. Hiruma, Kurita and Musashi have all gone their separate ways, bent on fighting each other as only best friends can. Sena actually was accepted at the Notre Dame Highschool for his last year and makes his comeback to Japan as the fastest runner out there. Everyone else has gone to their various colleges and become stable members of their colleges’ football teams. And now the focus of everyone is The Rice Bowl.

The End.

 

My Thoughts:

I am glad that they didn’t show the ending of the game between Japan and America. No matter the outcome, it would have been the wrong way to end the series. We got to see 2 great teams battle it out and the battle was what we were supposed to see.

The final chapter, 2 years later, was just so full! Trying to fit in double digit characters lives was well done but it felt very rushed and I for one would have appreciated just a bit more of their personal lives being shown. However, it was good to see so many characters shown and the people I’ve grown to know over 37volumes moving on to their secondary education.

 

Thoughts on the Series as a Whole:

This series had NO bad volumes. Some weren’t quite as good as others, but not a single one left a bad impression in my mind. I think the manga-ka did a great job of balancing the individuals, especially Sena as Eyeshield 21 with the group. Football is a team sport and no ONE person is good enough to drag the team to victory. I would have like to see a bit more outside of the football stadium but considering what I got inside it, I’ll be thankful instead of wishing for something else. It was good.

I thought I would be writing a lot more when I decided to do this “series as a whole” thing, but honestly, I don’t have much to say. I’m a casual football fan and this still got me excited and entertained me. I read this series for a whole year from start to finish. I’m not sure what else can be really said.

I think the following picture really encapsulates what I liked about this manga. Its self-determination and can-do attitude.

Eyeshield21_330_15_RH

Sena has come a LONG way from the little boy who ran away from bullies

 

I am also including ALL the previous volume reviews down below.

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

  1. Sena vs Panther (Vol. 36)
  2. The World is Mine (Vol. 35)
  3. The Last of the Deimon Devilbats (Vol. 34)
  4. The Devil’s Mistake (Vol. 33)
  5. The Christmas Bowl (Vol. 32)
  6. The Winner Is… (Vol. 31)
  7. This Is American Football (Vol. 30)
  8. Second Quarterback (Vol. 29)
  9. Showdown at Tokyo Dome (Vol. 28)
  10. Shin vs Sena (Vol. 27)
  11. Rough N Tumble (Vol. 26)
  12. The Perfect Player (Vol. 25)
  13. The Indomitable Fortress (Vol. 24)
  14. Then Came the Showdown (Vol. 23)
  15. Time Out 0 (Vol. 22)
  16. They Were 11 (Vol. 21)
  17. Devils vs Gods (Vol. 20)
  18. The Successor (Vol 19)
  19. Sena Kobayakawa (Vol. 18)
  20. The Drive to be the Best (Vol. 17)
  21. Dawn of the Time Out (Vol. 16)
  22. The Toughest Warriors in Tokyo (Vol. 15)
  23. Demons vs Gods of the Sea (Vol. 14)
  24. Who is the Real Eyeshield 21? (Vol. 13)
  25. Devil Bat Ghost (Vol. 12)
  26. Open Season (Vol. 11)
  27. Is There A Loser in the House? (Vol. 10)
  28. Hell is for Devil Bats (Vol. 9)
  29. True Warriors Seek Out Strong Foes (Vol. 8)
  30. Musashi (Vol. 7)
  31. Devil Bats Take Flight (Vol. 6)
  32. Powerful (Vol. 5)
  33. Intimidation (Vol. 4)
  34. They are called the Devil Bats (Vol. 3)
  35. The False Hero (Vol. 2)
  36. The Boy with the Golden Legs (Vol. 1)

Death Note: The Last Name (Movie) (Viz Media 2006)

deathnote2Whooooo. This starts right off from the first Death NoteI suspect that Part I and Part II were all filmed as one movie and then split up for times’ sake. Both are between 130-140 minutes and since the director is NOT Peter Jackson, he doesn’t get one 4 1/2 hr movie.

There will be small spoilers, but nothing that I consider huge. Because Death Note has some seriously huge spoiler material, that is for sure. It makes it rather hard to discuss with someone who hasn’t seen it. Kind of like The Sixth Sense. The twist at the end impacts everything that came before. There isn’t that same twist, but some things just as big do occur.

 

The rivaly between Light and L starts to intensify. L begins to attend the same college as Light and Misa Amane begins dating Light. Misa is another Kira, after being saved from a stalker by a shinigami named Rem. Misa realizes she isn’t as smart as the original Kira but wants to help out. When she finds out that Kira is Light, she gives her cooperation on the terms that Light will be her boyfriend.

Shit gets real when Kira II begins killing people on live tv who oppose Kira. Mostly innocent police officers who happen to be on the scene. This ramps up the feelings on the Kira Task Force and L begins authorizing highly illegal activity, such as the kidnapping of Misa Amane on suspicion of being Kira II.

It is still all a game to Light and he plays with peoples’ lives like pieces on a chessboard. Just like in the manga.

There are some really cool twists and turns, involving multiple Death Notes, multiple Shinigami, memories, Eyes of the Shinigami and continued move and counter-move by both Light and L. While some of the specifics are not exactly like the manga, they are exactly like the manga in spirit.

Now, I’d read the manga twice before watching this or Part I, so I’m not sure how that affected my viewpoint. It would be interesting to get someone’s perspective who hasn’t read the manga, but only watched the Netflix Death NoteCough,BookCupidity,Cough.

The whole storyline with Near and Melo gets cut out, but honestly, that would require at least another 2 movies, so it isn’t a surprise it isn’t included. This movie wraps up the storyline and shows the ending of the Death Note manga like it was intended. My only other quibble is that Light doesn’t have bleached blonde hair tips. I know that is an odd thing, but that is ONE detail that the Netflix version got right that I was happy about.

To end this ramble, I enjoyed these Death Note movies immensely. I don’t know how well someone who isn’t already familiar with the franchise would enjoy them, but they do a MUCH better job of portraying Death Note than that Netflix bastardization did.

deathnote2-2The main cast of Death Note: The Last Name. I’m not even going to say how many of them die.

 

I’m including my thoughts on the Death Note manga below from when I reviewed them in ’14. Just be aware, they’re as spoilery as anything, as is my tendency.

 

  1. Death Note Vol. 1-3
  2. Death Note Vol. 4-6
  3. Death Note Vol. 7-9
  4. Death Note Vol. 10-12

Death Note (Movie) (Viz Media 2006)

deathnote (Custom)This live-action version of Death Note is part I. Parts I & II [titled Death Note: The Last Name] were released concurrently in 2006 by Viz Media here in the United States. It was originally produced and released in either Japan or Korea. [Korea produces live action adaptations of popular anime by the metric ton]

Anyway. Unlike the Netflix Death Note, this starts out with mysterious killings happening all over the world and the world calling the killer Kira and an avatar of Justice.

 

We then jump back in time and are introduced to Light Yagami, college student who has just passed the bar, is popular and good at sports. He’s the top of his class and his girlfriend is another bar examinee. They both want to eventually be police officers. Light becomes disillusioned with the justice system of Japan when he hacks into the police data base and uncovers a list of criminals who have gone free and will never be prosecuted. He goes to a bar to find out if this is true or not and comes across a child killer who got off. He runs off into the rain and throws his law book away. THAT is when he finds the Death Note and begins his cleansing of the criminal element around the world.

The police are trying to determine if this is some sort of plague when they are informed by the mysterious “L” that these deaths are not natural and are caused by an individual. L vows to bring this killer to justice and thus begins the game of wits between Light/Kira and L.

Now THIS is a much more faithful adaptation of the manga. First, Light is a freaking genius. He reads the rules of the notebook, knows how to use them, experiments to find the limits and generally shows what a heartless killer he really is. Second, the rules that Light uses are written out on the screen for the viewer to see, as he is using it. It explains what is going on. Third, Light narrates his reasoning, his logic behind his moves. Fourthly, Light maneuvers circumstances to maximize his use of the Death Note. Which leads right back to Number One.

L only plays a small part in this first movie. More of an introduction as Kira’s opponent than anything. He’s a weirdo and it’s not obvious at all if he’s actually a good guy.

Misa Misa is introduced in the last 10 minutes of the film as well. It is not apparent from her introduction what part she’ll play. Of course, if you’ve read the manga, you know 😀

The movie moves forward very dramatically. After the dramatics, Light ends up asking his father, the head of the Kira Task Force, to join said Task Force. L intercedes on his behalf. The movie ends with L eating from a bag of consomme flavored chips. The exact same kind that Light used to cover his killings while under observation.

Light knows that L knows that Light is Kira. But knowing is one thing. Proving is quite another. Let the battle of the brains begin in the second chapter, The Last Name. 

 

9625d4_7e4daafc00334b089afce91c9b88cc0fCast of Characters from Death Note, Part I. Three of them are dead by the end of the movie. You’ll have to guess which three.