Monster Hunter Bloodlines ★★★★✬

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



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Three ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

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



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ★★★★☆

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Title: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Series: Charlie Bucket #2
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 117
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story picks up where the previous book left off, with Charlie and family aboard the flying Great Glass Elevator after Willy Wonka has rewarded him with the ownership of his chocolate factory. The Elevator accidentally goes into orbit, and Mr. Wonka docks them at the Space Hotel USA. Their interception of the hotel is mistaken by approaching astronauts and hotel staff in a Commuter Capsule and listeners on Earth (including the President of the United States) as an act of space piracy and they are variously accused of being enemy agents, spies and aliens. Shortly after their arrival, they discover that the hotel has been overrun by dangerous, shape-changing alien monsters known as The Vermicious Knids. The Knids cannot resist showing off and reveal themselves by using the five hotel elevators (with one Knid in each of them) and spell out the word “SCRAM”, giving the group time to evacuate. As the group leaves, a Knid follows the Great Glass Elevator and tries to break it open, but to no avail, which results in the Knid receiving a bruise on its backside and hungering for payback.

Meanwhile, with the Great Glass Elevator’s passengers gone, the President allows the Commuter Capsule to dock with the Space Hotel. Upon entry by the astronauts and the Space Hotel staff, the Knids attack by eating fourteen of the staff, prompting an immediate evacuation by the rest of the group. The Great Glass Elevator comes back just in time to see the entire Knid infestation coming in on the attack, bashing the Commuter Capsule to the point where the retrorockets cannot be fired to initiate immediate reentry and the communication antenna cannot keep the astronauts in communication with the President. Charlie suggests towing the Commuter Capsule back to Earth, and, despite a last attempt by the Knids to tow the two craft away to their home planet Vermes, in the process the Knids are incinerated in Earth’s atmosphere. Mr. Wonka releases the Commuter Capsule, while the Elevator crashes down through the roof of the chocolate factory.

Back in the chocolate factory, three of Charlie’s grandparents refuse to leave their bed. Mr. Wonka gives them a rejuvenation formula called “Wonka-Vite”. They take much more than they need (4 pills instead of 1 or 2), subtracting 80 years (which reduces their age by 20 years per pill). Two become babies, but 78-year-old Grandma Georgina vanishes, having become “−2”. Charlie and Mr. Wonka journey to “Minusland”, where they track down Grandma Georgina’s spirit. As she has no physical presence, Mr. Wonka sprays her with the opposite of “Wonka-Vite” – “Vita-Wonk” – in order to age her again. Mr. Wonka admits that it is not an accurate way to age a person, but the spray is the only way to dose “minuses”. Upon leaving Minusland, they discover that Grandma Georgina is now 358 years old. Using cautious doses of Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk, the three grandparents are restored to their original ages.

Finally, the President of the United States invites the family and Mr. Wonka to the White House to thank them for their space rescue. The family and Wonka accept the invitation (including the grandparents who finally agree to get out of their beds) and prepare to leave.

My Thoughts:

When I read the Charlie Bucket books back in elementary, middle and high school, I always enjoyed The Great Glass Elevator more than Chocolate Factory. Back then I think it was because of the SF elements (space, spaceships, aliens, negative land, etc) in Elevator that simply weren’t in Factory. So when I read the duology this year (Chocolate Factory was read in January) I was expecting to like Elevator more once again. Imagine my surprise when I got done this book and realized that Chocolate Factory is not only the better book but also more enjoyable.

Part of that is that the premise to this book is beyond even ridiculous. It’s hilarious and I still love it, but it just hit me that it WAS ridiculous this time around and so my enjoyment was lessened. I wasn’t able to enter into the silliness like Dahl intended. The other thing that lessened my enjoyment was that the other 3 grandparents played a part in the story this time and they were stinkers. Made me shake my head and wonder how Charlie turned out so well.

Other than that, I enjoyed the ever living daylights out of this. Willy Wonka is a genius who is always in control no matter the circumstances and Charlie is a smart boy who THINKS before he reacts. More kids need examples like that in their entertainment.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ★★★★★

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: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Series: Charlie Bucket #1
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 133
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Eleven-year-old Charlie Bucket, his parents, and four grandparents all live in poverty in a small house outside a town which is home to a large chocolate factory. One day, Charlie’s Grandpa Joe tells him about the legendary and eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, who owns the town’s chocolate factory, and all the wonderful candies he made until the other chocolatiers sent in spies to steal his secret recipes, forcing Wonka to close the factory. He reopened the factory three years later, but the gates remained locked and nobody is sure who is providing the factory with its workforce.

The next day, the newspaper announces that Wonka is reopening the factory to the public and has invited five lucky children to come on a tour after they find five Golden Tickets in five Wonka Bars. The first four golden tickets are found by gluttonous Augustus Gloop, spoiled Veruca Salt, chewing gum-addicted Violet Beauregarde, and television addict Mike Teavee. After the fourth ticket is found, the family begins to starve after Charlie’s father loses his job at the toothpaste factory and the only job he can find is shoveling snow from the streets during a severe winter. One day, walking home from school, Charlie sees a fifty-pence piece (A dollar bill in the US version) buried in the snow. He buys two Wonka Bars and miraculously finds the last Golden Ticket in the second. The ticket says he can bring one or two family members with him, and Grandpa Joe agrees to go, suddenly regaining his mobility despite being bedridden for almost 20 years.

On the day of the tour, Wonka welcomes the five children and their parents inside the factory, a wonderland of confectionery creations that defy logic. They also meet the Oompa-Loompas who help him operate the factory. During the tour, the other four children give in to their impulses and are ejected from the tour in darkly comical ways. Augustus gets sucked into the pipe to the Fudge Room after drinking from the Chocolate River, Violet blows up into a giant blueberry after chewing an experimental stick of three-course dinner gum, Veruca and her parents are thrown down the garbage chute after she tries to capture one of the nut-testing squirrels, who deem the Salts “Bad Nuts”, and Mike gets shrunk down to the size of a chocolate bar after misusing the Wonkavision device despite Wonka’s warnings, causing him to be “sent by television”. The Oompa-Loompas sing about the children’s misbehavior each time disaster strikes.

With only Charlie remaining, Wonka congratulates him for “winning” the factory. Wonka explains that the whole tour was designed to help him secure a good person to serve as an heir to his business, and Charlie was the only child whose inherent goodness allowed him to pass the test. They ride the Great Glass Elevator and watch the other four children leave the factory before flying to Charlie’s house, where Wonka then invites Charlie’s entire family to come and live with him in the factory.

My Thoughts:

At times I wonder how inextricably this story is linked to the 2 movies that have been made over the years. Being written in 1964, this story has stood the test of time. It has also stood the test of aging. I enjoyed this just as much now as I did back in gradeschool.

Fun and light with Dahl’s trademark humor in regards to danger.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Matilda ★★★★☆

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: Matilda
Series: ———-
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 120
Words: 40K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

In a small Buckinghamshire village forty minutes by bus away from Reading and 8 miles from the Bingo club in Aylesbury, Matilda Wormwood is born to Mr and Mrs Wormwood. She immediately shows amazing precocity, learning to speak at age one and to read at age three and a half, perusing all the children’s books in the library by the age of four and three months and moving on to longer classics such as Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. However, her parents (particularly her father) ignore and emotionally abuse her and completely refuse to acknowledge her abilities, and Matilda finds herself forced to pull pranks on them (such as gluing her father’s hat to his head, sticking a parrot in the chimney to simulate a burglar or ghost, and bleaching her father’s hair) to avoid getting frustrated.

At the age of five and a half, Matilda enters school and befriends her teacher Jennifer Honey, who is astonished by her intellectual abilities. Miss Honey tries to move Matilda into a higher class, but the tyrannical headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull, refuses. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Mr and Mrs Wormwood about their daughter’s intelligence, but they ignore her, with the mother contending “brainy-ness” is an undesirable trait in a little girl.

Miss Trunchbull later confronts a girl called Amanda Thripp for wearing pigtails (the headmistress repeatedly displays a dislike of long hair throughout the book) and does a hammer throw with the girl over the playground fence. A boy called Bruce Bogtrotter is later caught by the cook stealing a piece of Miss Trunchbull’s cake; the headmistress makes him attempt to eat an 18 in (45.72 cm) wide cake in front of the assembly, then smashes the platter over his head in rage after he unexpectedly succeeds.

Matilda quickly develops a particularly strong bond with Miss Honey, and watches as Trunchbull terrorises her students with deliberately creative, over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing them, such as throwing them in a dark closet dubbed “The Chokey”, which is lined with nails and broken glass. When Matilda’s friend Lavender plays a practical joke on Trunchbull by placing a newt in her jug of water, Matilda uses an unexpected power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing the newt onto Trunchbull.

Matilda reveals her new powers to Miss Honey, who confides that after her wealthy father, Dr Magnus Honey, suspiciously died, she was raised by an abusive aunt, revealed to be Miss Trunchbull. Trunchbull appears (among other misdeeds) to be withholding her niece’s inheritance, as Miss Honey has to live in poverty in a derelict farm cottage, and her salary is being paid into Miss Trunchbull’s bank account for the first 10 years of her teaching career (while she is restricted to £1 per week in pocket money). Preparing to avenge Miss Honey, Matilda practises her telekinesis at home. Later, during a sadistic lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and begins to use it to write, posing as the spirit of “Magnus”. Addressing Miss Trunchbull using her first name, “Magnus” demands that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey’s house and wages and leave the school, causing Miss Trunchbull to faint.

The next day, the school’s deputy headmaster, Mr Trilby, visits Trunchbull’s house and finds it empty, except for signs of Trunchbull’s hasty exit. She is never seen again, and the house and property are finally and rightfully returned to Miss Honey. Trilby becomes the new headmaster, proving himself to be capable and good-natured, overwhelmingly improving the school’s atmosphere and curriculum, and quickly moving Matilda into the top-form class with the 11-year-olds. Rather to Matilda’s relief, she soon is no longer capable of telekinesis. Miss Honey theorises this is because Matilda is using her brainpower on a more challenging curriculum, leaving less of her brain’s energy free, unlike earlier when she was not in a high year, where she had her brainpower free for psychokinesis.

Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey at her house regularly, returning home one day to find her parents and her older brother Michael hastily packing to leave for Spain. Miss Honey explains this is because the police found out Mr Wormwood has been selling stolen cars. Matilda asks permission to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents rather distractedly agree. Matilda and Miss Honey find their happy ending, as the Wormwoods drive away, never to be seen again.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book to start my Roald Dahl re-read because it is the best selling book of his (at least according to wikipedia). Honestly, I just needed something to choose which book to go with.

Really, the exact same thing struck me this time around as it did back in ’12. Dahl was able to tap into what it feels like to be a child and then tell a story about a childs most basic wish fulfillment, ie, to be in control and to have a stable and loving environment.

What I like about Dahl is that even while describing horrible circumstances, he doesn’t make that the focus and so neither the main character nor the reader are stuck there. He uses a combination of humor and fictional empowerment to get the child into a place where things are better. He also tends to make the villains buffoons and idiots even if they are very powerful.

This was a delightful (a word I suspect I will be using for most of his books) little day read that allowed me to become an all powerful child for a short time and to forget the grind of life.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Order of the Centurion (Galaxy’s Edge: Order of the Centurion #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 & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Order of the Centurion
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Order of the Centurion #1
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 218
Words: 73.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

“The Order of the Centurion is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in, or with, the Legion. When such an individual displays exceptional valor in action against an enemy force, and uncommon loyalty and devotion to the Legion and its legionnaires, refusing to abandon post, mission, or brothers, even unto death, the Legion dutifully recognizes such courage with this award.”

Tired of sitting out the war on Psydon in a mobile office hab, Legion Lieutenant Washam agrees to undertake a covert and unsanctioned mission with a band of Republic Recon Marines. Inserted deep behind enemy lines, the strike force uncovers a surprise key to ending a bitter war. Now they must navigate a hostile jungle teeming with murderous alien rebels, pushing themselves to the limits of their abilities, to get this vital intel to Legion Command–if they can survive that long.

THE ORDER OF THE CENTURION is an all-new series of stand-alone military science fiction thrillers set in the GALAXY’S EDGE universe, ranging from the Savage Wars to the arrival of the Black Fleet. Each book features the legendary heroes of the Legion who forgot nothing in their earning of the Legion’s highest honor.

My Thoughts:

As the blurb above states, this series is actually a bunch of stand-alone novels dealing with various heroes of the Legion over time. I’m good with some stand-alones at the moment. A good solid Mil-SF book filled with heroics aptly fits my needs.

I was kind of expecting this book, by Anspach and Cole alone, to be about the first time the Order of the Centurion was awarded. But instead they chose a time period soon after the Savage Wars had ended and as the Republic is stretching its wings. It’s also when the Republic’s House of Reason began appointing Officers to the Legion in an underhanded way to bring it under their control. So not only do the authors choose that time period, they choose 2 Points (short hand for Appointed Officer) to tell the story, as one of them is the guy who gets the award, post-humuously. It also does a fantastic job of showing how much politics goes into even something that should have been sacred from the filthy hands of the politicians.

Usually I thoroughly enjoy the characters portrayed but not so much this tme. The Point who gets the award is everything that the Legion feared a Point would be. The other is his friend but actually went through Legionnaire training and successfully become a Legionnaire on his own. The problem is that the friend kept excusing the Bad Point for the whole book and even at the end thinks well of him. Thankfully all of the supporting characters were great and really pushed the story on.

One of the side characters is an actual Leej and not only that, but a Dark Operator. He’s just biding his time per his commander’s orders so that he can retire with full benefits and get his pension, which will allow him to live with his wife and two sons and reconnect with them. He was the character I connected with and wished that he had received the medal and recognition. He showed the spirit of the Legionnaires and that was enough to carry the story, thankfully.

Like I noted before, this was by Anspach and Cole alone. After this, other authors are going to be writing the stories under the direction of A&C. I am hesitant about that. For my own sake I hope it turns out well but I’ve experienced too many instances of other authors playing in someone’s sandbox and, while not ruining things, just not getting it and so being out of step and awkward for established readers.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Christmas Carol read by Tim Curry ★★★★✬

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 Christmas Carol read by Tim Curry
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Tim Curry
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Length: 3hrs, 31minutes
(Pages: 98)
(Words: 28K)



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The book is divided into five chapters, which Dickens titled “staves”.

Stave one

A Christmas Carol opens on a bleak, cold Christmas Eve in London, seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge, an ageing miser, dislikes Christmas and refuses a dinner invitation from his nephew Fred—the son of Fan, Scrooge’s dead sister. He turns away two men who seek a donation from him to provide food and heating for the poor and only grudgingly allows his overworked, underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas Day off with pay to conform to the social custom.

That night Scrooge is visited at home by Marley’s ghost, who wanders the Earth entwined by heavy chains and money boxes forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Marley tells Scrooge that he has a single chance to avoid the same fate: he will be visited by three spirits and must listen or be cursed to carry much heavier chains of his own.

Stave two

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge to Christmas scenes of Scrooge’s boyhood, reminding him of a time when he was more innocent. The scenes reveal Scrooge’s lonely childhood at boarding school, his relationship with his beloved sister Fan, and a Christmas party hosted by his first employer, Mr Fezziwig, who treated him like a son. Scrooge’s neglected fiancée Belle is shown ending their relationship, as she realises that he will never love her as much as he loves money. Finally, they visit a now-married Belle with her large, happy family on the Christmas Eve that Marley died. Scrooge, upset by hearing Belle’s description of the man that he has become, demands that the ghost remove him from the house.

Stave three

The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge to a joyous market with people buying the makings of Christmas dinner and to celebrations of Christmas in a miner’s cottage and in a lighthouse. Scrooge and the ghost also visit Fred’s Christmas party. A major part of this stave is taken up with Bob Cratchit’s family feast and introduces his youngest son, Tiny Tim, a happy boy who is seriously ill. The spirit informs Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die unless the course of events changes. Before disappearing, the spirit shows Scrooge two hideous, emaciated children named Ignorance and Want. He tells Scrooge to beware the former above all and mocks Scrooge’s concern for their welfare.

Stave four

The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future. The silent ghost reveals scenes involving the death of a disliked man whose funeral is attended by local businessmen only on condition that lunch is provided. His charwoman, laundress and the local undertaker steal his possessions to sell to a fence. When he asks the spirit to show a single person who feels emotion over his death, he is only given the pleasure of a poor couple who rejoice that his death gives them more time to put their finances in order. When Scrooge asks to see tenderness connected with any death, the ghost shows him Bob Cratchit and his family mourning the death of Tiny Tim. The ghost then allows Scrooge to see a neglected grave, with a tombstone bearing Scrooge’s name. Sobbing, Scrooge pledges to change his ways.

Stave five

Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning a changed man. He makes a large donation to the charity he rejected the previous day, anonymously sends a large turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner and spends the afternoon with Fred’s family. The following day he gives Cratchit an increase in pay, and begins to become a father figure to Tiny Tim. From then on Scrooge treats everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas.

My Thoughts:

Most people know the story of A Christmas Carol already. This review, therefore, is going to be more about the audio side of things, as I listened to this read by Tim Curry. When I did my Currently Reading post about this last month I was very excited to hear this in Curry’s voice.

So how did it turn out? Overall, pretty good.

Listening to this, instead of reading it, allowed me to focus on different aspects that what I’ve concentrated on before and brought to the fore little things. Like the fact that Bob and Tiny Tim attended church services, or that Scrooge began attending church as part of his changed nature. Descriptions of the surroundings or of secondary characters that I’d read over like a steamroller, were allowed a new lease on life due to the magic of Curry’s voice.

I liked Curry’s reading of this. Except for one thing. Scrooge’s voice. It’s a big thing and that’s why I kept this at 4.5stars instead of bumping it up to 5. Curry turns Scrooge into this whining voice that just barely avoided being annoying. While he still conveys the fear, the excitement, the remorse, that is in each of Scrooge’s talks to the various spirits, it is all done in that tone. It is a big enough thing that I suspect I won’t be listening to this version again but will try the one read by Patrick Stewart, or I’ll just read it myself.

I did find out, in the Currently Reading post’s comments section, that Curry had suffered a major stroke and was wheelchair bound. Reading his wiki page, that happened in 2012 and this was produced in 2016. I’d never have guessed it from his voice here though.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ps,
I am taking part in Anna the Book Critter’s Linkup Party with this review. Feel free to head over to her site and check it out.

When Worlds Collide (Bronson Beta #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, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: When Worlds Collide
Series: Bronson Beta #1
Authors: Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 225
Words: 83.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Sven Bronson, a Swedish astronomer working at an observatory in South Africa, discovers a pair of rogue planets, Bronson Alpha and Bronson Beta, which will soon enter the Solar System. In eight months, they will pass close enough to cause catastrophic damage to the Earth. Sixteen months later, after swinging around the Sun, Bronson Alpha (a gas giant) will return to pulverize the Earth and leave. It is hoped that Bronson Beta (discovered to be Earth-like and potentially habitable) will remain and assume a stable orbit.

Scientists led by Cole Hendron work desperately to build an atomic rocket to transport enough people, animals and equipment to Bronson Beta in an attempt to save the human race. Various countries do the same. The United States evacuates coastal regions in preparation for the first encounter. As the planets approach, observers see through their telescopes cities on Bronson Beta. Tidal waves sweep inland at a height of 750 feet (230 m), volcanic eruptions and earthquakes add to the deadly toll, and the weather runs wild for more than two days. As a token of things to come, Bronson Alpha grazes and destroys the Moon.

Three men take a floatplane to check out conditions across the United States and meet with the President in Hutchinson, Kansas, the temporary capital of the United States. It is discovered that the entire Southeast region flooded, the Great Lakes rose and emptied into the Saint Lawrence region, and Connecticut has become an island archipelago. All three are wounded fighting off a mob at their last stop, but manage to return with a precious sample of an extremely heat-resistant metal one of them had noticed. This solves the last remaining engineering obstacle, as no material had been found before to make rocket tubes capable of withstanding the heat of the atomic exhaust for very long.

Five months before the end, desperate mobs attack the camp, killing over half of Hendron’s people before they are defeated. With the rocket tube breakthrough, the survivors are able to build a second, larger ship that can carry everyone left alive (instead of only 100 of the roughly thousand people Hendron had recruited). The two American ships take off, but lose contact with each other. Other ships are seen launching from Europe; the French ship’s tubes melt, causing it to explode in the upper atmosphere. The original American ship makes a successful landing, but it is unknown if anyone else made it. The survivors find that Bronson Beta is habitable. They also find a road.

My Thoughts:

This is the 3rd “Official” time that I’ve read this book but I know I read it at least once in Bibleschool and two or three times in highschool, so we’re talking at least six times. And I realized that I enjoyed it just as much this time as I have in the past, so its rating got bumped up to 5stars.

This is completely a comfort read. It has the 1930’s American mindset, so not only is Scyenze going to save humanity, but humanity is going to save itself. And they do a fine strapping job of it, with brawn, panache and manly friendship overcoming even jealous love interests. You don’t get stuff like this anymore. I know because of the review for a book that is coming up for Wednesday :-/

Everyone involved is a paragon of virtue. Even when they struggle with wanting to do the wrong thing, they realize it is wrong and fight and overcome it. Scientists are pure of motive and have no underlying idealogy outside of Truth Seeking, just like how we want them to be even today. The men are brawnly and smart, the women kind and gentle.

The disaster is fantastic, I have to admit. When Bronson Alpha passes Earth for the first time and destroys the moon and causes complete havoc on earth, the authors do a fantastic job of describing the cataclysmic occurrences in such an understated manner that it’s not horrifying until after you’ve read it and think about what just occurred. It’s described in a macro enough scale that as long as you have a rough idea of world geography (in terms of land masses and bodies of water) then you too can join in on the horrifying fun of it all.

Of course, the absolute nonsense about Bronson Beta having a breathable atmosphere and even having cities that survived is just something you have to put up. Hence the “scyenze” tag. But it’s no more fantastic than John Carter waking up on Mars and marrying a Pod Woman Princess.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #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, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Series: Mistborn #1
Authors: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 574
Words: 214K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Three years prior to the start of the novel, a half-skaa thief named Kelsier discovered that he was Mistborn and escapes the Pits of Hathsin, a brutal prison camp of the Lord Ruler. He returned to Luthadel, the capital city of the Final Empire, where he rounded up his old thieving crew for a new job: to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing its treasury and collapsing its economy.

At the beginning of the novel, Vin, a wary and abused street urchin, is recruited by Kelsier’s crew after Kelsier is notified by his brother, Marsh, that she is a Mistborn. Vin is trained by Kelsier’s crew to develop her Allomantic powers, which include burning pewter to strengthen the body, burning tin to enhance the senses, and burning steel and iron to gain a limited form of telekinesis over metal. She is also given the duty of spying on the nobility by attending opulent balls in Luthadel (the capital and center of the final empire), where she poses as Valette Renoux, niece to Lord Renoux, a nobleman working with Kelsier’s crew. During these balls, she meets and falls in love with Elend Venture, heir to House Venture, the most powerful of the Luthadel noble houses. Elend flouts the rules of nobility culture and secretly plans to build a better society with his noble friends when they ascend to their respective house titles.

Kelsier hopes to conquer the city by destabilizing it with a house war between the nobility and then invading with a skaa army. Once in control, he hopes to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing the Lord Ruler’s hoard of atium, a precious metal which is the cornerstone of the Final Empire’s economy. The crew succeeds in starting a house war by assassinating several powerful nobles and recruiting about seven thousand soldiers to join their cause. However, about three quarters of the soldiers are slaughtered when they foolishly attack an unimportant Final Empire garrison with the hopes of divine protection from Kelsier, who has spread rumors of his “supernatural” powers. The remaining soldiers are smuggled into Luthadel by Kelsier, who intends to continue the plan. Unfortunately, Marsh is discovered and seemingly killed, and Lord Renoux and his estate are seized and he is brought to be executed by the Canton of Inquisition, the police arm of the Final Empire. This Canton is made up of Steel Inquisitors, seemingly indestructible Allomancers with steel spikes driven through their eyes. Though Kelsier’s crew manage to free most of Renoux’s group and kill an Inquisitor, Kelsier is killed by the Lord Ruler himself in a dramatic confrontation in Luthadel’s city square. Though these events appear to leave Kelsier’s plan in shambles, it is revealed that his real plan was to become a martyred symbol of hope for Luthadel’s superstitious skaa population. The skaa population reacts to his death by rising up and overthrowing the city with the help of Kelsier’s army.

Before his death, Kelsier had attempted to unlock the potential of the “Eleventh Metal” that he had acquired, which was rumored to be the Lord Ruler’s weakness. He was unable to do so before his death, and left it to Vin to finish the job. With the Eleventh Metal, Vin goes to the imperial palace to kill the Lord Ruler. She is captured by the Canton of Inquisition and left in a cell to be tortured, but Sazed, her faithful servant, comes to her rescue. Using a magical discipline called Feruchemy, he helps Vin escape and recover her possessions. Marsh is revealed to be alive, having actually been made into a Steel Inquisitor; he betrays his fellow Inquisitors and slays them. Vin fights the Lord Ruler, who is revealed to be both an incredibly powerful Allomancer and a Feruchemist, the combination of which grants him incredible healing powers and eternal youth. Vin is almost destroyed by the Lord Ruler, but with hints from the Eleventh Metal and the unexpected magical aid of the mists, she manages to separate the Lord Ruler from his Feruchemical bracelets that provide him with constant youth, causing him to age rapidly. Vin uses a spear to kill the Lord Ruler, who with his last words ominously warns her of a great doom. The Final Empire collapses, though Elend is able to avoid total societal collapse by uniting Luthadel under a new system of democratic government.

My Thoughts:

Recently I’ve been talking with other people about whether fantasy has gotten worse (in whatever form you claim is “worse”) or if there’s just more drek or if authors are pandering to the idiots or whatnot. I do think we can all agree it has gotten bigger, literally. If it ain’t a 10 volume epic of phat tomes, then the publishers will tell you to publish it yourself. Anyway, I have found myself despising the path that Brandon Sanderson has started going down. He’s writing multiple Young Adult books, comics and starting new series while ignoring older series. He’s also taken to putting his name on a cover and “co-authoring” books, which as we all know, usually means the other person did all the work and the big name is to sell the book. You might detect a hint of bitterness. If so, you are correct. When I was in my 20’s, and him too, he wrote what I wanted to read. As I’ve gotten older, his output hasn’t changed but is still geared towards a younger audience. What I wasn’t sure about was whether my memories of raving about his early works were because they were actually good, or because they hit the spot for me.

So this re-read of the original Mistborn trilogy is a test to see if Sanderson was a good author or if his recent “decline” was just in my head. Sadly, this was pure awesome sauce and made me excited to read fantasy. I say sadly because it means Sanderson has pandered to the Crowd and stopped writing good stuff.

This is not a perfect book, despite my rating and love for it. This is early Sanderson and while nothing sticks out like a broken branch, it is not completely polished. It “felt” like an early work. The chosen words didn’t flow perfectly, they didn’t have the many shades of meaning possible. It was never bad or ever wrong, it just wasn’t as good as I’ve seen him write in later books. But really, I don’t expect a highschool athlete to perform at the same level as an Olympic Champion. But once they’ve reached that level, I expect them to stay there. And while early Sanderson was great, once he got beyond that there’s just no going back.

Now, with that naysaying, this was just as good as I remember. I was excited to crack open my kindle each evening and read some more. I was even more excited when I got to the end of the book and to remember that I had TWO MORE BOOKS to read. You know something is good when you get excited about the books to come.

So to end, I had a fantastic time reading this, my faith in old Sanderson was restored and Fantasy HAS changed in the last 15 years and not for the better.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Hundred (Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars #3) ★★★★☆

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 Hundred
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars #3
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 251
Words: 109.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

THE LEGION HAS LANDED.

One hundred men met the brutal standards of General Tyrus Rechs and became legionnaires.

One hundred men embarked on a suicide mission to retake New Vega from the Savages.

One hundred men stood up… for the galaxy.

Galaxy’s Edge: The Hundred is the exciting conclusion to the Savage Wars trilogy as the Legion launches a desperate, brutal assault against the overwhelming forces of the Savage Alliance.

My Thoughts:

Out of the 250 pages, the battle was about 200 of them. So if ultra-tough space marines on steriods, ie, the Legionnaires, don’t get your motor running, this book definitely isn’t for you. In all honesty, this sub-series of the Galaxy’s Edge series isn’t for you and I’d even question if the entire GE series was for you or not. This is Mil-SF with enough Space Opera to keep it from becoming Tom Clancy Presents: Jack Ryan the 15th, In Space!

Where the previous book, Gods and Legionnaires, was divided into 2 books, one about the Savages and one about the Legionnaires, this was 90% about the 100 Legionnaires taking back the planet New Vega. The book actually starts 50-100 years after the events take place with the few surviving Legionnaires from that battle being honored. Coupled with the vague references from previous GE books, we knew that the 100 were whittled down to almost nothing before kicking the Savages off New Vega.

Even Tyrus Rechs dies. Of course, because of the magic scyenze mojo the Savages did on him when he was their prisoner, he comes back to life, but he takes a new call sign so that as far as the Legion is concerned, Rechs is dead. He set out to do what he needed to and now it is time to recover.

We’re also introduced to Aeson Ford, the guy from the first season of Galaxy’s Edge. Considering this took place 1500-2000 years before those books, I was wondering if it was the same guy. But right at the end of the book he gets drafted into some sort of Super Magic Scyenze Cryogenics program, so yep, it’s him. That was fun to see.

This was the final book in the Savage Wars sub-series and I thought that Anspach and Cole did an admirable job of relating a story that took place 2000 years before. They didn’t go overboard and try to describe every nut and bolt or color of every bird’s feather but neither were they Idea Only people like some of the old masters like Asimov or even Clarke. The blood, the grit and the determination were here in spades and I loved every second of it.

Next up for me and Galaxy’s Edge is the Order of the Centurion series. I’ll talk about exactly what they entail when I review the first book, Order of the Centurion, but it will be something a bit different as each of the 5 books in the series is mainly written by some other author while Anspach and Cole stamp their name on the book and keep control of their universe. I hope it turns out ok. Sometimes letting other authors play in your sandbox doesn’t turn out well. But for the first time in my entire life, I’m going to think positively and believe that I’m going to love Order of the Centurion as much as all the previous GE series 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.