[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 4 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 4
Series: Yotsuba&! #4
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Challenges

Yotsuba & Fishing

Yotsuba & Dinner

Yotsuba & Bloom of Youth

Yotsuba & Newspapers

Yotsuba & Tsukutsukuboshi

Yotsuba & 4-Panel Manga

My Thoughts:

Last week felt like a cheese grater on my soul kind of week. I went into the weekend with no reserves and not even the ability to process anything emotionally. I was tired and hurting. While I can’t say that reading this miraculously cured all of that, reading this was like putting balm on a hurting wound. It doesn’t heal it, but it makes it feel better and helps with the healing process.

The first chapter is called Yotsuba!& Challenges. In the picture I’ll be showing you can see a fan translated it as “Duels”. Both are correct but I have to admit, I think Duels works better. Yotsuba and her dad are playing rock paper scissors and there is a pot and a rolled up newspaper in between them. Whenever they play rock, paper, scissors, whoever wins has to grab the paper and try to hit the other over the head while the loser has to grab the pot and put it on their head as protection. Yotsuba’s dad cheats outrageously and she gives up in disgust. Then she duels her dad in badminton and eventually her dad and Jumbo duel each other in badminton (hence the racket and birdie in her pocket). It was fantastic.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 3
Series: Yotsuba&! #3
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Gifts

Yotsuba & Asagi

Yotsuba & Flowers

Yotsuba & Obon

Yotsuba & the Elephant

Yotsuba & the Fireworks Display?

Yotsuba & the Fireworks Display!

My Thoughts:

Another completely fantastic entry. I think part of why I enjoy this so much is because Azuma is writing this to amuse his readers and not really bothering with an overarching plot. I can simply put up my mental feet and just be amused with no thought process needed. While I don’t want with every book I read, a couple of times a month is just perfect.

I find it so amusing that Jumbo is using Yotsuba to try to interact with one of the neighbor girls that he’s interested in. And every time it goes wrong and yet he won’t do it himself. It is also extremely understated and doesn’t try to take over. THAT would ruin this.

Azuma simply does a great job of showing every day things, like elephants, through the eyes of a child who has never seen them before. And there is no filter. Man, I love that, it’s hilarious. I think this picture encapsulates this most thoroughly.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 2 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 2
Series: Yotsuba&! #2
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Drawing

Yotsuba & Revenge

Yotsuba & Cake

Yotsuba & Donmai

Yotsuba & the Pool

Yotsuba & the Frog

Yotsuba & Asagi’s Gifts

My Thoughts:

Ahhh, this was just what I needed. After the previous week having been such a mess, reading this Saturday morning was perfect. I laughed, I laughed and then I laughed some more. Not uproariously, not side-splittingly kind of laughing, but a continual amusement and fluffy kind of laugh.

The above picture is a chapter where Yotsuba is watching a gangster tv show with her dad and Jumbo and sees a gangster kill someone. She then proceeds to squirt gun her dad and Jumbo to death and then switches characters to hunt down the person who killed her beloved dad and friend. She goes next door and kills all of the girls next door, except for the eldest, Asagi, who ends up killing Yotsuba. The chapter ends with Yotsuba admitting to her dad and Jumbo that she failed to avenge them and died. Jumbo moralizes that nothing good ever comes from revenge.

I am finding that Azuma is able to do a ton of world building and character sketches in just a couple of panels. It is rather amazing. It gives the manga a bit of depth that makes it easier to digest. It also makes this re-read possible and future re-reads a real possibility, if not a sure thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 1
Series: Yotsuba&! #1
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 227
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Moving

Yotsuba & Manners

Yotsuba & Global Warming

Yotsuba & TV

Yotsuba & Shopping

Yotsuba & Cicadas

Yotsuba & Rain

My Thoughts:

This definitely deserves all the stars. I laughed so many times while re-reading this that it wasn’t funny (ha, get it?).

I think the following page from this volume perfectly encapsulate Yotsuba:

Read right to left

I’ll talk about specifics in later volumes but for now, I just had fun reading this. If you’ve ever wondered about picking up a manga to try, this is the one. Even an old battle hardened, warhammer40K reader like myself finds it irresistibly cute.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Little Dorrit ★★★★★

littledorrit (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: Little Dorrit
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 839
Words: 340K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The novel begins in Marseilles “thirty years ago” (c. 1826), with the notorious murderer Rigaud telling his cellmate John Baptist Cavalletto how he killed his wife. Arthur Clennam is detained in Marseilles with a group of travellers in quarantine. He meets new friends in the quarantine. He is returning to London to see his mother after 20 years in China with his father, handling that part of the family business. His father died there. On his deathbed, his father had given him a mysterious message, murmuring “Your mother,” which message and a watch Arthur mails to Mrs Clennam.

Inside the watch casing is an old silk paper with the initials DNF (do not forget) worked in beads. It is a message, but the implacable Mrs Clennam, who now uses a wheelchair, refuses to tell him what it means. The two become estranged.

In London, William Dorrit, imprisoned as a debtor, has been a resident of Marshalsea debtors’ prison for over twenty years. He has three children: Edward, Fanny and Amy. The youngest daughter, Amy, was born in the prison and is affectionately known as Little Dorrit. Their mother died when Amy was eight years old. Fanny lives outside the prison with William’s older brother, Frederick. The adult children are free to pass in and out of the prison as they please. Little Dorrit, devoted to her father, supports them both through her sewing. To the honour of her father, who is embarrassed to acknowledge his financial position, Little Dorrit avoids mentioning her work outside the prison or his inability to leave. Mr Dorrit assumes the role of Father of the Marshalsea, and is held in great respect by its inhabitants, as if he had chosen to live there.

After Arthur tells his mother that he will not continue in the family business, Mrs Clennam chooses her clerk Jeremiah Flintwinch as her partner. When Arthur learns that Mrs Clennam employs Little Dorrit as a seamstress, showing unusual kindness, he wonders whether the young girl might be connected with the mystery of the watch. Arthur follows the girl to the Marshalsea. He tries in vain to enquire about William Dorrit’s debt in the Circumlocution Office, assuming the role of benefactor towards Little Dorrit, her father, and her brother. While at the Circumlocution Office he meets the successful inventor Daniel Doyce. Doyce wants a partner and man of business at his factory and Clennam agrees to fill that role. Little Dorrit falls in love with Arthur, but Arthur fails to recognise Little Dorrit’s feelings.

Arthur is reacquainted with his former fiancée Flora Finching, the reason he was sent away to China, who is now an unattractive widow, and accompanied by the aunt of her late husband. Her father Mr Casby owns many rental properties, and his rent collector is Mr Pancks. The indefatigable Pancks discovers that William Dorrit is the lost heir to a large fortune, enabling him to pay his way out of prison, altering the status of the entire family.

The now wealthy Dorrits decide that they should tour Europe as a newly respectable rich family. They travel over the Alps and take up residence for a time in Venice, and finally in Rome, displaying pride over their new-found wealth and position, unwilling to tell their past to new friends. Little Dorrit finds it difficult to adjust to their wealth and new social position, and slowly comes to appreciate the new places and new sights. Fanny adjusts rapidly to the ways of society, and is sought by the same young man, Edmund Sparkler, who pursued her in her poverty in London, but with a new start that is acceptable to his mother. In Rome, at a party, Mr Dorrit falls ill, and dies at their lodgings. His distraught brother Frederick dies that same night. Little Dorrit, left alone, returns to London to stay with newly married Fanny and her husband, the dim-witted Edmund Sparkler.

The financial house of Merdle, Edmund Sparkler’s stepfather, ends with Merdle’s suicide; the collapse of his bank and investment businesses takes with it the savings of the Dorrits, the firm of Doyce and Clennam, Arthur Clennam, and Pancks. Clennam is now imprisoned in the Marshalsea, where he becomes ill. When Little Dorrit arrives in London, she slowly nurses him back to health.

Cavalletto finds the villain Rigaud hiding in London as Blandois, and brings him to Arthur Clennam. Held in the prison, he sends this undesirable man to his mother, who has advertised to find him. As Blandois he tries to blackmail Mrs Clennam with his full knowledge of her past. Mrs Clennam had insisted on bringing up little Arthur and denying his biological mother the right to see him. Mrs Clennam feels this is her right to punish others, because they hurt her. Arthur’s biological mother died about the same time as Arthur went off to China, but lived out of England with Flintwinch’s twin brother. Mr Clennam’s wealthy uncle, stung by remorse, had left a bequest to Arthur’s biological mother and to the youngest daughter of her patron, or if no daughter, the youngest child of his brother. The patron was Frederick Dorrit, the kind musician who had taught and befriended Arthur’s biological mother, and the beneficiary is his niece, Amy Dorrit. Blandois left a copy of the papers he obtained from Jeremiah’s brother at the Marshalsea for Little Dorrit.

Mrs Clennam knows of this inheritance and fails to tell Little Dorrit, or to tell Arthur about his biological mother. Unwilling to yield to blackmail and with some remorse, the rigid woman rises from her chair and totters out of her house to reveal the secret to Little Dorrit at the Marshalsea. Mrs Clennam begs her forgiveness, which the kind-hearted girl freely grants. Returning to home, Mrs Clennam falls in the street, never to recover the use of her speech or limbs, as the house of Clennam literally collapses before her eyes, killing Rigaud. Affery was outdoors seeking her mistress, and Jeremiah had escaped London before the collapse with as much money as he could find. Rather than hurt him, Little Dorrit chooses not to reveal any of this to Arthur; when he is well, she asks him to burn the papers.

Mr Meagles seeks the original papers, stopping to ask Miss Wade. She has them but denies it; Tattycoram slips back to London with the papers and presents them to Mr Meagles, who gives them to Little Dorrit. Mr Meagles then seeks out Arthur’s business partner Daniel Doyce from abroad. He returns a wealthy and successful man, who arranges to clear all debts for Arthur’s release. Arthur is released from the prison with his fortunes revived, his position secure with Doyce, and his health restored. Arthur and Little Dorrit marry.

Little Dorrit contains numerous sub-plots. One concerns Arthur Clennam’s friends, the kind-hearted Meagles family, who are upset when their daughter Pet marries the artist Henry Gowan, and when their servant and foster daughter Tattycoram is lured away from them to the sinister Miss Wade, an acquaintance of the criminal Rigaud. Miss Wade is ruled by her anger, and she was a jilted sweetheart of Gowan. Another subplot concerns the Italian man John Baptist Cavalletto who was the cellmate of Rigaud in Marseilles, though jailed for a minor crime. He makes his way to London, meets up by chance with Clennam, who stands security for him as he builds up his business in wood carving and gains acceptance among the residents of Bleeding Heart Yard. Cavalletto repays this aid by searching for Blandois/Rigaud when Arthur wants him found. This action brings about the revelation of the secrets kept by Mrs Clennam.

The other major subplot is the satire of British bureaucracy, named as the Circumlocution Office, where the expertise is how not to do it.

My Thoughts:

All I can say is thank goodness for wikipedia and the hardy souls who have already put up indepth synopses. I don’t know that I’d even try to do a synopsis on my own anymore for books by Dickens, as he has so many variegated plots and threads running at the same time. Daunting.

Back in ’08 when I had reviewed this for the first time, I called it the most enjoyable Dickens’ I had read to date. You know what? That statement still stands 12 years later. I’m also giving this the “Best Book of the Year” tag to remind me at years end.

There are some things that people need to know going into this. First and foremost, this is VERY florid. In fact, there is a character named Flora who Dickens writes as she speaks, ie, almost no punctuation and paragraph long sentences. It was HARD to read her stuff, as her mind went all over and Dickens gave full vent to that. I have to admit that I ended up skipping a lot of what she said. I don’t feel that I missed much by skimming. And Dickens is just wordy so it’s everywhere. Prepare yourself mentally to just drink in the words and you’ll be fine. If you go in expecting Dickens to get right to the point, you’ll be greatly disappointed.

Characters are Dickens strong point and Little Dorrit is filled to the brim with Character. This time around there aren’t any real villainous characters, it’s more about small minded things between characters. Clennam, the main character and what goes on between him and his estranged mother. Little Dorrit and how her family treats her before and after their succession to riches. Clennam and Little Dorrit, as Clennam slowly comes to realize that Little Dorrit loves him and that being 40 doesn’t mean he’s an old man ready to die. Plus lots and lots and lots and LOTS of other character interactions, all of it engrossing.

I read this while on vacation and that set the perfect pace for me. Read until I wanted to do something else, then toddle off and do that for 5-10 minutes, then come back for another hour or so. It was a low key read and and slotted perfectly into how our vacation was going. I suspect any Dickens I read during that time would have gotten the same treatment and the same praise. But still, this was a fantastic book.

★★★★★

First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera #7) ★★★★★

firstlordsfury (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: First Lord’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #7
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 758
Words: 202K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Returning from the ruined continent of Canea, Gaius Octavian, his girlfriend Kitai, the Canim warmaster Varg, and their legions find that most of the Aleran Empire has been destroyed or besieged by the insect-like Vord, a monstrous race led by a single sentient Queen that consumes everything they come across. Most of the Aleran resistance is based in the city of Riva, on the far eastern end of the continent. Octavian and his troops have landed on the northern edge and need to find a way to meet up with the other Aleran nobles in Riva. Meanwhile, Aquitainus Attis, who has been named First Lord in Octavian’s absence, has given the order to salt the earth between Riva and the Vord, slowing the insect’s approach.

After making landfall outside of the city of Antillus, Octavian begins preparations for his march to Riva. However, the Vord queen makes an appearance via watercraft projection, making essentially a hologram of herself out of every pool of water large enough to hold it, all across the continent. She states that her victory is inevitable and that she will accept any Aleran that wishes to surrender and allow them to live out the remainder of their life in peace provided they do not have any children. Octavian then uses the same watercrafting tactic to announce his arrival on the Aleran continent and give a morale boosting speech. Meanwhile, his aircrafting knights use their abilities to fly in and evacuate an occupied village from under the Queen’s nose. In retribution, the Queen kidnaps Octavian’s mother, Isana, as well as Araris Valerian, Isana’s lover and the most skilled swordsman in the realm.

To make the march across the continent, Octavian receives help from the great fury Alera and the northern icemen to coat the north in a thick layer of ice, as well as cause hurricane strength winds that constantly blow east. He has his engineers rig their ships with steel keels and support struts, so that they can sail across the ice like giant sleighs. While Octavian’s forces are on the march, Riva falls to the Queen’s onslaught. Her vast number of troops are bolstered by the feral furies of all the Alerans the Vord have slain, and Aquitainus is forced to retreat and evacuate civilians to the Calderon valley, where Bernard and Amara, Octavian’s uncle and his wife, have been fortifying the valley in preparation for the Vord. During the assault, Aquitainus makes a show of claiming new furies to bolster his power in an attempt to draw out his wife Invidia, who had betrayed Alera and joined the Vord Queen and become the Queen’s right hand. He succeeds but loses the ensuing fight, and is mortally wounded while Invidia escapes.

During Octavian’s march, one of his military advisers, Marcus, is revealed to be Fidelias, one of Octavian’s grandfather’s spies who had been a double agent for Invidia and caused a lot of deaths in previous books. Fidelias, who as Marcus had come to redeem himself somewhat, is condemned to death by Octavian. However, instead of immediate execution, Fidelias is allowed to die in Octavian’s service, as his skills are too great to waste with the Vord threat. Afterwards, Octavian’s force reaches Riva and decides to assault the Vord-occupied city. Octavian uses his strength in furycrafting to bring down the cities walls, and after the battle his firecrafters burn the Vord larders, cutting their supply lines to the Calderon valley. Octavian’s force then moves to the valley to pin the Vord force between his own legions and the valley’s defenders. While marching to the valley, the Queen herself makes an appearance and attacks Octavian’s camp. She kills many and wounds Octavian.

Meanwhile the Vord have begun to assault the valley. Invidia goes to Amara in an attempt to betray the Vord Queen, and gives Amara enemy troop compositions and the time of the next attack as proof of her intentions. Later, the remaining High Lords and Ladies gather to assault the Queen with their combined strength, using Invidia’s information. However, the Queen expected Invidia’s betrayal and prepared for it, and begins slaughtering the attackers. Invidia again turns to the Vord as the Queen forgives Invidia, but Amara manages to assassinate Invidia before she can turn on her fellow Alerans again. The Queen retreats, leading to Isana and Araris’ freedom.

Octavian’s forces have arrived at this point, and the Queen takes to the air off towards the mountains in an attempt to take control of the colossal great furies there. Octavian and Kitai pursue the Queen and duel her while she is simultaneously claiming the extraordinarily powerful furies there. Meanwhile, the defenders of the valley are fighting against the endless Vord, and slowly losing. After a protracted battle and managing to interrupt the Queen’s attempt to claim the furies, Octavian and Kitai manage to kill the Queen, causing the Vord to become feral without her guidance. The Vord break, and the survivors of the battle rejoice.

After the Vord’s defeat, Octavian becomes the First Lord of the realm and marries Kitai, while both of them as well as Octavian’s advisers begin rebuilding. The series ends with an opening for sequels, as on the continent of Canea there are several lesser Vord queens to be dealt with, as well as the consequences of some of the climate-changing furycrafting Octavian had to perform in order to defeat the primary Queen and save Alera.

My Thoughts:

Just as good as before. Which allayed my main worry that this whole series wouldn’t be as good and that I was remembering it through a lense of “good times” instead of it actually being a fantastic story. Have no fear, Bookstooge, this WAS a great story.

I also found it to be the story that made me the most emotional out of the 6 books. I do suspect that life conditions when reading this (super stress, physical stuff, etc, etc) played a very large part of that. I was needing some emotional outlet and choking up on obviously manipulative writing on Butcher’s part allowed me to get rid of some of the internal emotions without having to mentally acknowledge the basis for my even needing to vent like that. Just like opening the flood gates on a dam. Doesn’t matter if the extra water behind the dam came from a huge rainstorm, or 10,000 hoboes pissing in the lake all at once, all that mattered was opening the gate to bring the waterlevel back to normal levels. Now with that wonderful image in your minds….

I would say this was the weakest of the series. The action is hot and heavy but the lack of indepth characterization really shows. For this series, that didn’t bother me. In another series, maybe it would. Either way, it was something I noticed and it might bother others, so it is something to be aware of.

One thing that was really well done, in my opinion, was Butcher making his characters realize that their current actions would have lasting affects for the next several generations. From the death of the Fury of Alera (while she chose to give up herself to help Tavi against the vord, she still is dead as an entity), to possible alliances with the both the Canim and the Icemen (on top of the already cemented alliance with the Marat), to the future repercussions of creating storms and awakening Great Furies liked Galadros the Mountain, Butcher has enough of his characters cognizant that the world doesn’t begin and end with them. It was really a small part but it was nice to see it included.

When I read this for the first time back in ’10, I wanted more Alera, a lot more. Then when it became evident that Butcher wasn’t going to write more Alera, I was despondent. Now, at this point in life, I’m satisfied with where the series has ended and I don’t want Butcher to write any more in this world. After watching what Dresden fans are going through, I don’t want any part of that. No amount of Alera is worth that to me.

To wit, I enjoyed this book and this series, just as much as before but with this re-read am more than satisfied with how and where the series ended. Consider me a very happy customer.

★★★★★

The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time #5) ★★★★★

firesofheaven (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 Fires of Heaven
Series: The Wheel of Time #5
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 867
Words: 355K

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

In the Tower, Elaida is struggling to hold on to power, while her advisors are struggling to cope with the idea of Rand. Fain is counseling Elaida. He steals the Shadar Logoth dagger back before leaving the Tower. He gets past Alviarin only by convincingly bluffing that he stands high as a Darkfriend. Rahvin is visited by Lanfear, Sammael and Graendal. They make plans to get Rand. Morgase flees Gaebril after he shames her in front of others. She takes Lini, Tallanvor, Basel Gill and Lamgwin with her. Breane goes with Lamgwin.

In Rhuidean, Rand is living under the roof of the Maidens, the first man ever allowed there. Moiraine loads the various ter’angreal gathered in Rhuidean onto wagons. Rand discusses plans with the clan chiefs, where he learns of what is known as “the bleakness”.

Egwene and Moiraine start ganging up on him and he begins to experience Lews Therin’s memories. Moiraine finds another of the seals, which is extremely fragile. Mat picks up a Shaido woman, Melindhra, who has come to join the Maidens. Isendre irritates Aviendha and the Maidens by constantly attempting to bed Rand. Melaine decides to wed Bael, chief of her clan. Moiraine argues with the Wise Ones about Rand’s plans to take them out of the Waste.

Rand and the Aiel are attacked by Shadowspawn, including Darkhounds. Rand destroys the Darkhounds with balefire. Rand kills a Darkhound which was attacking Mat with balefire. Moiraine Heals Mat after he removes his amulet, and tells Rand balefire is dangerous. Rand agrees not to use it unless he must. The sense of trust between them breaks down so much that Moiraine swears to obey Rand and to not try to manipulate him. Rand is once more visited by Lanfear, who tells him that Rahvin has Morgase.

The Shaido leave the Waste, forcing Rand to follow. Trollocs attack again. Rand and his followers leave the Waste and see a town that has been attacked. One of the survivors says it was a message to Rand, from Couladin. They learn Couladin had been taking Wetlanders as gai’shain.

Aviendha gives Rand Laman’s sword to even out the bracelet he had previously given her. He discovers it was made with the Power, so he gives her the hilt and scabbard back, as they are jewel-encrusted and useless. As a result, she unintentionally makes a huge profit. Trollocs and Darkfriends attack again; Rand believes it is Sammael, trying to goad him, as he remembers him doing the same in the Age of Legends; Rand’s memories from the Age of Legends frighten Asmodean. Rand tells the clan chiefs he will hang anyone who murders or burns anything, even in Cairhien.

Egwene sees Elayne and Birgitte in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien tries to trap her there, but Egwene escapes. Kadere murders Isendre when she refuses to continue to try and bed Rand because of her fear of the Maidens.

Rand and the Aiel move on to Cairhien, which is under siege by the Shaido. A week away from the city, they meet lordlings from Tear that Rand had sent north, as well as Cairhienin soldiers. They tell him Couladin has the city under siege.

Rand accidentally catches Aviendha naked after taking a bath. Aiel customs in this area are considered a little odd; she flees, using the Power to Travel. Rand follows her to a winter landscape, holding her gateway open, and eventually catches up with her, finding her unconscious. He removes his clothes as well and holds her, to keep her warm. Aviendha awakens and admits her love of Rand. They consummate their relationship. The following morning, they come across a Seanchan patrol outside the gateway, which is now invisible. They shield and bind the Seanchan and head through, and as Rand lets the doorway dissolve, a spear is thrown through. He decides to keep the remaining piece of the spear.

Rand decides to attack the Shaido after coming up with a plan with the clan chiefs. Mat also comes up with the same plan after studying the map for a minute. Mat decides to leave for safety and heads south, where he sees a group of soldiers about to wander into an Aiel ambush. He goes to simply warn them, but ends up leading them throughout the battle. He also kills Couladin. Other Aiel who have not agreed to follow Rand hang back and watch.

Rand uses the One Power to influence the battle, aided by Aviendha and Egwene. Someone, presumably Sammael, tries to interfere. They eventually drive the Shaido from Cairhien, leaving Rand completely exhausted. The other Aiel, which remained apart from the Shaido, send their Wise Ones to discuss joining with Rand. Rand enters Cairhien, seeing siswai’aman for the first time. Tairen High Lords and Cairhienin Lords swear fealty to him. Weiramon arrives from Tear.

Colavaere sends young women, including Selande, to try and bed Rand. He puts a stop to it when he claims to prefer more mature women, and invites Colavaere to his chambers, where Aviendha beats her for trying to get near him. Berelain joins him in Cairhien. Moiraine brings letters from the Tower, from Elaida and Alviarin. Alviarin’s is full of flattery.

Mat hears of Morgase’s supposed death and tells Rand, who resolves to kill Rahvin. Moiraine first takes him to the docks where they meet Lanfear, who is in a rage because she has been told by Kadere that Rand has been bedding Aviendha for months. She kills Kadere, then attacks Aviendha and Egwene, who are saved by Rand. She decides to kill him when he says he will never love her. Unfortunately, he cannot bring himself to kill Lanfear. Instead, Moiraine takes Lanfear through the doorway to the realms of the Eelfinn, which melts, thus severing her bond with Lan, who is compelled to go east. Rand learns in a letter that Moiraine knew these events would take place. Mat is attacked by Melindhra, who is a Darkfriend, when he reveals he is off to Tear to lead the assault on Illian. He accidentally kills her.

That afternoon, Rand Skims to Caemlyn with Mat, Aviendha, Asmodean and a group of Aiel, but without Egwene, who is too injured. They are immediately attacked by Rahvin. Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are all killed in that first attack. Rand chases Rahvin into the World of Dreams.

Siuan, Leane and Min are arrested by Gareth Bryne after Logain burns down a barn. Leane practices her flirting on Bryne. Giving false names, they swear to work off their debt, but decide to sneak off at the first opportunity, as they never said when they would repay the debt. Logain rescues them anyway, showing concern for the man he injures in the process. Bryne follows them; he says it is because of Siuan’s eyes.

They discover the Aes Sedai opposing Elaida have gathered in Salidar. Siuan and Leane pretend to barely be able to tolerate each other and convince those in charge of who they are, and manipulate them into choosing their own Hall and Amyrlin. Siuan is allowed to run the spy network, and tells them Logain was set up by the Red Ajah. After being captured, Bryne agrees to build an army to take Tar Valon on his own terms. Siuan is set to work for him.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom and Juilin leave Tarabon to return to Tear, but come across a woman, Ronde Macura, who drugs the girls to prevent them from chaneling and ties them up. She says there is a message: “All sisters are welcome to return to the Tower. The Tower must be whole and strong”. Thom and Juilin rescue them. They realize the Tower has split and set out to find the rebels. Elayne constantly flirts with Thom. Nynaeve and Egwene discover that Elaida is Amyrlin. They meet Galad. In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene chastises Nynaeve, telling her to cover herself up.

They head into Ghealdan, where they join a traveling circus and act as performers. While travelling with the circus, they take an a’dam from a Seanchan woman. Elayne says she thinks she could make one. They meet up with the Shienarans they left in Falme.

Moghedien takes over the members of the Black Ajah who left the Tower, giving them different tasks and splitting them up.

Birgitte takes Nynaeve to spy on Moghedien and the other Forsaken in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien spots them and follows. They overcome her after Birgitte shoots her with an arrow, but Birgitte herself is severely wounded. She appears in the real world, and Elayne bonds Birgitte as a Warder to save her life.

Moghedien has one of the Black Ajah Heal her. Liandrin fails to persuade the remaining Black Ajah to gang up on Moghedien. She tries to use Compulsion on Moghedien, but she isn’t quick enough or strong enough. She fails, and Moghedien leaves her shielded in such a way that Liandrin is never likely to channel again. Moghedien uses Compulsion on her to make sure she doesn’t give up and take her own life, though. The other Black sisters are sent off with various tasks.

Elayne and Nynaeve learn that the rebels are in Salidar, and arrange with both Masema and Galad, who has joined the Whitecloaks, for a boat to take them out of Ghealdan. This results in conflict at the docks between the Prophet’s mobs and Whitecloaks. The girls flee to Salidar with Uno and the Shienarans. They are also accompanied by three women: Moghedien, posing as Marigan, Nicola and Areina. Min tells Elayne she loves Rand. The leaders in Salidar decide to talk to Moiraine through Egwene and the Wise Ones. Siuan also forces Nynaeve to teach her about the World of Dreams. Nynaeve makes Siuan agree to let her study being stilled.

Moghedien almost captures Nynaeve in the World of Dreams, but Nynaeve tricks her and captures her with an a’dam. Nynaeve makes her take them to Caemlyn, to try and help Rand. She sees Rahvin and encases him in a sheet of fire, almost killing him, before Rand does kill him with balefire. Nynaeve tells Moghedien she knows where she is and that she’s coming to get her.

Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are alive again because Rahvin was killed with balefire, but Asmodean is killed for good a short while later. Rand meets Davram Bashere, who had been hunting Mazrim Taim. Rand tells him Taim is off limits and that there is an amnesty for men who want to channel.

My Thoughts:

Whooooowheeeeee! Holy Shazboticon Batman! This was feth’ing, frak’ing, frel’ing awesome (if any of you happen to know any more sf/tv show alternate words, leave a comment please. I’m always willing to expand my fake vocabulary).

This is where the cast of characters begins to get so big that the book doesn’t contain everyone. There is NO Perrin. I didn’t particularly care, but with the addition of the Queen in Exile Morgase and her small band, it just became obvious that things were bloating up. A character like Morgase should not have pushed out someone like Perrin. The fact that she does nothing but escape the Forsaken enthralling her doesn’t help any. Yes, it adds a reason for Rand to attack, but that could have been accomplished without adding her and her retinue with their very own POV chapters. They weren’t bad, just seemed unnecessary, that is all. And that is about all the bad stuff I have to say.

When I read this back in ’11, I noted how angry everyone was. This time around, it became apparent to me that there was a lot of growing out of that anger for several of the characters. Elayne, Aviendha and Egwene all show definite signs of growing up and maturity. It was great to see. Nynaeve, on the other hand, seems to double down on the angry schtick and her being contrasted to the other woman shows her to a great disadvantage in that regards. Of course, Jordan does use that to show a bunch of inner stuff going in Nynaeve, so even she isn’t the hateful harpy I thought of her as back in ’11. Still don’t like her this time around though. Understanding is very different from liking.

Where Perrin was the side character who did a lot of growth in the previous book, Matt gets his chance here. Of course, it isn’t until near the end and isn’t nearly as a big a section as Perrin had but it is there. He’s pretty much told to just grow up and stop fighting his fate. Rand also tightens the reins once he really realizes what a treasure trove of military knowledge is in Matt’s head. Even Matt begins to accept that he has to grow up when he can’t seem to escape fighting battles and winning them, even if against his will.

The big boss battle at the end is just as awesome as before. I’d forgotten how big a part Nynaeve played in determining the outcome of that. While I remembered Moraine’s fate, I hadn’t remembered that she’d taken one of the Forsaken with her. So many details that make these stories so good. While not quite like reading a completely new book, there were enough gaps that I never felt “been there, done that”. Jordan can write and I really like what I’m reading.

With what happens to Moraine in this book, it seems proper that the next Wheel of Time book will be the prequel New Spring.

On a closing note, I’d just like to point out how boring, blasé, uninteresting, uninformative and generally pathetic these recently released ebook covers are. I’ve been using the old covers but wanted at least one example so the future me could see what kind of crap the publishers pull. I’ve heard theories that the publishers did this so as not to interfere with the possible visuals from the upcoming Wheel of Time tv show from Amazon. Of course, that means when the tv show does release and if it isn’t a hot mess of a flopping bomb, that we’ll be getting movie actor covers. Oh Lord, preserve us from such an awful fate. I preemptively SMITE those covers!

★★★★★

David Copperfield ★★★★★

davidcopperfield (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: David Copperfield
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 853
Words: 357.5K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story follows the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, England, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his loving, childish mother and their kindly housekeeper, Clara Peggotty. They call him Davy. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. To get him out of the way, David is sent to lodge with Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth. Her brother, fisherman Mr Peggotty, lives in a beached barge, with his adopted relatives Emily and Ham, and an elderly widow, Mrs Gummidge. “Little Em’ly” is somewhat spoiled by her fond foster father, and David is in love with her. They call him Master Copperfield.

On his return, David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather, who believes exclusively in firmness, and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Between them they tyrannize his poor mother, making her and David’s lives miserable, and when, in consequence, David falls behind in his studies, Murdstone attempts to thrash him – partly to further pain his mother. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to Salem House, a boarding school, under a ruthless headmaster named Mr Creakle. There he befriends an older boy, James Steerforth, and Tommy Traddles. He develops an impassioned admiration for Steerforth, perceiving him as someone noble, who could do great things if he would, and one who pays attention to him.

David goes home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries the local carrier, Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. David’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is arrested for debt and sent to the King’s Bench Prison, where he remains for several months, before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away, with Micawber advising him to head to Dover, to find his only known remaining relative, his eccentric and kind-hearted great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She had come to Blunderstone at his birth, only to depart in ire upon learning that he was not a girl. However, she takes pity on him and agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone’s attempt to regain custody of David, on condition that he always try to ‘be as like his sister, Betsey Trotwood’ as he can be, meaning that he is to endeavour to emulate the prospective namesake she was disappointed not to have. David’s great-aunt renames him “Trotwood Copperfield” and addresses him as “Trot”, one of several names David is called by in the novel.

David’s aunt sends him to a better school than the last he attended. It is run by Dr Strong, whose methods inculcate honour and self-reliance in his pupils. During term, David lodges with the lawyer Mr Wickfield, and his daughter Agnes, who becomes David’s friend and confidante. Wickfield’s clerk, Uriah Heep, also lives at the house.

By devious means, Uriah Heep gradually gains a complete ascendancy over the aging and alcoholic Wickfield, to Agnes’s great sorrow. Heep hopes, and maliciously confides to David, that he aspires to marry Agnes. Ultimately with the aid of Micawber, who has been employed by Heep as a secretary, his fraudulent behaviour is revealed. At the end of the book, David encounters him in prison, convicted of attempting to defraud the Bank of England.

After completing school, David apprentices to be a proctor. During this time, due to Heep’s fraudulent activities, his aunt’s fortune has diminished. David toils to make a living. He works mornings and evenings for his former teacher Doctor Strong as a secretary, and also starts to learn shorthand, with the help of his old school-friend Traddles, upon completion reporting parliamentary debate for a newspaper. With considerable moral support from Agnes and his own great diligence and hard work, David ultimately finds fame and fortune as an author, writing fiction.

David’s romantic but self-serving school friend, Steerforth, also re-acquaints himself with David, but then goes on to seduce and dishonour Emily, offering to marry her off to his manservant Littimer before deserting her in Europe. Her uncle Mr Peggotty manages to find her with the help of Martha, who had grown up in their part of England, and then settled in London. Ham, who had been engaged to marry Emily before the tragedy, dies in a fierce storm off the coast in attempting to succour a ship. Steerforth was aboard the ship and also died. Mr Peggotty takes Emily to a new life in Australia, accompanied by Mrs Gummidge and the Micawbers, where all eventually find security and happiness.

David, meanwhile, has fallen completely in love with Dora Spenlow, and then marries her. Their marriage proves troublesome for David in the sense of everyday practical affairs, but he never stops loving her. Dora dies early in their marriage after a miscarriage. After Dora’s death, Agnes encourages David to return to normal life and his profession of writing. While living in Switzerland to dispel his grief over so many losses, David realises that he loves Agnes. Upon returning to England, after a failed attempt to conceal his feelings, David finds that Agnes loves him too. They quickly marry and in this marriage, he finds true happiness. David and Agnes then have at least five children, including a daughter named after his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood.

 

My Thoughts:

I don’t know how to write this review without resorting to manly beating of my chest and loud hollering of execrations against my enemies in jubilation of their downfall.

Dickens’ strength is in his characters. This book showcases some of his best characters in my opinion. From the titular character of David Copperfield to the child wife Dora to the competent Agnes to the never quite his fault Mr Micawber to the sniveling Uria Heep to the selfishly evil Steersforth. Dickens makes every single one of them a real person that you can think is real.

I also appreciated that Copperfield wasn’t a golden boy. He had a hard life and had some pretty bad things happen to him. But it made the happy ending all the sweeter. I NEED the majority of my books to have happy endings of one sort or another. Or at least the chance for a happy ending. I think that is what I like so much about Dickens’ writing. He knows that people need a happy ending in their stories and he’s not afraid to give it to them.

Dickens also isn’t afraid to face the very nature of human nature. He realizes some people are just downright evil and he writes his characters that way. He doesn’t make excuses for people like Uriah Heep or Steersforth, he simply portrays them as they are. While evil can be abstract in ideas and philosophies, it can also be personified in a character.

And that turns out to be all I have to say. I’ve been staring at the screen for almost 30 minutes and nothing else comes to mind. While I enjoyed Dickens earlier in life, I have never enjoyed him more than now. This only excites me about reading him again in another 10-15 years!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Jupiter War (Owner Sequence #3) ★★★★★

jupiterwarThis 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: Jupiter War
Series: Owner Sequence #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Words: 139.5K

 

Synopsis:

Saul continues to upgrade the Argus station into an interstellar spaceship. He must deal with his sister who is jealous of Saul’s abilities but won’t admit it to herself, other scientists on board who have come to consider him near-omniscient to former Committee members who want to displace Saul and take over the ship and “be free”. While all of this internal conflict is happening, Saul must also deal with the continued threat presented by Serene Gallahad and her drive to recover the Gene Bank from him to restore the biosphere of Earth. This results in a battle out by Jupiter where Saul ends up destroying the two Committee ships but almost being destroyed in the process.

Gallahad continues to tighten her control of Earth and has become more powerful than ever. Unfortunately for her, several rogue elements working in tandem destroy her powerbase and leave her vulnerable. Her own bodyguard kills her and the lower level Committee members end up all working against each other, thus delaying Earth’s return to space for almost a century. This enables Saul to complete his upgrades and leave the Solar System.

 

My Thoughts:

I have enjoyed this re-read of the Owner Sequence so much more this time around than I did back in ’11-’13. I think a big part is that back then I was expecting it to be more tightly tied to Asher’s Polity universe and so my expectations were a bit different. Now that I know this isn’t another Polity spinoff, I can appreciate it for itself. It excels as an origin story for the Owner.

As my 5stars should indicate, I had a great time reading this. I’ve been trying to think how to adequately describe the action here. It still gets the ultra-violent tag but at the same time it wasn’t frenzied and frenetic. I never felt like I had run out of breath after the battles like I do in some books. That’s not a bad thing at all, mind you, just a quirk that stuck out to me.

The Proctors, the nigh-indestructable helpers of Saul, provide a sounding board for Saul to bounce ideas about human nature and freedom off of. While I wish they had been used more as ultimate Killing Machines, I can understand why Asher wrote them the way he did. They are supposed to help keep Saul from losing all touch with what’s left of his own humanity.

I know that Asher has written another Polity trilogy recently, which I plan on reading next (Rise of the Jain) but after re-reading this, I wouldn’t mind at all if he decided to write another Owner trilogy. I’d be even happier if he just wrote a book of short stories exclusively about the Owner and various adventures he has throughout space.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera #5) ★★★★★

princepsfury (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: Princeps’ Fury
Series: Codex Alera #5
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 350
Words: 153.5K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com & Me

The book begins with Octavian negotiating with Captain Demos of the trading vessel called the Slive, to book passage for Octavian and his contingent to cross the sea and reach the Canean homeland with Varg. Meanwhile in Alera, Crown cursor Ehren reports to Gaius about the Vord having entered Alera and learnt how to furycraft.[2]

Octavian and the Canean survivors face several storms as they make their way for the Canim continent. Octavian learns more about the Canean civilization, which has several tribes with populations in the millions and also learns the Canim tongue as they prepare to disembark. Amara and Count Bernand are helping improve the defensive structures around Calderon Valley, in anticipation of a future Vord assault. However, they are summoned to an Imperial Council by Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, for an urgent mission against the Vord.

Gaius Sextus informs the Council of the threat of the Vord, which was slowly expanding from the Kalare wasteland. The Vord had overwhelmed four Imperial legions, leaving no survivors and the croach[check spelling] was expanding through Alera at an increasing rate. More than one hundred thousand Aleran freeholders and citizens had been killed in less than a month. Gaius requests all the High Lords of Alera to unite their strength and muster all the legions that they could, so that they could force a big battle against the Vord. Gaius appoints High Lord Aquitaine as the captain of the military campaign. The First Lord also meets Countess Amara and Count Bernard and requests them to go behind the Vord enemy lines on a mission to find out how the Vord are using furycrafting when they had been unable to do so.

Amara and Bernard find out that one of the High Lady’s has been taken by the Vord Queen and that Brencis Kalarus is using his father’s slave collars on Citizens to make them fight for the Vord. They take out Brencis and without him and his knowledge, the Vord Queen loses the ability to collar any more Citizens.

Tavi formulates a plan to take down a Vord Queen in Cania, thus allowing the surviving Canim to escape to Alera to regroup and plan how to take back their homeland. His plan fails but Kitai and Varg’s backup plan works perfectly. Everyone escapes on giant ships sculpted from icebergs.

Isana is sent north to the Shield Wall to broker a piece with the Icemen so the Legions guarding the Wall can march South and bolster those fighting the Vord. She realizes the Icemen are empathetic crafters and that the whole war has been a gigantic misunderstanding. She challenges the Lord of the Legions to Juris Macti to force him to march South. She loses but her standing up to him makes him realize the truth of her position.

The Vord overwhelm the Capital City and Gaius destroys the city and all the surrounding Vord to give the rest of the people a chance to formulate a way to fight back against the Vord.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, this review is where I start using the Calibre Page AND Word count to get my numbers. So while the paperback actually has close to 700 pages, based on characters per page, it is “only” 350. Which is why I want to include word count, to give a better data estimate between. Ok, enough of the nerdy stats/data talk.

Man, what do I say? I loved this book and this series? Tavi is the best hero and everything a proper Hero should be? This is a book of Ideals triumphing over petty base human’ness even while humanity reels from blow after blow from the Vord? You can almost hear the Capital Letters when ideals are discussed or even just acted out? In short, this is exactly my kind of book.

Self-pitying fools and dunces these characters are not. They have no time or place for pseudo-philosophizing while calling good evil and evil good. They have too much to do to drag the reader down into the cesspit of a self-loathing mind. They don’t hate themselves or the world they live in. They love life and it shows in every action they take.

There is no despair.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)