The Lizard Man (Shaman King #3) ★★★★☆ (Manga Monday)

lizardman (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 Lizard Man
Series: Shaman King #3
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Wooden Sword Ryu and gang continue to look for their happy place. They find an abandoned bowling alley where Ryu sees Anna and falls in love. When he finds out she is Yoh’s fiance, everything comes crashing down for him as Yoh was the one who cut off Ryu’s pompadour AND broke his sword. This leaves Ryu open to be possessed by a bandit ghost that Amidamaru killed 600 years ago.

After lots of blathering, Yoh lets the ghost, one Tokagero, possess him to see what trust is all about. Tokagero has a change of heart and lets Ryu go. Ryu and gang clean up the inn where Yoh is staying as payment and Ryu’s latent shaman powers are released. Unfortunately, without a spirit OR a trainer, he’s left on his own. He asks the stars for a sign and a comet suddenly appears blazing across the sky.

The comet is one of a pair that herald the start of the fight for the title of Shaman King. We get a shot across the world of various shamans gazing at the comet and the book ends with Ren Tao claiming that he will be the Shaman King no matter what.

 

My Thoughts:

This volume relied almost completely on the Friendship trope in manga. Yoh and Amidamaru are as strong as they are because of their friends and even Ryu has friends to help him out. Once the nasty bad Tokagero realizes just how lonely he was, suddenly he’s alright once someone shows him some friendship. In one sense it was eye-rollingly corny but at the same time you can see the truth behind the trope. Friendships have allowed people throughout history to go beyond themselves and to do things they didn’t think they could. The flipside to that is that no one can hurt you more than a friend can.

Ryu moves up from a bit character to someone with shaman capabilities which means he is now part of The Team. It is fun to watch as people move into Yoh’s orbit without him even trying.

I also have to say that after reading this volume and still enjoying it so much that I’m going to be reading a volume every week and putting out a Manga Monday post each week for at least this month. Just so you know so you can avoid them or pay particular attention, depending on which way your interests lay.

Finally, that cover. That is just plain ridiculous and yet it captures the essence of the story told. Ridiculous AND funny at the same time.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Pickwick Papers ★★★★★★

pickwickpapers (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 Pickwick Papers
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 6 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 943
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Samuel Pickwick, gentleman bachelor and amateur scientist, has formed a small group of like minded men and they all decide to go exploring the Countryside of England to expand their knowledge of their Great Country.

As such, the 4 Gentlemen, Mr Pickwick, Mr Snodgrass, Mr Tuddle and Mr Tuppman, set out to see what they can see. Along the way Mr Pickwick picks up a servant by the name of Sam Weller, the company meets an honorable countryman by the name of Mr Wardle, the 2 younger gentlemen of the group fall in love and marry the niece and daughter of Mr Wardle, Mr Tuppman is disappointed in love with Mr Wardle’s spinster sister Miss Rachel. Mr Pickwick becomes embroiled in breach of promise suit with his landlady due to the machinations of the dastardly duo Dodson & Fogg, attorneys at law and ends up spending 3 months in debtors’ prison for refusing to pay the fine, as it would all go to the lawyers instead of the landlady. Pickwick and Weller have multiple runins with their lowclass counterparts, Jingle and Trotter and are made fools of several times over. Sam Weller’s father comes into the story with his own adventures of his second wife, a widow who owns a tavern and is a strict adherent to the sect of Preacher Stiggleton, who preaches teetotally while cooling drinking pineapple rum punch by the hogshead.

These are but a part of the adventures the Pickwick Club has over the course of 2 years and at the end of the book everything turns out for the best. Marriages and children abound, bad characters reform, love and generosity overcome all hardships and obstacles and Mr Pickwick retires to a city house with Sam and his wife Mary to keep him in order.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, yes, I did give this 6 stars. I know circumstances played a part, ie, several dnf’s had my reading expectations abysmally low. But even without that, this was just a fantastic book.

It started a little rough and in a rather formal vein but that was for the first chapter only. Then it turned into Dickens’ more relatable style. I’m a Dickens’ fan through and through.

This was an interesting little plot-less book. I say little because even though the “official” page count is over 900 pages, when I used Calibre’s page count plugin, this was barely over 600 pages. I suspect the pictures and chapters each had their own breaks which artificially inflated the page count.

I think humor was the most prevalent of the emotions that Dickens was trying to call forth and my goodness, he did a grand job. Sam Weller, Pickwick’s man servant was a font of pugnacious, pugalistic one liners and retorts that had me in stitches. He was also a bit more knowledgeable about the world at large than his master and thus was able to guide him safely through some troubled waters.

Romance, pathos, politics, social justice’ing of the day (Dickens was dead set against the whole idea of Debtors Prison. But to be fair, he actually had solid reasons, not just vapid, idiotic, baseless, pointless and generally useless ideas like the sjw’s of today), hijinks and lots and lots of drinking.

Through it all, Pickwick navigates the adventures as best he can and we can cheer him on, groan with him, laugh with him (and Sam Weller) and generally love every second spent reading this book. I’m also giving this the Best Book of the Year tag.

★★★★★★

 

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The Inimitable Jeeves (The Jeeves Omnibus #1.3) ★★★★☆

inimitablejeeves (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 Inimitable Jeeves
Series: The Jeeves Omnibus #1.3
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 237
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of stories about Jeeves and Bertie that center mainly around Bertie’s friend Bingo Little and his constantly falling in love and with Bertie’s two younger cousins who are identical twins.

Through it all Jeeves must put up with Bertie’s poor sartorial choices.

 

My Thoughts:

Chronologically, and in order of publication too I believe, this was the first Jeeves & Wooster book. I found the short story format much easier to deal with than the longer novel length. Also, while Wodehouse’s writing wasn’t quite as polished, I enjoyed Bertie more as a person, as he wasn’t always shortening things to their initials. This was Bertie in the raw and I enjoyed it.

Bertie’s cousins, who’s names I can’t even remember, are young scaliwags who end up getting kicked out of college and sent off to South Africa to serve in the British Government there. The hopes being that responsibility will straighten them out. This is all Aunt Agatha’s doing, as is much in this book. We learn, through one sentence, that Bertie’s parents are dead and he is immensely independently wealthy, which makes Aunt Agatha’s power over him all the more puzzling.

Then you have Bingo Little. My goodness, that man was falling in love and having problems in every story. In one story he fell in love with a communist for goodness sake! He does finally get hitched in the end. Bertie’s aversion to marriage is made plain throughout these stories and along with Aunt Agatha, is a building block of the whole series.

Jeeves plays a very small part in all of this. He’s simply the deux ex machina that solves things, except when Bertie refuses to listen to him in regards to style and fashion. But once Bertie relents, Jeeves simply solves everything. I’m not sure if it is amazing or just how pathetic everyone else is.

In any case, I found this very amusing and liked the short story aspect much more to my taste. I remain confused about the order of the books, as there seems to be no rhyme or reason to why they are so mixed up.

★★★★☆

 

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Critical Failures (Caverns & Creatures #1) ★★☆☆☆

criticalfailures (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: Critical Failures
Series: Caverns & Creatures #1
Author: Robert Bevan
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 284
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A group of RPG gamers have put an ad out to a Cavern Master, as none of them want to do the hard work. A man shows up at the Chicken Shack, in cape and with all the other accoutrements a Cavern Master could need.

These gamers are jackasses. So they hassle the guy for wearing a cape and take their game playing very casually. This enrages the Cavern Master and has each of the players roll his special dice. This transports them into the game as their characters. The Cavern Master is interrupted by the sister of one of the players and her boyfriend. They too are transported into the game.

Shit happens and the gang gets separated, some in jail, some in the forest, more hijinks, mixups, etc. They all eventually get together, find out that the Cavern Master has done this to other people and trick him into a situation where he has to release them or die. Unfortunately for them, he dies and they’re stuck in the game world with no way to get out.

The end.

 

My Thoughts:

Swords and Spectres has been reviewing this series and I thought I’d try it. He did warn me about the profanity and folks, he was NOT kidding. These are 20 something losers with the accompanying attitude. Self-absorbed, filthy mouthed, caring about no one or anything but themselves. I was actually rather glad that they got theirs by being pushed into the game. Unfortunately, they are just as horrible in game as they are out of the game.

The humor was right up my alley and I kept snorting and laughing out loud but honestly, it was wicked crass and relied on a juvenile humor about death and body functions.

Even with that, I’l be reading the next book. However, since I’m pretty sure it is just more of the same, I expect to stop the series then.

★★☆☆☆

 

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Code of the Woosters (The Jeeves Omnibus #1.2) ★★★☆½

codeofthewoosters (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: Code of the Woosters
Series: The Jeeves Omnibus #1.2
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 263
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bertie Wooster is bamboozled into helping out various friends and relatives as they try to get what they want, whether it be a wife, a husband, a policeman’s helmet, a diary, a superb chef or even a silver cow creamer, Bertie is at his best, messing everything up. Since he has ignored Jeeves’ recommendation to take a world tour on a cruise ship, Jeeves is less than completely helpful.

But in the end Jeeves doesn’t let his master down and everything works out ok for everyone except for the Justice of the Peace who once fined Bertie Wooster 5 pounds. Imagine the gall!

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this but it was just a touch too long. If Wodehouse had knocked it back to 200 pages, the humor would have been more palatable. I mean, after a point rich people having problems like not being able to keep their cook just isn’t funny when you’re dealing with 8 other rich people, almost all of whom are so stupid it is surprising they haven’t walked in front of a bus yet, all dealing with similar “problems”. It starts out funny but like a fish, starts to smell after a while.

That being said, up until the 75% mark, there were quite a few instances where I was just chortling to myself at the pure outrageousness of the happenings. I mean, Bertie is such a good hearted idiot that you want him to succeed even while knowing he’s an idiot and is going to flub things up.

I only gave this 3stars back in ’02 even while my review from then leads me to believe I found it funnier back then than this time around. However, I wasn’t actually using a 5star system (that started in ’07 or ’09 with my time at Goodreads) but retconn’ed all my books into the 5star system. I was using some vague and completely subjective 100 point system based on my highschool grading system. Man, how the times they have a’changed!

Despite all my complaining, I did enjoy this quite a bit and laughed out loud enough times so that Mrs B stopped asking me what I was laughing about. I think that says just how good this book actually was.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Thor: Ragnarok (Movie)

thorragnorakThe only reason I watched this movie was to see Thor and Hulk either fight against each other or with each other. That is it. I found both previous Thor movies to be unenjoyable borefests.

Part of that is that I never enjoyed Thor as a comic book character, so translating him to the big screen doesn’t make me feel all squirmy and wriggly inside.  The other reason is that I don’t like Natalie Portman, and it really isn’t even her fault. When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I had been waiting for a new Star Wars movie since I could remember and I got The Phantom Menace. I wasn’t immediately devastated, but the scarring process had begun and Amidala was the face of the The Phantom Menace as far as I was concerned. It also didn’t help that her character in the previous Thor movies I recollect as the girly girly slap slap variety. So it helped that she wasn’t in this one and the Hulk was. Hulk good, Jane bad!

*********************

Ok, I wrote the previous before watching the movie. I just finished. Holy smokes, I had SO MUCH FUN watching this movie.

I found the humor right down my alley. Physical humor interspersed with lowbrow banter. There were several times that I just laughed out loud. Not a slight chuckle, mind you, but a full laugh that lasted for at least 5seconds.  There was nothing serious about this movie and I’m glad they didn’t try to simply put in spots of humor while making it a grim movie. This was pure comic book and I loved it.

The fighting exceeded my expectations as well. The fight between Thor and Hulk in the arena was great. Wreaking half the arena showed just how powerful both of them were. The big fight scene at the end where Thor goes full on Thunder God was pure awesomesauce. I’m just kind of sad that it took until the end of the 3rd movie to get to that point. But I’m satisfied now that we got there.

I liked the characters as well. Jeff Goldblum was as weird as ever, Hemsworth and Hiddle WERE Thor and Loki and Cate Blanchett as Hela? Yeah, now there’s an evil elf queen for you! Miss Valkyrie lady seemed like the token tough girl but she was head and shoulders above “Jane” in terms of enjoyment. Finally, Hulk. I didn’t like that he talked so much. I know in the comic books he goes through various levels of toughness and braininess, but in this movie, there was no explanation for how he turned into a veritable fount of verbosity. But him fighting things made up for it.

To end, I enjoyed this so much that I’m going to be watching the previous 2 Thor movies again to see if my initial feelings were off or what. This movie didn’t make me a fan of the whole franchise, but it sure made me want to watch any future Thor movies (who knows how many more Thor movies there will be, if any though).

 

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The Devil in Miss Urd (Oh My Goddess! #11) ★★☆☆☆ (Manga Monday)

devilinmissurd (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 Devil in Miss Urd
Series: Oh My Goddess! #11
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Kei, Bell and the gang all “win” a trip to a hotsprings. There, they run across Mara and they all decide to call a truce while on vacation. Of course, it is all a ruse by Mara to gain a strand of Urd’s hair, which she uses to make a clone of Urd. The clone is empty and needs a soul.

Mara kidnapps Urd and using junkstore equipment, separates her goddess half from her demon half. The demon half Mara sends into the clone and lets it loose. Belldandy realizes what is going on and knows that if one half of Urd’s soul perishes, the other will as well. So they can’t destroy Demon Urd, just try to subdue her. Goddess Urd gets free and with the help of Belldandy and Skuld, Urd is put back together again. Of course, there is an empty “Urd skin” lying around.

The book ends with a one shot story of Banpei the robot putting on the Urd skin and going around helping people.

 

My Thoughts:

This was amusing. Convoluted, silly and not well thought out, but amusing nonetheless.

I think my biggest problem with this series is that I constantly see the manga-ka undercutting himself in the longterm to get what he wants in the short term. Take Urd. She’s supposedly half-goddess and half-demon. Gods and Demons are supposedly the antithesis of each other, so how did she come about? And then it is revealed that even the Almighty couldn’t separate Urd’s two natures but we’re supposed to believe that imbecilic Mara can do it? It is just too evident that Fujishima is making things up as he goes and the inconsistancies are glaring.

Going to be talking to myself for a minute, so bear with it. This series is making me not want to read manga at all. I dread having to read this because it is so blah and this re-read has destroyed all my good memories of what I read before. The romance and humor that appealed to me when I was 24 has not matured along with me. I’ve outgrown this and cannot overlook the faults. And yet I paid for the whole 48 volumes. I feel like I’ve got a ball and chain wrapped around my neck and I’ve been tossed off the dock.

And when I put it as bluntly as that, I realize something. I don’t like this manga anymore and while I spent some good money on it, spending TIME on it will not justify the money. I need to cut my losses and just let it go. I am done with this series. Hopefully I can at least sell it on Craigslist and not lose all my money.

I think this final picture is appropriate. Goodbye Oh My Goddess! Only the anime ova shall live on in my memory. This manga has punished me enough.

domg1_15

Sweet Belldandy. It wasn’t only Kei who was in love with you back then

★★☆☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)