Labyrinth of Reflections ★★★☆☆

labyrinthofreflections (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: Labyrinth of Reflections
Series: ———-
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 271
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A Diver, a person who can exit the Deep at will, is caught up in something much bigger than he can imagine. It starts with him stealing the information for a new “cure for the common cold”, which leads to a job offer by the company he stole it from. He is then kidnapped and given the same job offer by a mysterious Man without a Face. This job? To go to the 33rd level of a first person shooter game and rescue a user who has somehow become stuck and who the company hired Divers can’t rescue.

The Diver has adventures, finds the love of his life in a virtual brothel and rescues the stranded user, only to find that the User isn’t a human. He might be an alien, a human from the future, a human from a parallel universe or a newly emerged computer mind. Nobody knows but they all want a piece of the action.

Leonid, the Diver, takes the rescuee to a safe place and allows him to make his own choice. In the process. Leonid is attacked by all the forces the Deep can muster as well as by the creator of the Deep itself. With the help of the rescuee, Leonid fights them all off and somehow gains the ability to connect to the Deep without a modem (hahahahahahaa). The visitor leaves and Leonid leaves the Deep and decides to meet his virtual love in real life.

 

My Thoughts:

This was originally written in ’96 or ’98 I believe and my goodness, does it show. Lukyanenko waxes eloquent about the tech of the day and it isn’t pretty. Pentium computers, MEGS of ram, 28800 modems, Doom. Then he mixes it with non-existing tech like full virtual reality body suits and the Deep, which works on the unconscious as a way to get around the horrible graphics of the day. It was such a mish-mash that it kept throwing me out of the story. You just can’t DO the things he writes about on a 28.8K phone line.

This was pre-Matrix and the ideas are pretty cool, when Lukyanenko isn’t waxing full on melancholic Russian that is. That gets old really fast. And I mean, really, really fast.

This felt more like a book where Lukyanenko was writing out his ideas of what it means to be human (while denying God and Communism in the same breath) and it felt rather sophomoric. At the same time, several of the ideas here were carried over almost wholesale into his Nightwatch series.

Overall, I don’t feel like this was a waste of my time but I certainly wouldn’t want to introduce anyone to Lukyanenko’s writings with this book. I’d definitely steer them towards the Nightwatch.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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The Algorithm of Power ★☆☆☆☆

algorithmofpower (Custom).jpgThis 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 Algorithm of Power
Author: Pedro Barrento
Translator: Craig Patterson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 701
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

In 2061, the world decides to be run by a computer program instead of governments and to divide the world up into 100 regions where various ideologies, religions, philosophies and whatever can have their own little place without needing to elect anyone or be in contact with anyone who disagrees with them.

One storyline, in 2300, follows a young woman who leaves her region after her sister’s death and in the new region comes across a young man who has unfettered access to the network. She falls in love with another man and through machinations, ends up on a boat with both men heading for this Control Center.

The second storyline is about the rise of the Network and how the world we are introduced to in the beginning of the book came about.

 

My Thoughts:

Pig Ignorant Eurosnobbery.

North Korea, China, the US Army, they’re not all going to just sit back and let something like this happen. A lot of individuals wouldn’t just sit back and let this happen either.

And the passive energy field that separate the regions? Beyond handwavium, their application is completely ignored. That kind of tech would have gone into somebody’s military and then gone to the world’s militaries. World War III was much more likely of an outcome than what is shown.

Don’t even get me started on the lack of Religious intelligence here. This author obviously doesn’t understand ANY religion. I know that Christians wouldn’t accept being corraled into one little part of the planet. The whole point of Christianity isn’t to live with people you agree with, but to spread what you believe to others. You can’t do that, there is no point in being a Christian. Then the muslims and their jihads? You think they’re just going to lie down? Ahhh, the lack of understanding in this book was appalling.

I also didn’t like a single character.

The writing. I’ve got conflicting data here. Antao, in his review, states that this was originally in English. The kindle edition I got states:

Translation: Craig Patterson

So, was that translation of certain phrases in the book, translation from English to Portuguese or from Portuguese to English. Mr Barrento lives in Portugal, so I wouldn’t think he would need help translating his book to that language? I couldn’t find which language this was written in first, nor did I look that hard. Not worth it.

Either way, no matter, the writing was choppy, didn’t flow and kept me at arms length. I always felt narrated AT while reading this book and that was off putting.

I doubt I’ll ever come across another book by this author, but if I some how do, I certainly won’t be reading it.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge

 

 

Spring Snow (Sea of Fertility #1) ★★☆☆☆

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Spring Snow
Series: Sea of Fertility #1
Author: Yukio Mishima
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Japanese Lit
Pages: 399
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Kiyoaki, son of a wealthy samurai family, has been raised in the Ayakura household. The Ayakuras are an ancient royal family and the Matsugae’s hope that some of the Ayakura’s polish will rub off on Kiyoaki.

The Ayakura’s have a daughter who is in love with Kiyoaki. However, Kiyoaki is the forerunner of the emo-goths and so self-absorbed that he ignores or repels anything having to do with anyone else. He rejects Satoko’s love and she is then affianced to a direct descendant of the Emperor.

Kiyoaki loses it, starts a torrid affair with Satoko without thinking about any of the consequences. Satoko becomes pregnant, is forced to abort the baby and in response joins a nunnery. Kiyoaki refuses to believe that Satoko would spurn him and in the process of trying to get her attention, catches pneunomia and dies.

 

My Thoughts:

Ugh. And that pretty much sums up every single feeling I had about this book. It was “Literature” with a Capital L.

It was beautifully written and the translator did a fantastic job of keeping that beauty intact. However, nothing could disguise the pathetic, childish, self-centered, disgusting character of the main character. Kiyoaki was a typical young man but without getting any of his sharp corners ground down by his parents or his friends. So at the end, he cracks and breaks.

This was reading about the worst of people, just because the author felt like writing it. In the introduction, by the publishers, they give a little history of the author. He killed himself at the age of 45. If his mindset continued like this book, it’s no wonder.

This was supposed to be a tetralogy, but I’m not sure how this can be a series since the main character dies. From the tone of the book, I’d guess that the series is all tied together by some esoteric “Idea”. Ugh. Again.

I will NOT be reading any more by Mishima.

★★☆☆☆

bookstooge

 

Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1) ★★★☆ ½

rivers (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Rivers of London
Series: Peter Grant #1
Author: Ben Aaronovich
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 396
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Peter Grant is a constable in good ol’ Merry England. Of course, he’s not actually a very good constable. In fact,he’s being shuffled over to the section that deals with all that nasty paperwork stuff, because there, he’ll be “making a contribution”.

Until the night that he sees a ghost while guarding a murder scene.

He then is taken as the apprentice to the apparantly sole magical cop and starts hunting down the killer from the murder scene. With the help of the ghost, Father Thames and Mother Thames (who are having a turf war at the moment), his friend who he wants to be more than a friend and his “Master”.

Peter Grant solves the case, but not without several instances of random people beating each other to death with a 4foot club and then having their faces fall off. Oh,and don’t forget the riot filled with all the cultured people from the opera, who go out for a night of looting, vandalism and a little murder on the side.

Along with all this, it is up to Peter, as part of his apprenticeship, to solve the problem of the Thames’.

That’s asking a bit much from a loser like Peter who can’t concentrate on one thing for more than 10minutes.

 

My Thoughts:

I read the Gollancz edition of this book, which is the proper English release. I kind of wish I had read the American release entitled Midnight Riot. One, I think that Midnight Riot is much more of an apt title for this book’s specific villain and two, I would hope that some of the slang would be changed to make actual sense to someone who doesn’t live in downtown London. It might have been English, but it wasn’t the Queen’s English, that is for sure.

And that was about my only complaint.

I don’t enjoy Urban Fantasy for the most part, not even Harry Dresden. But every once in a while a book or series will transcend the inherent weakness in this sub-genre, the cliched banality, the soap opera level pointless dramatics, the “makes no sense whatsoever” so called romance and impress me. So I tend to be rather hard on the poor book when it comes from “that side of the tracks”. Oh, all those “quotes”? Another thing I hate about UF.

But this isn’t a rant about me hating on UF. It is a review of a book that I rather enjoyed when I wasn’t sure I was going to or not.

There was a lot more dry humor than I was expecting. For about the first 75% anyway. I enjoyed the style of humor and never found it boring or over the top. Then things got serious and the humor went away. I missed that. The magic system wasn’t explained, but since I’m not a huge “give me the details” kind of guy when it comes to spaceships or magic, I was pretty ok with that. I know some people thrive on “world building” like that though, so be aware.

The Rivers of London bit was well done too. Every river having its own little godling? And it all being a family thing? Top notch. We’ll see how, or if, it plays into the series in a bigger way or not. But considering that one of the nyads has a thing for old Petey and he’s not saying no, and his friend/dream lover that will never be, is potentially out of the picture and that Peter pissed off one of the older nyads, well, there is just too much potential story there to let it all go to waste.

Glad I started this and I hope it continues strong. If the series stays as good as this story, I’ll probably be bumping my ratings up to at least a 4star.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

 

Sixth Watch (Night Watch #6) ★★★★☆

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sixth Watch
Series: Night Watch #6
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 403
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

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

Disciple of the Wind (Fated Blades #3)

4aead39a3709b49364d78e03a6dd3775This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Disciple of the Wind

Series: Fated Blades

Author: Steve Bein

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: Police Procedural

Pages: 528

 

 

Synopsis:

2 storylines this time around instead of 3. Thankful for that.

 

Modern Day:

Mariko must continue to hunt down Joko Daishi, the insane but genius mastermind who is the Leader of the Divine Wind. Only she has to do it on her own, as she’s been kicked out of the police force. And it turns out there is another group interested in bringing down the Divine Wind. Only Mariko isn’t sure she can work with this new group.

 

Historical:

Daigoro is still on the run from Shichio but now a mistress of politics and intrigue, Nene, enters the fray, hoping to lure them both to a mutual destruction for political gain for her husband. Can Daigoro survive Nene, Shichio AND the backstabbing of former allies?

And a mystical blade, one that gives immortality, is mixed up in it all.

 

My Thoughts:

Whoowhee!   Now this was a fun ride. While the transition from the first book, Daughter of the Sword, to the second book, Year of the Demon, was like a complete cut with brand new storyline, etc, this book was practically a direct continuation from Year of the Demon.

I did deduct a half star for lack of sword fighting, but the more I read, the more I realize that the Inuzama blades are more about their reality shaping powers than their battle prowess.

The pacing and cutoff points between the Modern Day and Historical Times was excellently done and kept me reading. I read most of this in one day. Came home from church, plopped down on the couch and just tore through it like a starving man into a steak.

In the afterwords, Bein did state who the model for this cover was [one Sayuri Oyamada] but I’m not sure if she’s been the model for the previous covers or not. Either way, once again, I love the cover. Exotic Woman with Deadly Weapon = Good Stuff.

Bein also mentioned a novella that accompanies this book, Streaming Dawn, which I’m assuming will be like the previous short story. I’m off to hunt it down now.

 

Mort (Discworld #4) (Buddy Read)

cover This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com by express permission of this reviewer

Title: Mort

Series: Discworld #4

Author: Terry Pratchett

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 293

 

Synopsis:

Death takes on an apprentice, a kind and gentle soul who doesn’t quite have all of his marbles grasped as firmly as most would like. Mort is his name and this is his story about messing about with Time, Death, Causality and other such Capital Letter Words.

My Thoughts:

Read this as a Group Buddy Read with several others over in the Buddy Read Discussions Group.

I read this back in 2007 and enjoyed it then. Reading it now I was able to realize that Pratchett at this time was writing Ideas and simply letting them hang on his characters. This is not a character driven book, and to be honest, I don’t think it is a character driven series [at least up until the Vimes era, which is when I stopped really liking the series].

This was about Pratchett writing about Death in a humorous way so that even if we completely disagreed with him about the concept, it was all just a good fantasy romp, no harm,no foul. That being said, I don’t come to these books to Learn. I come to read and be entertained and Pratchett does a top notch job of doing just that.

I bumped this up half a star this time around. Not sure if that is because I wasn’t using half-stars back in ’07 or because I hadn’t yet been plunged into the cesspool of self-published writers and hence actually had higher standards back then. Sadly, I really do suspect the second option.