Big O, Vol. 6 ★★☆☆☆

bigo6 (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: Big O, Vol. 6
Series: Big O #6
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

These 4 chapters deal with Dorothy’s memory disk being stolen by Angel. It is revealed that Angel is part of a group that lives outside of Paradigm City. Roger attempts to get back Dorothy’s memories and fails.

The book ends with Roger and Dorothy both accepting that lost memories aren’t as important as the possible future.

My Thoughts:

This was a really sad letdown to the end of this manga. By sad, I do not mean emotionally sad, as in “My grandmother died, I’m sad”, but as in “Dude, your pink, heartshaped skateboard is just sad”.

I have to admit I raced through this as fast as possible just to get to the end. Overall, I found this manga to be poorly done. There were little to no actual story arcs, but proto-stories without any kind of resolution.

As much as I enjoyed the anime, the manga version of Big O has been nothing but a big disappointment from start to finish for a variety of reasons. I won’t be sad to get rid of these. Just not sure if I should simply trash these or not. After the Book (un)Haul post next month I’ll make a decision about whether to throw these away or if there are any other options.

Don’t read this manga. That is my Official Verdict and Judgement.

★★☆☆☆

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 5 ★★☆☆½

bigo5 (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: Big O, Vol. 5
Series: Big O #5
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

We get a chapter about Norman where he shows he’s so familiar with firearms that he can fire a machine gun around a whole group of punks and not hit them once. They were in the act of trying to pull a coup but with Norman’s “demonstration” on how to use a machine gun, they’re to afraid to try. Dorothy also helps out by doing cleaning chores around the house while Norman fixes Big O.

Beck ends up making a HUGE score and becomes so rich that he buys an entire Dome. Of course, he does it through proxies so the Military Police can’t touch him. He finds a gigadeus (the equivalent of what a megadeus is to humans) that somehow gives him a LOT of memories. Big O destroys the gigadeus but it is unclear whether Beck is caught or not.

The final chapter of this volume deals with a little girl who apparently can tell people their true pasts. Crowds of people end up driving her into an icy river, where Major Dastun attempts to rescue her. He tells the crowd they killed her and then Big O shows up and takes the girl and Dastun away. The girl is alive and Dastun moralizes on looking to the future and not the past.

My Thoughts:

My goodness, someone put this manga out of its misery, please! I feel like I’m reading this out of duty more than anything. And it is true. If I had just picked up this series without knowing about the anime, I’d have abandoned it after the 2nd volume for sure!

There is nothing of coherence here. Even the art and the battles leave me feeling baffled about what I’m supposed to be seeing or trying to get. The stories are just as bad.

One more volume and then I can ditch this. I might do a Book (un)Haul post on these, as the covers are really good looking.

★★☆☆½

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 4 ★★★☆☆

bigo4 (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: Big O, Vol. 4
Series: Big O #4 
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

Roger Smith is hired to find an old bar. What he doesn’t know is that the old bar has an enormous safe with a vast amount of memories in it. What the client doesn’t know is that those memories are all old letters between his father and and old lover. Roger keeps having flashbacks to a woman who he claims he’ll never forget, but he’s never seen her before. The chapter ends with Dorothy telling Roger that since she’s an android, she’ll never forget him.

2 mad scientists find a machine for extracting forgotten memories and end up kidnapping Roger. His memories overwhelm the machine and then he and Big O destroy the machine.

The final chapter deals with the return of Schwarzvald and his megadeus, Big Duo. Looking like Big O, but red and with the ability to fly, Schwarzvald claims that the power of the Bigs is for destruction only and sets out to destroy Paradigm City. Roger and Big O stop him but their battle has brought them to the attention of Alex Rosewater, the CEO of Paradigm Co and the de facto ruler of Paradigm City.

My Thoughts:

No scantily clad or uncovered women this time. Hence the high water mark of 3 stars.

Other than that, mediocre. Nothing is revealed, nothing interesting happens, the characters barely appear. Flat and lifeless is what this seems to be going for. Almost like it was a project that the manga-ka didn’t care about but had to do anyway.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I am going to finish this series since I own it, but my goodness, it is like eating stale crackers while sipping on tepid tap water.

★★★☆☆

Big O, Vol. 3 ★★☆☆½

bigo3 (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: Big O, Vol. 3
Series: Big O #3
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

Beck is broken out of prison by Angel and given his own megadeus, the Super Beck. He disguises it as another Big O and goes on a rampage. He’s determined to reveal that Roger Smith is the operator of Big O. Roger, with help from his butler Norman and Dorothy, take down the Super Beck without revealing Roger’s secret.

Dorothy has an encounter with an artist, who falls in love with her. He is leaving in a condemned building however and almost dies when it is destroyed. Dorothy saves him and the artist ends up in a hospital, where he becomes infatuated with a nurse. Dorothy learns a valuable lesson about male artists.

Some bio-weapon beast that eats metal is released in the city and only the Big O can stop it. It does.

Roger, Beck and Angel all separately come upon an older geezer living outside the dome who has access to genuine alcohal and tobacco and a huge stash of memories. Angel brings in troops from the Paradigm Company, Beck shoots his way out and Roger drunk drives the Big O and ends up burning the whole place down.

My Thoughts:

Once again there was ONE scene where Beck is bathing and it shows a woman with him and it is an R rated picture, so I dinged a half star. It made me mad, because now I know I can’t give this manga to any young person. What a way to waste an entire volume. Way to go, manga-ka.

The stories are pretty boring, Beck is still a 2bit loser villain and yet he still is the main badguy. Roger pretty much just punches him in the face with Big O every encounter and wins. That really isn’t good story telling. My memories of this being mediocre at best are definitely being justified.

Which has led me to adding the “Mediocre” tag to this review and the rest of the series most likely.

★★☆☆½

The Kingdom ★☆☆☆☆

thekingdom (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 Kingdom
Series: Elseworlds
Author: Mark Wade
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 232
Words: 23K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

20 years after the events of Kingdom Come, a survivor of the Kansas disaster is granted power by four members of the Quintessence (Shazam, Ganthet, Zeus, and Izaya Highfather), who dub him Gog. The power drives him mad, and he takes out his anger on Superman, killing him and carving his “S” shield on the ground. He then travels a day backward in time and kills him again…and again. A shadowed figure vaguely resembling the Phantom Stranger, the fifth Quintessence member, opposes this action, as Gog now intends to accelerate the Kansas Holocaust, but the other four are prepared to let things unfold; Shazam hopes that Captain Marvel will no longer have to die, Ganthet hopes that Green Lantern will avert the catastrophe and become more renowned than Superman, Zeus hopes that the ancient gods may be ‘worshiped’ once more as Earth seeks something to believe in, and Highfather feels that a new war may fracture Earth in a manner similar to New Genesis and Apokolips.

As Gog travels closer to the modern DC Universe, the Linear Men panic when they see that their ordered index of time is unraveling; Superman is dead in the 21st century, yet alive in the 853rd, and their instruments register no error. When Rip Hunter, acting upon the orders of the shadowed figure, tries to stop Gog from killing Superman on the day his and Wonder Woman’s child is born (that being a day when ‘anything seemed possible’), Gog manages to steal the infant (named Jonathan), whom he plans to raise and name Magog (in issue #2, this was revealed to be a red herring. The child did not grow up to become Magog; instead, he became the shadowed figure, whose true identity is then revealed to be Hyperman, a Hypertime-traveling superhero wearing a costume based on the costumes of his parents and his godfather, Batman).

Although the other Linear Men object to the idea of the heroes of that time travelling back to defeat Gog, Rip Hunter recruits Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from the Kingdom Come era to stop Gog in 1998, the heroes concluding that, since innocent people will die if they do or do not take action, they will take the heroic option and go back despite the apparent loss of their own reality by having them interfere in their own pasts in such a manner. Four young heroes-Kid Flash, Offspring, Nightstar, and Ibn al Xu’ffasch-come together to try stopping Gog on their own, and are recruited by Rip Hunter to assist in his plan. When Jonathan is seemingly erased from existence soon after being rescued, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman team up with their ‘past selves’ and battle Gog to a final confrontation in a “Planet Krypton” restaurant outside of reality, where they use various weapons gathered from across Hypertime against Gog. During the fight, the future Wonder Woman reveals to the Superman of the present why Gog is after him, and Superman vows that the timeline of Kingdom Come will never happen in his universe, as he strikes back at Gog, finishing the battle once and for all. As the heroes return to their proper places in time, Hyperman reveals himself, assuring the future heroes that his infant self actually hid himself within the stream of Hypertime upon being rescued from Gog, and Rip Hunter explains the existence of timelines, so the Kingdom Come reality still exists, but it will no longer be the future of the DC Universe.

My Thoughts:

Well, after my experience with Kingdom Come you’d think I’d have learned my lesson. I guess I’m either really stupid, a glutton for punishment, a Completist or A Genius the Likes of Which the World has Never Yet Seen. I’ll leave it up to you to pick the, ahem, correct interpretation.

While I had none of the problems from the previous comic, I had a whole new bunch to contend with. This was not an actual miniseries by one writer and artist. It was bookended by The Kingdom and then had a bunch of new DC titles that were all #1’s in the middle, and all were the children of other superheroes. Considering this was in ’98, that was at the tail end of the Comic Boom in the 90’s and it was easy to tell that DC was trying to get some more comics into circulation and grab what cash they could. I don’t think it was considered an Elseworlds story until after the fact. None of the titles took off, nor did they deserve to.

The art was also atrocious. Well, maybe not atrocious, but pretty sad. With each book being a different title, obviously the artists changed and hence the artwork, but it never improved,it was all uniformly junk. The only exception I noticed was the Kid Flash comic. That seemed pretty sleek.

The story could have been interesting. Gog, the main villain, looked just like Magog, the villain from Kingdom Come. He was trying to kill all the possible Supermen throughout all of time. Now doesn’t that sound like it has a ton of potential? Sadly, it was all wasted as the intervening comics were just as much about trying to introduce the new kids on the block as they were about advancing the storyline. Plus, it dealt with a multiverse and ever since the New52 I feel like DC over uses the reset/reboot button way too often. So my bitterness about the new direction of DC bled over into this older story. Surprise!

Kingdom Come I found abhorrent. The Kingdom was simply a bore.

★☆☆☆☆

Ageing (A Very Short Introduction) ★★★☆☆

ageing (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: Ageing
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Nancy Pachana
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 144
Words: 38K

 

Synopsis:

Official Blurb

Ageing is an activity we are familiar with from an early age. In our younger years upcoming birthdays are anticipated with an excitement that somewhat diminishes as the years progress. As we grow older we are bombarded with advice on ways to overcome, thwart, resist, and, on the rare occasion, embrace, one’s ageing. Have all human beings from the various historical epochs and cultures viewed aging with this same ambivalence? In this Very Short Introduction Nancy A. Pachana discusses the lifelong dynamic changes in biological, psychological, and social functioning involved in ageing. Increased lifespans in the developed and the developing world have created an urgent need to find ways to enhance our functioning and well-being in the later decades of life, and this need is reflected in policies and action plans addressing our ageing populations from the World Health Organization and the United Nations. Looking to the future, Pachana considers advancements in the provision for our ageing populations, including revolutionary models of nursing home care such as Green House nursing homes in the USA and Small Group Living homes in the Netherlands. She shows that understanding the process of ageing is not only important for individuals, but also for societies and nations, if the full potential of those entering later life is to be realised.

 

My Thoughts:

This was so much better than that execrable Entrepreneurship. This was a literal snapshot about aging. Speaking of “Aging”, I could tell immediately that this was published in England, what with the “AgEing”. My goodness, they might as well be French, throwing in all those extra letters into words 😉

I do wish that the author had touched a bit more on Aging throughout history and from various cultures. Beyond a cursory acknowledgment that such things existed, it was never touched on again. I guess that is what this series is going to do, make you want to explore a particular area of the subject in more detail. I, however, wasn’t interested ENOUGH to go find other books.

She did spend a lot of time on dementia. More than I thought necessary, especially as she specifically stated that alzheimers/dementia only affects about 6-10% of the aging population. Regular memory loss is something quite different. If half the words she spent on dementia had been spent on Aging in the Past, I would have been a much happier camper.

I was satisfied with this read. I highly doubt any book in this series is going to go above 3 stars and honestly, I’m ok with that. I feel like I’m picking “healthy” chocolates from the box and never know what I’ll get. Forest Gump’s Momma would be proud of me.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

NPC’s (Spells, Swords and Stealth #1) ★★★☆☆

npcs (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: NPC’s
Series: Spells, Swords and Stealth #1
Author: Drew Hayes
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 289
Words: 93.9K

 

Synopsis:

From Amazon.com & Me

What happens when the haggling is done and the shops are closed? When the quest has been given, the steeds saddled, and the adventurers are off to their next encounter? They keep the world running, the food cooked, and the horses shoed, yet what adventurer has ever spared a thought or concern for the Non-Player Characters?

In the town of Maplebark, four such NPCs settle in for a night of actively ignoring the adventurers drinking in the tavern when things go quickly and fatally awry. Once the dust settles, these four find themselves faced with an impossible choice: pretend to be adventurers undertaking a task of near-certain death or see their town and loved ones destroyed. Armed only with salvaged equipment, second-hand knowledge, and a secret that could get them killed, it will take all manner of miracles if they hope to pull off their charade.

So the next morning, off they go. Thistle, Grumph, Eric and Gabrielle all head to the local goblin village, where Gabrielle knows them quite, as they kidnap her on a regular basis and has developed a friendship with them as she waits for Adventurers to rescue her. This time however, something goes wrong. A bunch of demons appear from crystals and more by luck than anything the group helps the goblins wipe them out. The real issue is that these demons appear to be smart, strategic and willing to die to kill the whole village. Our group moves on, glad to have escaped with their lives.

Next they come to a village which is sponsoring a tournament. There are several groups of Adventurers and the village is milking them for all they are worth. Grumph talks with a couple of other leaders and strikes up a friendship with an elf paladin/warrior/sorcereress. Demons once again appear and only with every group of Adventurer giving their all do they kill the demons and stop a massacre of the village. Something is obviously up. Our group gets a bunch of good armor and weapons as a reward and continue to the main city to present themselves to the king.

The story cuts to the King talking to his advisors and revealing that the current group of Adventurers is the 13th or 14th group attempting to breach the hidden cave and recover the magical artifact inside. The king also makes it plain how he is using the Adventurers for his own ends and shows what a scum bag he is.

Our Gang, and several other groups, all head into the magic cave. Our Gang goes last and Thistle, a former minion, shows them a hidden shortcut that all minions know about, as they have to make the traps, etc and need easy access. They bypass everything and find the magical artifact. However, they also find a Mad Wizard who reveals that their world is somehow tied to our world and that the magical artifact can control our world. Our Gang takes the Mad Wizard down and head out. They encounter the last group of Adventurers, who have been hanging around outside waiting to ambush whoever comes out. The magical artifact helps Our Gang to win and we see that the group of Gamers playing the ambushing Adventurers give up on the game as they roll nothing but 1’s.

The book ends with Our Gang heading to another country and the one Gamer who was decent talking with the Dungeon Master about buying an expansion pack that would land them in the same country as Our Gang.

 

My Thoughts:

The idea of our world and the world of D&D both being real and influencing the other was pretty cool. The story itself was just ok though. I’m not a gamer though and so having tropes turned on their head or whatever isn’t enough to appeal to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike this in any way, it just lacked some appeal for me that I want in my books. Now that I’m reading less I’m also less willing to put up with mediocre books simply for the sake of not having to seek out other alternatives.

If you like fantasy rpg’s turned 90degrees this might be right up your alley. I enjoyed the read but really had no desire to read the rest of the (completed) series. This was a bread and butter series when I wanted gourmet toasted garlic bread with spaghetti.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Last of the Plainsmen ★★☆☆½

lastplainsmen (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 Last of the Plainsmen
Series: ———-
Author: Zane Grey
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 237
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Grey “chronicles” a time he supposedly had with a man named Jones, a hunter and trapper who tried to trap the animals he hunted so he could domesticate them, whether they were mountain lions or wild ox. Anything but bears.

 

My Thoughts:

This was very much a Man VS Nature story that happened to take place out West (in the United States) and wasn’t what I think of when I think “Western”. There isn’t a single showdown with pistols, no bare knuckle fights, no Indians trying to scalp anyone, no scheming cardsharps, no damsel in distress, no wily saloon keeper with a hidden shotgun behind the bar. None of that.

This is just a boys adventure story about a man who has a lust for trapping animals and domesticating them. The main story was about Grey and Jones and the group Jones had gathered, trying to catch some mountain lions. During that hunt (which lasted several months if not longer) Jones tells stories about himself hunting other animals. Wild stallions, some sort of Indian ox that they considered sacred, bison, etc. There was a lot of adverse Nature conditions which provides most of the tension of the story.

This was not a “bad” book, but once again, Grey doesn’t give me what I was expecting in a Western and as such, I am done reading him. Maybe next year I’ll try Max Brand? I’d like to keep some Westerns in my reading rotation, but I am not willing to sift through L’Amour’s standalones.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Rath’s Gambit (Janus Group #2) ★★★☆☆

rathsgambit (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: Rath’s Gambit
Series: Janus Group #2
Author: Piers Platt
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Rath is on the run. With other Operatives from the Janus Group tasked to hunt him down, he has to escape, disappear and then hook back up with Operative 339 so they can begin their campaign against the Group and hopefully live through it.

Things start to go off the rails when Operative 339 doesn’t show up at the rendevous point. Rath waits for quite awhile before realizing something is wrong. What he doesn’t know is that Operative 339 was caught by some civil authorities on another planet while she was free-lancing. She was sentenced to a prison term and her her plan was to serve for a year or two and then get early release for good behavior. Of course, Rath knows none of this.

Rath enlists the aid of the man who has been investigating the Group on his own. They track down O339 and Rath breaks her out of prison. Bungling up all her careful plans of staying under the radar.

The book ends with them trying to escape a whole batch of Operatives that had been following Rath, hoping he would do exactly what he did, ie, lead them to O339.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this BUT between the non-resolution ending, Rath acting like an idiot (for an Operative who made his 50 kills, he sure is incompetent and stupid) and the continued prison reform schtick, I’ve decided to not read any more by Platt.

When I finished this book and it ended with them being chased, I realized I simply didn’t care how it turned out. Rath is a bungler who can’t seem to plan out even basic strategy. I couldn’t tell if that was deliberate on the part of the author or what, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read about. I wanted a story about a highly trained Operative who kicked butt, oh you know, like say Operative 339. But nooooo, I get Rath the Bozo who can’t seem to find his own bum with both hands, a wall mirror and someone directing him.

The parts dealing with O339 were great. She kicked butt. She was smart and knew when to lay low and when to fight back. She had a plan and she knew how to adjust that plan as circumstances changed. WHY couldn’t this series have been about her?

Overall, while Platt hasn’t written any atrociously bad books, he certainly hasn’t written any very good books. I’m done sampling the Mediocre Buffet.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Fortress in Orion (Dead Enders #1) ★★★☆☆

fortressinoriion (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 Fortress in Orion
Series: Dead Enders #1
Author: Mike Resnick
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 306
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Nathan Pretorias, a secret agent for the Democracy, has returned from yet another impossible mission. Well, parts of him returned. Now he has been tagged to carry out a truly impossible mission:

replace the war chief Michtag, the universal dictator of the aliens fighting humanity with a clone raised by humans and trained

Nathan assembles his own team of specialists, all misfits in one way or another. They make their way to the super secret fortress on the super secret planet deep in the Coalition. They kidnap and replace General Michtag and successfully make their way back to the Democracy.

Where Nathan’s superior presents yet another impossible mission, a mission only the Dead Enders can take on.

 

My Thoughts:

While I absolutely loved Santiago and the Widowmaker series, this reminded much more of the Starship series. Space Opera at its most mediocre. There simply wasn’t any tension. While Resnick excels at telling a myth style story set in the future, he’s not so good at just telling a character story.

For an impossible fortress and impossible mission, everything went off without a hitch. No matter how good your team is, something is going to go wrong and everything is going to be flubbed up. That just didn’t happen here and so like I said, there was zero tension. If there had been a lot of action or something else, even that could be gotten past, but there really wasn’t much else.

Resnick seems to be very hit or miss for me and I have a feeling this Dead Enders trilogy is going to be a miss. I hope I am proved wrong, but I’m very much getting the same vibe from this book that I got from the middle Starship book. That does not bode well. I’m still giving this 3stars for the newness of the story but if the second book is just as blasé, I’ll be dropping the rating accordingly.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)