The Aunt Paradox (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3) ★★★★☆

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

Title: The Aunt Paradox
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 91
Words: 28K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

HG Wells has a problem. His Aunt Charlotte has borrowed his time machine and won’t give it back. Now she’s rewriting history!

Reggie Worcester, gentleman’s consulting detective, and his automaton valet, Reeves, are hired to retrieve the time machine and put the timeline back together. But things get complicated. Dead bodies start piling up behind Reggie’s sofa, as he finds himself embroiled in an ever-changing murder mystery. A murder mystery where facts can be rewritten, and the dead don’t always stay dead.

My Thoughts:

This was SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Being familiar with HG Wells’ story The Time Machine, while not an absolute necessity, definitely makes everything that much funnier. And the author plays around a LOT with Babbage and uses him as the kind of “every genius”, as in Babbage’s Cat, ie, is it dead or alive? I’m sure you all know it wasn’t Babbage’s Cat, but since Babbage is the one who helped the automatons to be created, he gets to be the resident world genius.

Dolley gets right into the horror of Aunts that is prevalent in Wodehouse and really amps things up. Wells’ Aunt takes 40+ copies of herself from history for her upcoming birthday and obviously chaos insues. In fact, HG Wells turns into a girl in one of the iterations. It was hilarious.

I also thought Dolley did a good job of wrapping things up so that the timeline established was the only timeline. Nice and neat and orderly. Speaking of neatly, all of this was done in under 100 pages. For feth’s sake Sanderson, Gwynne and some of you other frakking authors, take note. A good story can be told without drowning me in your pomposity and super-overabundance of words. Mr Dolley, I salute you for your brevity and wit. More authors should be like you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reggiecide (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Reggiecide
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 68
Words: 21.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Guy Fawkes is back and this time it’s a toss up who’s going to be blown up first – Parliament or Reginald Worcester, gentleman consulting detective.

But Guy might not be the only regicide to have been dug up and reanimated. He might be a mere pawn in a plan of diabolical twistiness.

Only a detective with a rare brain – and Reggie’s is amongst the rarest – could possibly solve this ‘five-cocktail problem.’ With the aid of Reeves, his automaton valet, Emmeline, his suffragette fiancée, and Farquharson, a reconstituted dog with an issue with Anglicans, Reggie sets out to save both Queen Victoria and the Empire.

My Thoughts:

I laughed almost the entire way through this book. Dolley has captured the spirit of PG Wodehouse and while I won’t say he’s improved it, he’s distilled it to its essence and captured it in under 100 pages. I hadn’t even realized how short it was until I went looking for the data. It didn’t feel like a long book but it still felt like a complete story. That takes some talent as far as I’m concerned.

I do like that Reggie is affianced and not a single guy bumbling around. So far there have been no marriage proposal shenanigans and I’m guessing Dolley is staying away from that particular aspect of the original Jeeves & Wooster. Emmeline makes for a great catalyst to “make things happen” as she’s a spitfire, dynamite and ball of wax all rolled into one.

A small part of me wants to complain that these novellas about Reeves & Worcester aren’t long enough, but if I am being honest, they are just the right length. Long enough to be funny but not so long that they wear out the humor and send the reader off in a bad mood.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Above the Law ★★★☆☆

abovethelaw (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: Above the Law
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 83
Words: 22K

 

Synopsis:

Black Jim is a notorious outlaw known for robbing stage coaches of their payload of gold. Ruthless and a deadshot, several small towns have banded together and offered a big reward for his capture, dead or alive.

An out of work actress conceives a plan to have her partner pretend to be Black Jim, “capture” him, take the reward money and then once she has left, have her partner reveal he really isn’t Black Jim. What could go wrong with that? Of course, the real Black Jim shows up and takes the actress prisoner and also the other actor.

Black Jim is living in a community of outlaws, who are “Above the Law” and when he brings a woman into the mix, things get heated. The actor devolves and fits in with the other outlaws and they plan to kill Black Jim, steal all of his stolen gold and take the Actress for themselve.

Black Jim and the actress are married, make a daring escape and decide to go legit.

 

My Thoughts:

A classic “woman finds out outlaw has a heart of gold”. Not as mawkish as I was afraid it might be at the beginning. However, the short length saved it from becoming tedious.

This is my 3rd foray into the western genre. While L’Amour I would consider a success (in my reading I mean), Zane Grey was a complete flop. Based on this story, ol’ Max Brand is going to fall squarely in the middle.

Honestly, I’m hoping to read as much of his stuff as possible just to change up my reading.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Dead Letter (Arcane Casebook #0) ★★★☆½

deadletter (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: Dead Letter
Series: Arcane Casebook #0
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 96
Words: 31.2K

 

Synopsis:

In 1930 New York, the sorcerers are the powerhouses of magic and the runwrights are the poor cousins. Private detective Alex Lockerby is definitely in the latter category, plying his meager magic skills to help people the regular cops ignore while barely making ends meet.

What Alex needs is a break. Just one good case to get his name out there and start bringing in business. When ambitious beat cop Danny Pak gets stuck trying to solve a John Doe murder, it might just be the break Alex has been looking for.

As Alex and Danny team up they begin to unravel a tale murder, jealousy, and revenge stretching back over 30 years. A tale powerful forces don’t want to come to light. Now the cop and the private detective must work fast and watch each other’s backs if they hope to catch a killer and live to tell about it.

Alex meets Leslie, Danny and his sister Amy and several of the cops we know from the series.

 

My Thoughts:

I didn’t bother with putting up the conclusion to the “mystery” as it was almost more of a side note that was the vehicle to introduce us to all these various characters.

In that regards, this novella was a complete success. Even while Leslie (the secretary) is leaving the series in book 4, it was still nice to see how she and Alex were introduced. Amy was a fun include, even though she has zero presence in the series. Danny, I have to admit, I was hoping for more of a connection between him and Alex. They came across as just 2 people helping each other out rather than friends, but now that I write that, that is how it comes across in later books as well.

Alex is a loner and while he intersects with other people, he doesn’t seem to need a group of friends. I can totally relate to that 😀

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Science Fiction Hall of Fame: The Great Novellas (Science Fiction Hall of Fame #2B) ★★★★☆

sfhalloffame2b (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 Great Novellas
Series: Science Fiction Hall of Fame #2B
Editor: Ben Bova
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 743
Words: 202K

 

Synopsis:

Book includes:

The Martian Way – Isaac Asimov
Earthman, Come Home – James Blish
Rogue Moon – Algis Budrys
The Specter General – Theodore R. Cogswell
The Machine Stops – E. M. Forster
The Midas Plague – Frederik Pohl
The Witches of Karres – James H. Schmitz
E for Effort – T. L. Sherred
In Hiding – Wilmar H. Shiras
The Big Front Yard – Clifford D. Simak
The Moon Moth – Jack Vance

 

My Thoughts:

After the complete stinker that was the set of Novellas (Vol. 2A), I went into this read very trepidatiously. Thankfully, the first novella by Asimov set me at my ease, as I’d read the short story it was based on in one of his collections. Familiarity not only can breed contempt but it can also breed contentedness. I’d also read the full novel of Budry’s Rogue Moon and Pohl’s The Midas Plague.

With that, I experienced none of the “can we get this over this, please?!?!?” that I experienced in the previous volume. These novellas I found interesting and engaging and I kept on wanting to read them. I don’t know why I enjoyed ALL of the novellas in this volume and none of the ones in 2A. Honestly, it baffles me.

If you want to experience SF in all its glory and all its stigma, read this series. The first volume of short stories is just sublime, Vol 2A is shamefully boring and this 2B volume brings things back to a more balanced view. I believe there are two more volumes (Volumes 3 and 4) but I think I’m going to pass since I doubt they’re all on the level of Vol 1.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Science Fiction Hall of Fame: The Great Novellas (Science Fiction Hall of Fame #2A) ★★☆☆☆

sfhalloffame2a (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 Great Novellas
Series: Science Fiction Hall of Fame #2A
Editor : Ben Bova
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 790
Words: 216K

 

Synopsis:

Consists of the following novellas by these authors:

  • Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson
  • Who Goes There? By John Campbell Jr
  • Nerves by Lester Del Rey
  • Universe by Robert Heinlein
  • The Marching Morons by C.M Kornbluth
  • Vintage Season by Kuttner and Moore
  • …And Then There Were None by Eric Russell
  • The Ballad of Lost C’Mell by Cordwainer Smith
  • Baby is Three by Theodore Sturgeon
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson

 

My Thoughts:

The only reason this volume is getting 2stars instead of 1 is because of the story “Who Goes There?”, which has been turned into the various movies “The Thing” and is the basis for one of the X-Files episodes in Season One.

Part of my disappointment with this book was just how good Volume 1 was, which I read back in ’18. That collection of short stories was everything I expected from the Golden Age of SF. These novellas on the other hand are boring, plain and simple.

Take “Nerves” for instance. It is about a Doctor working at an Atomic Plant because he used to be a brain surgeon but an operation went wrong years ago. It wasn’t his fault and there was nothing he could do about it, but he couldn’t face the fact that he wasn’t perfect, so he ran away from his profession to become a “simple” general practitioner. Only something goes terribly wrong at the Plant and the only way to save the whole world is for him to do brain surgery on a wounded engineer. The lead up was too long and the tension just wasn’t there. Most of these stories I simply found too long. I kept asking myself “when will this story be over already?!?”

On the other hand, you had some horrific ideas. “The Marching Morons” was about a salesman revived hundreds of years later. The world has become populated by morons because all the smart people stopped having kids a long time ago and the remaining thousand or so people with IQ’s above X all live in the North Pole at a secret base. They secretly run the world but are tired of it, as the morons keep on multiplying and nothing the Clever People can do stops them. The Clever People tried to take a hands off approach but the war started by the Morons was too much for them to accept and so they stepped back in and began directing things again. The Salesman tells the Clever People to start a rumor of colonies on Mars or Venus or wherever and to hold a lottery for an entire city to go on rocket ships to this new colony. Then another city would be picked, etc, etc. The salesman puts together the ads and campaign and has the Morons clamoring to go to Venus. Of course, the rockets just go into the Sun and kill all the morons. The Salesman became Dictator of the World (that was what he wanted to give the Clever People his help) and the story ends with all the Morons gone and the Clever People throwing the Salesman into the last rocketship and sending it off. Now, whatever the author was trying to say went over my head, because this was just horrible. The Salesman was horrible, the Morons were horrible and the Clever People were horrible.

There is one more volume, Volume 2B (why they simply didn’t call them Vol. 1, 2 and 3 is beyond me) and I’m going to read it. I am desperately hoping it is better than this. It is another collection of novellas though, so I am keeping my DNF gun handy and my finger on the trigger. I won’t wade through another crapfest like this.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

For Love of Distant Shores (Tales of the Apt #3) ★★★☆☆

forloveofdistantshores (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:
For Love of Distant Shores
Series: Tales of the Apt #3
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Words: 118K

 

Synopsis:

Amazon and Me

For Love of Distant Shores features the exploits of scientist-cum-adventurer Doctor Ludweg Phinagler, as recorded by his (semi-)faithful assistant, Fosse.

A maverick academic, Phinagler is able to charm almost everyone he meets… except for his fellow academics at Collegium, with whom he is frequently at odds. In part to escape the resultant animosity and scandal, and in part to satisfy his own thirst for knowledge, Phinagler mounts a series of expeditions to the far-flung corners of the world (regions which the author always knew were there but which the main narrative of the novels never allowed him to fully explore). In the process, he confronts ancient mysteries and deadly dangers that the majority of kinden would scarcely believe exist.

In the first story, Phinagler and Fosse explore an underwater lake and barely escape slavery and vivisection.

In the second story they head to the Desert of Nem to find lost treasure and find a mad Slug Magician instead.

The third story has them hiking into one of the great forests to track down the Kinden who built a mysterious tower. Not only do they find the kinden, they find 8 wasps who seem to have immortality through being reborn using the aforementioned Kinden as hosts.

The final story has them crossing the Great Sea and discovering a new land where the people don’t talk their language, appear to have no kinden and can apparently change shape. The story ends with Phinagler vowing to come back and Fosse retiring so she can have a polygamous relationship with 2 of the men she met.

 

My Thoughts:

Sadly, each of those Tales of the Apt books has been slowly going downhill for me. With the final story ending up with a menage a trois arrangement, I was very disappointed.

I liked the format of 4 novellas (they’re not really short stories) making up the book. Very pulp. Definitely riffing on the 1900’s Adventure Stories. Yet still fun.

Character wise, I wouldn’t have minded if the main characters had died each time and been replaced. Phinagler was an egotistical jackass and Fosse was a gambling lowlife. I have to admit, there were times I was really hoping they’d die. I really didn’t like them.

The stories themselves were great. I like a good Adventure Story and these were definitely that. Well, I didn’t like the final story, but that is because I knew it tied into his Echoes of the Fall series and I really didn’t care for that series. The other 3 though, they were cool.

There is one more book of short stories in this series and I believe it is by different authors, so we’ll see how it goes.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Target Rich Environment, Vol. 2 (TRE #2) ★★★★½

tre2 (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: Target Rich Environment, Vol. 2
Series: TRE #2
Author: Larry Correia
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 450
Words: 122K

 

Synopsis:

From Amazon

“Tokyo Raider” pits giant robots against very big monsters in the Grimnoir Universe. “The Testimony of the Traitor Ratul,” set in the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior series, lets a man who has been called a fanatical rebel, despicable murderer, and heretical traitor tell his side of the story. And “Reckoning Day” gives an insider view into the day-to-day life of some of the most popular characters from the Monster Hunter International series.

Plus, stories set in the world of both Aliens and Predator; an Agent Franks /Joe Ledger mash- up cowritten by best-selling author Jonathan Maberry; a V-Wars story; a story set in Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold series—and more.

Finally, Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent, is back in “A Murder of Manatees,” appearing in print for the first time!

Me

Tokyo Raider

Testimony of the Traitor Ratul

Shooter Ready

Three Sparks

Reckoning Day

Weaponized Hell

Son of Fire, Son of Thunder

Episode 22

Absence of Light

Psych Eval

Musings of a Hermit

Instruments of War

Murder of Manatees

My Thoughts:

Just like the previous volume, this was loads of fun! Definitely a contender for Best Book of the Year.

My two complaints first, hence the docking of a ½star. One of the novellas, Instruments of War, is set in some other franchise fiction universe and went on just a bit too long for my taste. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t to my taste. Secondly, the Tom Stranger novella wasn’t quite as funny as the first one. So those are really my only “complaints”.

I was really glad to FINALLY read Tokyo Raider. It has been audio only for years and I am not going to pay $10 for a novella on audio, or join Audible and use one of my promo credits for a novella. No one had even bothered to transcribe it and release it into the wild either. So I was pleased as punch to get to it. It wasn’t the greatest story, but I’ll take anything Grimnoir at the moment.

Three Sparks was a Predator versus Samurai story. After the abomination of a movie that was AVP, it was great to get a Predator story that was good.

Reckoning Day was a fun little MHI story about the orcs and how Shelly the female gunslinger is introduced. I’d never heard of her so I’m wondering if she is in some of the non-book stuff or in the new book, Guardian which is a collab between Correia and Sarah Hoyt.

Finally, I also enjoyed Weaponized Hell, a story about Agent Franks from MHI and some guy named Joe Ledger from another author. It was good enough that I’m adding the first couple of Joe Ledger books to my tbr to see if I like them (in a year or 3 of course). A short story that can lead me into another author’s series? I count that as good story telling!

★★★★½

bookstooge (Custom)

Galactic North (Revelation Space #6) ★★★★½

galacticnorth (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: Galactic North
Series: Revelation Space #6
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 356
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of 8 short stories and novellas set in Reynolds Revelation Space universe. Many of them focus on the Conjoiners and we get several stories that provide history about several of the Conjoiner characters we’ve read about in previous books.

There is also a story about the Green Light that is mentioned in an earlier book and while we don’t see how humanity overcomes that, we do see how it gets started.

One of the stories gives a tip ‘o the hat to the novella Diamond Dogs. That story was much closer to a horror story and it meshed with the tone of Diamond Dogs perfectly.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, another winner of a book. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I’d already read one or two of these stories in Reynold’s Best Of… Collection but they were just as good upon a re-read.

I did enjoy the variation in length of story from novella down to a short story. It helped with the flow of the book and never made me feel like I was slogging. I also liked finding out the history and future of several characters we have already met in previous books. Reading this was a nice “rounding out” experience.

By this time, if one has read this far into Reynold’s Revelation Space universe, nothing here is going to deter one from continuing. Not even referencing one’s self in the third person. That being said, I think there is only one more book for me to read and then I’ll have to go track down his other works and figure out what order to read them.

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Time Thieves ★★★☆☆

timethieves (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: Time Thieves
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 146
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

Peter Mullion wakes up sitting in his car in his garage and can’t remember a thing about how he got there. He knows he went to his cabin to work on it, but that is it. When his wife comes home and sees him, she tells him he’s been missing for 3 weeks! Peter sets out to investigate just what happened to him.

Unfortunately, he’s having trouble counting or keeping track of time or even where he is. He loses his way one day in his office building and when he comes to his wife tells him he’s been missing again, for several days. Peter sees the same man watching him, at a restaurant, at home, wherever he turns, there he is. Peter and his wife Delia head up to the mountain cabin to see if that holds any clues. They find the cabin painted, which means Peter was there. However, upon further examination, it appears that the painting was done less than a day ago, not weeks ago like it should have. Peter’s paranoia isn’t so misplaced after all.

One night Peter begins hearing voices and he realizes he can hear other people’s thoughts. Peter ends up in communication with an alien being, who has been spying on him using its robot servants. Peter flees, honing his mental skills. During a cat and mouse game, he destroys the minds of the robots. Now he just has to deal with the aliens.

The aliens mentally kidnap his wife and tell Peter that they accidentally killed him 3 weeks ago. They rebuilt him but due to them not being familiar with human biology, accidentally gave him telepathy. They say Humanity isn’t ready for that and they just want to take that ability away from Peter. No harm, no violence, just remove a mistake that they made. Peter refuses and tells them every single human is alone and that they shouldn’t be. Peter kills the aliens, who are pacifists at heart and he and Delia go off to live a happy life, spreading telepathy to all and sundry like corn kernels to chickens.

 

My Thoughts:

First, that cover has ZERO to do with this story. There is no sexy woman with a ray gun, Peter doesn’t dress up like a ninja and crouch on a mountain and the UFO is only talked about. It’s actually parked inside a mountain for the whole book.

The title only makes sense if you consider the aliens to have stolen time from Peter when he went missing those several times. They can’t actually manipulate time. I kept waiting for that right up until almost the end of the book.

The tension was pretty high for most of the book and I liked that. Koontz kept me edgy and wondering just what was going to happen.

My issues came down to the fact that Peter killed the aliens because they were going to take something back that had been given by mistake. His life was not in danger, his wife’s life was not in danger but Peter had something and he wasn’t going to give it up. The justification given is because of how much Peter loves Delia, but that just rang false. He was an adult who knew enough about how Humanity would use such a gift and he was even told that it would spread but he chose to keep it anyway. It almost felt like Koontz was writing about a modern Adam and Eve, but ones that weren’t deceived into eating the forbidden fruit but ones who willfully chose to take and eat such a fruit. Even “love” can be corrupted and that is really applicable in this day and age with every idiot bleating about “love” all the time but having no concrete concept of what Love actually is.

My kindle had this at about 140 pages. I think the paperback runs around 100, so either way, it was a short little novel bordering on the novella. I wasn’t expecting a mind blowing experience and I wasn’t disappointed. On the other hand, I wasn’t disappointed. Glad I read this but don’t plan on ever reading it again.

I am thinking of adding an author’s name as a tag to any series of books that don’t have a series associating them together. I’ve been doing that with Dickens and I’m going to start now with Koontz. I will have to decide if I want to start that with every book or not. The problem with NOT doing it for every author is then remembering which authors I AM doing it for. But if I do it for every author then my tag cloud is going to grow humongously, even more ridiculous than it already is. Do any of you have any thoughts or opinions or anecdotes or experience to shed some light on this issue?

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)