The Professor ★★★☆☆

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Title: The Professor
Series: ———-
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Romance, Classic?
Pages: 323
Words: 87K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The novel is the story of a young man, William Crimsworth, and is a first-person narrative from his perspective. It describes his maturation, his career as a teacher in Brussels, and his personal relationships.

The story starts with a letter William has sent to his friend Charles, detailing his rejection of his uncle’s proposal that he become a clergyman, as well as his first meeting with his rich brother Edward. Seeking work as a tradesman, William is offered the position of a clerk by Edward. However, Edward is jealous of William’s education and intelligence, and treats him terribly. Through the actions of the sympathetic Mr Hunsden, William is relieved of his post, but starts a new job at a boys’ boarding school in Belgium.

The school is run by the friendly Monsieur Pelet, who treats William kindly and politely. Soon William’s merits as a “professor” reach the ears of the headmistress of the neighbouring girls’ school. Mademoiselle Reuter offers him a position at her school, which he accepts. Initially captivated by her, William begins to entertain ideas of falling in love with her, but then he overhears her and Monsieur Pelet talking about their upcoming marriage and their deceitful treatment of him.

William begins to treat Mademoiselle Reuter with cold civility as he sees her underlying nature. She, however, continues to try to draw him back in by pretending to be benevolent and concerned. She asks him to teach one of her young teachers, Frances, who hopes to improve her skill in languages. William sees promising intelligence in this pupil and slowly begins to fall in love with her.

Jealous of the attention Frances is receiving from William, Mademoiselle Reuter takes it upon herself to dismiss Frances from her post and to hide her address from William. After a long search he re-encounters Frances in a graveyard and they renew their acquaintance.

It is revealed that as she was trying to make herself amiable in William’s eyes, Mademoiselle Reuter had accidentally fallen in love with him herself. Not wanting to cause a conflict with Monsieur Pelet, William leaves his establishment.

William gets a new position as a “professor” at a college, allowing him and Frances to marry. The two eventually open a school together and have a child. After achieving financial security the family travels around England and then settles in the countryside, near to Mr Hunsden.

My Thoughts:

Villette was actually next in this omnibus edition of the Bronte’s but since I’ve already read it twice and my second read was not nearly as enjoyable as the first time, I didn’t want to read it, so I simply skipped it.

The Professor is a nice little story about how a woman thinks a man’s life would go. While there ARE such introspective and delicate men as William, it really seemed dialed up past whatever I’ve ever seen in a guy. Maybe I’m not observant enough but it seemed to me that the story would have been served better if William had been Wilhelmina and she had met Frank instead of Frances. Getting inside a guy’s head is not nearly as complicated as Bronte makes the process.

This was quintessential Romance and as such had all of the baggage that goes along with that genre. I can handle old school romance but I was thankful that this was under 400 pages and not a monster like Shirley.

In food terms, this book felt like plain pancakes with a pat of butter on it. If I hadn’t read a book for a month (I can’t think of a situation where that could happen any more, but it technically “could”) I probably would have devoured this and asked for more; just like when you are hungry, pancakes really hit the spot. But as I am a gourmand and nearly a glutton in terms of books I simply eat this one and say “next!”. Po’ little ol’ me! Pity me….

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Shirley ★★★✬☆

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: Shirley
Series: ———-
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 743
Words: 215K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Robert Moore is a mill owner noted for apparent ruthlessness towards his employees. He has laid off many of them, and is apparently indifferent to their consequent impoverishment. In fact he had no choice, since the mill is deeply in debt. He is determined to restore his family’s honour and fortune.

As the novel opens Robert awaits delivery of new labour-saving machinery for the mill, which will enable him to lay off additional employees. Together with some friends he watches all night, but the machinery is destroyed by “frame-breakers” on the way to the mill. Robert’s business difficulties continue, due in part to continuing labour unrest, but even more to the Napoleonic Wars and the accompanying Orders in Council, which forbid British merchants from trading in American markets.

Robert is very close to his cousin Caroline Helstone, who comes to his house to be taught French by his sister, Hortense. Caroline worships Robert. Caroline’s father is dead and her mother has abandoned her, leaving her to be brought up by her uncle, Rev. Helstone. To keep himself from falling in love with her Robert keeps his distance, since he cannot afford to marry for pleasure or for love.

Caroline realises that Robert is growing increasingly distant and withdraws into herself. Her uncle does not sympathise with her “fancies”. She has no money of her own, so she cannot leave, which is what she longs to do. She suggests that she might take up the role of governess, but her uncle dismisses the idea and assures her that she need not work for a living.

Caroline recovers somewhat when she meets Shirley, an independent heiress whose parents are dead and who lives with Mrs Pryor, her former governess. Shirley is lively, cheerful, full of ideas about how to use her money and how to help people, and very interested in business. Caroline and Shirley soon become close friends. Caroline becomes convinced that Shirley and Robert will marry. Shirley likes Robert, is very interested in his work, and is concerned about him and the threats he receives from laid-off millworkers. Both good and bad former employees are depicted. Some passages show the real suffering of those who were honest workers and can no longer find good employment; other passages show how some people use losing their jobs as an excuse to get drunk, fight with their previous employers, and incite other people to violence. Shirley uses her money to help the poorest, but she is also motivated by the desire to prevent any attack on Robert.

One night Rev. Helstone asks Shirley to stay with Caroline while he is away. Caroline and Shirley realise that an attack on the mill is imminent. They hear the dog barking and realise that a group of rioters has come to a halt outside the rectory. They overhear the rioters talking about entering the house, but are relieved when they decide to go on. The women go to the mill together to warn Robert, but they are too late. They witness the ensuing battle from their hiding place.

The whole neighbourhood becomes convinced that Robert and Shirley will marry. The anticipation of this event causes Caroline to fall ill. Mrs Pryor comes to look after her and learns the cause of Caroline’s sorrow. She continues her vigil even as Caroline worsens daily. Mrs Pryor then reveals to Caroline that she is Caroline’s mother. She had abandoned her because Caroline looked exactly like her father, the husband who tortured Mrs Pryor and made her life miserable. She had little money, so when her brother-in-law offered to bring up the child, she accepted the offer, took up the name of Pryor and went off to become a governess. Caroline now has a reason to live, since she knows that she can go and live with her mother, and begins to recover.

Shirley’s uncle and aunt come to visit her. They bring with them their daughters, their son, and their son’s tutor, Louis Moore. He is Robert’s younger brother and taught Shirley when she was younger. Caroline is puzzled by Shirley’s haughty and formal behaviour towards Louis. Two men fall in love with Shirley and woo her, but she rejects both of them because she does not love them. The relationship between Shirley and Louis, meanwhile, remains ambivalent. There are days when Louis can ask Shirley to come to the schoolroom and recite the French pieces she learned from him when she was younger. On other days Shirley ignores Louis. However, when Shirley is upset the only person she can confide in is Louis. After a supposedly mad dog bites Shirley and makes her think that she is to die early no one except Louis can make her reveal her fears.

Robert returns one dark night, first stopping at the market and then returning to his home with a friend. The friend asks him why he left when it seemed so certain that Shirley loved him and would have married him. Robert replies that he had assumed the same, and that he had proposed to Shirley before he left. Shirley had at first laughed, thinking that he was not serious, and then cried when she discovered that he was. She had told him that she knew that he did not love her, and that he asked for her hand, not for her sake, but for her money. Robert had walked away filled with a sense of humiliation, even as he knew that she was right. This self-disgust had driven Robert away to London, where he realised that restoring the family name was not as important as maintaining his self-respect. He had returned home determined to close the mill if he had to, and go away to Canada to make his fortune. Just as Robert finishes his narration his friend hears a gunshot and Robert falls from his horse.

The friend takes Robert to his own home and looks after him. After a turn for the worse Robert slowly gets better. A visit from Caroline revives him, but she has to come secretly, hiding from her uncle and his friend and his family. Robert soon moves back to his own home and persuades his sister that the very thing their house needs to cheer it up is a visit from Caroline. Robert asks for Caroline’s forgiveness.

Louis proposes to Shirley, despite the difference in their relative situations, and Shirley agrees to marry him. At first Caroline is to be Shirley’s bridesmaid, but Robert proposes to her and she accepts. The novel ends with Caroline marrying Robert and Shirley marrying Louis.

My Thoughts:

I kept going back and forth in my head if this was a 3star or a 3.5star read. There were times that I was really enjoying what I was reading and other times I simply wanted it to be gotten over with. This was very much a romance but with no gothic overtones.

Two women pine away almost to death for love of two brothers and the men manfully overcome their manliness and cultural ideals to marry them anyway. What a heart stopping story!

I can see why this isn’t one of the better known stories by the Bronte’s. At over 700 pages it is just LOOONG and really feels very rambly and voyeuristic into the lives of Shirley and Caroline. Given, that’s what is expected but it just hit me that way.

I can say with some authority that there is no chance I’ll be re-reading this book. I’ve read it and can cross it off the (imaginary) List.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Jane Eyre ★★★✬☆

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: Jane Eyre
Series: ———-
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 503
Words: 190.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Gateshead Hall

Jane Eyre, aged 10, lives at Gateshead Hall with her maternal uncle’s family, the Reeds, as a result of her uncle’s dying wish. Jane was orphaned several years earlier when her parents died of typhus. Mr. Reed, Jane’s uncle, was the only member of the Reed family who was ever kind to Jane. Jane’s aunt, Sarah Reed, dislikes her, abuses her, and treats her as a burden, and Mrs. Reed discourages her three children from associating with Jane. Jane, as a result, becomes defensive against her cruel judgement. The nursemaid, Bessie, proves to be Jane’s only ally in the household, even though Bessie occasionally scolds Jane harshly. Excluded from the family activities, Jane leads an unhappy childhood, with only a doll and books with which to entertain herself.

One day, as punishment for defending herself against her cousin John Reed, Jane is relegated to the red room in which her late uncle had died; there, she faints from panic after she thinks she has seen his ghost. The red room is significant because it lays the grounds for the “ambiguous relationship between parents and children” which plays out in all of Jane’s future relationships with male figures throughout the novel.[7] She is subsequently attended to by the kindly apothecary Mr. Lloyd to whom Jane reveals how unhappy she is living at Gateshead Hall. He recommends to Mrs. Reed that Jane should be sent to school, an idea Mrs. Reed happily supports. Mrs. Reed then enlists the aid of the harsh Mr. Brocklehurst, who is the director of Lowood Institution, a charity school for girls, to enroll Jane. Mrs. Reed cautions Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane has a “tendency for deceit”, which he interprets as Jane being a liar. Before Jane leaves, however, she confronts Mrs. Reed and declares that she’ll never call her “aunt” again. Jane also tells Mrs. Reed and her daughters, Georgiana and Eliza, that they are the ones who are deceitful, and that she will tell everyone at Lowood how cruelly the Reeds treated her. Mrs. Reed is hurt badly by these words, but does not have the courage or tenacity to show this.[8]

Lowood Institution

At Lowood Institution, a school for poor and orphaned girls, Jane soon finds that life is harsh. She attempts to fit in and befriends an older girl, Helen Burns. During a class session, her new friend is criticised for her poor stance and dirty nails, and receives a lashing as a result. Later, Jane tells Helen that she could not have borne such public humiliation, but Helen philosophically tells her that it would be her duty to do so. Jane then tells Helen how badly she has been treated by Mrs. Reed, but Helen tells her that she would be far happier if she did not bear grudges. In due course, Mr. Brocklehurst visits the school. While Jane is trying to make herself look inconspicuous, she accidentally drops her slate, thereby drawing attention to herself. She is then forced to stand on a stool, and is branded a sinner and a liar. Later, Miss Temple, the caring superintendent, facilitates Jane’s self-defence and publicly clears her of any wrongdoing. Helen and Miss Temple are Jane’s two main role models who positively guide her development, despite the harsh treatment she has received from many others.

The 80 pupils at Lowood are subjected to cold rooms, poor meals, and thin clothing. Many students fall ill when a typhus epidemic strikes; Helen dies of consumption in Jane’s arms. When Mr. Brocklehurst’s maltreatment of the students is discovered, several benefactors erect a new building and install a sympathetic management committee to moderate Mr. Brocklehurst’s harsh rule. Conditions at the school then improve dramatically.

Thornfield Hall

After six years as a student and two as a teacher at Lowood, Jane decides to leave in pursuit of a new life, growing bored of her life at Lowood. Her friend and confidante, Miss Temple, also leaves after getting married. Jane advertises her services as a governess in a newspaper. A housekeeper at Thornfield Hall, Alice Fairfax, replies to Jane’s advertisement. Jane takes the position, teaching Adèle Varens, a young French girl.

One night, while Jane is carrying a letter to the post from Thornfield, a horseman and dog pass her. The horse slips on ice and throws the rider. Despite the rider’s surliness, Jane helps him get back onto his horse. Later, back at Thornfield, she learns that this man is Edward Rochester, master of the house. Adèle was left in his care when her mother abandoned her. It is not immediately apparent whether Adèle is Rochester’s daughter or not.

At Jane’s first meeting with Mr. Rochester, he teases her, accusing her of bewitching his horse to make him fall. Jane stands up to his initially arrogant manner, despite his strange behaviour. Mr. Rochester and Jane soon come to enjoy each other’s company, and they spend many evenings together.

Odd things start to happen at the house, such as a strange laugh being heard, a mysterious fire in Mr. Rochester’s room (from which Jane saves Rochester by rousing him and throwing water on him and the fire), and an attack on a house-guest named Mr. Mason.

After Jane saves Mr. Rochester from the fire, he thanks her tenderly and emotionally, and that night Jane feels strange emotions of her own towards him. The next day however he leaves unexpectedly for a distant party gathering, and several days later returns with the whole party, including the beautiful and talented Blanche Ingram. Jane sees that Blanche and Mr. Rochester favour each other and starts to feel jealous, particularly because she also sees that Blanche is snobbish and heartless.

Jane then receives word that Mrs. Reed has suffered a stroke and is calling for her. Jane returns to Gateshead and remains there for a month to tend to her dying aunt. Mrs. Reed confesses to Jane that she wronged her, bringing forth a letter from Jane’s paternal uncle, Mr. John Eyre, in which he asks for her to live with him and be his heir. Mrs. Reed admits to telling Mr. Eyre that Jane had died of fever at Lowood. Soon afterward, Mrs. Reed dies, and Jane helps her cousins after the funeral before returning to Thornfield.

Back at Thornfield, Jane broods over Mr. Rochester’s rumoured impending marriage to Blanche Ingram. However, one midsummer evening, Rochester baits Jane by saying how much he will miss her after getting married and how she will soon forget him. The normally self-controlled Jane reveals her feelings for him. Rochester then is sure that Jane is sincerely in love with him, and he proposes marriage. Jane is at first skeptical of his sincerity, before accepting his proposal. She then writes to her Uncle John, telling him of her happy news.

As she prepares for her wedding, Jane’s forebodings arise when a strange woman sneaks into her room one night and rips Jane’s wedding veil in two. As with the previous mysterious events, Mr. Rochester attributes the incident to Grace Poole, one of his servants. During the wedding ceremony, however, Mr. Mason and a lawyer declare that Mr. Rochester cannot marry because he is already married to Mr. Mason’s sister, Bertha. Mr. Rochester admits this is true but explains that his father tricked him into the marriage for her money. Once they were united, he discovered that she was rapidly descending into congenital madness, and so he eventually locked her away in Thornfield, hiring Grace Poole as a nurse to look after her. When Grace gets drunk, Rochester’s wife escapes and causes the strange happenings at Thornfield.

It turns out that Jane’s uncle, Mr. John Eyre, is a friend of Mr. Mason’s and was visited by him soon after Mr. Eyre received Jane’s letter about her impending marriage. After the marriage ceremony is broken off, Mr. Rochester asks Jane to go with him to the south of France and live with him as husband and wife, even though they cannot be married. Jane is tempted but must stay true to her Christian values and beliefs. Refusing to go against her principles, and despite her love for Rochester, Jane leaves Thornfield at dawn before anyone else is up.[9]

Moor House

Jane travels as far from Thornfield as she can using the little money she had previously saved. She accidentally leaves her bundle of possessions on the coach and is forced to sleep on the moor. She unsuccessfully attempts to trade her handkerchief and gloves for food. Exhausted and starving, she eventually makes her way to the home of Diana and Mary Rivers but is turned away by the housekeeper. She collapses on the doorstep, preparing for her death. Clergyman St. John Rivers, Diana and Mary’s brother, rescues her. After Jane regains her health, St. John finds her a teaching position at a nearby village school. Jane becomes good friends with the sisters, but St. John remains aloof.

The sisters leave for governess jobs, and St. John becomes slightly closer to Jane. St. John learns Jane’s true identity and astounds her by telling her that her uncle, John Eyre, has died and left her his entire fortune of 20,000 pounds (equivalent to just over $2 million in 2021[10]). When Jane questions him further, St. John reveals that John Eyre is also his and his sisters’ uncle. They had once hoped for a share of the inheritance but were left virtually nothing. Jane, overjoyed by finding that she has living and friendly family members, insists on sharing the money equally with her cousins, and Diana and Mary come back to live at Moor House.

Proposals

Thinking that the pious and conscientious Jane will make a suitable missionary’s wife, St. John asks her to marry him and to go with him to India, not out of love, but out of duty. Jane initially accepts going to India but rejects the marriage proposal, suggesting they travel as brother and sister. As soon as Jane’s resolve against marriage to St. John begins to weaken, she mystically hears Mr. Rochester’s voice calling her name. Jane then returns to Thornfield to find only blackened ruins. She learns that Mr. Rochester’s wife set the house on fire and died after jumping from the roof. In his rescue attempts, Mr. Rochester lost a hand and his eyesight. Jane reunites with him, but he fears that she will be repulsed by his condition. “Am I hideous, Jane?”, he asks. “Very, sir; you always were, you know”, she replies. When Jane assures him of her love and tells him that she will never leave him, Mr. Rochester proposes again, and they are married. They live together in an old house in the woods called Ferndean Manor. Rochester regains sight in one eye two years after his and Jane’s marriage, and he sees their newborn son.

My Thoughts:

I did not enjoy this nearly as much as I did back in 2009. The majority of that is because the writing style just didn’t work for me this time around. It just felt overwrought and over emotional. Much like Dickens, Charlotte wrote floridly and rather umm, descriptively. Unlike Dickens, it simply didn’t work for me. At all.

As much as I loved Wuthering Heights last year, I suspect this read through of the Bronte sisters is going to be my first, and last, time spent with them. Wuthering caught me in the perfect spot and I doubt circumstances will so align again. At the same time, I can see why these are foundational to Classic literature.

This was a very odd read as I hated the style but still appreciated what Charlotte was doing. Jane Eyre is no saint or milksop. She’s a devil of a child, then an extremely proud young woman who almost starves to death because of her pride. What she isn’t is abrasive, rude or stupid.

While not getting the highest marks, I was overall satisfied with this final read. It is good to go out on a good note.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories ★★★☆☆

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 King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories
Series: ———-
Author: Richard Chambers
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror (kind of)
Pages: 177
Words: 72K



Synopsis:

Consisting of the following short stories:

The Repairer of Reputations

The Mask

In the Court of the Dragon

The Yellow Sign

The Demoiselle d’Ys

The Prophet’s Paradise

The Street of the Four Winds

The Street of the First Shell

The Street of Our Lady of the Fields

Rue Barrée

My Thoughts:

The author of this collection states outright in the introduction that only the first 6 stories are truly related to the subject of the King in Yellow and that the rest of the stories are just romances about young people in some frenchified town. I was extremely thankful for that warning. It helped me finish the book instead of DNF’ing it.

I must say that I really enjoyed the stories that dealt with the story of the King in Yellow, however tangentially. Madness and weirdness, insanity and the supernatural, all mixed together without quite being able to tell which was which. It really hit my literary tastebuds and was delicious. If any of you have any suggestions for more King in Yellow reading, please drop me a line in the comments.

The romances on the other hand, were what dragged this down to a 3star read. They weren’t terrible like a Georgette Heyer romance, but neither were they anything near an Austen romance. They were mediocre stories about young people being all hormone’y and young people’ish. If that’s your thing, then have at it and enjoy.

I wish there was a site called TheKinginYellow.com where it listed all the books or stories associated so I could simply go down a list. By the by, I checked and some scumbag is holding onto that domain, trying to sell it for over $3000. I hope he goes mad. Anyway, it doesn’t seem that TKIY has the same fanbase and mythology as say Lovecraft, which means fanfics won’t be as extensive. Oh well.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Man Who Forgot Christmas ★★★☆☆

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 Man Who Forgot Christmas
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 83
Words: 22K



Synopsis:

Two men break out of prison. One of them, a thief, rightly belongs there. The other, falsely accused of murder, doesn’t. They hold up a coach and steal money from the man who setup the murderer. The thief is shot and they barely make it to a house. The daughter of the house falls in love with the murderer and the thief falls in love with her.

The local sheriff knows the murderer, as he helped arrest him. But he also knows the charges were false. The thief, in a paroxysm of anger and jealousy, sends an anonymous note to another sheriff claiming the murderer is the one who did the hold up and stole the money. The thief has a change of heart on Christmas day and goes out in a blaze of gunfire with the sheriffs, taking all the blame on his shoulders so his friend can live happily ever after with the girl.

My Thoughts:

I think it is safe to say that Max Brand has a thing for love triangles that are doomed before they even start. What sets these apart from the love triangles in modern urban fantasy is that these are not female wish fulfillment but the grim fulfillment of male dominance. Much like the Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Brand’s love triangles are not about lust and fuzzy feelings but duty and kickass men duking it out until only one is left standing. We’re talking pure, distilled testosterone folks.

The title is taken from the thief forgetting that the day he gives his life for his friend is Christmas Day. He gets a stocking and it has some things that he remembers from his childhood and makes him change his mind and thus the book ends the way it does. It was actually pretty schmaltzy and filled with “the spirit of Christmas”. I could almost hear the Muppets singing in the background, sigh. I’ve never understood why people write about generic “christmas” when the very name tells you the reason for its being.

I don’t know how far along I am in this “Works of Max Brand” collection but while it’s better than nothing, I can say that Max Brand is not a western author that I’ll seek out more of when I done. Where’s my Indians and Cowboys and the Wild West? I want scalps and outlaws and sixguns. While a few of Brands books have had those, like Crossroads, that doesn’t seem to be the majority. Oh, I just checked and I’m only 22% done with this collection. So Brand has a lot of space to improve my opinion of him.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Magician’s Ward (Magic and Malice #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: Magician’s Ward
Series: Magic and Malice #2
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 77K



Synopsis:

Kim is swamped. Between studying magic and learning a whole new life as a monied lady, her life is full, maybe too full! When a particularly inept burglar tries to steal several books from Mairelon’s library, it’s up to Kim and Mairelon to figure out why.

At the same time, several magician’s from Kim’s street life have disappeared and a Russian Magician shows up. When on the track of the thief, Mairelon loses his magic, it’s all up to Kim to deal with the rogue magician, who isn’t a magician at all!

And if that all isn’t enough, Kim has to have her coming out ceremony as a Magician’s Ward, where she realizes she’s in love with Mairelon.

By the end of the book, Kim has stopped the rogue magician, completed her ceremony and gotten Mairelon to propose to her. Now her life as a magician is going to get really busy!

My Thoughts:

If you happen to remember That Book, where I told Romance to get the heck out of my Action Stories, you might have gotten the impression that Bookstooge is a stone cold, heartless killer with no time for the softer things in life. And you would be wrong, dead wrong! (because I’d stone you coldly!) I like romance, in small doses and in its proper place. Jane Austen is the example that made me realize I could like romances.

Anyway, this book is as much a young adult/middle grade romance as a fantasy story. The obstacles that Kim needs to overcome are simplified, the villain appropriately stupid and even Mairelon takes side stage as he loses his magic, thus giving Kim the spotlight from all directions. She shines well too.

I didn’t think the story was quite as “fun” as the first but it felt more satisfying, hence the half-star bump. While I read this way back in 2000 and I have no real review, I remember liking this then and it seems I liked it just as much this time around too. I’m going to call this a Complete Success then.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ps,
Can we all agree that is the worst cover ever and that it should be cast into the Stygian pits?

Betty Zane (Ohio River #1) ★☆☆☆½

bettyzane (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: Betty Zane
Series: Ohio River #1
Author: Zane Grey
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western?
Pages: 263
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Betty Zane has come to the frontier to live with her brother and his family. Pretty, head strong and used to getting her way, Betty lives life her way.

A young man comes to the settlement and because he doesn’t immediately bow to Betty’s beauty she “hates” him. Of course, they fall in love with each other but between both of them being young, full of pride and just generally stupid, things don’t go easy.

Then Indians and some damn British Red Coats attack the fort. The brave men and women and children hold them off and win a great victory.

Betty Zane and her fella done get hitched and produce a heap ‘o chillens.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, after I was done with the Sacketts, I figured Zane Grey was next. This is NOT an auspicious start, that is for sure.

This isn’t what I’d think of as a Western, but more of Frontier Fiction. There are no cowboys, no West, it’s all East of the Mississippi river and it is sappy as a Janette Oke book. I was NOT expecting that.

I also wasn’t expecting deeply insightful characters either but almost everyone portrayed came across as a cardboard cutout slapped with a coat of brightly colored paint. I felt like I was watching clowns at a circus.

The story telling itself was tedious. First Zane would do a chapter of “history” where he just spells everything out. Then we’d jump into the story where he would then tell that exact same history but using the characters and making a story of it. He bleeding spoils his own thing and pretty much just puffs up his word count. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

I have an omnibus edition of Grey’s works and I’ll be skipping the next Ohio River book. Of course, without an actual index I’ll have to flip through 200’ish pages to do that. This is why you shouldn’t buy $2 omnibus books on Amazon.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Torchship Pilot (Torchship #2) ★★★☆☆

torchshippilot (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: Torchship Pilot
Series: Torchship #2
Author: Karl Gallagher
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 346
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

War has broken out between the Fusion and the Disconnect. The Fusion is convinced that AI is a threat to all humanity and the only way to stop it is with a united humanity, under their control. So while humanity should be fighting off the continued probes by the AI of the Sol System, instead they’re fighting each other.

The Diskers end up with a radio weapon that shuts down all computer based activity. They got this from the treasure trove that Michie helped recover in the previous book. They also got a lot of history. Said history showed that the AI Betrayal wasn’t an actual betrayal but just a carrying out of orders by spiteful humanity. Turns out is was more of an overload/crash/accident than an intelligent take over.

With their new weapon the Diskers defeat a Fuzie fleet, reveal the secret history and find out that the AI’s are just running whatever their last command was. Michie makes contact with an AI on a former Fuzie world and communications between AI and Humanity has begun.

 

My Thoughts:

So, these aren’t AI in the “I am self-aware and want to destroy you” Skynet kind of way. They’re just suped up computer programs. Big whoop de doo. I was rather disappointed at that. And then to have the salt added to the wound that they’re just big cuddlies carrying out their programs and they don’t actually mean to be mean to anyone? Boo hoo hoooooo!

This gets the romance tag because Michie and her husband are always having quickies. After they get up in the morning but before going on duty. Before that meaning in 15 minutes. After dinner. And on and on and on. It was reading about 2 newly-weds who acted like they’d been virgins before getting married. Except Michie was a whore to steal information, so that doesn’t hold up. She also giggles a lot. And her husband just thinks “I love her. I’m going to make this marriage work” as an excuse to let behavior by Michie slide. Beta male all the way.

And this got 3 stars from me? Yep. The rest of the book was pretty good. Several of the characters from the first book either die or move on. Sadly, no one really moves in to take their place and it becomes the Michie and Husband show. I complain about them but I do think that the author does a better job of focusing on the story when he only has 2 main characters to interact with instead of a whole crew.

I am planning on reading the final book but have no intention of reading more by the author if he has even written anything else.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Changeling Sea ★★★★☆

changelingsea (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 Changeling Sea
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 142
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Peri’s father went to sea in his rowboat and only his boat returned. Her mother has retreated inside herself and Peri is angry at life itself. She leaves her mother’s house and lives in a shack by the sea where an old woman taught her the fine art of hexing. Peri creates as many hexes as she can think of and one day throws them all into the sea and hexes the sea for stealing her father.

The King of the Island and his son Kir come into their summer residence and Peri meets Kir one night on the beach. He confesses that he has found out he is a changeling and part sea creature. He desires to go to the sea but can’t find the way. Peri is interested against her will. Then a monstrous sea creature is seen with a golden chain around its neck. The villagers hire a magician, Lyo, to tame the sea monster and take the golden chain for them. Lyo gets Peri to help him and accidentally turns the golden chain into a rain of periwinkle flowers. Nobody is very happy with Lyo, who disappears.

The next night Peri is at her shack when she sees the sea monster approaching the shore. It comes onto the shore and turns into a young man, very like Kir in appearance but golden where Kir is dark. This young man can only repeat words he has heard and so Peri begins to teach him words. But each night before the sun rises this golden prince returns to the sea and his monstrous form. Peri is bewildered and Lyo reveals himself to her. They figure out that the golden boy is the prince by the King’s dead wife who was taken by the Queen of the Sea, who was the lover of the King. She substituted her own son, Kir. Now each son is yearning to return to their native element but neither can figure out how.

Peri, with help from Lyo, solves the mystery. Her hex worked and it was so powerful that it hexed the whole sea. Peri unhexes the sea and that allows them to commune with the Sea Queen and Kir can return to the sea while the golden prince can return to the land. Peri realizes how powerful she is and Lyo says he’ll stick around to help her out.

 

My Thoughts:

Very enjoyable, very short and one of the most “romance’y” of McKillip’s books. While not Harlequin Romance or even most Paranormal Romance level, this was on the edge of what I’d be willing to read. That is about the only caveat I have for this book.

The shortness of this book really struck me this time. I started it one evening during the week and I was done the next night. It was kind of nice actually. I felt like I had gotten a small personal pan pizza instead of some huge buffet. Just enough to get a good taste but not enough to satiate or make you sick of it. Gluttony of words by authors is as much a sin, as far as I’m concerned, as is actual gluttony.

This lacked something, a richness I guess, that I’m used to in McKillip’s writing and that is why I’m only giving it 4 stars. Still, that is a Star upgrade from 2007. If you like McKillip’s other books, you’ll like this. Whether you’ll like it more, less or the same as her other books will depend on your personal tastes.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

To Trade the Stars (Trade Pact #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF#1%

totradethestars (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: To Trade the Stars
Series: Trade Pact #3
Author: Julie Czerneda
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: DNF @ 1%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

“…leaving me cold along one side until I snuggled under the portion of sheet warmed by his body.”

 

My Thoughts:

This is not SF. This is now a woman’s romance novel with spaceships. I don’t want to read crap like this, thank you very much.

What a frelling let down, especially considering how much I enjoyed the first book. But this is exactly why I tend to stay away from women writers. They’re always dragging in stuff like that that has zero interest to me. They are more than welcome to write it but don’t fracking expect me to read it or to put up with it when I do make the mistake of stumbling across it.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)