The Empire’s Corps (The Empire’s Corps #1) ★★★☆☆

theempirescorps (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 Empire’s Corps
Series: The Empire’s Corps #1
Author: Christopher Nuttal
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 505
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Stalker leads a disastrous rescue attempt on a slum on Earth and ends up with thousands of civilians dead. When he speaks “Truth to Power” (so help me my eyes almost rolled out of my head at the bloody cliched phrase) he and all 80+ of his marines are exiled to a planet on the rim of the Empire, Avalon. He is given a huge budget by the Marine Commander and very vague instructions.

The Empire is tottering and the rim planets will soon be on their own. Marine Commander hopes that Stalker and his marines can keep Avalon from falling into barbarity.

Once on the planet, Stalker is faced with the problems of an entrenched political/economic elite who want to keep thing the way they are even while that path is leading straight to revolution. Stalker deals with the bandits, then deals with the Opposition forces and the Council all in one fell swoop.

The book ends with a Space Navy ship dropping off a note telling Avalon that the Empire will be sending no more ships to them for the foreseeable future.

 

My Thoughts:

PG’s Rambling has been reviewing this series on and off even though he’s more of a spaceship kind of guy while I prefer the ground pounder action. And that is exactly what this book, and series I assume, is all about: Space Marines during the decline of a galactic empire.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

“Truth to Power”. For fracks sake, responsible people don’t use that hackneyed phrase, only people like the Occupy movement, ie, those with too much time on their hands and no drive to actually support themselves. Thankfully, it was only used 2-3 times but that was just 2-3 times too much. Nuttal also writes about homosexuality enough that I won’t be surprised if I end up dnf’ing this series in another book or two. Thankfully here it was not “PC homosexual character spewing modern liberal cant, CHECKMARK”. He also writes about brothel’s and prostitution and they are both legal in this book universe. One of the characters opines “It’s ok as long as they “want” to get into that business”. It never works that way and always ends up as a legal sex slave trafficking. I was more concerned about the attitude behind it than that it was included. There was also one sex scene that was used as a plot device, so I can’t accuse it of being completely gratuitous, but another one like it in any future books will push this out of bounds for me.

Now on to what I did like.

80 highly trained marines on a backwoods world. Nuttal makes as much hay with this as he can and I loved every second of it. They are like wolves going through a pack of puppies.The fighting was awesome and Nuttal doesn’t make the mistake of writing the bandits or Opposition as complete chowderheads. They are clever and when they have armaments equal to the Marines, a real threat. One thing I was kind of edgy about was how the bandits raped a lot and it was definitely used as a device to make them “Despicable”. It was never described in detail but I just found it bordering on the tasteless with how it was written.

The politics side of things felt a little too pat and easy but considering that Captain Stalker has had to deal with Earth Politics, whatever Avalon throws at him isn’t nearly at the same level. I do appreciate that Nuttal doesn’t try to make his badguy characters to be grey, ambiguous “oh, those poor misunderstood” type of badguys. They are bad, period. Thank goodness for that.

Nuttal is an indie, as far as I can tell, but besides the repeated misspelling of “deport” and its various forms, nothing stood out (depot and depoted were the main culprits). At 500 pages, I was expecting a lot more than that in all honesty. I enjoyed his writing style and his characters had enough depth so they were unique and not just the same character with a different name.

I do look forward to reading more in this series (there are 14 books and it appears that book 14 is the final book) and if it works out, I’ll probably be trying other series by the author.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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Gods of the Mountain (Cycle of Blades #1) ★☆☆☆½

godsofthemountain (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:
Gods of the Mountain
Series: Cycle of Blades #1
Author: Christopher Keene
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 307
Format: Digital Edition

 

Background Info:

The author of this indie book convinced me to review it with a rather humorous comment on my “Review Policy” page. Asking for a bad review, that I can handle. He seemed like a nice enough guy when we emailed, so I thought “Sure, why not take a chance.” And if you read the reviews over on GR, it DOES sound like a bunch of paid shills. And he has a BA in English Lit (I believe), so it couldn’t be THAT bad, right?

First hiccup was him emailing me a second version. This was supposedly released in 2017, so I was expecting a finished product. When an author keeps tweaking a book, well, that doesn’t bode well in my eyes.

Second hiccup was him letting me know, in Mid-April, that it was going into audio production and had I had a chance to “look it over” yet . I only got the book in the beginning of March and needed to work it into my rotation.

So, legal schmegal crap: The author gave me a copy of this book for an honest review and boy howdy, is that what he’s going to get. Remember, he ASKED for this.

 

Synopsis:

The Kingdom of Tyrania was conquered by the Kingdom of Aavaria because the Aavarians wanted control of the only supply of a special kind of wood that could be turned into swords that would suck the life out of anyone receiving even a small wound.

Faulk watched as his Commander died in a duel to the Aavarian General and as his homeland fell. Now, 3 years later, he’s a mercenary for hire, drowning his despair with drink. He meets up with a former fellow soldier who specialized in assassination. This Kessler shows Faulk some magic that only a specific tribe in the mountains are supposed to be able to use. This tribe, the Lunarians, are dedicated to pacifism. Kessler was taught by an exiled Lunarian and he begins passing on his knowledge.

3 Lunarians are sent to Tyrania to stop outsiders from using the symbol magic. This will involve taking one of the users before the Lunarian’s gods and those gods severing all connections which will stop that user and all users associated with the initial user.

Faulk goes with them to ostensibly learn more magic, as he’s unaware of the gods true purpose. He ends up being stripped by the gods and then someone reconnecting back to the magic using another form.

While this is happening to Faulk, the Lunarian Exile has set in motion a chain of events that leads to his ascension as Ruler of Tyrania. He makes one of the magic trees grow using all of the stolen life force from the magic blades.

The book ends with Faulk and his Lunarian girlfriend, along with her ex, heading out to explore Aavaria and the Lunarian Exile planning on worldwide conquest.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, the writing. In my recent “Quote” post, I posted just a tiny bit of the book. There were a handful of instances of like awkwardness that had me guessing just what the author meant. I’m not talking about story plots, but plain old grammar use. You can find Editors who will look for and show you how to fix those type of things. Sure, they cost money, but do you want your book to be good? I talked to someone I know, who also has a BA in English Lit, and she said the instances I showed her were what she experiences when reading chinese novels translated by highschool students.Dinged off a ½ star for those instances.

Second, the magic system. The way it was really introduced had me going “That’s a Brandon Sanderson Mistborn knockoff!” Pushing and pulling against magic swords and daggers to move objects or yourself? Vin!checkbox

Thankfully, it does go on to be a “little” more original, but the way it was introduced really wasn’t handled well. Problem is, later things get messy again when Faulk gets cut off from the magic but “magically” is able to reconnect using some other way. Terms are thrown around but it made no sense to me. This happened near the end of the book though so I was pretty much past caring if I had missed something. Ding. There goes another ½ star.

The characters. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be rooting for anyone, or just against the Aavarian overlords and then the Exiled Lunarian. Faulk was this uber-sceptic with the philosophy of a 2nd grader. The love interest, Yuweh, was this magical powerhouse but then would turn around and be this incredibly naive and simple “girl”. Purposeful or not, I didn’t like either of them. At the end, there is this semi-sex scene between them. Up to that point Keene had kept things clean. But they are at a pool bathing together and he describes their foreplay like an awkward 14 year old and then ends with something like “and they laid down and made love”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t WANT to read erotica, or even semi-graphic sex scenes. But it offends my completist sensibilities that you’d clumsily yet graphically describe their foreplay but not the actual act? Considering that nothing like this is described earlier, its obviously put in to titillate the reader. But the only people going to be titillated by such amateur descriptions are 14 year old boys. The rest of us are just going to roll our eyes. Ding, another ½ star.

There is a bunch of other stuff too, but really, isn’t that enough? I’m not getting paid as an Editor here.

So lets do the math, because nothing is sexier than a man in suspenders and a flannel shirt doing “math”.

3 Stars is my starting point.

Add 1 for getting me to read the book in the first place.

Subtract ½ for mucking around it with it AFTER it is already published.

Subtract ½ for acting like an anxious man whose wife is pregnant with their first child.

Subtract ½ for Awkwardness.

Subtract ½ for the magic system and Sandersonitis.

Subtract ½ for the terrible and just plain embarrassing foreplay scene.

The grand total should be…..* calculator noises *

0.5!!!! Oh wait, no. Hold on. Carry the five, divide the 2, add the 1/2’s. Dang this “new math”.

1.5 STARS FOR THE WIN!!! (Where is Vanna when you really need her?)

All kidding aside, this wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, not even close. But it was barely adequate with enough issues that I certainly won’t be reading any more by Keene. Between this and Algorithm of Power, I have also reaffirmed my decision about indies in general.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Voyage of the Sable Keech (Polity: Spatterjay #2) ★★★★☆

voyagesablekeech (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 Voyage of the Sable Keech
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 593
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Taylor Bloc, a reif and new leader of what is left of the Cult of Anubis the Risen, commissions a gigantic ship to be built on Spatterjay. He convinces all of the remaining cult reifs and a lot of those who had left, to pay for a voyage following in the footsteps of Sable Keech and at the end of voyage this will allow them all to undergo the change and get their original bodies back, just like Keech. He hires a bunch of Hoopers, convinces Janers Anders to come along and kidnaps Erlan to get her on board. Throw in that the Hive Mind Janers is working for is now dealing with another hive mind, the fact that Bloc is insane and controlling a hooder with Prador thrawl tech and that some golems show up on board without anyone knowing why and bam, you have a situation.

On top of that, Vrell, the young prador from the previous book survives and makes it to his now dead father’s ship. He is infecteed with the spatterjay virus and doesn’t know what that is going to lead to. A Prador war vessel comes from the Prador Kingdom on direct orders from the King to make sure that Vrell doesn’t get off Spatterjay alive. Somehow the King has mastered the virus himself and doesn’t want any but his descendants to have access to the powers it gives a prador. So it is up to Sniper, a Polity wardrone, to save a prador so said prador can cause chaos in the kingdom. Talk about irony.

The final storyline follows a giant whelk. Think a giant slug with tentacles and a conch shell. It is hunting down Erlan for killing one of it’s offspring but gets sidetracked and ends up going after some other Hooper ships. A lot of carnage happens, a LOT!

In the end the golems are revealed as agents of the other hivemind, which is having an argument with itself and can’t decide if splitting into 2 minds is worse than death or not. It decides to die. Sable Keech is revealed as one of the reifs, as he has been hunting down Blok for crimes in the Polity. Sniper and Polity AI come to an agreement with Vrell. The whelk gives up on her revenge and just has more babies.

 

My Thoughts:

Dropped this a whole star because of the giant whelk rape/sex scene. Yes, you read that right. Asher delivers a gigantic “nature in the raw” sex scene. Including a corkscrew penis. What the frack man!?!?!?!?!?!? And why the heck didn’t I think to warn myself about it back in my review in 2011? I’m wondering if I repressed the whole thing.

Other than that, this was probably just as gory and violence filled as The Skinner. Of course, throwing a hooder into the mix was guaranteed to do that! I think this trilogy is the high tide of Asher’s violence. I don’t remember any of his other books quite reaching the heights scaled here. Some may be sad, some may be happy about that. I for one am in the sad group. Aliens and entrail ripping just go together in my book. Like peanutbutter and pickles on toast.

I liked this book. I liked all the various storylines and how they fleshed out each other even while not necessarily being needed for each other. I liked the few times that we really got to see the Old Captains in action. I thought the prador Vrell’s storyline was the weakest. However, it did really come across to me just how long ago the Prador/Polity war was. It didn’t happen 15 years ago. It’s been long enough that most people aren’t even sure it actually DID take place. Not only does the space continuum of the Polity continue to expand with each book, but so does the time side of things. This is a firmly established universe and little things like that remind us the readers of that fact.

One regret’y type thing is that after this trilogy I don’t think we see the Hive Minds again. I would really like to see a book dedicated to that at some point. Oh well, if it hasn’t happened by now, it probably won’t.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

 

Light (Kefahuchi Tract #1) ★☆☆☆☆

light (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: Light
Series: Kefahuchi Tract #1
Author: M. John Harrison
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 432
Format: Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

So much purposeful distortion that I’m not even going to bother to try to put up a synopsis. Trash like this isn’t worth it.

 

My Thoughts:

I wasted my time reading this bloody piece of bolluxy crap.

The author is a clever fellow. You can tell because he’s always having his characters do drugs, have sex and vomit. Nothing speaks more cleverly than multiple times of vomiting. Even as I’m typing I’m vomiting, on the floor, so that this review will be so much more cleverer.

I was expecting a real SF story. What I got was some pretentious wanker’s drug induced hallucinogenic anal excretions.

This is the kind of writing that I would expect a brainless Oscar/Emmy/Whatever Winner to nod sagely about and say something along the lines of * insert typical hollywood soundbyte blather * or some Literati to talk about its 77 different layered meanings to each of us. In other words, total bs.

To close, this book brought me near to Patrick Rothfuss levels of rage.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge

 

Moon over Soho (Peter Grant #2) ★★★☆☆

moonoversoho (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: Moon over Soho
Series: Peter Grant #2
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 306
Format: Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Peter Grant must figure out why jazz musicians are falling over dead for no apparent reason [they’re jazz musicians, so the Universe itself kills them, duh!] and why there appears to be a rogue magician on the loose, when there aren’t supposed to be ANY magicians on the loose, rogue or otherwise.

 

My Thoughts:

First. Jazz. I hate the stuff. I’d stick one those super long q-tips from Nightmare on Elm Street into my brain before voluntarily listening to the stuff. I find it disgusting. So to have the whole book be about jazz musicians did me no favors whatsoever.

Second, and more important, was the gratuitous lust scenes between Grant and one of the side characters in this book. It bordered on the pornographic and was not something I want in my entertainment. Making the connection between Grant and the character, Simone could have been handled so much less sleasily and still gotten the same affect at the end of the book.

My respect for Aaronovitch took a nosedive and I don’t plan on reading any more of the Peter Grant/Rivers of London books.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

 

Mr Mercedes (Bill Hodges #1) ★★★☆☆

mrmercedes

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Mr Mercedes
Series: Bill Hodges #1
Author: Stephen King
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 449
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis: Spoilers!!

A madman runs through a crowd of jobseekers, using a stolen Mercedes. He is never caught and the detective in charge, Bill Hodges, retires and always regrets that he never caught Mr Mercedes.

Then Mr Mercedes sends a letter to Bill, taunting him. And the chase is on. Mr Mercedes wants to break Hodges and make him commit suicide while Hodges wants to catch Mr Mercedes. Other people get involved. Things get personal for Hodges with the death of a lady friend. Mr Mercedes decides to go out with a bang at a teeny bopper concert put on by the nations latest and greatest boyband.

Hodges, with help, prevails and Brady, aka Mr Mercedes, ends up in a coma.

* very weak cheering *

Yay…?

 

My Thoughts: Spoilers!!

Did a buddy read of this with BookCupidity. Unfortunately, due to life circumstances, BC wasn’t able to participate as much as hoped in the back and forth. However, I was able to do a couple of updates as I read this, so this review is pretty much a compilation of those updates.

First, and most importantly in my mind, there is NOTHING supernatural going on in this book. This is just a detective thriller about chasing a madman who is halfway intelligent. I read King, once a year in October, for his supernatural, other worldly, stuff. So that was a huge disappointment for me.

Second, the whole relationship between Brady the villain and his drunk mom. It was incestuous and while they never actually had sex, it was clear that they toed that line. It turned my stomach. Also, being inside Brady’s mind was not a pleasant experience nor was it one I ever wish to repeat. Which leads into the next point.

Third. I am done with King now. Every year I vacillate about whether I’ll keep reading him. He can write a heck of a story. He draws me in every time and makes the characters and situations come to life. But this? It was just filthy and disgusting and I am done using my brain as a filter for that kind of thing. In some ways that is a relief, as I don’t have to wonder every year what I’ll be exposing myself to in my next King read, but there is also a tinge of regret as I know that King has some great stories that I probably would have really enjoyed. But there are things that are not worth desensitizing myself to just for entertainments sake.

And the ending, where Brady wakes up from his coma, caused by being bashed in the head multiple times to prevent him from blowing the plastic explosives at the concert, was just lame. That should have happened in the 3rd chapter and he is then possessed by supernatural powers and Hodges goes toe to toe with Evil Incarnate. THAT is what I expect from a King book. This was like a weak version of the Strawmen Trilogy by Michael Marshall, in tone.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Bookstooge’s Mr Mercedes Posts
  2. BookCupidity’s Mr Mercedes Posts

Gridlinked (Polity: Agent Cormac #1)

f2b208bce78706c15c3978ba6b1567be

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Gridlinked
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 433
Format: Kindle Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Ian Cormac has been gridlinked for 30 years where 20 years is supposed to be the maximum. Ian’s effectiveness in the service of Earth’s AI is what caused the continued link. Recently though, Ian has started exhibiting signs of gridlink addiction, an inability to interact with other humans and unable to think for himself.

When a planetwide accident happens on the remote world of Samarkand and an extraterrestial alien known as Dragon reappears, Earth Central sends in Agent Cormac. However, the AI always has games within games within games and having unplugged Ian, allows his enemies to know where he is going. Why solve 1 problem when you can solve 5?

 

My Thoughts

Another home run of a read.  Having read Asher starting in 2010, with this book and continuing on his Polity series, it was good to re-read this and see how his writing has been polished up. Make no mistake, this was rough writing; not bad, but without some of the polish you see in later books.

If I had to choose one word to describe this all, Ultra-violence would be that word. Entrails, brain matter, dismembered limbs, broken, burst, or burnt body parts, alien flesh or fluid spattered across the landscape. Guns, garrottes, bombs, knives, lasers, bare hands [or golem hands as the case may be], alien teeth, cars, spaceships, all are used as weapons. It is phracking awesome!

This is a novel, and series, about Humanity and Post Humanity. If a human can live for 200 years, upload his mind to a golem body if he so chooses all the while living in a society run by A.I.’s of godlike intelligence, what kind of society will emerge? Asher doesn’t get sidetracked from his story to show us the nitty-gritty but we do get little peeks here and there. And those little glimpses are fascinating.

To the plotmobile! Space-gates connect planets. One explodes and destroys a worlds’ population. Ian must investigate and figure out what is going on. At the same time, some of Ian’s old enemies are tracking him down to kill him. Add in an alien and my goodness, you have so many chainsaws in the air that any guess might kill you if wrong.

The whole idea of aug’s and messing around with your mind to expand it intrigues me to no end. The idea of A.I.’s ruling humanity in the background while letting humanity grow mentally is also fascinating. Of course,the whole thing is predicated on the idea that something better can come from something lesser. A machine intelligence that is greater than humanity and without humanity’s flaws. Great idea, but I can’t buy it for real and so it kicks me out of the story occasionally.

Overall, I loved this book, was just as intrigued this time around as I was in ’10, loved the violence, love the mystery of the plot and am looking forward to the rest of the series. These rereads have been good so far and so I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Let’s see if I can put that off for a bit, shall we?

Here’s some alternate covers, because some of these are just plain awesome. I’m usually not a big fan of putting pictures into reviews, but in this case, I feel some of these represent the book better than the cover here, especially the last one.

star45full-custom

 

 

 

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20120813-184242

 

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