The Lives of Tao (The Lives of Tao #1) ★★★★☆

livesoftao (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 Lives of Tao
Series: The Lives of Tao #1
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition



Tao is an alien. An amorphous creature that along with a whole ship of his kind, crashed on Earth 1 bajillion years ago. They cannot long live in our atmosphere but have found that if they inhabit a terrestial life form, it protects them. And they can communicate with and in some cases control, their host. Tao has been in symbiosis with some of the greatest characters in human history, as the aliens want humans to advance enough so they can build them a spaceship to get the aliens back home.

Some hundreds of years ago the aliens split along lines of domination and mutualism in regards to humans. The Gengix want to dominate humans and force them into endless wars to produce better and better tech, hence getting the Gengix home quicker. The Prophus, of whom Tao is part, want humans to advance peacefully so the Prophus leave the planet in better condition than they found it when they all leave.

Tao’s latest host was killed and Tao had to inhabit Roen Tan, a lazy, fat, apathetic and generall all around useless piece of humanity. But Tao, a high ranking Prophus, doesn’t let Roen stay that way. With help from other Prophus members and humans working for the Prophus, Roen is turned into a decent fighting machine. Which is good, because the Gengix end up kidnapping his girlfriend and training mentor and he has to lead a group of special forces to rescue them both and find out just what the Gengix are up to.


My Thoughts:

If you had had me read Time Salvager and this back to back, I would have sworn they were written by different people. Glad I didn’t give up on Chu after TS was such a phracking load of debacle’ness.

Now, with that being said, I still didn’t care for Roen Tan for the entirety of the book. His attitudes were everything I’ve ever despised, namely, that selfish apathy that is impermeable to any and all reason and takes the path of least resistance every single time. He got better by the end but was still thick as mud sometimes and had me shaking my head. It was obviously deliberate on Chu’s part and I can roll with it, but it is something to be aware of. It is also something that had better not be in the next 3 books or I’ll dnf. One book I can handle, not an entire series.

For some reason I was under the impression that this was going to be funny and comedic. Not so much really. A few quips here and there were really about it. It was dealing with humanity as a whole being used by an alien race for their own ends and some of the horrific things the aliens had caused, like the bubonic plague, Chernobyl, World War I and II, the atomic bomb, etc. Death and Destruction on a scale that is almost unimaginable.

The split of the aliens into factions between the Gengix and the Prophus, I’m not sure why Chu chose to do that except to show that all life is approximately the same the universe over, ie, corrupt and terrible? I repudiate that, but on theological not philosphical grounds.

I was reminded a couple of times of the tv show Chuck. While Tao doesn’t magically allow Roen to become a super karate expert like the Intersect did for Chuck, the whole idea of having a wealth of knowledge in one’s head was almost the same.

The badguys were pretty good badguys. The Gengix and their human hosts were wonderfully despicable and the only thing I love better than a bad badguy is a good goodguy. Since I didn’t get that, I had to settle for the first half of the equation.

I guess why I’m giving this 4stars is that I stayed up past midnight to finish this because I wanted to see how things worked out. That says a lot to me when a book can hook me like that. Hopefully the next 3 in the series can keep that hook in.



bookstooge (Custom)



The Return ★★☆☆☆

thereturn (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 Return
Series: ———-
Author: Joseph Helmreich
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 256
Format: Digital Edition



Andrew Leland was abducted by aliens on national tv. Six years later, he is found wandering in the desert but claims to have no memory of ever being abducted.

College student, and genius, Shawn Ferris practically worshipped Leland for his ideas in whatever science they both are in. But being a Millennial, Shawn doesn’t believe that Leland has any right to keep his experience a secret. So he begins a correspondence under false pretenses and discusses theory and such stuff with Leland. Shawn then hunts Leland down only to be abducted himself by a super secret agency that Leland ran away from.

Shawn is convinced to work for them to help defend Earth against an alien invasion. But when he is chased and shot at by security for not toe’ing the company line, Shawn realizes somethin is off. On the run, Shawn is rescued by Leland and together they try to avoid detection by Ambius. It turns out Leland built a protective barrier for the aliens to keep humans out and Ambius used Shawn to reverse engineer it and figure out how to invade the aliens planet. Meanwhile, the aliens want to invade Earth to put a stop to the threat that humanity poses but they can’t because of the barrier. So when Ambius invades, they’ll be opening Earth up to an invasion as well.

Shawn and Leland kill some people, steal the artifact that it was all about and Shawn destroys the artifact. Leland realizes too late that the artifact is actually the alien he was in love with while on the planet.

The End.


My Thoughts:

What a piece of trash this was. While I noticed absolutely nothing wrong with the grammar, etc, both Shawn and Leland are Grade A jackasses. And since they are the supposed good guys, you can imagine what the bad guys are like.

Shawn is a know it all, butt hurt little prick. His insistance that Leland has no “right” to keep what he knows to himself is the epitomy of everything I despise today. Privacy, phhhh. I did not like Shawn at all. Leland was even worse though. He was super powered due to something the aliens had done to him and could almost literally walk through a hail of bullets but all he could think about was his lost alien love back on Planet X. He wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t even try. He just wanted humanity to die. He made the choice to come back and then does nothing but wish he had stayed.

I enjoyed the idea of the story and if the characters had been more likeable or sympathetic, I probably would have enjoyed this and recommended it. But as it is, I won’t recommend this to anyone and will be staying away from anything that Joseph Helmreich may write in the future.



bookstooge (Custom)



We are Legion (We are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) ☆☆☆☆½ DNF’d at 8%

wearelegion (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: We are Legion (We are Bob)
Series: Bobiverse #1
Author: Dennis Taylor
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 383 / DNF’d at 8%
Format: Digital Edition



DNF’d at 8%


My Thoughts:

Forget the countries run by tyrants working on nukes. Forget the hordes of militant Islamics raping their way across Europe and Africa. Forget the Russians & Chinese and their militant outlook and history of war, pillaging and conquering. Oh no…


Ok, I laid it on a bit thick there with all those exclamation points. But one thing this book did do for me was make me realize how some people are so blinded and what vision they do have is so skewed, that for all intents and purposes, we’re not even seeing the same world.



bookstooge (Custom)



Death Becomes Her (Kurtherian Gambit #1) ★★★☆½

deathbecomesher (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: Death Becomes Her
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #1
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 271
Format: Digital Edition



Michael, the Father of All Vampires, is awoken after one of his children is killed. He sets out to find a replacement but there is only 1 candidate that fits Michaels very exacting standards. He contacts General Reynolds to setup the interview.

Bethany Anne Reynolds, a black ops of black ops agent, has been diagnosed with an incurable blood disease that will kill her in less than 6months. She has only told 2 people, neither of them being her father. So when she is summoned to her father’s base, she assumes one of the two spilled the beans.

Bethany Anne is recruited by Michael. She is now officially dead and her record of existence has been closed. However, Bethany Anne was not recruited to simply be a new child of Michael’s, but Michael’s own replacement as he realized that events in the world were moving faster than his 1000 year old brain could handle. New blood was needed (I think I made that pun all by myself!).

It turns out that what turned Michael into a sunwalking alpha vampire a millenia ago was an alien scout sent to change any sentient races it found into beings capable of fighting an enemy that the aliens, the Kurtherians, were no longer able to fight. Now with an alien computer in her head, Michael disappeared and the kickass attitude that has gotten her through life so far, Bethany Anne must face down all of Michael’s children plus all the residents of the Unknown World (what the supernaturals refer to themselves as collectively).

The book ends with Bethany Anne forming a new proto-team of her own and taking down of Michael’s grandchildren who had gotten out of line. But with the Forsaken, children of Michael who have rejected all his strictures, life, or death, isn’t going to be easy for Bethany Anne.


My Thoughts:

My first impression of Bethany Anne (you have NO idea how sick to death I became of that two name nomeclature by the time this book was done) was that I hated her guts. She was piss and vinegar with a bad attitude. Thankfully, once she is made over by the alien machine, and starts acting like an alpha vampire, it’s more palatable. I still don’t particularly care for her, but I stopped actively disliking her by the end.

There was a lot of setup in this book, what with introducing vampires, the shape changers and then the whole “alien” thing. That took this from a “so stereotypical urban fantasy that I want to gag” to a much wider scope of story that could be, and will be, told. Also, Bethany Anne didn’t have any love interest in this book at all, so that was nice.

The action scene where she destroys the werewolves and then goes after the vampire that set them on her was nice and I wish there had been more of that. But at under 300 pages, Anderle had to really choose what to include in this and honestly, I think he did a good job of balancing everything.

This was another book that came across my radar because of PG’s Ramblings. He was dead on about the profanity too, so be aware of that. It only took me a year to get around to reading this. So take that into consideration if I ever tell you that your review has inspired me to read Book X. It’ll be a while

* grin *



bookstooge (Custom)



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



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)


Sandworms of Dune (Dune 7 #2) ★☆☆☆☆

sandwormsofdune (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: Sandworms of Dune
Series: Dune 7 #2
Author: Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 628
Format: Digital Edition



Duncan and the crew of the Ithaca, along with several gholas, have adventures and get caught by Omnius. Duncan, as the best Kwisatz Haderach EVAH!!!!!, is the apex of humanity and does some kinky stuff with Erasmus, the thinking Robot. Then Erasmus dies. But not before Norma Cenva, the Oracle of Time, has saved the day with her Guild and using her magic powers makes all the versions of Omnius go poof.

Murbella singlehandedly forces the known forces of humanity to band together, only to have it all fall apart due to the machinations of the face dancers. But Norma Cenva, Oracle of Time, saves the day with her guild!

Before Erasmus dies, he kills all the face dancers across the whole universe using “technology”, ie, magic. And Norma Cenva, the Oracle of Time….oh wait, not this time.

Now Grand Poobah Duncan, more powerful than any human who has ever existed, must guide humanity and the rest of the thinking machines, into a future where they all get along while singing kum by ya and roasting smores around a campfire.


My Thoughts:

Back in 2007, I read and reviewed Sandworms of Dune. Overall, I was wicked happy with it, giving it 4stars. That was, unbeknownst to me then, simply due to the finishing up of the storyline of Dune.

This time around I read as a more mature Dune fan and I have to say, I felt like throwing up at this juvenile, facile and stinking putrescence of a book. I didn’t even take notes of all the things I found abhorrent as it would have given this way more attention than I wanted to give it.

Trained Bene Gesserit Sisters being ambushed in plain sight by what amounts to no more than farmers. Duncan ignoring everything that came before about the dangers of prescience and claiming that he was better than both Paul and Leto II and so the dangers didn’t apply to him. Everything that Frank Herbert wrote about, using Paul, as Paul Muad’dib, as the Preacher of Arrakeen, Leto II as the Tyrant, simply flushed down the toilet like it was a huge stinking turd so that that mediocre jackass authors could do what they wanted with this story. I want to blaspheme it makes me so angry.

The writing was just atrocious with its utter banality. Frank usually didn’t write about the Great Big Events either, but he always used the small stuff afterwards to show how the GBE affected everything around it. His writing was masterful in that regards. Anderson put his stamp of complete mediocre writing on this book very heavily. Ham handed and dull, what a combo.

Normally, a bad book like this gets me raving and writing up a storm. This time, I’m just disappointed. Really disappointed. The kind of disappointment that makes a father disown his only son. I’m giving this my “worst book of the year” tag I’m so disappointed.

I now declare:

Henceforth, let it be known amongst the nations, to all peoples, kindreds, tribes and tongues, that Bookstooge, whose works the mighty look upon and despair, shall only read Dune as a standalone. Paul Muad’dib shall live happily ever after and his reign shall be long, prosperous and fair. The known universe shall benefit, from the lowliest servant to the mightiest lord and all shall love Paul and call his named blessed.

Bookstooge thus declares it and thus reality shall alter to his will.

All Hail Bookstooge, Emperor of the Known Bookiverse!


bookstooge (Custom)




The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 ★★★★★

sfhalloffame (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 Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964
Series: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame #1
Editor: Robert Silverberg
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 576
Format: Trade paperback



A collection of short stories voted by members of the Science Fiction Authors Guild (or something or other like that) as the best of. A popularity contest of stories from the 30’s to the 60’s. No author had more than one story and the book was presented chronologically, so we as the readers could see how things progressed storywise in 30 years.


My Thoughts:

Danielle from Books, Vertigo and Tea reviewed this recently and brought it to my attention. What a fantastic read.

First off, this was originally published back in 1970, I believe. It was released again in 2005 and then just released digitally in 2018. Obviously not a new book. I read this at lunch beginning sometime in March and just finished it this past week. Short stories really lend themselves to no pressure reading and going at a slow pace. Sometimes you need that in a busy, hectic book life like mine.

I had read over ½ of these 26 stories, as growing up in the 80’s and addicted to SF meant I was familiar with almost all of these authors, even if just by name. This was good stuff! If you’ve never read Vintage SF, this is a good place to start. Even if you don’t like every story (and I didn’t like every one either), you’ll get the flavor of what those years produced and if an author strikes your fancy, you can then go on and investigate on your own.

In many ways, I think that Science Fiction shines through the short story medium. Ideas are presented and there is no extraneous fluff or junk to ruin it. And if your imagination isn’t up to snuff to get you excited about ideas, then you probably shouldn’t be reading SF in the first place.

I bought this used in trade paperback through Amazon but I think the stories are good enough that I’m going to have to put the hardcover on my wishlist. In terms of Short Story Collections, this falls squarely between Asimov’s Complete Stories Vol 1 and Asimov’s Complete Stories Vol 2. I do plan on buying, in used trade paperback again, Volumes 2 & 3, which are the best novella’s of that time period. Hopefully they are as good as these stories.




bookstooge (Custom)