The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings Prequel) ★★★★★

hobbit (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 Hobbit
Series: The Lord of the Rings Prequel
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 235
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. Who ends up with a wizard and 13 dwarves for dinner. And somehow gets finagled into going on an adventure to recover the dwarves lost treasure, that is guarded by the dragon Smaug.

Along the way Bilbo meets elves, runs away from goblins, plays a riddle game in the dark with Gollum for his life, finds a ring of invisibility, flies on eagles’ wings, fights giant spiders and is almost eaten by 3 trolls.

Eventually he and the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain and Laketown. They rouse the dragon and Bard of Laketown kills Smaug and then elves, humans and dwarves prepare to fight over the treasure. Until a huge goblin army shows up and everybody fights them. The good guys win, the treasure is shared and Bilbo returns home a better, wiser and more eccentric hobbit than ever.

 

My Thoughts:

What a book. I’ve read this enough times that nothing is a surprise. And yet… I am still in awe at how Tolkien weaves such a children’s tale so as to keep me intrigued, for the umpteenth time.

What do I say? A simple tale of adventure that is the prequel to one of the worlds most renowned fantasy series? A tale of bravery, generosity and kindness overcoming perils, greed and hatred? A stout heart being greater than a dragon? I just don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of this just like I have all the previous times and I don’t have any issues with it.

Well, except maybe all the singing. I wouldn’t have minded if there hadn’t been any singing. In regards to the singing though, the only thing I can say positively about the horrific movie trilogy is that the song by the dwarves in Bilbo’s house is absolutely haunting and enchanting. Who knows how long this link will exist, but here’s a youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ymgFyzbDo

If only the Silmarillion had been this interesting. Well, at least I’ve got the rest of the Trilogy to look forward too!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird ★★★★★

tokillamockingbird (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 Kill a Mockingbird
Series: ———-
Author: Harper Lee
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Jem and Scout Finch are growing up. Scout has to go to school and while she’s learned to argue with her lawyer father Atticus, some times Dad just puts his foot down. Scout makes friends with a boy her own age named Dill who comes to live with his aunt each summer. Dill wants to see Boo Radley, a mysterious recluse who lives next door to the Finch’s.

Atticus takes on a case where a black man is accused of raping a white woman. Atticus is afraid of how it is going to affect both Jem and Scout as gossip mongers in town are now calling Atticus a nigger lover and that attitude trickles down to the children. Atticus make hash of the prosecutors case but the jury isn’t swayed and convict the man to death. While in prison awaiting appeal he tries to escape (his right arm is withered and of no use) and is gunned down by the guards. The father of the woman making the accusations realizes how Atticus destroyed his story and vows revenge on him even though he won the case.

Jem and Scout are returning home one night from the Halloween party at school when they are attacked by an unknown assailant. Jem’s arm is broken and he’s knocked on the head. The assailant begins to try to choke Scout to death but due to her costume (a ham made from chicken wire and paper mache) is foiled. The assailant is in turn assailed by a mysterious rescuer and this person takes an unconscious Jem home. Turns out the assailant was the father who swore vengeance on Atticus. The rescuer? Boo Radley, a sickly albino.

The book ends with the Sheriff telling Atticus that the vengeance swearer fell on his own knife and that nobody, especially not Boo Radley, stabbed him to protect the children.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness. What a great book. A story told by an adult remembering everything through the eyes of a 7-9 year old girl.

While everyone always focuses on the case with the black man and that Boo Radley is real and saves Scout, to Scout, who is telling the story, they aren’t any more important than the day at school when the teacher smacked her hand because she explained how some of the kids thought. This is a book about growing up and not realizing it until years later.

I don’t know exactly what to say here. I am glad that books like this are still read in schools. Maybe being older has given me an appreciation for just what Lee did here? I found the idea of “Scout” telling the story to be perfect. The occasional interjections by her as her older self simply brought out what she missed as a child. At the same time, I never felt hit over the head by Lee writing ham-handedly or TRYING to “make a point”. She makes her points very casually and lets it be up to the reader just how much they actually want to “get”.

I know I saw the movie several times during middleschool and highschool but I can’t remember if I ever actually read this before. I am glad I did read this now and I look forward to a re-read in 10’ish years.

This is a well written, engaging book that you can read for pure enjoyment if you so desire or you can read it as a classic tale of growing up in the South or you can read it as an activist and use it to bash people over the head with your SJW ideals. In this regards Lee is like a firearms manufacturer. She lets you, the user, decide just how to use this book.

As it should be.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Darkside War (Icarus Corps #1) ★★☆☆½

darksidewar (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 Darkside War
Series: Icarus Corps #1
Author: Zachary Brown
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA SF
Pages: 241
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The aliens have conquered us. They destroyed Washington, DC, made examples of other capitals of the world and now occupy Earth. And they are the good aliens.

Devlin’s parents are the leaders of the Protest Movement. After millions died in violent protest, it was thought that only non-violent protesting was the way to go. Unfortunately for humanity, “protesting” is a 4 letter word for the aliens. Devlin is caught in a sweep and unless he joins the aliens new hybrid armed forces, his parents will be executed on world wide television.

Devlin goes to military academy on the darkside of the moon. The bad aliens make a sneak attack and it is up to the recruits to get a message to Earth to warn them. They succeed but find out that there are what appear to be humans working for the bad aliens and that the bad aliens have blockaded Earth’s system and we’re on our own.

The book ends with Humanity swinging into a full time war footing alongside the good aliens instead of under their boot.

 

My Thoughts:

This was everything I was afraid Red Rising was going to be. (RR turned into a good, fun book thankfully). Imagine that the Millennials now run the world and aliens invade.

I just kept shaking my head in disgust at what was being written. This was deliberately Young Adult (but with a boatload of profanity) in tone but even still, the whole mindset of the characters were so “today” that it hurt. I was thinking, Robert Heinlein wrote a lot of juvenile books with young protaganists but they were still competent human beings. These kids in this book? Bunch of special snowflakes. I mean, the main character punches a girl while wearing power armor because she steps between him and another guy who hate each other. I don’t care what anyone says, unless your life is in danger, you don’t hit women, period. A man is so much physically stronger and as such needs to keep himself under control. The profanity level is also another indicator of just how out of control these characters are. If you as an author are going to write simplified SF, then that type of language has no place in it. These weren’t military recruits swearing because that was the mythos but because they were selfish, stupid kids who couldn’t control themselves for 1 minute.

Then the whole “Peaceful Protest” thing. This assumes that the people/aliens you are protesting against actually care about what you think. Once again, it is a completely modern YA idea that everybody cares about ME because I’m so special, blah, blah, blah. I realize that Earth was completely bent over by the aliens and that millions died in the occupation, but my goodness, where is the Underground military? You’d think they’d have their young people infiltrate the alien/human army and learn about the aliens and their weaponry, etc. But nooooooooo.

The final issue I had was how much Devlin simply “changes”. He’s a spoiled kid at the beginning and now is some sort of leader in the new army at the end. He goes through a LOT during the bad aliens attack and in warning the Earth has chances to really grow up, but it wasn’t written in such a way that I believed he did grow up.

The idea for this book is great. Even when I was done reading, I was really tempted to keep on going with the series. ( Reading Over The Shoulder reviewed this last year but never reviewed the later books. Considering they haven’t posted since September, I’m also wondering if they’re just done with blogging.) After writing the above though, I realized this is a book that simply contains too many things that rub me the wrong way.

Not recommended and I won’t be reading any more by “Zachary Brown”, whoever that cowardly piece of excrement is. If you’re going to use a fake name, don’t bloody advertise that you’re using a fake name and that you’re actually a really good writer with awards under your belt. Especially if you’re going to write such a sub-par piece of simplified puff.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) ☆☆☆☆½ DNF@22%

ghostlyechoes (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: Ghostly Echoes
Series: Jackaby #3
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 353/DNF@22%
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

[Miss Rook] “Miss Lee was really a boy, wasn’t she? Underneath”

He slowed and then came to a stop and looked me square in the eyes, “That’s up to her to decide,”

~page 56

 

Yep, I’m done with this author now. Ritter’s going to push the SJW line about gender and cross dressing down my throat, forget it. As much as I enjoyed the previous 2 books, no amount of enjoyment is worth listening to lies for.

By the by, cross dressing is a moral deviancy that indicates some real brokenness inside. It isn’t normal and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s an indicator and Christian professional help should be sought. Just like you wouldn’t tell a man with a broken leg that he’s ok. Even if you can’t fix it, you can tell him to go to a doctors. But denying that there is anything wrong is the height of foolishness.

Man, this is NOT the way I wanted to start out a new month…

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) ★★★☆½

beastlybonesThis 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: Beastly Bones
Series: Jackaby #2
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 305
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Jackaby solves a case of a shapeshifting creature and when that creature’s owner is killed, ostensibly by a vampire, Jackaby and Abigal Rook are on it. When another victim turns up in Gads Valley, where Charlie Cane is now living and with the promise of dinosaur bones, both of our main characters are anxious to be off.

Once in Gads Valley, along with 2 competing archeologists and a strong willed journalist, Jackaby reveals that the bones belong to a dragon, not a dinosaur and there appears to be a live dragon as well. Carnage and mayhem ensue as the dragon, really a shapeshifter from the litter that Jackaby solved right at the beginning of the book, runs rampant. It violently explodes when Abigal throws a lit torch down its throat.

Jackaby and Abigal realize everything has been a distraction to keep them from the mastermind of it all. Abigal kisses Charlie at the train station and once back in New Fiddleham, both protagonists come to the conclusion that the death of their ghost Jenny is tied to everything. Solve her case and the mastermind of supernatural evil will be revealed.

 

My Thoughts:

A cracking fun read. Everything was a slow build up and I have to admit, I did not see the whole changling thing coming at all. That completely surprised me, in a good way.

Jenny the ghost does some poltergeist’y stuff near the beginning so I did know that her story was going to be important and sure enough, by the end of the book, her case is going to be the case that reveals who this supernatural meddler is.

The 2 archeologists and the journalist, along with a hunter who is a friend of Jackaby all provide nice background noise and are pretty much perfect side characters who are good for one book. Charlie and Abigal and their whole romance thing played a bigger part in this book, but more for various characters to tell Abigal what she should do or feel and for Abigal to finally decide on her own. Very modern young lady * eye roll * It was laid on a little thick, but considering this is YA bordering on middle grade, that is kind of to be expected.

Abigal is a great narrator and I’m glad the author didn’t try to change things from the first book and make somebody else do that. She’s feisty and smart and yet at the same time can be very human with being clumsy or not understanding something blindingly obvious to everyone else.

In many ways these remind me of Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic trilogy. The tone is very similar and while Abigal is a little bit older than Eff, Eff had to grow up fast while Abigal had the protection of money. But after this second Jackaby book, I suspect if you like one, you’ll like the other. I sure know I do.

And I have to end this review talking about the cover. I’ve included a large version if you click the pix by the info block. I’m not sure if it is the colors or the simplicity of it or what, but this is just as gorgeous as the first book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Jackaby (Jackaby #1) ★★★☆½

jackaby (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:
Jackaby
Series: Jackaby #1
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Miss Abigail Rook has found herself in New Fiddleham, after running away from her college and absconding with the tuition put forth by her parents. Wanting adventure, yet afraid of her parents censure, Abigail took a “tour” of Europe. Which was mostly digging uselessly through mud looking for dinosaur bones.

Now in America, Abigail is looking for work that will support her until she can figure out how to have a proper adventure. She comes across an advertisement as an Assistant and this in turn leads her to Mr. R.F. Jackaby, investigator of the unknown. Jackaby is eccentric at best and with his unusual hat and long trailing scarf AND his ability to see supernatural entities, wasn’t quite what Abigail was looking for.

Sucked in to an ongoing murder investigation, Abigail becomes Jackaby’s new assistant. More murders occur and in the end Abigail and Jackaby and Jack Cane face off against a Red Hat fairy, whose mundane existence comes as a surprise to them all.

Jack is revealed to be a shapeshifter and saves Abigail’s life. This leads to him being dismissed from the force at New Fiddleham but he ends up in another small town and continues communicating with Abigail. The fairy has the kabosh put on it, Jackaby solves the case and the police inspector involved is promoted to Chief until a new one can be voted in.

 

My Thoughts:

Rec’ed by Simply a Book Drunkard.

This was in the young adult section of my library and after my conversation with Milou on her review I knew this was YA. Thankfully, none of the tropes that make most YA books so abhorrent to me were present in this and I do plan on reading the next 3 to finish the series.

Jackaby is eccentric at best and would be infuriating as a character if he was the main focus. Thankfully, we as readers get him filtered through Abigail and makes him mostly eccentric. With his funny hat and scarf, the mental picture I have of him is Dr Who when played by Tom Baker.

tombaker

Doctor Who? Doctor Jackaby you jackass!

I enjoyed this book, as it rolled along and Abigail is very good narrator. The hint of romance between her and Jack Cane was masterfully done and walked the line of not being obnoxious and not existing. I liked it. It is made clear from the get-go that Abigail and Jackaby are not an item, so no triangle. Jackaby hints at a mysteriously sad instance of love lost of his own, so I figure we’ll see more of that storyline resolved.

I enjoyed this a lot and it was on track to be a solid 4star read before I read one small thing that knocked it down half a star.

“Saint George’s legend tells of the dangers of mythical creatures, and the value of man asserting dominance over them. Manu’s tale, quite conversely, stresses the value of mercy, coexistence, and peaceful symbiosis.”

– Jackaby to Abigal Rook

Coexistence. That is one of those words that is a loaded phrase nowadays and displays such an astonishing amount of ignorance of all the various religions of the world. It is condescending in tone, with the implications that what you may believe doesn’t really matter as long as you get along (however that is defined, and seems to differ from person to person). This is an obvious sore spot for me and won’t make an impression on most other readers.

Overall, I was very pleased with my read of this book. It was short, told an engaging story, didn’t wallow in hormones or sentimentality and gave me a couple hrs of enjoyment. It also helps that the series is finished so I know I can go through all 4 books and then be done.

★★★☆½

bookstooge

 

 

A Murder of Mages (Maradaine Constabulary #1) ★★★☆☆

murderofmages (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: A Murder of Mages
Series: Maradaine Constabulary #1
Author: Marshall Maresca
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 341
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Satrine Rainey, former Intelligence Officer, wife of a former Maradaine Constable and mother of two, must forge her way into the Constabulary as an Inspector Third Class so as to provide for her family. Her husband, hurt on duty, is now a human vegetable and his superiors have hung him out to dry, financially speaking. Satrine successfully gets the job. She is paired up with Minox Welling, an uncircled mage who uses rather unorthodox investigative methods. Minox’s nickname is Jinx, as he has already lost 3 partners.

They begin by investigating the murder of a mage who had his heart cut out. More murders follow, apparently without much rhyme or reason beyond them being of mages. At the same time Satrine has to worry about her deception being found out and kicked off the force.

Her deception is found out when her daughter gets involved with a college student and Satrine puts a very public stop to the relationship. The boy retaliates by telling his daddy who knows the Commisioner, whose seal Satrine forged to get her the job. It all comes crashing down and she is off the force and having to seriously think about being a prostitute to support her family.

Then she figures out what is going with the murders, discovers that her former partner is next on the list and sets out to rescue him even while not officially being on the force. She has the help of 2 other Constables and ends up saving Minox, getting reinstated in the Constabulary and bringing the murderer to justice.

There is another storyline involving Minox and another uncircled mage, but it is very much setup for future books and doesn’t impact this one very much.

 

My Thoughts:

After my mis-adventure with the stupidity of the first Maradaine book, I came into this with extremely low expectations. It is a good thing I did.

Thankfully, none of the characters were complete idiots like the guy in the other book. However, everything, from characterers to plot to motivations, were still very simplistic. There are times I want a simple book, especially after reading one of the Malazan tomes, but there is a difference between simple and simplistic.

I was not impressed with this book at all, but I also didn’t feel like throwing it out the window. That’s about the only praise you’ll get out of me for this. I’m done with Maresca and will leave him to those who enjoy his writing. I am not one of those people.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge