Eaters of the Dead ★★✬☆☆

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: Eaters of the Dead
Series: ———-
Author: Michael Crichton
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 167
Words: 54K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The novel is set in the 10th century. The Caliph of Baghdad, Al-Muqtadir, sends his ambassador, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, on a mission to assist the king of the Volga Bulgars. Ahmad ibn Fadlan never arrives, as he is conscripted by a group of Vikings to take part in a hero’s quest to the north; he is taken along as the thirteenth member of their group to comply with a soothsayer’s requirement for success. In the north, the group battles with the ‘mist-monsters’, or ‘wendol’, a tribe of vicious savages (suggested by the narrator to have been possibly relict Neanderthals) who go to battle wearing bear skins.

Eaters of the Dead is narrated as a scientific commentary on an old manuscript. The narrator describes the story as a composite of extant commentaries and translations of the original story teller’s manuscript. The narration makes several references to a possible change or mistranslation of the original story by later copiers. The story is told by several different voices: the editor/narrator, the translators of the script, and the original author, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who also relates stories told by others. A sense of authenticity is supported by occasional explanatory footnotes with references to a mixture of factual and fictitious sources.

My Thoughts:

Earlier this year Dave reviewed this book and it caught my interest. I’d watched, and enjoyed the movie that was produced based on this book: The 13th Warrior. I’d seen this book on my libraries shelf ever since I was a tween but the title really turned me off. In all honesty, it still does. Without Dave’s review I never would have mustered up enough interest to dive into this.

Sadly, the book isn’t nearly as interesting as the movie and is filled with pointless and fake footnotes. This purports to be a historical document and as such is one of those “Historical Fiction” books where the author makes up wholesale yards of crap to further his story but will insert real historical bits and bobs as well. This has all the historicity of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

I was bored for most of this. It wasn’t exciting, fast paced or very interesting. While not nearly so boring as the Andromeda Strain (I read that back in 2001 but have not yet gotten the review into it’s own post) there were several times that I looked down at the percentage bar on my kindle to see how much I had left. That really isn’t a good sign.

On the bright side, I will end up watching the 13th Warrior sometime this year because of this and can expound on how the movie is a much better product than the book. Thinking about it, that seems to be the case for MANY of Crichton’s books. Feth, even Congo was a better movie than the book!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Quarantine ★★☆☆☆

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: Quarantine
Series: ———-
Author: Greg Egan
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 224
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

Mr Detective-san gets hired to find out why someone kidnapped a woman from an insane asylum. She’s practically a vegetable with no rich relatives, so the police have let it slide.

This all takes place X number of years after a barrier went up in space cutting humanity off from ever reaching the stars. No one knows how or why the barrier exists but it is enough that it does.

In the process of finding Vegetable Girl, Detective-san falls in with a bunch of scyenzetists who believe that aliens put up the barrier to keep the Human Gaze from making the universe into one universe instead of a multiverse where anything is possible.

Detective-san has to do something or other, as to the infinite multitude of Detective-san’s and he gets it done. Only he’s not sure if he got it done or not. But it doesn’t matter because if there really are infinite hims, then at least one of them did it and so the Universe is saved the from the evil Human Gaze (no kidding).

My Thoughts:

First off, despite my snarky “Synopis”, this was not badly written or even thought out. The problem I had with it was just how juvenile it was. By that I mean this is the kind of story that I and my friends would have batted around as teenagers. Nothing wrong with that at all, except that I’m not a teenager now and Egan wasn’t a teenager when he wrote this.

The story ends up ultimately being pointless and whole basic premise rests on there being no God. The whole IDEA that humanity locks reality into one path as they view it but that other beings might not view things the same way, at its core denies that there is a God who views everything and that reality springs from God Himself.

The other issue was how “serious” Egan treats the idea of the multi-verse. I think the multi-verse is a great idea and should be played around with. What I don’t think is that it should be given serious consideration.

Overall, I just didn’t want to like this book and Egan didn’t do one thing to change my mind about it. This is the first Egan book I’ve read and it will definitely be the last. If you’ve read him before and like him, have at him. If you’re into trying out some older but not classic SF, this might fit the bill. Written in the 90’s, it would fit right in with such tv shows as the X-Files and Sliders. At least I enjoyed those.

I chose this cover from Librarything because all of the other ones were piss-poor pathetic stinkos. Even free Gutenberg books have better covers than most of the ones I saw in English.

Rating: 2 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.

Red Noise ★★✬☆☆

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: Red Noise
Series: ———-
Author: John Murphy
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 365
Words: 112.5K



Synopsis:

From Rosie Writes

‘Jane’ or ‘the Miner’ desperately needs food and fuel, so she puts in to an asteroid-based space station, Station 35. Here she is ripped off by the ore company, finds three rival gangs in control and at each others’ throats, while the ‘decent’ population, lead by ‘Mr Shine’ hunker down in the lower depths of the station, except bar-owner/chef Takata and Station Master Herrera, who both refuse to be forced out of the galleria. Jane decides she’s going to clean up the Station and hand it back to ‘decent folks’.

Plans don’t exactly go as expected.

Basically, have you seen any of those old westerns, the ones based on Japanese films, like Seven Samurai, reworked as westerns, or Clint Eastwood’s work, like Fistful of Dollars? Think that aesthetic, but in space.

My Thoughts:

Former Special Space Forces “Jane” is a ronin, a lone cowboy, all by her lonesome and wanting to keep it that way. This is a samurai cowboy in space story with all of the attendent cliches. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, just something to keep in mind.

Unfortunately, this didnt grab me at all. I wasn’t exactly bored or wondering when things would wrap up, but my first reaction upon finishing the book was “that’s it, that’s all I get?” I felt let down. A generally vague dissatisfaction accompanied me throughout my entire read of this book but there is nothing concrete I can point to.

It might be a matter of tastes not aligning. I wouldn’t argue against that interpretation and I won’t say that this is a bad book, but my goodness, it just felt so pedestrian! The tiredness of the main character permeated every aspect of this book and just made it a chore to read.

If you like Samurai Space Cowboys, In Space, this might work for you. Try it. If you’re on the fence, then go read some other reviews and approach cautiously. If you’re an adrenaline junky, then this definitely isn’t for you.

Rating: 2.5 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 Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe #3) ★★★✬☆

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Title: The Rubber Band
Series: Nero Wolfe #3
Author: Rex Stout
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 208
Words: 80.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com
Click on the “Details” to see the Full Synopsis

Nero Wolfe is approached by Anthony Perry, president of the Seaboard Products Corporation, who is concerned that one of his employees is being unjustly accused of theft. A package containing $30,000 has gone missing, and Ramsey Muir, the company’s vice-president is accusing Clara Fox, Perry’s personal assistant. Perry’s meeting with Archie Goodwin is interrupted by Harlan Scovil, who has recently arrived in New York City from Wyoming and is one of a group that has a later appointment with Wolfe. At one point Scovil seems to mistake Perry for another man, Mike Walsh.

Before Archie can attend to Scovil, he is summoned to Perry’s offices, where Muir—motivated by jealousy and spite after Clara rejected his advances—is threatening to call the police. Archie’s preliminary investigations turn up little, and he arrives back to the brownstone to learn that Scovil has left, summoned away by a telephone call. However, the other members of his group have arrived, including the real Mike Walsh, and Archie is surprised to discover that Clara Fox is their leader. Clara wishes to hire Wolfe to recover a sum of money owed to the group by the Marquis of Clivers, a British nobleman in America on confidential government business. Years ago, the group (or in the case of Clara, her father) were a Wild West posse called “The Rubber Band”, and they saved the future Marquis from a lynching. The Marquis promised them a substantial share of his fortune in return but has rebuffed Clara’s claims.

The discussion is interrupted by a police detective who brings the news that Harlan Scovil has been murdered. In his pockets were found the contact details for the Marquis of Clivers, prompting the police — eager to avoid inconveniencing the Marquis and causing diplomatic issues with Britain — to suspect the group of blackmail. Wolfe also learns from Fred Durkin that the police have found the missing $30,000 in Clara’s car, and a warrant has been issued for her arrest. Once the policeman has left, Wolfe questions Fox concerning the stolen money and the murder. Satisfied as to her honesty and innocence on both matters, he accepts her as his client, and persuades her to remain in the brownstone. Mike Walsh rejects Wolfe’s offer of protection and storms out. Wolfe sends a letter to the Marquis informing him of the group’s claims and suggesting that legal action may be taken. He also informs Perry that he will not be investigating on behalf of him or the corporation.

For several days, the numerous charges that Clara is facing mean that Wolfe is forced to keep her as his guest in the brownstone. However the police, led by the obnoxious Lt. Rowcliff, soon arrive with a search and arrest warrant to enter the brownstone and arrest Clara for the theft of the $30,000. Wolfe is outraged by Rowcliff’s impertinence, but is forced to allow the police to search the premises. Clara, however, cannot be found, and once the police have left Wolfe reveals that he concealed her in the orchid rooms.

Wolfe receives a visit from the Marquis of Clivers himself, who insists that he has already paid his debt to the Rubber Band. He claims that the group’s leader, Rubber Coleman, approached him years ago representing the Band, and that on receiving the money Coleman provided him with a receipt signed by the other members. The next day, Archie receives a phone call from Mike Walsh claiming that he has found “him”, only for the call to be ended by a loud noise that sounds like a gunshot. Moments after the call Walsh is found dead, with the Marquis of Clivers standing over the body. Inspector Cramer, Police Commissioner Hombert and District Attorney Skinner arrive at the brownstone and demand that Wolfe share what he has learned about the case. Wolfe produces Clara and provides proof that she neither stole the $30,000 nor murdered Scovil and Walsh. He reveals to the authorities that he is almost ready to solve the case, but one lingering unresolved detail is troubling him.

The next morning, Archie is surprised to find Wolfe slamming wooden boards in the orchid rooms, to no purpose that Archie can see. Wolfe takes notice of Archie’s bundle of papers secured with a rubber band. After doing so, Wolfe has him summon everyone, including Ramsey Muir, Anthony Perry and the Marquis of Clivers, to his office. Once he arrives, the Marquis recognizes Anthony Perry instantly — he is Rubber Coleman. Wolfe reveals that Perry, or rather Coleman, swindled the money from the other members of the Rubber Band and used it to fund his numerous business enterprises, only to discover that Clara was pursuing the Rubber Band’s claim. Coleman hired her to keep her close, and attempted to discourage her from her pursuit but framed her for the theft of the $30,000 when he was unable to do so. Although intending to hire Wolfe to cover his tracks and throw suspicion off himself, Coleman had the misfortune to be recognised by Scovil at Wolfe’s office, and so murdered him and Walsh to preserve his secret. Coleman staged the phone call that purported to record Walsh’s death with the use of a rubber band to simulate a gunshot, thus giving himself an alibi.

Though Coleman is defiant, Wolfe reveals that he has obtained the “receipt” that Coleman used to forge the signatures of the other members of the band when claiming the money from the Marquis; even by chance he cannot be convicted of murder in New York, this will be sufficient to convict him of fraud in England, which will equally expose and ruin him. Thwarted, Coleman attempts to shoot Wolfe but is gunned down by the Marquis and Archie before he can do so. Having proven Clara’s innocence, Wolfe negotiates with the Marquis to claim the remainder of the Band’s fair share of his inheritance. Guilt-ridden by the deaths she believes have been caused by her quest, Clara attempts to turn it down, but Wolfe persuades her to accept it.

My Thoughts:

I’m scrabbling through my mind palace trying to find a shiny bauble to present to you all. Instead, all I’m finding is chairs and tables, food and drink, everyday ordinary kinds of things.

And you know what? That’s not such a bad thing. Maybe if you are a Golden Age Mystery buff you could dig through these stories and mine insights from them. But if you’re a normal reader (like me, the most extraordinary and best normal reader that has ever existed), these are just good stories.

That is what I want. A good story to engage my mind for a couple of hours. Yes, there are times I want “more”. There are times I want intricate plot points, super twisty plots and extremely developed characters. However, I don’t want to know these characters more than my co-workers or those I go to church with. What does it say about ME, as a person, if I know more about a fictional character in a book than I do about the couple with two boys in the pew across from us at church?

These books are entertainment only. Entertainment has a place in a Christian’s life. But that place shouldn’t be central in my life or the main reason for my life. And as odd as it sounds, Rex Stout writes that way. I appreciate that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Capital Murder (Arcane Casebook #7) ★★★★☆

Capital Murder

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: Capital Murder
Series: Arcane Casebook #7
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 336
Words: 110K





Synopsis:

Alex Lockerby gets snagged into going to Washington, DC (the capital of the United States of America) with one of the Sorcerous Six. Of course, he immediately gets sucked into multiple investigations, all of which are “Top Priority” by the clients.

Then it turns out his girlfriend Sorsha is involved in one of the cases and the papers are publicly speculating that she can’t solve it without Alex’s help. As a top FBI agent, this doesn’t sit well with her. Placing more strain on an already irregular relationship, Alex and Sorsha have to figure out if they can both have their careers and each other.

The main case ends up involving The Legion, a secret society of Runewrights dedicated to Evil, wanting to abscond with a whole military base’s worth of secret runewright papers. They partially succeed but Alex manages to stop the majority. In doing so, he gets a target on his back from the Legion and the book ends with Sorsha in a coma and an up and coming Legion member preparing to hunt Alex down.

My Thoughts:

Another thoroughly enjoyable entry in the Arcane Casebook series. As convoluted, over the top and larger than life as usual, this hit all the points that continue to intrigue me about this series.

I do hope that Willis can slow down the pace here a bit. Alternate World War II is looming and it’s obvious Runewrights will be largely involved. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I don’t like intensive ramping up of the plot “just because”.

Sorsha and Alex’s relationship hits the skids and while they haven’t broken up and have decided to really make it work, they haven’t addressed the issues that are causing the problems in the first place. I’m concerned that Willis will treat it shallowly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the series is pretty light but you can’t treat a heavy subject lightly without a disconcerting dichotomy in your literary tone.

Willis is really churning these out and I’m pretty happy at the pace he’s setting. Book 8 is already scheduled for April of ’22. Yee-haw!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ps,
the bleeping editor has changed YET AGAIN. I hate wordpress for their continual messing about under the skirts. Having to re-learn the damnable block editor every couple of weeks or months, it’s too much. I need stability in my blogging platform.

Lockdown Tales (Polity #20) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Lockdown Tales
Series: Polity #20
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 329
Words: 151K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories about the Polity as it becomes the Post-Polity. This consists of:

The Relict
Monitor Logan
Bad Boy
Plenty
Dr Whip
Raising Moloch

My Thoughts:

From what I could gather, the Polity didn’t collapse so much as it simply ceased to exist as the AI’s bootstrapped most of humanity up to their level and they all decided to stop playing government. The little clues make it seem like this all took less than 100,000 years. There’s no mention, that I can remember, of the newly raised Atheter or any mention of what happened to the Prador. While it all might have made sense in Asher’s head, to me it felt very “I’m bored with this particular literary construct, thus I’ll wave my authorial hand and …..”

Don’t get me wrong. Besides the first story where Asher lets his vitriol against religion take front and center, I enjoyed these stories. They all had his ultra-violence that I’ve come to expect from him as well as the techno-babble that I just skim over now.

What threw me for a loop was that these were not ALL post-Polity. Monitor Logan takes place squarely during the height of the Polity/Prador standoff and Bad Boy takes place on Spatterjay and involves a situation where the AI lets things run their course hoping the inhabitants will apply for Polity membership. It just made me feel like the secondary title on the cover What Comes After the Polity was misleading.

I think this might be a very good jumping on place for anyone new to the Polity. There are 19 previous Polity books and I can imagine it is daunting to a new person to figure out where they want to start.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Azumanga Daioh Omnibus ★★★★★

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: Azumanga Daioh Omnibus
Series: Azumanga Daioh #1-4
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 688
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Azumanga Daioh chronicles the everyday life in an unnamed Japanese high school of six girls and two of their teachers: child prodigy Chiyo Mihama and her struggle to fit in with girls five years older; reserved Sakaki and her obsession with the cute animals while certain ones seem to hate her; spacey Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga with a skewed perspective on the world; Koyomi “Yomi” Mizuhara’s aggravation at an annoying best friend; Tomo Takino, whose energy is rivaled only by her lack of sense; sporty Kagura and her one-sided athletics rivalry with Sakaki; their homeroom teacher Yukari Tanizaki; and her friend, physical education teacher Minamo “Nyamo” Kurosawa.

My Thoughts:

Ahhhh, this was good. This was a fantastic way to say goodby to Azuma’s style in both terms of art and storyline.

What stood out to me the most, as I noted in my previous 2014 review, is just how positive Azuma keeps everything. From Chiyo-chan’s worries about being a 10 year old amongs teenagers, to Sakaki’s secret love of animals to the teacher’s drinking habits, Azuma simply makes his stories light, comforting and fluffy. Just the thing to read when one is feeling sick.

If I could have read these in 4 separate volumes I would have preferred that, but even all at once at close to 700 pages it didn’t feel like it was “too much”. In all honesty, re-reading this allowed me to push off choosing another manga series to read for at least a month, hahahaa 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blood & Fire (V-Wars #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: Blood & Fire
Series: V-Wars #2
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 292
Words: 106.5K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories that continue the look at vampires as they manifest throughout the world and how they and the humans of the world react.

My Thoughts:

A big fat sigh. Some more graphic sex, some more “vampires are just people” and some more of everything I complained about from the first book.

In many ways, it felt like the various authors were writing their own take on vampires without consulting the editor or having any master plan. One author presents them as soulless horrors who have lost all their humanity while another presents them as more human than the humans around them. It was a very mixed message.

Jonathan Maberry, the editor, has his own series called Joe Ledger, that’ll I’ll be checking out. I ran across a short story or two featuring Ledger that I enjoyed, so I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with that.

Rating: 1 out of 5.