The Ghost ★★★✬☆

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 Ghost
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 23
Words: 6K


Publishers Description

The gold strike which led the fortune-hunters to Murrayville brought with them the usual proportion of bad men and outlaws. Three months after the rush started, a bandit appeared so consummate in skill and so cool in daring that all other offenders against the law disappeared in the shade of his reputation. He was a public dread. His comings were unannounced; his goings left no track. Men lowered their voices when they spoke of him. His knowledge of affairs in the town was so uncanny that people called him the ‘Ghost.’

My Thoughts:

Oh, this was a fun little story! The town drunk is just playing a part but it’s obvious from the getgo so no spoilers there. What makes this really interesting is how he manipulates the townsfolks and the manhunter hired to catch him. It is masterfully done and you can hear the laughter in the background the whole time.

These short stories of Brand’s are working out perfectly for me. Good stuff.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

#6Degrees – Redhead By the Side of the Road to …..

This month we are starting with Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. Tyler needs to get a new agent if they allowed this cover to grace her pwecious wittle baby.

That is the world’s most boring cover ever! I went looking to find some other version that did’t put me to sleep and you know what? THIS cover was the least boring of all the ones I found. How pathetic is that? This book was published by Knopf publishing. Shame on you Knopf!

Knopf also published the overhyped, overblown and pretty much horribly written Inheritance Cycle by Paolini. He was too young, too much influenced by Lord of the Rings and by Star Wars. Thankfully, the source material is still good stuff!

And even when Star Wars is Shakespeare’ized, it is still good stuff! While my experience with Shakespeare hasn’t been all puppy dogs and roses, I have read one or two decent tales from the Bard.

King John is where my Shakespeare journey seemed to really take off. His comedies, his Ancient Histories, well, they were all hit or miss. But these Histories, well, so far every one has been great! Sometimes an author doesn’t hit their groove but when they do, whoowhee!

Speaking of groovitude, is this cover groovy or what? Wylie and Balmer wrote a great duology with their Bronson Beta books and it’s great early SF if you’re looking for some pre-1950’s stuff. Probably time to add these to my TBR again because some books are just worth reading again and again and again. Of course, not all books are like that.

In fact, some books aren’t worth reading in the first place but you don’t know that until you’ve finished the blasted thing. Bios was just such a book. I wished I had dnf’d it but at least I avoided any more by the author. DNF’ing is a long and honored tradition here in Bookstoogelandia.

The Web of the Witch World by Andre Norton is my first recorded DNF back in 2001. I’m sure it was a wrenching experience for young me back then but the pain of that first DNF has faded over the years as I’ve become jaded and almost neglible about such things. I am glad young me can’t see what a casual DNF’er I am now. I’m sure it would break his heart.

And that is how you go from the Redhead by the Side of the Road to Web of the Witch World.

If you’d like to participate in the #6degrees series of posts, head over to #6Degrees Meme to find out the starting point for each month. They’re not always punctual, so sometimes you have to wait until a week into the month, even though I have noticed they’ve been doing better about this.

Children of Ruin (Children of Time #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: Children of Ruin
Series: Children of Time #2
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 480
Words: 155K


A terraforming ship of humans discover 2 worlds and begin terraforming one of them. Then the great catastrophe from Old Earth strikes and they barely survive. One of the scientists plays god with octopi and has them taking over one of the world. The other world ends up being the host of a organism that takes over everything it comes into contact with. It reaches the Octopi world and drives them into space.

Where a spaceship from the Human/Spider coalition find them. And everybody tries to communicate with everybody else and succeed and way in the future everyone is one giant happy family of sentient beings.

My Thoughts:

If this hadn’t been by Adrian Tchaikovsky, I would have DNF’d this at the 50% mark when I made my Currently Reading post. As it is, he is now off my list of “must read” authors.

This was boring. This wasn’t fun. This felt like him playing with himself and his “clever” idea about how sentient octopi might communicate. If you’re into that kind of thing, then have at this book. You go play with yourself, you sicko. But for everyone else, kick this to the curb. I was severely disappointed in this even though I thought I had set my expectations to almost zero. To summarize, this was fething stupid and I hated it.

Children of Time is an excellent standalone book that didn’t need a sequel nor should it have had one. This book, Children of Ruin, was a disgrace and a slap in the face. How could the same guy write this drivel AND the excellent Private Life of Elder Things? It just boggles my mind.

What else boggles my mind is praise and acclaim this seems to have accrued to itself. Doesn’t anyone have standards and principles anymore? I hate the publishers for pushing for a sequel. I hate Tchaikovsky for writing a sequel. I hate the fans for enabling a sequel. I sentence them all to the eternal stygian darkness!

So there.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Fallout ★★★✬☆

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: Fallout
Series: ———-
Author: Kenneth Royce
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 285
Words: 92.5K


In the aftermath of Chernobyl, a patient escapes from a Soviet mental hospital. As he wanders through a blighted landscape struggling to recapture blocked memories, British Intelligence and the KGB hunt him for the secret he holds–a secret that threatens glasnost itself.

Zotov, with the help of a former lover and 2 English controlled spies, escapes and makes it to England. Where the doctors do the exact same thing to him that the Soviet doctors did. He goes completely crazy and kills himself.

The End.

My Thoughts:

Despite the ending, I enjoyed this book. I think part of it was that Royce was showing a literati’s disdain for The Government (whichever one you might choose to think about) and also a disillusionment about the Cold War. When Titans collide, the little man is the one getting squished, no matter which Titan is right or wrong.

The only other Spy novels of this era that I have read are the Jason Bourne books by Ludlum. In fact, as soon as it was revealed that Zotov, the main russian character, had amnesia, I immediately thought “Bourne Identity”. Thankfully, this was quite a different story, but the atmospheric tension of not knowing what was going on was exactly the same. Cold War Thrillers have the same flavor I think. Just like Cozy Mysteries I think.

The tension is always high. The action is very sparse and while not non-existent, isn’t the point of the book like a James Bond book. Political maneuverings are as important, externally and internally. In fact, Zotov wouldn’t have been able to escape if it weren’t for the political infighting going on in the Soviet Union during this book. As much time is given to this political side of things as to anything else. Probably more of interest to those interested in history at this point.

While I did enjoy this, I don’t know if I enjoyed it as much as Jenn did. Please check out her review for a slightly more enthusiastic take on this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Project X – A

For all the bionic details about what led to the Creation of Project X, please visit the Intro Post. It’s totally worth six million bionic dollars.


I like apples. A lot. In fact, I try to eat an apple every day for my lunch. Skin, fruit, core and seeds, I eat the whole thing! While I’m ok with the occasional granny smith, I prefer the sweeter varieties.


Yeah, not a big fan of arguments anymore. I used to be. Back in my teens and 20’s, I’d throw down the proverbial gauntlet and let the metaphorical blood flow like a river! Now? Just thinking about arguing makes me tired. Plus, I think I can count on one hand the times someone else has changed my mind by arguing with me, so I’m sure the reverse is also true.

I realize I’m starting Project X off pretty light, both in terms of subject matter and length. However, we’re in this for the long haul. If you haven’t checked your alphabet lately, there are 26 of those rascally letters. To chase them all down, even bionically powered as I am, it’s going to take true grit and determination. Pacing is essential to Supreme Success.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 9 ★★★★★

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: Yotsuba&! Vol. 9
Series: Yotsuba&! #9
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K


Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Schedules

Yotsuba & Juralumin

Yotsuba & Coffee

Yotsuba & Barbecue

Yotsuba & Visitors

Yotsuba & Hot Air Balloons

Yotsuba & The Sky

My Thoughts:

Delightful and whimsical aptly sum this volume up. Yotsuba’s dad buys a coffee maker and there is a running gag of Yotsuba trying to get a cup of coffee over to the neighbors house and spilling it each time before making it.

This picture is from the chapter Juralumin, where Yotsuba’s dad is going to buy her a teddy bear, which in other panels she misprounces as beddy tear. I chose this one because Mrs B absolutely loves funny faces in manga. It’s one of the reasons she started reading Skipbeat! and is why we continue to buy the books as they come out, to support the manga-ka. Sparkly eyes are a particular killer 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book Give-Away: Twofer Edition

The Rules:

United States only unless you’re willing to pay shipping for out of country. Should that be the case Paypal will be involved and paypal fees’s will be added. So if you’re not living in the US, think real hard about entering. I’ll be paying for shipping in the US, as the bookrate is still pretty cheap these days.

I’m going to try to vary what I’m offering, but most will be of the SF/F variety, from paperbacks to hardcovers. Some manga might be involved in the future. I’ll be putting up pictures each post so you know what you’ll actually be getting. 

If you win a giveaway, you can’t try again for the next 2. Kind of arbitrary, but I really don’t want one person to sweep in and take everything  But when that 3rd one rolls around, enter away! If I get a lot of spammers and non-followers entering, well, they’ll be “dealt with”.

To enter, just shoot me an email at Bookstooge at Gmail with “Book Giveaway – (Insert Book/Series Name)” in the subject line. I’ll be using a random dice selector to determine the winner. I will announce the winner in the next Give-Away post and email them to work out the details. 

These rules are subject to change without notice. And don’t blame me if the police arrest you for winning that “How to Murder Your Boss and Get Away with It” book. You didn’t have to enter.

This Month’s Books:

It was a tie between the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz and the Shadowmarch tetralogy by Tad Williams. As such, I’m going to offer both and choose 2 winners.

The Deryni series, all in sfbc sized hardcover and in very good condition, consists of:

  • Camber of Culdi
  • Saint Camber
  • Camber the Heretic
  • The Bishops Heir
  • The Kings Justice
  • Quest for Saint Camber

The Shadowmarch books, also in sfbc hardcover and good condition, consists of:

  • Shadowmarch
  • Shadowplay
  • Shadowrise
  • Shadowheart

This Give-Away is open until Friday, March 5th and I’ll post the next giveaway Sunday, March 7th.

Auxiliary: London 2039 ★★☆☆☆

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: Auxiliary: London 2039
Series: ———-
Author: John Richter
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 242
Words: 68K


Carl Dremmler is one of the few remaining human detectives left on the police force in London 2039. Investigating cases where people have died from staying in virtual reality too long, whether on purpose or not. However, one case gets the interest of his boss. A man with an artificial arm murders his girlfriend and claims he didn’t do it, that the arm did it, against his will.

Dremmler begins running down the rabbit hole trying to prove that the unhackable TIM (the AI running everything) was hacked. This brings him into contact with some other corporations that are trying to create their own versions of TIM and robots that are indistinguishable from humans. Forced to rely on TIM from everything from giving him rides in podcars to opening his own door, Carl is pretty much an Auxiliary indeed.

Then he gets a break from an anti-robot commune that his wife joined years ago, where their daughter died and whose leader Carl would gladly kill with his bare hands. His wife has some info and Carl has to infiltrate the commune to get it. He’s caught, things start to go bad, then killer drones show up and start slaughtering everyone, all on Carl’s boss’s command. Carl and his wife flee and they separate for safety’s sake. Carl goes to his boss’s house to confront her only to find her corpse, which from its condition, has been a corpse since BEFORE Carl started the investigation.

Carl realizes TIM has other plans and before he can escape, he hears the scuttling of killer rat robots behind him. The End.

My Thoughts:

This book’s rating is very much of the “I hated it” variety than the “this was a poorly constructed and badly written book”. It was well written and for what it’s worth, engaging.

However, between what I talked about in my Currently Reading post, the general malaise of the human spirit and the outright horrible ending, I couldn’t recommend this book, not at all. I’ve added Richter to my list of authors to avoid on general principle.

Nothing is unhackable. Nothing is proof against human distortion and manipulation. AI “life” will never be a thing. If there had been a human behind everything at the end of the story, it would have ameliorated some of the issues. I guess the whole point of the book was the death of the human race by slow degrees and so that kind of ending wouldn’t have fit. But for every Sherlock there is a Moriarty and for every Moriarty, there is a Sherlock. This book was lacking one of those.

If you are a fan of nihilism by robot and the degradation of the human spirit in every regard, then by all means, dive into this book and enjoy.

Rating: 2 out of 5.