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 Man Who Forgot Christmas ★★★☆☆

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 Man Who Forgot Christmas
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 83
Words: 22K



Synopsis:

Two men break out of prison. One of them, a thief, rightly belongs there. The other, falsely accused of murder, doesn’t. They hold up a coach and steal money from the man who setup the murderer. The thief is shot and they barely make it to a house. The daughter of the house falls in love with the murderer and the thief falls in love with her.

The local sheriff knows the murderer, as he helped arrest him. But he also knows the charges were false. The thief, in a paroxysm of anger and jealousy, sends an anonymous note to another sheriff claiming the murderer is the one who did the hold up and stole the money. The thief has a change of heart on Christmas day and goes out in a blaze of gunfire with the sheriffs, taking all the blame on his shoulders so his friend can live happily ever after with the girl.

My Thoughts:

I think it is safe to say that Max Brand has a thing for love triangles that are doomed before they even start. What sets these apart from the love triangles in modern urban fantasy is that these are not female wish fulfillment but the grim fulfillment of male dominance. Much like the Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Brand’s love triangles are not about lust and fuzzy feelings but duty and kickass men duking it out until only one is left standing. We’re talking pure, distilled testosterone folks.

The title is taken from the thief forgetting that the day he gives his life for his friend is Christmas Day. He gets a stocking and it has some things that he remembers from his childhood and makes him change his mind and thus the book ends the way it does. It was actually pretty schmaltzy and filled with “the spirit of Christmas”. I could almost hear the Muppets singing in the background, sigh. I’ve never understood why people write about generic “christmas” when the very name tells you the reason for its being.

I don’t know how far along I am in this “Works of Max Brand” collection but while it’s better than nothing, I can say that Max Brand is not a western author that I’ll seek out more of when I done. Where’s my Indians and Cowboys and the Wild West? I want scalps and outlaws and sixguns. While a few of Brands books have had those, like Crossroads, that doesn’t seem to be the majority. Oh, I just checked and I’m only 22% done with this collection. So Brand has a lot of space to improve my opinion of him.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Magician’s Ward (Magic and Malice #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: Magician’s Ward
Series: Magic and Malice #2
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 77K



Synopsis:

Kim is swamped. Between studying magic and learning a whole new life as a monied lady, her life is full, maybe too full! When a particularly inept burglar tries to steal several books from Mairelon’s library, it’s up to Kim and Mairelon to figure out why.

At the same time, several magician’s from Kim’s street life have disappeared and a Russian Magician shows up. When on the track of the thief, Mairelon loses his magic, it’s all up to Kim to deal with the rogue magician, who isn’t a magician at all!

And if that all isn’t enough, Kim has to have her coming out ceremony as a Magician’s Ward, where she realizes she’s in love with Mairelon.

By the end of the book, Kim has stopped the rogue magician, completed her ceremony and gotten Mairelon to propose to her. Now her life as a magician is going to get really busy!

My Thoughts:

If you happen to remember That Book, where I told Romance to get the heck out of my Action Stories, you might have gotten the impression that Bookstooge is a stone cold, heartless killer with no time for the softer things in life. And you would be wrong, dead wrong! (because I’d stone you coldly!) I like romance, in small doses and in its proper place. Jane Austen is the example that made me realize I could like romances.

Anyway, this book is as much a young adult/middle grade romance as a fantasy story. The obstacles that Kim needs to overcome are simplified, the villain appropriately stupid and even Mairelon takes side stage as he loses his magic, thus giving Kim the spotlight from all directions. She shines well too.

I didn’t think the story was quite as “fun” as the first but it felt more satisfying, hence the half-star bump. While I read this way back in 2000 and I have no real review, I remember liking this then and it seems I liked it just as much this time around too. I’m going to call this a Complete Success then.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ps,
Can we all agree that is the worst cover ever and that it should be cast into the Stygian pits?

Betty Zane (Ohio River #1) ★☆☆☆½

bettyzane (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: Betty Zane
Series: Ohio River #1
Author: Zane Grey
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western?
Pages: 263
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Betty Zane has come to the frontier to live with her brother and his family. Pretty, head strong and used to getting her way, Betty lives life her way.

A young man comes to the settlement and because he doesn’t immediately bow to Betty’s beauty she “hates” him. Of course, they fall in love with each other but between both of them being young, full of pride and just generally stupid, things don’t go easy.

Then Indians and some damn British Red Coats attack the fort. The brave men and women and children hold them off and win a great victory.

Betty Zane and her fella done get hitched and produce a heap ‘o chillens.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, after I was done with the Sacketts, I figured Zane Grey was next. This is NOT an auspicious start, that is for sure.

This isn’t what I’d think of as a Western, but more of Frontier Fiction. There are no cowboys, no West, it’s all East of the Mississippi river and it is sappy as a Janette Oke book. I was NOT expecting that.

I also wasn’t expecting deeply insightful characters either but almost everyone portrayed came across as a cardboard cutout slapped with a coat of brightly colored paint. I felt like I was watching clowns at a circus.

The story telling itself was tedious. First Zane would do a chapter of “history” where he just spells everything out. Then we’d jump into the story where he would then tell that exact same history but using the characters and making a story of it. He bleeding spoils his own thing and pretty much just puffs up his word count. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

I have an omnibus edition of Grey’s works and I’ll be skipping the next Ohio River book. Of course, without an actual index I’ll have to flip through 200’ish pages to do that. This is why you shouldn’t buy $2 omnibus books on Amazon.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Torchship Pilot (Torchship #2) ★★★☆☆

torchshippilot (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: Torchship Pilot
Series: Torchship #2
Author: Karl Gallagher
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 346
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

War has broken out between the Fusion and the Disconnect. The Fusion is convinced that AI is a threat to all humanity and the only way to stop it is with a united humanity, under their control. So while humanity should be fighting off the continued probes by the AI of the Sol System, instead they’re fighting each other.

The Diskers end up with a radio weapon that shuts down all computer based activity. They got this from the treasure trove that Michie helped recover in the previous book. They also got a lot of history. Said history showed that the AI Betrayal wasn’t an actual betrayal but just a carrying out of orders by spiteful humanity. Turns out is was more of an overload/crash/accident than an intelligent take over.

With their new weapon the Diskers defeat a Fuzie fleet, reveal the secret history and find out that the AI’s are just running whatever their last command was. Michie makes contact with an AI on a former Fuzie world and communications between AI and Humanity has begun.

 

My Thoughts:

So, these aren’t AI in the “I am self-aware and want to destroy you” Skynet kind of way. They’re just suped up computer programs. Big whoop de doo. I was rather disappointed at that. And then to have the salt added to the wound that they’re just big cuddlies carrying out their programs and they don’t actually mean to be mean to anyone? Boo hoo hoooooo!

This gets the romance tag because Michie and her husband are always having quickies. After they get up in the morning but before going on duty. Before that meaning in 15 minutes. After dinner. And on and on and on. It was reading about 2 newly-weds who acted like they’d been virgins before getting married. Except Michie was a whore to steal information, so that doesn’t hold up. She also giggles a lot. And her husband just thinks “I love her. I’m going to make this marriage work” as an excuse to let behavior by Michie slide. Beta male all the way.

And this got 3 stars from me? Yep. The rest of the book was pretty good. Several of the characters from the first book either die or move on. Sadly, no one really moves in to take their place and it becomes the Michie and Husband show. I complain about them but I do think that the author does a better job of focusing on the story when he only has 2 main characters to interact with instead of a whole crew.

I am planning on reading the final book but have no intention of reading more by the author if he has even written anything else.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Changeling Sea ★★★★☆

changelingsea (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 Changeling Sea
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 142
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Peri’s father went to sea in his rowboat and only his boat returned. Her mother has retreated inside herself and Peri is angry at life itself. She leaves her mother’s house and lives in a shack by the sea where an old woman taught her the fine art of hexing. Peri creates as many hexes as she can think of and one day throws them all into the sea and hexes the sea for stealing her father.

The King of the Island and his son Kir come into their summer residence and Peri meets Kir one night on the beach. He confesses that he has found out he is a changeling and part sea creature. He desires to go to the sea but can’t find the way. Peri is interested against her will. Then a monstrous sea creature is seen with a golden chain around its neck. The villagers hire a magician, Lyo, to tame the sea monster and take the golden chain for them. Lyo gets Peri to help him and accidentally turns the golden chain into a rain of periwinkle flowers. Nobody is very happy with Lyo, who disappears.

The next night Peri is at her shack when she sees the sea monster approaching the shore. It comes onto the shore and turns into a young man, very like Kir in appearance but golden where Kir is dark. This young man can only repeat words he has heard and so Peri begins to teach him words. But each night before the sun rises this golden prince returns to the sea and his monstrous form. Peri is bewildered and Lyo reveals himself to her. They figure out that the golden boy is the prince by the King’s dead wife who was taken by the Queen of the Sea, who was the lover of the King. She substituted her own son, Kir. Now each son is yearning to return to their native element but neither can figure out how.

Peri, with help from Lyo, solves the mystery. Her hex worked and it was so powerful that it hexed the whole sea. Peri unhexes the sea and that allows them to commune with the Sea Queen and Kir can return to the sea while the golden prince can return to the land. Peri realizes how powerful she is and Lyo says he’ll stick around to help her out.

 

My Thoughts:

Very enjoyable, very short and one of the most “romance’y” of McKillip’s books. While not Harlequin Romance or even most Paranormal Romance level, this was on the edge of what I’d be willing to read. That is about the only caveat I have for this book.

The shortness of this book really struck me this time. I started it one evening during the week and I was done the next night. It was kind of nice actually. I felt like I had gotten a small personal pan pizza instead of some huge buffet. Just enough to get a good taste but not enough to satiate or make you sick of it. Gluttony of words by authors is as much a sin, as far as I’m concerned, as is actual gluttony.

This lacked something, a richness I guess, that I’m used to in McKillip’s writing and that is why I’m only giving it 4 stars. Still, that is a Star upgrade from 2007. If you like McKillip’s other books, you’ll like this. Whether you’ll like it more, less or the same as her other books will depend on your personal tastes.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

To Trade the Stars (Trade Pact #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF#1%

totradethestars (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 Trade the Stars
Series: Trade Pact #3
Author: Julie Czerneda
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: DNF @ 1%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

“…leaving me cold along one side until I snuggled under the portion of sheet warmed by his body.”

 

My Thoughts:

This is not SF. This is now a woman’s romance novel with spaceships. I don’t want to read crap like this, thank you very much.

What a frelling let down, especially considering how much I enjoyed the first book. But this is exactly why I tend to stay away from women writers. They’re always dragging in stuff like that that has zero interest to me. They are more than welcome to write it but don’t fracking expect me to read it or to put up with it when I do make the mistake of stumbling across it.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Ties of Power (Trade Pact #2) ★★★☆☆

tiesofpower (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: Ties of Power
Series: Trade Pact #2
Author: Julie Czerneda
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 499
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sira and Jason Morgan are living safe from the Clan. Jason has been growing in power under Sira’s tutelage. Things start to go sideways though when Sira’s cousin, now also exiled, shows up on their doorstep. It would appear that there is another splinter group of the Clan opposed to the Council but who want Jason just as dead and Sira under their control. The Council itself hasn’t stopped playing games either.

This leads to Sira being abducted and her reproductive organs stolen. Morgan rescues her and then she compels him to go after those who did this to her. Meanwhile, she gets sidetracked into attending a ceremony on an alien world where the aliens apparently know about the M’hir, the energy space the Clan uses. Sira learns that the M’hir is a whole other ecosystem and not some creation of the Clan.

Kidnappings, murders and mystery abound. Everyone comes together and Sira deals with those who have crossed her. Her own father tries to murder Morgan in an attempt to kill her but thanks to Sira’s training Morgan not only survives but fights back. This allows Sira, as the most powerful of the Clan, to wipe her father from existence.

The Clan is invited into the Trade Pact and the Council has voted to join. Cooperation, good cheer and hope are everywhere. And Sira has her naughty bits back so she and Morgan can consummate their Joining.

 

My Thoughts:

Yeah, not nearly so enthralling as the first book. Way, way, way further down the romance road.

Most of my problem stemmed from the fact that if Jason and Sira had taken a straight line from point A to point B, they could have solved their problems with power and force and violence. Instead, because of “feelingz”, they continually get hurt and so can’t fully use their power together. This leads to an elliptical storyline where they keep going in circles while edging extremely slowly to that mythical point B.

A bloody ship with some big guns and a fully healthy Sira with her powers could have wiped her father and co-conspirators from the face of the universe in about 1 month. But my goodness, where would the “feelingz” be then? There would have been at least half the collateral damage if Jason Morgan had been a bloody man and just killed the people who were threatening him and his wife. Running away and wishing that things will get better don’t solve problems.

This crossed the line from the kind of romance that I do like into the kind that I really don’t like.

Up until the very end, Sira just gets hammered and reacts, every single time. It frustrated me because I could see how easy it would have been for the Morgan’s to have planned differently and have everything turn out better. The story was interesting and everything we learn is cool but it came at the cost of Jason Morgan acting like a pussy and Sira a fainting maid instead of the extremely powerful and talented powerhouses they are.

Czerneda is now on probation and depending on how the next book turns out will decide if I continue with her or not.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

A Thousand Words for Stranger (Trade Pact #1) ★★★★☆

thousandwordsforstranger (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: A Thousand Words for Stranger
Series: Trade Pact #1, Clan Chronicles #4
Author: Julie Czerneda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A young woman comes to consciousness without her memory but with something inside insisting she get to the spaceport and get off whatever world she is on. After several mishaps, kidnapping by slavers being one, she gets on board Jason Morgan’s ship and signs on as a crew. Without her memory, Jason chooses the name Sira Morgan for her.

What Sira doesn’t know is that The Clan, a race of humanoids with telepathic powers, has contacted and contracted Jason to bring Sira to a particular destination. Morgan has had dealings with the Clan before and even though fully human has some small telepathic power himself. Due to his previous dealings, Morgan doesn’t feel it is safe to deliver Sira to anyone, so he keeps an eye on her and reveals what little he knows to Sira.

Sira is captured by a rogue Clan member who wants to marry her, mind wipe her and then impregnate her so his offspring will have her ultrapowerful Clan power. Morgan rescues her and brings Sira’s sister and guardian into the picture. They deliver Sira to the Clan Elders and Sira’s father reveals that everything was all according to Sira’s own plan and that Sira Morgan will die when Sira di Sarc regains her memory. Sira Morgan has fallen in love with Jason and he with her. He comes up with a plan to rescue her but Sira recovers her memories and realizes everything, even her own plans, were a ruse by her father to brainwipe her and use her like an auction piece to gain power for his own House.

Somehow Sira and Morgan escape without alerting any of the Clan that Sira has recovered her memory but not reverted back to Sira di Sarc. She and Morgan are now on the run and just one mis-step away from disaster and annihilation.

 

My Thoughts:

For some time I was on a real kick with the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I had to stop reading them due to some of the moral content but I enjoyed them as they scratched that Jane Austen in Space itch that I had but didn’t know I had until I read those books. This book had that exact same vibe. So much so that I went and did a little investigating, thinking that maybe Czerneda had got the idea from the other duo. Turns out this book came out the year BEFORE any of the Liaden books came out (as far as I can tell).

So to set the stage, this IS a romance book. However, unlike that horrible, horrible woman Lindsay Buroker, this is definitely more Austinesque in the romance. It is NOT about beating hearts, or smoldering glances, or tight pants or revealing of various body parts. Nor is it like a Janette Oak book that is nothing but feelings dumped like a hogshead of maple syrup all over the reader. In other words, this is romance that I, the manliest man I happen to know, like. Considering that someone once asked me if it was true that I beat Chuck Norris at Arm Wrestling, I think I’m pretty bleeping manly!

There were times I was a bit frustrated with Sira’s memory loss and how she reacted but that was strictly because I had more information than she did. It’s always easier to tell somebody what to do when you have more information than them. The other thing that left me a bit confuzzled was just WHAT the Clan actually is. It is never spelled out and little hints are given here and there about their history. Knowing, or not, doesn’t affect the story as far as I can tell, just one of those things that I as a reader “want”.

When I started this I was not sure what I was going to get. Thankfully, the book and I hit it off right from the start and I enjoyed my time reading this. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. There is a prequel trilogy, the Clan Chronicles but since they were published AFTER this Trade Pact trilogy I plan on reading everything in publication order.

So remember, Telepathic Jane Austen, In Space and you should be good to go!

★★★★☆

 

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)