The Punch Escrow ☆☆☆☆ ½ DNF@42%

punchescrow (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Punch Escrow
Series: ———-
Author: Tal Klein
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 333
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things
 yet to be
among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

English Standard Version

 

My Thoughts:

 

SYLVIA
“I had an abortion, Joel.”

….

“I guess about a month later , I realized I was pregnant. Keeping it was never an option. I had career plans, and my dad wasn’t well,so I…”

….

“I’m sorry I never told you.”

….

 

JOEL

“I love you, Syl. You made the right choice.”

That “you made the right choice” killed this book completely. Between the, once again, complete lack of originality [go watch the movie The Prestige, or read some foundational science fiction] that I moaned about in Dark Matter and that complete disregard for the most helpless of human life, I am done.

☆☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

 

Mr Mercedes Buddy Read – 3%

mrmercedes Ok, so I just started this today.  I read the prologue and the first couple of pages of Chapter 1.

I actually had to put my kindle down and take stock if I was really up for this.

It starts out in ’09 with an older gentleman getting in line for the chance of a job. He’s next to a young single mother who has her kid with her. He’s super helpful and I was totally connected to them. And when a shadow grey Mercedes shows up and runs through the crowd, guess who is in front? An older man, a young woman and a baby. Mowed down. I just lost it.

I am going to be picking this up again tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t gut me every other chapter.

1374_4-facebook-smiley-faces-upsetBookstooge is VERY sad right now

 

bookstooge

 

Bookstooge’s Mr Mercedes Posts

BookCupidity’s Mr Mercedes Posts

Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt #4) ★★★★★

salutethedark (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: Salute the Dark
Series: Shadows of the Apt #4
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 326
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Empire is spread thin. Stenwold Maker knows this and sends out various people to other cities to stir up rebellion. If enough cities can rebel at the same time, the Wasp Empire’s grasp might be broken.

Stenwold goes to the Commonwealth. Salme continues the fight for the Ant Cities with his Irregulars. Che sneaks off to yet another city while Acheaos, only partly recovered, takes part in a Moth Ritual that kills him. Thalric ends up coming back to the Empire, killing one of the three Rekef Generals and goes back to Capitas in chains.

Tisamon, twisted by his Mantis honor, leaves Felise and heads to Capitas, drawn by the power of the Darakyon Box. Said Box is firmly under the control of Uctebri, a Mosquito kinden. Uctebri is plotting against Emperor Alvdan II with plans to replace him with his sister, who will be Uctebri’s puppet.

Totho and Drephos, tasked with making an example of the Bee City, set up the first chemical warfare test. The creators of the gas kill themselves in remorse and Totho ends up gassing the Wasp soldiers instead and running off with a damaged Drephos.

Tisamon and Felise meet as Gladiators in Capitas and attempt to assassinate the Emperor. Unbeknownst to them, they were only a distraction for Uctebri and Seda to kill Alvdan and use the Blood of an Emperor to gain access to the Darakyon Box. Nothing goes according to plan though. Tisamon and Felise kill Uctebri, destroy the Box and are killed in turn. Seda must convince the Wasp populace to accept a Wasp Empress and recalls all the armies to consolidate her power. This recall, along with the various rebellions, allow many city states to survive as Free Cities.

Of the 4 Conspirators we are introduced to in Book 1, Stenwold the beetle, Tisamon the mantis, Atrissa the spider and Nero the fly, only Stenwold is still alive. And of his apprentices, Che, Tynisia and Totho are the only ones still alive by the end of the book. Many of his apprentices die heroic, noble deaths, but die they do.

War grinds bones and hearts alike.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an excellent book. In the previous book I was saying how I wasn’t enjoying this series as much upon this re-read. Well, this book definitely put paid to that idea.

The odd thing, this book is about death. So many characters die. If you just told me the synopsis, I’d probably roll over in despair. But HOW they die, the writing itself, redeems their deaths from a hopeless struggle into something greater. Tchaikovsky manages to show how horrible death is, how inevitable and yet have his characters overcome it by their selflessness. Prince Salme, leader of the Irregulars, is the prime example of this. I can’t put into words, but Tchaikovsky makes him a Hero, even while killing him off.

The other wonderful thing is the character development. Being a sensitive kind of fellow [he says while being reminded that morning by a coworker about the time he chased down and stomped a mouse to death with his combat boots, IN CHURCH], character development has to be done just right. Not enough and I complain about cardboard. Too much and I complain about estrogen and make fun of “feelingz” and talk macho for a couple of sentences. I’m pretty much the Goldilocks of the Male Book Reviewer. It has to be Just Right or I piss and moan like a man baby. In this regards, it is like Tchaikovsky had me as a model for creating and growing his characters. It is Done Right. People change. People question themselves. People don’t change. People don’t question themselves. Sometimes people are stupid and other people are genius.

My only complaint for the book is “Why hasn’t Stenwold Maker groomed another Spymaster to either take his place or at least take some of the burden?” And yet that oversight on Stenwold’s part is what makes him, him. So even my complaint is rooted in one of the best things of this series, the characters.

Last time I read this, I gave it 4 Stars. This time around, I appreciated the writing more and the whole tone. I enjoyed it just as much and found it to hold up to a re-read with no problems. There were a couple of instances when I was reading that I thought to myself “This is astonishing”. I don’t think that about many books I read, not even the ones I really enjoy.

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

  1. Salute the Dark (2011 Review)
  2. Blood of the Mantis (Book 3)
  3. Dragonfly Falling (Book 2)
  4. Empire in Black and Gold (Book 1)

In Remembrance of my friend Amy

A little over 2 weeks ago my friend Amy succumbed to her cancer and passed on.

Amy’s Last 15 Months

She chronicled her time and her husband Nate wrote about his experiences as well.

I grew up being best friends with Amy’s brother Andy. So she was always around. I went to Bibleschool with her and learned about her as a young adult. She was on the group trip to California where I met my future wife. She attended our wedding. We grieved when her father passed on due to an unexpected heart attack. We watched her just glow when she showed off Nate. We attended her wedding.  And this past Sunday we attended her wake.

There are a LOT of memories.  You don’t grow up with someone, go to Bibleschool together and then be part of the same 20 something’s group without collecting them. They are good memories, very good memories.

Amy was a devout Christian and I know that I’ll see her again so I am not in despair. But the pain of knowing I’ll not see her again in this life hurts. I grieve.

 

amy

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)

e4b19f6cac2b57ab3f61391633584bc8

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 
Title: Gardens of the Moon
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #1
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 688
Format: Kindle Digital edition

 

Synopsis: Spoilers!

The Malazan Empire, now ruled by Empress Laseen, is on the path of expansion through total war. The last Free City on the continent of Genabackis, Darujhistan, is the next city in the sights of the Empire. Wracked from within by politics and threatened without by armies and mages, Darujhistan doesn’t stand a chance.

Enter Rake, Lord of Moonspawn, a floating city, sorcerer supreme. Having allied with the Crimson Guard, might mercenaries and mages, Rake allies with the lords of Darujhistan to fight the Empire, but for his own reasons.

To counter this threat, Laseen has set into motion several plans, one of which is to find and unleash an ancient terror, a Jahgut Tyrant, a veritable god of power. Laseen means to pit the Tyrant against Rake and then to take down the weakened winner.

Enter the Bridgeburners. Loyal servants to the Empire and the old Emperor, who Laseen assassinated to become Empress. The Bridgeburners are meant for extinction, as Laseen can’t have anyone around who isn’t loyal to her. But the survivors are crafty, powerful and full of tricks of their own. They are meant to take Darujhistan and die, but they have other plans, plans of their own.

Unfortunately for everyone, there is a veritable cornucopia of gods, ancient powers and beings so old and so powerful that they might as well be gods. When humans can become gods, gods can become extinct and power is all, nobody can predict what will result.

 

My Thoughts:  Spoilers!

(For clarity’s sake, I read this in June 2008 and again in December 2009. That link contains both my reviews in one review as Goodreads didn’t have a re-read option and when importing to Booklikes I didn’t feel like going through my 2000+ reviews and fixing “little” things like that.)

That synopsis barely scratches the surface of this book. In the forward Erikson tells us straight out that he will not be spoon feeding his readers anything and that he purposefully wrote things so as to make the readers work for connections. There are no obvious connections or explanations, there is Unexplained History of both nations and individuals and you are forced to hold on for your life or be thrown off the ride.

And what a ride this is! With this 3rd read I feel like I’ve finally got a little bit of a handle on this world. Since I have read the whole series, now I can begin to cobble it together. It helped that this time around I wasn’t expecting all the threads started here to ever be finished or to connect. I have also finally accepted that this is The Book of the Fallen, which means that this is about people dying, not people winning or overcoming insurmountable odds. And even if they do win and overcome those odds, odds are they are still going to die.

At just under 700 pages, I believe this is the shortest of this decalogy. In one way it is the hardest of the books, as you have to sink or swim in terms of the world. Everything is new and unfamiliar and you simply don’t know what is going on. In another way I found it the easiest of the books, as the action is relatively straight forward, the plot only slightly convoluted and the scope is kept pretty focused. When reading this for the first time you simply don’t know how big the world is that Erikson has created nor do you know that the various narrators are only telling you what “they” know. Semi-unreliable not because they’re trying to lie to you but because they have a very limited knowledge. Everything you learn in Gardens of the Moon is not necessarily true.

I added the “favorite” tag because this is the 3rd time I’ve read this and I still enjoyed the heck out of it while reading. It was a joy to read Erikson’s prose, because while he is not sparse in his writings, nor is he turgid and bloviated. He walked that razor thin line of not writing to much or to little.

One thing to note. The kindle edition that I read had several noticeable OCR errors. There was a character named Coll, whose name came out as Coil more than a handful of times. Same for a guy named Toc the Younger. He became Toe the Younger half the time. I checked my hardcover and those errors were not there. I also don’t know if those errors exist in the current kindle edition. I bought these when they first came out and promptly de-drm’d them and stuck them in calibre, so any updates would not have touched them. A potential issue if you’re buying digital copies.

star50-custom-custom

The Trials (The Red #2)

d3c12754dcc1c54c5784a3fbc3f6d3faThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: The Trials

Series: The Red

Author: Linda Nagata

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 480

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Shelley and his crew are on trial for their actions in the previous book. As is Sheridan in a world court.

Once the trial resolves, Shelley becomes involved with his former handler and they are both recruited to a extra-Constitutional private army that is intent on making the United States and the world a better place.

Shelley is kidnapped by a group that is trying to use the Red for their own ends. Shelley is rescued but reveals that a Dragon has a nuke up in space. Now it is up to him and his allies to recover the nuke and bring the Dragon to justice.

The book ends with Shelley being recruited by yet another group, this time one with direct ties to the Red and that is below the radar of everybody.

 

My Thoughts:

As with the first book, this was just good. I am thoroughly enjoying James Shelley as a main character. The poor guy has to figure out if he’s Special, a Tool or a special tool. Either way, it sure messes with his head.

I did find it rather sad that at the end he had to pretend that he’d died. That must have ripped up his girlfriend pretty bad. And for him to do that, knowing what it would do to her [as he watched his previous girlfriend get blown up], seems pretty harsh.  A relationship is the dynamic between 2 people, not the actions of just one of them.

I think my favorite part of the book was when he was kidnapped and being used. It was obvious that the group leader thought she had the Red all figured out and so to see her arrogance turned on its head and her ideas filled with a hail of bullets, was rather satisfying.

I have enjoyed these books enough that I’d consider buying them in hardcover. However, I think a re-read in a couple of years would be a wise decision before that. If I enjoy this as much then as I did now, then yes, it’ll definitely go on the buy-list.

The Last of the Sky Pirates (Rook #1) (The Edge Chronicles #5)

3ba95efed8771d8f671c2c3812ef4943This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: The Last of the Sky Pirates

Series: The Edge Chronicles

Author: Chris Riddell & Paul Stewart

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: Children’s SFF

Pages: 386

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

50 years after Twig sailed off to find his shipmates, things have changed on the Edge. Shrykes and Guardians of the Night control the city and the glades. Stone Rot has destroyed all flying ships. The Librarians now hide in the sewers, sending out their best and brightest to make new discoveries in the Deep Forest.

Now Rook must make the journey to the Free Glades where he will learn how to survive the Deep Forest.

Along the way, he will learn skills, make friends, meet Legends and find that only those close to you can truly betray you.

 

My Thoughts:

I was very glad that this was not another Quint book. Being a continuation of the story from Twig’s time is good. At the same time, when Rook meets Twig and hears his story, it is SAD. All the potential Good is spent on an unfulfilled search by Twig. He never got back to Riverrise, never got back to his shipmates, never got back to the Stonespeaker Girl.

But this was Rook’s story. However, you can see the similarity between Rook now and Twig then. It doesn’t bode well for Rook’s future. As a children’s story however, it works well. It makes the child the hero and the adult the sad figure that bad things happen to.

I am done with this series though. It is meant for children and what a child will pass over or not even notice, bugs the heck out of me. I don’t want to read this into the ground. Part ways while we’re still on speaking terms, so to speak.

 

Jaguar Knights (A Chronicle of the King’s Blades #3) (King’s Blades #6)

c37bc521676be91334f54e44717bb38fThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

 

 

Title: Jaguar Knights

Series: King’s Blades

Author: Dave Duncan

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 400

Format: Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

An attack on an outpost in Chivial, where the former Royal Mistress resides, leads to her kidnapping. An apparently new kind of magic that even the Inquisitors haven’t seen before leads to Sir Wolfe being sent on a mission to far away Txiltia. With an Inquisitor as a wife!

Mix in Sir Wolfe’s brother, who was the Blade protecting the Royal Mistress and a world based on the Aztecs and you have tale that drags you along!

 

My Thoughts:

With this being my 6th, and final, King’s Blades book, I have realized that Duncan seems to delight in telling a completely different tale with each story. He also seems to like turning characters from former books on their heads.

This was brutal on so many levels. The blood magic of the Txlitians was definitely human sacrifice, harvesting bloody hearts to perform incredible feats of magic. It turned my stomach even while not being gone into detail. Then near the end where Wolfe’s wife dies. That cut! Duncan did a fantastic job of making Dolores and Wolfe a real thing.

I also had NO idea where the story was going, or what the end would be until I got there. It was good.

The Straw Men (Straw Men #1)

0c5d169fdb3fc245f8ba7dda132d8423This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

 

 

Title: The Straw Men

Series: The Straw Men

Author: Michael Marshall

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: Horror

Pages: 404

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A man’s parents die and leave him a clue that will start him down a mysterious and dark path.

A young teen girl is kidnapped and a former cop, who’s own daughter was abducted, is brought on board by an FBI agent to try to save the girl.

Both of these plots weave and twine together in a horrific clash of the worst of humanity.

 

My Thoughts:

I’d like to thank Runner for putting this book, and this trilogy, on my radar.

I was conflicted during the whole read. On one hand, it was gripping, well written and I DID NOT WANT TO STOP READING. On the other hand, dipping my mind, no matter how tangentially, into the cess pool of an insane killer who has formed a whole group of uber-rich killers of like mind, was disgusting and left me feeling filthy.

I also noticed just how bleak and hopeless everything was. I don’t want that type of thinking to invade my mind. There is hope and there is meaning and there is purpose. As Browning wrote,

God’s in His heaven—All’s right with the world!

 

The above is why I gave this book 3 stars. On the writing side, it was a strong 4, maybe 4.5. I just couldn’t put this down and wanted to read and read and read.  I’ll be finishing the trilogy but after that I suspect I won’t be reading any more by Marshall. Bleak and Hopeless aren’t things I can deal real well with on a continual basis.

If you want a taut, horrific thriller, this is the book for you.

Flowers for Algernon

e5cf2d90cb37f42d72b17daa0f7663f9 This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Flowers for Algernon

Series: —-

Author: Daniel Keyes

Rating: 5 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: SFF

Pages: 321

Format: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

Charlie, a mentally retarded man, volunteers for an experimental surgery to boost his intelligence.

We follow his journey from beginning to end through a series of journal entries by Charlie himself.

 

My Thoughts:

ALL THE FEELZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!   I knew this followed the up and then down of Charlie and knew the ending but I have to admit, I was not prepared for how this hit me emotionally.

It was heartbreaking to read about Charlie and his “friends” at the bakery and to realize, before Charlie did, just what kind of “friends” they actually were.

To read about his burgeoning intelligence and to see his happiness and positive attitude melting before my eyes was like a kick in the gut, over and over and over again. I read this in one sitting because I couldn’t put this down and I while I knew the ending, I had to see for myself. There was a time or two where I just put my kindle down  and hunched up for a minute or so to let the storm pass through.

By the time we came to his downward slide, it wasn’t as bad, mainly because Charlie didn’t realize how bad it was. Keyes does a great job of showing the reality without either being crass or gross or simplistic.

All in all, I am glad I hadn’t read this earlier in life. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it and simply shrugged it off. But I am very glad I have read it now and have to admit, this is also in the running for best book of 2015. It hit me that hard.