Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Angel Fire East

Angel Fire East
Angel Fire East by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice ending to the trilogy.

What this book had that was better than the first two: Villains. Sinister, creepy villains. Not the cookie-cutter bad demons from the first two. Findo Gask and Penny Dreadful were wickedly delicious. Had to love Twitch too, and the whatever-it-was shadow thing (ur'droch).

John Ross was a bit of a dud in this book though; Nest carried the show. I mean, when she was meeting with Gask and Penny, John is just standing around, leaning on his staff. What the hell, man? Are you a Knight of the Word, or what? I got a little fed up with all the "I shouldn't have come here and put you in danger" junk. No, I thought. You shouldn't have come here and stood around like a lump while Nest did all the work. Where I used to work, we had a name for someone like that: a Blister. Because they'd always show up when all the hard work was done.

Anyway, the ending had me scratching my head a bit too. Not the part with Nest, that was awesome. But again, with John Ross. I was like huh?

Well, I enjoyed the book, and the series.

Nest rules.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum OpusThe Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus by Bev Vincent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Looking for a way to revisit Roland and his ka-tet without reading the entire 4000 pages of The Dark Tower series?

Read The Wind Through the Keyhole.

Then here is the place to go. It's a great overview to the characters and story of King's masterpiece.

Do not read this book unless you have finished all 8 7 Dark Tower books. It will spoil it, otherwise.

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The Hellbound HeartThe Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, really. But I'll give it a bump up just for being the place where Cenobites originated.

A gift, for me?

No, thank you. I had a Rubik's Cube in high school. That was bad enough.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: 8 Secondary Characters from The Dark Tower Series

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: 8 Secondary Characters from The Dark Tower Series
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: 8 Secondary Characters from The Dark Tower Series by Bev Vincent

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a decent little companion book to The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus by Bev Vincent. Here's where Vincent explores a few characters that didn't fit into the main book. Useful to Dark Tower junkies, but that's about it.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

A Knight of the Word (Word & Void, #2)A Knight of the Word by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Number two in the Terry Brooks urban fantasy series doesn't disappoint. I didn't like it quite as much as the first, but it was pretty close.

This has more "urban" as it goes from small town Illinois in the fist book to Seattle in this one. And once there, one must wonder just how many times the characters will stop for Starbucks. Nobody listened to Nirvana in this though (that happened in the first book), so it wasn't too bad for Seattle stereotypes. It did mention the Kingdome a couple of times. That's a bit dated, but as a longtime Broncos fan, I remember that as a scary place.

But back to the story. This happens 5 years after the first book, and we have an all grown up Nest Freemark going to Seattle to knock some sense into John Ross, the Knight of the Word who has lost his way.

And where do we go from here, but to Angel Fire East. Looking forward to that.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

The Walking Dead: Just Another Day at the OfficeThe Walking Dead: Just Another Day at the Office by Jay Bonansinga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Decent little "short" story, and I do mean short. This was one of those ebooks priced at $.99, and for the first time I felt a little cheated by that price. Not that it was a bad read, but that it was so brief.

Still, rating the content (what there was of it), I enjoyed the 20 minutes or so that it took me to go through this story at a leisurely pace.

I do have one gripe, though. It bugged me when I read Rise of the Governor and this story starts out with it. Whenever the time is noted in these books, it specifially gives that time in Central Standard Time. It makes repeated notes of the time being Central Standard. Well, the thing is, these stories take place entirely in the state of Georgia. Which is on Eastern Standard time.

No character is going to fall back an hour to convert to Central time during the zombie apocalypse. It's just not going to happen. Not when said characters have lived in Georgia and Eastern Standard time for their entire lives. I was born in Central time and lived half my life there, but now that I live in Georgia, I go by what time it is here.

I figure it's because Bonansinga is from Chicago, which is on Central time. Fine. But couldn't somebody have caught that little detail and fixed it?

And now my review is as long as the story I'm reviewing.

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The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my fifth or sixth time reading The Gunslinger, but my first to do so with audio. I've read the original version and the revised edition a couple of times each. When I did my series re-read a couple of years ago I read the revised.

Some friends and I got to talking about the audios, comparing the readings of Frank Muller to that of George Guidall, who did the last three books in the series. As it happens, Guidall did the revised reading of The Gunslinger. Though Guidall is one of my favorite audiobook narrators, I did prefer the readings of Muller in the early books.

This discussion got me thinking and I was in need of a new audiobook. So here we are. I'd read the revised edition the last couple of times I'd read The Gunslinger, so this seemed like a good idea. And it was. I really like the way Muller handled this series.

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The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor (The Govenor Trilogy, #1)The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well now. That was interesting.

I actually had a bit of a time getting into this one. It didn't have the pace of the comic series (that this is based on), and was written in the present tense. That's a bit jarring for me, though I did get used to it.

Note that this is the backstory of the Governor from the Walking Dead comic book/graphic novel series. It is NOT the backstory of the character by the same name/title in the AMC television series.

As far as a backstory goes, this one is pretty damn good. It's shocking at times, and heartfelt at others. And whether you want to or not, you might just feel some degree of sympathy for what will become one of zombie literature's most notorious villains.

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Running with the Demon (Word & Void, #1)Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now that was just what I needed. After reading a pretentious spewing of literary "greatness", I needed something that I could actually enjoy. And enjoy it I did, more than I expected to.

I've been reading Brooks for years. When I was ten years old, I read his only book at the time, The Sword of Shannara. I remember liking it a lot and being really annoyed that he didn't have anymore books out. When Elfstones of Shannara came out a few years later, I was enthralled; it was even better.

I got side-tracked awhile later and fell behind, but in recent years my stepdaughter has helped me get back on track. She's a huge Brooks fan, devouring each new book as it comes out. So I've borrowed some of her books and worked on getting caught up.

This was incredible. I was actually surprised at how much I liked it. I was wanting to find my comfort zone, and knew that Brooks was safe. That is, I'd enjoy the book and feel normal again, reading a book with enjoyable story and not something that some haughty author is trying to impress me with. But this book exceeded my expectations.

It was like Elfstones, only set in the modern world. I love the blending of majic and reality much more. I don't want to spoil anything, as the discovery was half the enjoyment.

So next up, without question, is A Knight of the Word.

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Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master's Choice (Short Story)Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master's Choice by Terry Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here's a short story featuring one of the most popular characters from The Wishsong of Shannara, Garet Jax.

As short as it is, Brooks manages to pack a cool fight scene and a beautiful woman into the story. Not bad.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: The Shadow of the Torturer

The Shadow of the Torturer
The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried. Fuck it.

That was my original review, but not much to go on. Then again, if I took up 200 pages with flowery words of why this booked sucked, I'd be doing the same thing the author of this piece of shit did.

The Torture of the Shadower:

Flowery prose? Yes. Gene Wolfe has it. He's a talented writer that can make a pretty sentence. I was often impressed with his word usage and some of the sentences were really enjoyable to read.

That said, you don't have to construct pretty sentences to impress me. That won't last but a moment, gone by the time I've moved to the next sentence. But when you string along a bunch of them, I start getting annoyed. Look, I read a work of fiction for story. Not to clap my hands to my face and get orgasmic because the writer is so very talented and smart.

I get that Gene Wolfe is smarter than I am. Frankly, I don't give much of a fuck. I'm reading a book for story. Tell me one. And while you're doing that, try using the language that your readers read (in this case English). Wolfe has this insanely annoying tendency to make up a bunch of words without definition and string them through the narrative, making the readers feel like the dumbfucks because they don't know what they mean. Many of these you can pick up in context, until after the halfway point of the book when context goes out the window. Because you don't know the fuck is going on. This reminded me of China Mieville, and as people that know me will tell you, THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING.

And don't much care by this point.

I found myself skimming by the last 40 pages or so. Sure, I missed a lot of what was happening by doing this, but to be honest, I wouldn't have gotten much more by reading every flowery word. I'd have just been more impressed with Wolfe's ability to use fancy words (which he either makes up or I'm just too stupid to comprehend), and been angry with him for wasting my time.

I get that some people love this stuff. That's fine. I can see where one might. I'm just not that one.

1 1/2 stars.

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