Friday, February 15, 2019

MomoMomo by Michael Ende
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What was I thinking? I already count Ende's The Neverending Story to be one of the very best books ever written, so why would I waste SO MUCH TIME getting to anything else he wrote?

It blows my mind!

It's almost like SOMEONE HAS BEEN STEALING MY TIME! All those damn time-savers out there fooled me and tied me up and made my life a dull gray, smoke-filled, DEADLY TEDIOUS world! They kept me from this book... and now I know why!

It's a conspiracy of the Time-Banks.

Momo is pretty damn wonderful. The concept is classic, an epic battle between children who really understand the necessity of wasting time and the horrible monsters, the gray men, who offer up devilish riches to everyone else in order to suck the life and time from everyone else.


Honestly, if someone published this as the new up-and-coming YA book in today's day and age without knowing that Momo ever existed, it would be heralded as unique and gorgeous and groundbreaking. Gaiman would be blurbing it and there would be a twitter storm of praise.

But no, it's just some silly book written back in 1973. No one cares. ; ;

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Shadow of a Dark Queen (The Serpentwar Saga, #1)Shadow of a Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weirdly, this might be my least favorite fantasy by Feist. I'm usually quite happy with them. Interesting characters, great locations, solid adventures, great plots. And generally, the worldbuilding is something quite good.

So what happened here? A confluence of factors that may not bother other people but firmly set me down into a camp of 'I don't care'. Maybe I was kinda disappointed with Erik. It started out fairly interesting and I kinda hoped it would go the standard direction of a hidden prince, but after the rape, murder, run and capture, I think I just started wondering where the rest of the tale could go.

Mercenaries. Secret missions. ... Well, it could have been pretty cool.

Unfortunately, I just wasn't all that interested. The amassing army, the somewhat inconsequential cameos of characters I did love, and the primary action did little to spark my interest. Much. I wanted to like it more than I did. I mean, after the previous two novels, I was pretty much riding high. To jump forward in time this much to the point where the king dies, however? I guess I got pretty bummed.

This won't be stopping me from continuing the series, but I will be hoping for more, later.

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The Ones Who Got Away (The Ones Who Got Away, #1)The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeah, yeah, I just read a romance for Valentine's day. Sue me. I'm supposed to go out on a limb. Break the cast. Stretch my wings. Learn to fly...
Oh, whatever... I read a romance, all right?

The good: It does exactly what it sets out to do. Pull on the heartstrings without once touching the head. You know which head.

Add past tragedy and bad decisions, throw two scarred peeps together, have them hem and haw about keeping things light and avoiding hurt through all the attraction, have a new emotional tragedy loom on the horizon, and then, when we think it's all over, give us the sappy romantic end.

Wait... this can't be a romance, CAN IT? buahahahahaha.

The bad: There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING surprising about this novel. It's a set piece, written well, but it follows the formula perfectly.

That isn't always a bad thing, of course. People want to have their heartstrings tugged, get a huge dose of sexytime on the page, and FEEL.

This novel does that. I felt, too.

But afterward? I'm like... okay! What's next? *shrug*

This MAY have been a one-night-stand. Even so, happy V-Day!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Still a classic. Want a war-driven novel constrained by the limits of relativity but still as inexplicable, funny, and as sad as the regular kind?

How about a novel right out of 1977 that explores what it means when all of society transforms over millennia into something awfully strange... a world where the hetero norm has become a homo norm in response to overpopulation...

To where the old outdated concept of future-shock is dusted off and given new life...

To where it's only reasonable for old soldiers to re-up forever in hope that their world will resemble something sane once they get back... AGAIN.

In a lot of ways, this is less a parable about future war than it is a Science-Fantasy extrapolating what it means to be a veteran returning to a changed world and what it means to be completely and utterly lost to the life you left behind. Taken perhaps a bit more extreme than that of the soldiers coming back from Vietnam, maybe, but the concept is still quite valid.

Fortunately for all of us, there's not just tragedy and isolation here, but humor, absurdity, and a good solid story among the cool SFnal alien murders and explosions and the problem of troops, soldier confraternity, and cats on ships. :)

It still holds up nicely for an old Hugo winner. :)

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The King's Buccaneer (Krondor's Sons, #2)The King's Buccaneer by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one is a surprisingly complicated plot with one of my new favorite characters in Feist-land. :)

Nicholas is forced to do a lot of growing, of course, but what's surprising is just how comprehensive the tragedy is compared to his reactions.

Simple puppy love evolves into survival, ideology, and duty. But the scope and the scale quickly flies beyond the initial and we travel across the world, new lands to explore or be horrified by, and above all, far-ranging effects.

This is definitely not the simple fantasy tale that I was expecting. :) And moreover, it is entertaining. It's also somewhat hard to stomach in some circumstances... after all, being captured by slavers and forced to endure some really bad things isn't meant to be easy.

All said, I really loved this book. Feist seems to have his finger on my pulse. :)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Prince of the Blood (Krondor's Sons, #1)Prince of the Blood by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first thought of reading these books back in the 90's, I had some sort of presentiment that I wouldn't like it half as much as the Magician books... and so I let it go by the wayside. Now, so many years later, I decided to go back and pick up all the rest of the Feist novels and finally enjoy them anyway. The author has proven a lot of staying power... and it's for good reason.


Prince Arutha's twin sons, Erland and Borric, begin a couple of troublemakers who get into just enough trouble to be sent away as diplomats to straighten them out. After Borric seems to have been killed only to be sent into slavery, the two brothers have a very wild and impressive fantasy adventure ranging from escaping a sea blockade, taking up with mercenaries, and falling in with the scantily-clad Kesh royalty as schemes and plots come to a boil. Treason and a coup is part of the table settings. :)

Sound pretty standard? It would be except Feist writes one hell of a fast, fun, and awesome tale. It's more than just a coming-of-age tale. It's popcorn adventure with cameos of so many of our favorites from the previous novels. Jimmy the Hand has a big role and Pug comes and goes, but it's Pug's daughter who rather stole the stage a few times. :)

I was never once bored as I read this. I had a great time throughout. :) The worldbuilding is just as fun as the characters and the plot is more than fine. It's complicated enough to keep any adventure freak on their toes. :)

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Starship TroopersStarship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the original Mil-SF classics!

I've read this before. Several times, even, back when I was a newb when it came to Heinlein or SF in general. You know, pick up the Hugo Award winners and see if I like the author enough to continue on. Twenty books later, (THAT YEAR,) I discovered something. I like Heinlein. A lot.

But not ALL of Heinlein equally. Starship Troopers seemed kinda preachy to me, a little slow, and RAH, RAH, RAH Civic Duty. :) Suffice to say, I liked it pretty well. Caveats: it did come out in 1059, riding the social wave following the Korean War and very reminiscent of WWII war stories, updated for SF and focusing less on the horrors of war and more on Heinlein's usual Self-Reliance, Responsibility, and Duty.

I can't say I mind that at all. In fact, it just made me feel rather warm and cuddly and proud to be an American. Just a few years later, Kennedy would ask us what we would do for our country. We would feel responsible enough to take on those other things we called a social wrong. Like Red Scares. Cuba. Vietnam. But that wasn't this. Not yet.

Patriotism was at an all-time high. And this novel reflects that. Wide-eyed wonder and hope and gritty realism when it came to doing What Was Right.

Coming from another generation, this novel didn't quite hit the same buttons for me. But that's all right because some really smart people made a different movie by the same name but using MOSTLY the same story in the 90's that rocked hard with it's updated sensibilities and satire. :) And yet, the core RESPONSIBILITY remained very much intact. Amazing, no?

This novel is far from being Heinlein's best, but damn if it isn't excellent in its own right. I don't always have to agree with the sentiments as they apply now to appreciate the idealism on parade then. :)

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