Bookstooge Reviews 2021


Annual Blog Stats

Posts – 319 (↑29)
Words Written – 194.8K (↓3.2K)
Views – 27K (↑2K)
Visitors – 9.5K (↓0.5K)
Followers – 419 (↑40+)
Comments – 10.7K (↑2.4K)

Book Stats

Books read – 194 (↑38)
Average Rating – 3.38 (↓0.15)
Pages read – 49,401 (↓7.5K)
Words read – 15,361.5K (15 million rounded down) (↓1.5K)


General Bookish Thoughts:

That increase in Books Read is ALL due to me reading individual comics. The real story can be seen in the Pages and Words, as both of those went down. But this is exactly why I keep track of all 3 metrics. When 2 out of the 3 agree, that is the real story.

My rating dropping 0.15 isn’t concerning to me at all and seems more like a typical variation than some trend. Sticking with some series longer than I should have didn’t help either (looking at you, you forsaken Spawn!)

My interest in the Crime&Mystery genre really took off this year. With Alfred Hitchcock, Lord Peter Wimsey, Father Brown and Nero Wolfe, I had quite the uptick. In 2022 I plan on adding Ellery Queen to the mix too. Here’s a little picture showing my genre breakdown (according to Librarything anyway). Clickable to be readable if it’s not to you.

Re-reads. Between my manga reading, my Wheel of Time journey and Bone, almost 25% of my reading was re-reads. That’s almost exactly the same as last year so I guess I’ve found my balance of new vs re-read.

WordPress this year was a real roller coaster. My experiment of going Dotcom and then UnDotcom’ing showed me that WP isn’t worth money. I had more problems when I was paying than I did with the free site. That is just mind boggling to me. The block editor has moved into the minor annoyance area of my life with the stupid code monkeys changing little pointless things every couple of months. Continual pin pricks of irritation all year long. Kind of like walking through a field of brambles at work.

I tried some other websites (which I didn’t blog about) and everything else was just as confusing as the block editor but with the added problem of not having a semi-decent social setup like here at WP. Coupled with me using Dropbox for my larger images (thus making space not an issue), it would appear that I’ll be at wordpress for the foreseeable future. And since my Under Construction Project is getting close to being finished, I’m just not going anywhere.

My numbers are relatively stable compared to last year and I seem to have reached the level that is comfortable. Doesn’t mean you won’t get posts from me moaning and pissing about how terrible things are on my blog, or the ones where I crow like a rooster about some accomplishment that I didn’t actually DO anything to achieve. But I am happy with my interactions here. I am looking forward to finding new bloggers in 2022 though, as The Churn has been just as active this year as in any of the past ones :-/

Blogger is my backup blog for reviews. There is no way to interact in a meaningful way as far as I can tell but I just post reviews so it doesn’t matter. Google just keeps shutting down various apps at random, so one day I’m sure blogger will get the axe too.

I still crosspost my reviews to LT. Back in June I abandoned LT as a social platform and currently have no meaningful social presence there.

Calibre continues to putter along just fine. The only news on this front this year is that the de-drm plugin has been taken over by another developer and forked into the no-drm plugin. I’m currently using Calibre 5.23 and frequently read the Calibre Forum. Having a free program that is a visual library of all my books that I’ve read over the years which stores all the data I want it to, and that can be backed up on a thumb drive or external harddrive and imported into such programs as Excel should the program ever go belly up (unlikely as that is how the creator makes his livelihood), is priceless.


Best Book of the Year: New Evidences That Demand a Verdict by Josh McDowell.

Worst Book of the Year: Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters edited by Tim Marquitz



Well, our move to Georgia has been put on hold, so my immediate plans (3 months or less) have been scuttled like a russian secret submarine. So we are in a holding pattern. I’m going to start the process to acquire my Level 3 certification for the NSPS program (National Society of Professional Surveyors) and as that is self-study, it’s going to take me longer than it might take somebody else. I don’t like self-study, as buckling down is hard to do.

Work has settled down for me. It has taken 2 bleeding years, so it is about time. Mrs B starts working days again in a week or two and I am really looking forward to that. Being able to see her for more than 20minutes as she gets up and gets ready for work as I’m getting ready for bed will be nice.


As of right now, no changes. I was considering changing how I do my reviews so I didn’t have so much text (mainly in the synopsis part) but upon reflection, I’m going to keep sticking with it for now. I might try to use the Details html code a bit more though. I’m still considering if I want to make any changes to how I title book reviews. I’ll probably think some more about it in January and make a decision by February. No sense rushing around and doing a rubbishy job.

I plan on continuing my Muppet watch. It was a fantastic success in ’21, even the less than stellar ones, so I’m going forward. The more I watch, the more I find. I think I have found enough Muppet movies/shows to keep me going through ’22 and a good way into ’23. Amazing, as I had NO idea there was so much Muppet stuff out there. So expect to see that each month.

Project X runs out in April so I will be on the lookout for a new series of posts to do. My creativity is at an all time low though, so I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing. Might do some arty posts with just a picture or maybe put a little effort into the Doom mini’s I bought a year ago. There are options, I just need to think of them. If there’s something you’d like to see on a monthly basis, let me know in the comments.

I do have some tentative Buddy Read/Watch options for 2022 and so as long as I don’t sit in a funk all year those will happen. Shoot me an email at myname at protonmail if you’re interested in doing something and I haven’t already contacted you.

I am also hoping to make more use of the WP4 than I did in ’21. When you have nutjobs like Dix, Alex and Fraggle just hanging around, I gotta put them to use somehow. Whether a collaborative post or just making fun, you can expect to see more antics in the comments and hopefully an extra post focusing on that Power Group. Plus, we’re all wicked good looking!

TOP 5:

Book Review Posts:

Non-Review Posts:

Commentors + Runner Up:


The Hall of Shame:

December ’21 Roundup & Ramblings

Raw Data:

Books – 21 ↑

Average Rating – 3.43 ↑

Pages – 4582 ↑

Words – 1449.5K ↑

The Bad:

Hard Day’s Knight – 1star of poorly written blasphemy (noticing a theme in these lower ratings are you? Me too)

Department 19 – 1.5stars of Blasphemous Youthful stupidity (sigh)

The Good:

A Christmas Carol narrated by Tim Curry – 4.5stars of of a wonderful earful

Meanest Man in the East (One Piece #11) – 4.5stars First time One Piece has made it into this position


Muppet Treasure Island was a blast. And with it now being winter and snowy here, some tropical weather, even if only onscreen, was quite welcome!

Miscellaneous Posts:


Bookwise, this month was nothing but up, up and up! Even with the two stinkers I read, my average rating was up from last month and all the other metrics were up too. Part of that, I have to admit, was because I tried to stuff in as many books as possible from this year so as to not carry them over into 2022, but even with that taken into consideration, I read a lot this month.

Got sick the first week of the month and thought it was covid but thankfully was able to get one of those quick tests and it was negative. Still felt like crap for the whole week. Right after that was when my computer died, so that was a real kick in the pants, sigh Let me tell you, a decent computer is expensive nowadays. I paid less for my first car back in 2000 for goodness sake!

Our plans for moving have been scuttled for the foreseeable future. Lack of job prospects and affordable housing put paid to being all done by March. We’re going to look again next fall. sigh.

Plans for Next Month:

Write the Year in Review Post. Which has to go up tomorrow! Aye yi yi!!!!!

Beyond that, I just can’t plan. That post is just too big. Probably should have started it earlier, hahahaha.

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #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: The Well of Ascension
Series: Mistborn #2
Authors: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 656
Words: 249K



The Final Empire is in turmoil as various regions descend into anarchy following the Lord Ruler’s death and the disappearance of the Steel Ministry. Elend Venture has claimed the crown of the capital city, Luthadel, and attempts to restore order, but various hostile forces converge on the city. Three armies lay siege to Luthadel because of its rumored wealth of Atium and political influence. The first army is led by Straff Venture – head of House Venture, and Elend’s father. The second army is led by Ashweather Cett, self-declared king of the Western Dominance. The third army consists of Koloss, massive, brutish blue creatures once controlled by the Lord Ruler, and is led by Elend’s former friend Jastes, who is buying the Koloss’ obedience with counterfeit coins.

Vin and Elend discover a set of discarded bones in their keep, and with help from Vin’s shapeshifting Kandra, OreSeur, realize that another Kandra has taken the form and identity of one of Kelsier’s crew to spy on them. Vin becomes increasingly suspicious of everyone around her. At night, she begins sparring with Zane, Straff’s Mistborn son and Elend’s half brother. In the South, Sazed has come across suspicious deaths that appear to be caused by the mists. Marsh – Kelsier’s brother and a Steel Inquisitor – leads Sazed to a Ministry stronghold called “The Conventical of Seran,” the former base of the Inquisitors. They discover an engraving that was authored by the Terrisman who once claimed to have found the Hero of Ages, which begins “I write these words in steel, for anything not set in metal cannot be trusted.” They leave quickly, Sazed taking a charcoal rubbing.

The Terris keeper Tindwyl arrives at Luthadel to train Elend to be a better king. Despite his personal improvements, the Assembly votes to depose Elend, using the very laws written by Elend, and elect Lord Penrod as their new king. Zane pressures Vin to kill her enemies and flee with him, abandoning the city. Misting assassins attack Elend at an Assembly meeting, and when Vin kills them in front of Elend, their relationship deteriorates. At Zane’s urging, Vin lashes out, slaughtering hundreds of Cett’s soldiers at his temporary Luthadel mansion. She becomes disturbed by her actions and flees without killing Cett, who decides to leave the city and abandon his siege. Vin decides to choose Elend over Zane and refuses him. He tries to kill her, and reveals that the real OreSeur is dead, having been replaced by Zane’s kandra, TenSoon. TenSoon has grown to like Vin, however, and he helps her kill Zane before returning to the kandra homeland. Feeling liberated, Vin accepts Elend’s longstanding marriage proposal. Sazed and the rest of the crew scheme to get Elend and Vin out of the city before it falls, and Sazed creates a false map to the Well of Ascension, which Vin is convinced may be able to save them.

Straff withdraws his forces, allowing the koloss army to attack Luthadel, planning to rescue the city after the koloss have destroyed most of it and suffered casualties. Jastes loses control of his army; he flees and is killed. Vin returns to Luthadel just in time to save Sazed and most of the city’s civilians, though Dockson, Tindwyl and Clubs are killed. She discovers that she can control the koloss using her Allomancy; she stops their slaughtering and turns them and Luthadel’s army against Straff’s army. Vin kills Straff and his generals as Cett decides to ally himself with Luthadel. Vin forces Cett, Penrod, and Straff’s last general to swear allegiance as kings under Elend, whom she names emperor.

Vin realizes that the Well of Ascension is in Luthadel itself, and finds a hidden doorway in the Lord Ruler’s castle that leads down to the underground Well of Ascension, where a man made of mist stabs Elend. Vin is tempted to use the power in the Well to heal him, but ultimately follows the instruction of Sazed’s rubbing, releasing the power for the good of the world rather than seizing it for herself. The moment she releases it, a powerful entity escapes, shouting out that it is now free. The Mist figure encourages Vin to feed Elend a bead of metal she finds in the room, which makes him a Mistborn; his life is saved through Allomancy by burning Pewter. Sazed travels back to The Conventical of Seran and inspects the engraving. He discovers that the words of the rubbing have been changed, presumably by the mysterious entity working to secure its own release.

My Thoughts:

I can imagine Sanderson chortling to himself as he wrote this book. He had already turned the Epic Fantasy world on its head by having the badguy turn out to be the hero but who really wasn’t and in this, he turns prophecy on its head as the hero of prophecy actually hasn’t come yet and it’s a woman, ie, Vin the Mistborn of the series. Of course, right at the very end of the book you find out that even the Prophecy turned on its head was just a fake out. I also happen to remember vague details from book 3 that makes it all even more inverted. Like I said, I bet he was chortling away as he wrote this. I think the impact of all that twisty inversion has the greatest punch upon the initial read but upon a re-read you pick up on the foreshadowing that he includes.

When I read this back in ’07 I was in my late 20’s and still single. What I was looking for in books was that sense of fantastic adventure coupled with a slight bit of romance and boy howdy, it delivered all of that back then. It still does this time around too. The problem is, I have changed quite a bit in the last 14 years and unlike some books (Way-Farer, Galactic Odyssey, The Hobbit, etc), this book has not weathered those changes as seamlessly. The angst of the love me/love me not has zero appeal, the uncertainty of youth and inexperience isn’t comforting but annoying and I’ve read a lot of Fantasy, epic or otherwise, since then. While Sanderson has reset Epic Fantasy, much like Tolkien did back in his day, that has spawned so much copycat and wannabes that it makes finding an original story that much harder. That’s not directly relevant to this story, but I see the effects this series has had and I have to admit that I don’t like that effect, not at all. So it colors my enjoyment here and now.

The story itself is just great though. Multiple armies and monsters and Mistborns all flying around and killing. And the world going crazy with mists starting to kill people. It is good stuff!

I don’t like the cover for this edition. While pretty accurate (Vin carrying a big ass koloss sword) it just screams Young Adult. Plus, it’s not the one that was originally released and that’s what I read and so obviously that is the best one. Duh! I’ve included a small picture of the original. If you’re really curious, just use to do a reverse image search for a big copy.

I don’t regret selling my hardcovers for this series though. Which tells me the raw and gritty truth, that I’ve moved on and these books haven’t. Now, where’s my cane? And someone tell those bleeping kids to get off my lawn too! Kids, no respect these days. Back in MY day…..

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After Worlds Collide (Bronson Beta #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: After Worlds Collide
Series: Bronson Beta #2
Authors: Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 193
Words: 75.5K



Bronson Alpha, the larger of two rogue planets, collided with and destroyed the Earth, before leaving the solar system. However, its companion, the roughly Earth-sized Bronson Beta remained behind and settled into a stable, but eccentric, orbit around the sun.

In a desperate attempt to save a portion of humanity, the United States and several other countries feverishly constructed space arks to transport a select few to Bronson Beta. The Americans, under the leadership of Cole Hendron, managed to launch two space Arks, carrying hundreds of people, as well as the animals, plants and knowledge they will need to hopefully survive on the alien planet. Both American ships reach this new world, as do at least two others, though all four become separated and each is unaware of the fates of the others. There is a reference in When Worlds Collide to a French ship exploding in Earth’s upper atmosphere shortly after launch.

The survivors of Hendron’s own smaller Ark set out to establish a colony, aware (from a road they find) that an alien civilization once existed on Bronson Beta. Tony Drake and another associate scout out for suitable farmland, but during their return journey following the alien road, the two men come across a vehicle. After a mysterious disease strikes the camp, killing three colonists, Hendron forbids exploration, but some of the colonists defy him and strike out, bringing back wood from a distant forest. That night, an aircraft passes near the camp, beating a hasty retreat when the campfire is spotted.

Kyto, Tony’s Japanese former manservant, finds a piece of blank paper blowing in the wind: watermarked in English, it provides a first clue that another group of Earth survivors have landed on Bronson Beta. It is revealed later in the story that a group made up of Germans, Russians and Japanese intend to establish a “soviet” called “The Dominion of Asian Realists.”

At Hendron’s order, an exploratory aircraft is built from remnants of the Ark and its rockets, and Tony Drake sets off with writer Eliot James. They follow the road and discover a domed city. Finding a native poster portraying a Bronson Beta female, Drake and James learn that the Bronson Beta natives were essentially humanoid and had considerably higher technology than humanity. This species built five such cities to survive their world’s departure into interstellar space, but ultimately decided to simply become extinct after they were completed. Later in the story, once a linguist within the group deciphers the Bronson Beta language, it is learned that the five domed cities were named Gorfulu, Khorlu, Strahl, Danot and Wend by their builders.

The Americans explore the city (revealed to have been the one named Wend). Then they fly south and discover a searchlight in the dark. It comes from the second American Ark, which had a disastrous landing. There is a joyous reunion with its commander, Dave Ransdell. Ransdell’s camp also encountered a mysterious aircraft.

Tony and Ransdell fly back to Hendron’s camp, finding that Hendron is visibly deteriorating in health and mind. Tony is jealous that Ransdell apparently will become their new leader and will also have Eve, Hendron’s daughter, as his wife. Eve, acting as Hendron’s regent, sends Tony to deliver a radio to the Ransdell camp. The first message reports that Hendron’s camp has come under some sort of attack. Tony and one of Ransdell’s men investigate; they find everyone lying on the ground.

They discover everyone is alive, but drugged; they give the doctor antidotes and then hear an aircraft approaching, occupied by men with Slavic features. After the aircraft leaves, Tony prepares weapons (rocket tubes from the Ark) to defend the camp. An armada arrives soon afterward, but is totally obliterated.

The people gradually wake up. Hendron hands command over to Tony, to Ransdell’s relief. Tony decides to occupy one of the alien cities, not the one they found, but another one nearby (Khorlu — later renamed Hendron-Khorlu); they follow the road there.

During the trip, they encounter an alien automobile driven by a British woman; she explains that a British ship also made it from Earth, but landed in a lake; they were found the next day by the “Dominion of Asian Realists” group, which Hendron nicknames “Midianites”, and enslaved. The Midianites’ society is structured like an ant farm, the colony being all important and the people nothing, but the top rulers live luxuriously.

Tony’s group settle into the alien city, and tractors are sent to bring Ransdell’s contingent. Tony names their new home Hendron (later renamed as Hendron-Khorlu after the language of Bronson Beta’s original inhabitants is deciphered). Hendron himself died just as the convoy came into view of the city. The scientists manage, with the Briton’s help, to figure out how to charge the batteries and operate the machinery. They also find hangars housing alien aircraft; some are armed and used for air defense.

Meanwhile, the planet is approaching aphelion, and nobody is entirely certain that it is in a stable orbit around the sun. The weather gets colder, and one night, the Midianites, who have settled in the largest domed city (Gorfulu, which also controlled power to the other four cities), disconnect Hendron-Khorlu’s power supply. One woman defects to the Midianites, while four others attempt to reach Gorfulu using a high-speed car in an underground service tunnel. They are unsuccessful, but the female “defector” kills the Midianite leader, defeats his key people, and allows the British to take control.

The Dominion is defeated, and the victorious American/British coalition settles into the domed cities, along with the former Midianites. While challenges remain, their immediate needs for shelter, energy, and food are taken care of. The story ends on an optimistic note with a reference to the first pregnancy among the colonists, Eve and Tony’s, and the confirmation that they have passed aphelion and are definitely locked into orbit around the sun.

My Thoughts:

The last two times I recorded that I read I gave it 4stars. This time around it wasn’t so lucky. I suspect almost all of that change is completely on my part though.

This was a good sequel and it fit well with the first book. My main issue was how some of the characters reacted to the alien cities and the leftovers from their civilization. The biggest example of this was Tony Drake. In the first book he was Cole Hendron’s chosen successor and without Drake, it is doubtful the group would have made it over to Bronsen Beta. In this book, his role of leader hasn’t been confirmed yet but he’s out exploring one of the cities and he’s as nervous as a school girl about the aliens. He keeps expecting them to pop up and introduce themselves OR he’s obsessing about where all the bodies are. And Beta has supposedly been sailing through space for millions of years. For a hard headed, powerful man, Tony was acting out of character. I wish the authors had used someone else to display this fear instead of Tony.

The Axis and Allies thing going on between the groups was ok and was far enough removed in time to not bother me. Really, the authors didn’t spend much time on much sort of action in this book. The focus was on exploring the city and learning about the Beta’s. And that did get a good hard eye roll from me. In mere weeks or months at most, both groups had decoded an alien language and civilization well enough to not only work their cities but to understand them. And the aliens looked almost like humans, just “advanced”, ie, they didn’t wage war and had mastery of technology. It was a very 1930’s attitude for sure.

The other big thing for me was that the day and night on Beta were twice as long as what had been for Earth. And the humans just kind of roll with it. They go to bed late, get up early and ho-dee-hum, it’s business as usual. There’s also a throwaway line about how the Beta’s were used to such a long day and night. I’ve worked the night shift and trust me, it doesn’t take much to throw your whole life out of whack if your sleeping patterns are shifted. We were made for a 24hr cycle and to just shrug off the change is unbelievable to me. The part about the Beta’s is even more unbelievable because a day/night cycle is based on the rotation of a planet around its sun and we’re supposed to believe that Beta spin here in our solar system is the same as it was when it circled its original sun? Epic Eye Roll.

The overall story was good, but the tension of the world ending wasn’t there, the heroism caused by such tension wasn’t there and there were no cool “cataclysmic” scenes like in When Worlds Collide. If I re-read this series again, I’ll definitely be reading this sequel. When & After are a matched pair, just not equal.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Project X – R

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.


Rockstar Energy Drinks are my go-to energy drinks these days. With a choice of flavors ranging from the plain (sugar free tastes like melted AMERICAN smarties) to Tangerine-mango-guava-strawberry, carbonated and non-carbonated and with caffeine levels (140-300mg) for all levels of need, Rockstar has me covered. In fact, this post was written with the power of Rockstar.

Road Rage

Road Rage, in others and even worse, in myself is one of the ugliest things I’ve seen. I drive a Subaru Legacy wagon and it weighs about 1.5tons. I’m driving a battering ram, and so is everybody else. God help us all when we as a world really begin to lose the last vestiges of self-control 😦

And that is it for this week. Stay tuned for our next episode, . where no Stone shall remain unturned on my journey to complete Project X!

Where There’s a Will (Nero Wolfe #8) ★★★★☆

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: Where There’s a Will
Series: Nero Wolfe #8
Author: Rex Stout
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 171
Words: 61.5K


From Wikipedia

The famous Hawthorne sisters — April, May and June — visit Nero Wolfe in a body to ask his help in averting a scandal. After the shock of their brother Noel’s death three days before, they have been dealt another shock at learning the terms of his will. May, a college president, insists that Noel had promised to leave $1 million to her school; however, the will leaves each sister nothing but a piece of fruit and passes almost all of Noel’s estate to a young woman named Naomi Karn. The sisters want to hire Wolfe to persuade Naomi to turn over at least half of the inheritance so that Noel’s widow Daisy will not bring a case to court that would cause a sensation.

Daisy’s unexpected arrival interrupts the conference. She wears a veil at all times to cover the disfiguring scars left after Noel accidentally shot her with a bow and arrow. She discovered that Noel was having an affair with Naomi and now hates the entire Hawthorne family as a result. Wolfe assures her that he will consider her interests in addition to those of the sisters and attempt to negotiate with Naomi on their behalf.

Later that day, Inspector Cramer interrupts another meeting with the news that Noel had in fact been murdered. He had been killed by a shotgun blast while hunting on his country estate; it was assumed that he had tripped and discharged the weapon, but further analysis of the evidence has led the police to discard this theory. Archie is called away to help Fred Durkin keep an eye on a man whom Fred had been tailing – Eugene Davis, a partner at the law firm that drew up Noel’s will, who had been seen in a bar with Naomi. Davis is now drunk and passed out in a run-down apartment.

On Wolfe’s orders, Archie travels to the Hawthorne mansion on 67th Street, where he finds Wolfe, the family and other associated individuals gathered to meet with the local police. Archie finds, to his surprise, that there are apparently two Daisy Hawthornes in the house. One is meeting with Wolfe and accusing April of the murder, based on the fact that a cornflower was found next to the body and April had had a bunch of them with her. The other is speaking to Naomi in the living room. The one meeting with Wolfe turns out to be the real Daisy, and Wolfe later determines that the other was actually April in disguise, trying to get information out of Naomi about the will and the relationship between her and Noel.

Later in the day, Archie finds Naomi strangled to death, her body hidden in an alcove next to the living room. Wolfe slips out of the house without telling Archie and has Orrie Cather drive him back to Wolfe’s brownstone on 35th Street. After being confronted by the Hawthornes, Daisy spitefully claims to the police that April is the murderer, and she is arrested by the authorities. Meanwhile, June’s daughter Sara tells Archie that someone has stolen her camera. The film it contained had already been sent off to be developed, and Wolfe and Archie later retrieve the pictures. After examining them, Wolfe warns Sara that her life will be in danger if she returns to the estate and has her stay at the brownstone. Cramer threatens to arrest Wolfe as a material witness to Naomi’s murder, but Wolfe counters by threatening to turn evidence of the murderer’s guilt over to a local newspaper instead of the police.

With all of the principals assembled in his office, Wolfe accuses Davis of switching Noel’s actual will (which left generous bequests to Daisy, his sisters and May’s college) with a forgery that leaves nearly the entire estate to Naomi, in a plot to win her affections, and of killing Noel and Naomi. When Glenn Prescott, another of the law firm’s partners, agrees with this theory, Davis angrily accuses him of the murders. Wolfe then reveals his evidence: one of Sara’s pictures, which shows Prescott wearing a wild rose in his lapel, a flower that he could not have obtained in the city. He had picked it at the scene of Noel’s murder, discarding the cornflower he had worn (later found near the body), and had only remembered after Sara had taken the photograph. Prescott is placed under arrest, and Archie decides to keep the material witness warrant as a souvenir.

My Thoughts:

Here I am at the eighth book in the Nero Wolfe series and I am having a hard time not simply reading these one after another. I am REALLY enjoying these. What I find amusing is that the “mystery” of each book I can totally take it or leave it. I don’t try to solve what is going on or even care. I like the interactions between all of the various characters whether main or side.

Archie is still pretty starchy and it’s not worn on me at all. Wolfe continues to be as peremptive, eccentric and fat as ever and THAT hasn’t worn on me at all either. I am surprised he hasn’t died from a heart attack but some people have all the luck I guess. Each book introduces side characters who are great. In this one we have the fore-runner of the Hollywood Glam-Mom. Each of the Hawthorne sisters, while sharing a certain something, are not just 3 names give the author more room to maneuver. They are key individuals in the story and each one reacts differently and has different situational pressures on them. One is a mom, one is married to a high ranking political man and another is an actress. And then you have the lawyers Prescott and Davis. Oh, they are everything you want in lawyers in a mystery story like this. It was like giving someone a one-two punch and then doing a Rocky Balboa dance around the ring to read about them. And finally, the cops and various law enforcement officers. They have hassled Archie and Wolfe in every single book and most of the time Wolfe just throws utter defiance back in their face. While I am a law-abiding citizen and believe in law and order and that the officers of the law are to be obeyed and respected, I also like seeing citizens knowing their rights and using them properly. The Law IS at a disadvantage because it has to abide by the laws in place, and that has consequences. Badguys will get away or manipulate things, but once the Law starts changing itself to suit the situation, that way leads to tyranny. And revolution and bloodshed, which is not a good thing. So the first step to prevent that is an informed citizenry and Wolfe and Archie are stirling examples of that. Bravo boys!

Now, the one thing that bugged me. We have been told time and again that Wolfe is eccentric and won’t leave his house. We’ve seen examples of this. But so far, in these eight books, Wolfe has ended up leaving his house more times than he’s stayed. In this book he goes to the Hawthorne house and ends up doing most of his work there before running back to his house to keep out of the hands of the law. It isn’t a big thing, but all of these “exceptions” make it hard to accept that it is a big deal for him to leave the house. And that’s about my only problem with this book 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Muppet Treasure Island (1996 Movie)

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Muppet Treasure Island is the fifth Muppet Movie (Muppets from Space wasn’t made until 1999) and I must say, I think it edges out even A Muppet Christmas Carol. So far, only the original Muppet Movie has been better. Which is to say, this is one fantastic movie..

Loosely based, and I mean LOOSELY, on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island, this version takes the story’s outline and completely makes it its own. Which works surprisingly well. Part of it is because it is so silly and everyone leans into that silliness. It also helps that Tim Curry as Long John Silver just throws himself into the role and drags you along with him. He makes you think “Well, if Tim Curry can act like this then the least I can do is enjoy the silliness”. It takes chops for that.

While not a huge hit financially, it helped revive interest in the Muppets and I suspect propelled the Muppets Tonight show onto the silver screen (which failed. Without Jim Henson or Frank Oz, the Muppets are missing their soul). What this movie did correctly was show that the current Muppet creators need a good, already existing story for the Muppets to hang their frame on. Could you imagine Muppets 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, or Muppets Don Quixote? Of course, I am well read. I’m not sure if the average American would have any interest or even know what the stories were based on. But come on, can’t you see Kermit as Don Quixote and Fozzie Bear as Sancho and Miss Piggy as Dulcinea? I tell you, it’s just money waiting to happen!

But that is getting off track.

I had a lot of fun watching this and even Mrs B enjoyed it because of the many musical interludes. Some were stupid and sappy, like soprano Jim Hawkins (ugh) singing about adventure but then you have Cabin Fever, probably the song I remember most from any Muppet adventure, movie or tv. Below is the youtube embed of the song and about a minute and a half of the movie after it. This is the tone of the movie and if you don’t find it hilarious, you probably won’t enjoy the movie as a whole either.

Since this movie was so good, I want to keep the good times rolling. I’m going to be starting in on the Fraggle Rock tv series for next month. I’ve heard good things about that and since it was done by Jim Henson in the early 80’s I’m pretty sure it WILL be good.


Merry Christmas!! (2021 Edition)




The Fall

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:22-24


The Prophecy

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15


But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5


His Birth

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-25


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew 2:1-15


His Death

14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19: 14-28


His Resurrection

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Mark 16:1-8


His Ascension

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-12


The End

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5


His Call

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:16-17


So a Merry Christmas to you all!


The Secret of Father Brown (Father Brown #4) ★★★★☆

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 Secret of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #4
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 218
Words: 63K


Table of Contents

  • “The Secret of Father Brown” (framing story)
  • “The Mirror of the Magistrate”
  • “The Man with Two Beards”
  • “The Song of the Flying Fish”
  • “The Actor and the Alibi”
  • “The Vanishing of Vaudrey”
  • “The Worst Crime in the World”
  • “The Red Moon of Meru”
  • “The Chief Mourner of Marne”
  • “The Secret of Flambeau” (framing story)
My Thoughts:

Wikipedia totally let me down for this book. While it has had synopses for the previous book collections of short stories, there was no entry for this compilation. Makes me wonder how the people there can sleep easy at night, knowing they abandoned me in my hour of need. Not only that, they also let down every single one of you who is reading this. You expected a snapshot of the stories contained in this book and what do you get? Just a lousy TOC. My goodness, I hope you are properly outraged at this disturbing display of laziness and lack of hard work. I know I am!

Shame, shame, shame.

As I noted in my “CR&Q: The Secret of Father Brown” post, this book felt like it encapsulated the essence of Father Brown and what Chesterton was trying to convey through him. While Chesterton and I disagree on some things, maybe even big things (he was a staunch Roman Catholic and I’m a 7th Day Adventist), our views on God certainly do align. And not just on God the Father but the entire Trinity, which is how it should be.

Therefore as I was reading these stories, instead of viewing them as a mystery story, or a story about Justice Here and Now (which is one of the issues Chesterton and I differ on), I viewed them through the lense of knowing people as individuals and not as a class or type. As is written in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Once someone realizes their proper place before God and what Christ’s sacrifice has truly done, how they interact and view the rest of humanity is going to change. But the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is absolutely essential. If I just take the first part, that we are all sinners and cannot live up to the perfect standard that God has requires (it’s not an arbitrary line He drew in the sand, it is part of His very character), then chances are that I’ll either start enslaving other humans, because why not, they’re scum destined for hell so why not start hell a little early for them, OR I’ll become an arrogant asshat thinking how much better I am than them (ie, the Pharisee who prayed and thanked God that he wasn’t like “that” tax collector next to him). But once I realize the universe shattering revelation of Christ’s sacrifice, every person I meet has to be treated like the object of God’s love and sacrifice, because they are.

Christians can spend their entire lives learning this lesson and letting the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) imprint it on their hearts and minds. Some of us do better than others. But this collection of stories reminded me, again, that Christ didn’t die just for me, but for every single individual person in the entire world, past, present and future. It is humbling and encouraging all at the same time.

The fact that this book got me thinking along these lines is why it got 4stars. It was better than some of the so-called devotionals I’ve read in the past.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix the Gladiator (Asterix #4) ★★★★☆

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: Asterix the Gladiator
Series: Asterix #4
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



While stopping at the Roman Camp of Compendium, Prefect ‘Odius Asparagus’ wants one of the indomitable Gauls as a present for Julius Caesar. Because none of the others can be captured, Centurion Gracchus Armisurplus decides on Cacofonix the bard. Soldiers sent by the centurion, although driven away by Cacofonix’s singing at first, counteract this by stuffing parsley in their ears and capture him easily. A young boy named Picanmix from the village raises the alarm to Asterix and Obelix, and the Gauls attack Compendium; but learn that the prefect has already left in his galley with Cacofonix.

Asterix and Obelix therefore board a ship with Ekonomikrisis the Phoenician merchant, who agrees to take them to Rome after they save him from the pirates. In Rome, after Cacofonix has subjected the slaves in the prefect’s galley to his bad singing, the prefect presents him to Julius Caesar; but when Caius Fatuous, the gladiators’ trainer, declares Cacofonix unfit to serve as a gladiator, Caesar decides to throw the bard to the lions. Upon arrival in Rome, Asterix and Obelix befriend Instantmix (a Gaulish chef working in Rome) and visit the public baths. There, Caius Fatuous decides they would be perfect candidates for the gladiators’ fights in the Circus Maximus, and he arranges to have them captured. That night, Asterix and Obelix visit Instantmix in his insula, where he identifies the location of Cacofonix. The next morning, the Gauls’ first attempt at rescuing the bard fails when they raid the Circus prison and discover that Cacofonix has been transferred to a lower basement. Caius Fatuous has his men try to ambush them in groups of three, but Asterix and Obelix defeat them with ease, and apparently without taking notice.

Caius Fatuous then offers a reward of 10,000 sestertii to any citizen who captures Asterix and Obelix; but the two of them volunteer as gladiators to infiltrate the following Games, and Fatuous places them in training under his assistant Insalubrius. Soon, the Gauls demoralize Insalubrius and irritate Caius Fatuous by having the other gladiators play guessing-games instead of training. Later, when Fatuous plans the Games to Julius Caesar, the Gauls go on a stroll, with Caius Fatuous (reluctantly) as their guide. On the eve before the games, Asterix and Obelix visit Cacofonix in his cell and inform him of their intentions to free him and the gladiators.

The next day, during the chariot races, Asterix and Obelix substitute themselves for an inebriated contestant, and win the race. As Cacofonix is put into the arena to be killed by the lions, he sings to the Romans, and thus frightens the lions into retreat; whereupon Caesar orders the gladiators’ competition to begin. When Asterix, Obelix, and the gladiators introduce Caesar to their guessing-game, and Caesar insists on a martial contest, Asterix challenges a cohort of Caesar’s own guard, and the two Gauls win easily. Seeing that the audience are amused, Caesar releases the three Gauls and grants them Fatuous as a prisoner. Soon afterwards, the four men meet back up with Ekonomikrisis, and Asterix surprises him and his men by having Caius Fatuous row the ship back to the Gaulish Village alone. After a brief journey (plus a second run in with the pirates, which sinks their ship), the Gauls arrive home and Ekonomikrisis keeps his promise to return Caius Fatuous to Rome. The villagers then celebrate the return of their heroes with a banquet, only with Cacofonix having to sit it out bound and gagged after offering to sing a song to celebrate his triumphant return.

This book is noteworthy in the Asterix series as the first in which Obelix says his famous catchphrase “These Romans are crazy!”

My Thoughts:

Fun. Cacofonix the Bard gets kidnapped, only to be shut up time and again every time someone hears him sing. Even Asterix and Obelix threaten to not take him back to Gaul if he tries to sing to them at the end of the book. How can that not make you laugh?

The running gag for this story is Obelix playing a game of “hit the romans” and using their helmets as proof that he knocked them out. You seem him constantly with a huge pile of roman helmets lined up like soup bowls in his arms every time he meets a new group of them. There were a couple of word plays that went right over my head, as I didn’t see what what was supposed to be funny, but missing a joke here or there isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Overall, a good way to spend the evening.

Rating: 4 out of 5.