9/11 – An Unbearable Weight of Remembrance

Another year, another day, another time to remember what happened. Last year I mentioned how hard it was getting to remember this. Not in terms of forgetting, but in terms of remembering in the face of a whole generation who it means literally nothing to.

I can remember growing up and wondering why Pearl Harbor Day was on the calendar. Sure, I knew that PHD had happened and it was a bad time but that was way back in my grandfather’s day. I was watching anime from japan and I had a sony dvd player for goodness sake. I could say “ohayo” with the best of them (that’s “good morning”). I couldn’t understand why People were still trying to remember something from so long ago.

Now I understand. And it is a weight upon my shoulders. Every year it gets heavier and becomes harder to even think about it, much less publicly remember it. And I will cry each year in private and wonder if I’m the only one left who is remembering and then the next day I will be fine and know that others were grieving as well. I am not alone in my pain and tears. So each year I post about it and then wonder if I’m being a middle aged fool. Until the next year rolls around and I repeat it all over again. I will drag these chains another year so that the kids don’t have to. They will get their own chains soon enough, no need to burden them with this. This is MY pain to deal with.

I will remember 9/11.

Netochka Nezvanova (The Russians) ★★★✬☆

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: Netochka Nezvanova
Series: (The Russians)
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevksy
Translator: Jane Kentish
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 248
Words: 67K


From Wikipedia

The plot unfolds in three distinct sections, corresponding to upheavals in the heroine’s life.

Chapters 1–3 are predominantly concerned with Netochka’s recollections of her childhood with her mother and stepfather in St. Petersburg, up until the time of their deaths. She begins with the background story of her stepfather, Efimov, a talented but self-obsessed violinist, whom she describes as “the strangest and most extraordinary person I have ever known” and a man whose powerful influence over her affected the rest of her life.[2] Efimov’s madness brings terrible poverty and discord to the family, and leaves the child with a premature and painful insight into the dark side of human emotions. This part of her life comes to an end when Efimov kills her mother, after which he himself becomes completely insane and dies.

Netochka is adopted by Prince X., an acquaintance of her stepfather, and chapters 4 and 5 are concerned with the orphaned girl’s immersion in this unfamiliar aristocratic world, focusing particularly on her relationship with the Prince’s daughter Katya. Netochka immediately falls in love with the beautiful Katya, but Katya is initially repelled by the strange newcomer, and is cruel and dismissive toward her. Over time, however, this apparent dislike transforms into an equally passionate reciprocation of Netochka’s feelings. Their young, unashamed love leads to an intimacy that alarms Katya’s mother, who eventually takes steps to ensure their separation. Katya’s family move to Moscow, and Netochka is placed in the care of Katya’s elder half-sister, Alexandra Mikhailovna. According to the narrator, Netochka and Katya will not see each other for another eight years, but as the novel remained unfinished, their reuniting is never described.

The final chapters describe Netochka’s teenage years growing up in the household of the gentle and maternal Alexandra Mikhailovna and her cold and distant husband Pyotr Alexandrovitch. She forms a deeply empathetic relationship with Alexandra Mikhailovna, but is troubled by her friend’s painfully solicitous attitude toward her husband, and by what appears to be calculated indifference and dissimulation on his part. Netochka suspects some mystery from their past, and eventually a clue presents itself in the form of a letter that she accidentally discovers pressed between the pages of an old book in the library. It is a letter to Alexandra Mikhaylovna from a distraught lover, lamenting the necessity of their final separation, and grieving for the irreparable harm he has caused her reputation and her marriage. Netochka’s discovery of the letter sets off a chain of events that bring Alexandra Mikhaylovna to the point of emotional breakdown, and Netochka to the point of womanhood as she confronts Pyotr Alexandrovitch with the truth of what he has done to his wife.

Several narrative threads, as with the relationship between Netochka and Katya, are left unresolved but with clear indications that they would be resumed in future installments of the novel. It is noticed, at first by Alexandra Mikhailovna, that Netochka has a beautiful singing voice, and arrangements are made for her to receive training. Her love of singing and its connection to her emotional life are examined in a number of scenes, but her artistic development is clearly only in its beginning stages. The novel finishes with an enigmatic exchange between Netochka and Ovrov, Pyotr Alexandrovitch’s secretary, that is suggestive of further development of the story relating to the love letter.

My Thoughts:

This was an unfinished work by Dostoyevsky and you know what? I’m ok with it not being finished. This was super duper ultra totally mega farfanoogan depressing. And if you don’t know what all of that means, well, think Hemingway and a Remington Tactical Magpull, heheheheehe. (I don’t like Hemingway, that’s why it’s funny)

What stood out to me was Netochka’s complete humanity. She loves her dad who uses her to steal money from her mother. She’s classic self-destructionist. It hurt to watch it unfold. But like many other Russian novels, that pain and suffering is cathartic instead of being the dark end of a Remington 😉

Why it affects me that way I don’t know, but I am thankful it does. Because otherwise I wouldn’t be reading this stuff and I LIKE broadening my horizons (well, a little anyway).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The TBR Tag

I originally did this tag back in 2017. I figured it was time to update some of the specifics. Also DZ is no longer blogging and that made me sad. Made me think of all the other bloggers I’ve seen stop blogging since then.

Saw this at Dragon & Zombies a little bit ago and decided I’d save it and do it later. Later is now Now.

Picture heavy and complicated. I had a lot of fun putting this together though, as organizing things brings joy to my heart.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

This is a complicated procedure, at least the setup. Once it’s setup, then it rolls along like a well oiled machine.

  1. Choose a book to put on my TBR
  2. Put said book into Calibre with the TBR tag and sort by “date added”
  3. Load 100’ish books onto my Kindle, sorted by Series
  4. Remove TBR tag from those books in Calibre.
  5. Repeat Steps 1 & 2
  6. When I finish a series on my Kindle, I remove said series from my Kindle
  7. Replace finished series with the next series that has the TBR tag from Calibre
  8. Keep my Kindle filled with 100-150 book so I’m not reading the same thing within weeks
  9. Keep my Calibre TBR library at 100-150. Ruthlessly not adding books does this just fine.

All picture should be clickable for more detail.


Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?


How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

By whatever is next. My reading is like a grindstone. It goes slowly, but I crush that TBR into fine meal.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest:

In Calibre, the first Warlock Holmes book, A Study in Brimstone. That’s been there since at least 2020 and I suspect since ’18 actually.

A book that you recently added to your TBR:

Cop Hater by Ed McBain. The first in the long running 87th Precinct series. Considering I probably won’t start this series this year, it’s a good thing I am a patient man!

A book that’s on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover:

The Stars Like Dust. I was looking for some Asimov to read (I actually haven’t read nearly as many of his books as I had thought) and this caught my eye.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading:

I’m not one of “those” kind of people. I only add book that I know I’ll read. So suck it, you pretentious jackasses. There’s a special place in Hell just for you!

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for:

The third Checquy Files book, Blitz by Daniel O’Malley. I hope it is good!

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you:

Once again, I’m not one of “those” people. I only add a book if a reviewer I trust has reviewed it or if there are enough other reviews for me to figure out if it will push my button or not. The whole “popularity” reading thing is for a different generation than me.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you:

Thankfully, almost all of you never recommend books to me. I’m thankful for that. I read your review and make up my own mind.

A book on your TBR that you’re just dying to read:

Hostile Takeover by Dan Willis. The newest Arcane Casebook book. I’m actually getting to this now and you should see the review next week. It has another absolutely gorgeous cover!

The number of books on your TBR shelf:

85’ish on my Kindle

140 in Calibre (not including ALL the manga and comics. I don’t count them, so you shouldn’t either)

225’ish in Total

Rest in Peace: Patricia McKillip

Last week Jeroen informed me of Patricia McKillip’s death on May 6th of this year. Here’s an article from Tor.com:
World Fantasy Award Winner Patricia A. McKillip Has Passed Away

I am quite saddened by news of her passing. I had hopes that she would write several more of her absolutely gorgeous lyrical fairytale prose. I guess this means my re-reads will be all that more poignant knowing there will be no more. If you have not read any of her books, here’s a list of my many reviews as I gush over her books like I have for no other author. Gushing over an author, me. That’ll probably never happen again.

All of my Patricia McKillip Reviews

9/11 – 20 Years of Remembrance

I don’t know how much longer I can carry this burden in my memory. Every year it gets harder to keep this event kindled in my mind. A young man just started working at our company. He’s 19. He wasn’t even born when this happened and for him, it might as well as not happened. How do I carry on in the face of such indifference?


The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard ★★☆☆☆ DNF@55%

completestoriesofjgballard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard
Series: ———-
Author: Jerry Ballard
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 1199/DNF@55%
Format: Digital Edition



A massive collection of short stories by the author Jerry Ballard. Mainly from the 60’s and 70’s, Ballard’s stories one and all revolved around broken characters; broken mentally, broken physically, broken emotionally, broken psychologically, broken in any way you can imagine. The world is dystopian, hope has been removed and the inexorable pessimistic fate for humanity cannot be thwarted.


My Thoughts:

Ballard was a qualified writer, ie, he knew his craft and did it well. However, his style and subject matter destroyed any positives for me in that aspect. In the over 600 pages I read I would have expected SOME variety in the stories but nope, uniform brokenness was what Ballard thought and what he wrote. By the time I’d decided to DNF this, I wasn’t even depressed, I was simply bored. I imagine I felt like what an art connoisseur would have felt like if Edvard Munch had only painted Scream style paintings.

At the 25% mark I was raging inside. The brokenness of the characters really had gotten to me and I was sick that Ballard could write such people over and over and over. Every man was a coward in one way or another, every woman a harpy or drone. Then like I said earlier, I just got bored. You can only read the same type of character and story so many times before it stops having an impact.

Originally, this book was published in 2 separate volumes and honestly, I think that was the correct choice. This 1 volume was just too big. Maybe if you wanted to slowly read a story here and there every day or week and you could set this down whenever you wanted, you’d not get bored. I still would have gotten bored though and there was no way I was going to spend a prolonged time period with this author’s outlook. One week of reading it every day, approximately 100 pages a day (anywhere from 4-10 stories), was enough.

Ballard also hasn’t aged well. The wonders of psychology would solve all the problems, but of course with Ballard that was misused so it would create all the problems. In one story psychologists had been outlawed by a right-wing world order and the main character had gone to jail for trying to help someone in an underground psychology session. I don’t see Ballard becoming an enduring author. To the dustbins of history with him I say!

Finally, I couldn’t help but compare this massive collection to the volumes of short stories by Asimov that I read back in ’16. That was also a 2 volume collection, Volume One and Volume Two and together they about equaled the same number of pages as this. Their tone however, was much more positive and upbeat, which allowed the more negative stories in that collection to be more of a savory contrast, like sweet and sour chicken. Ballard was just sour chicken. That is only yummy if you’re a sick, sick individual.



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Bookstooge & Star Wars: A Tragedy of Shakespearian Proportion



Last month (or so) Ola and Pio from Re-Enchantment of the World, did a Nostalgia post on Star Wars.  If you haven’t read it and have any love of Star Wars, I highly recommend their post, it was fantastic! It also reminded me that I had been a big fan of Star Wars for a very long time.

I know that now whenever Star Wars is now mentioned I’m pretty negative about it. I don’t keep that a secret, whether it is about the books or new movies. But it wasn’t always that way.

I was born in the late 70’s and by the time Return of the Jedi had come out I was aware enough of Star Wars to know how awesome it was. Of course, that was mainly because a neighbor boy had almost all the toys.  But I became very well versed in the Star Wars lore based on those toys.  As time passed I watched the movies from the library, on vhs.  You might say I was as much a naive farm boy was Luke ever was.



When the Special Edition vhs editions came out in ’97, I bought them and me and my siblings and some friends had a Star Wars party. I don’t remember what everyone dressed up as, but it was cool. We were pretty cool in fact and we loved Star Wars. Even now, when I don’t have a vhs player or anyway to watch these, I’m not giving them away. They have Memory Value to me, big time.



After that, I began to devour the Star Wars Extended Universe books. The Thrawn Trilogy was my gateway, like for so many other people and it just went on from there. The EU was really expanding and a new Star Wars book would come out every couple of months it seemed like. Even with the bad ones I felt like I was swimming in gravy. When you’re 19, a year is a long time and anything from a niche cult classic was good.

I bought, played and beat the Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight video game on both Light and Dark paths.



I bought the boxset of the audio tracks for the original trilogy too.



Then the prequels came out. I can remember how EXCITED I was for Episode One.  I remember hearing someone say they didn’t think it was that great and I distinctly know the word “blasphemy” sped across my mind. I was convinced it was going to be so great.  On one of our field trips I saw the book in a bookshop and spent some of my very precious cash on it. I sat in the van the rest of the afternoon reading it instead of going on tours and seeing the Washington Monument and other such useless things. Star Wars was more important. Then I watched it with a group of guys at Bibleschool.  I enjoyed it immensely but deep down inside I realized exactly what that person who spoke blasphemy meant. It was not “Great” with a capital “G”.

But it didn’t matter because more and more books were coming out. Prequel books, Clone War era books, then the massive 21 books series collectively known as the New Jedi Order.  More and more and more books. The rest of the prequel movies came out as well and that was when everyone realized Lucas wasn’t the genius behind the original trilogy. We got lucky he didn’t direct them. But I still loved Star Wars.

Star Wars had moved from the Niche Cult Classic into the Main Stream and I was a fan. I watched Star Wars, I read Star Wars, I played Star Wars, I listened to Star Wars.


Sadly, the prequels were the first small step onto my journey towards becoming a Non-Fan. When Lucas released the original trilogy on dvd for the first time, he fucked every fan in the ass with no lube, laughed at us and told us to shut the fuck up and ask for more. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please feel free to ask in the comments.


But the books kept on rolling out. The EU was growing. New characters were trying to emerge. Then the next big hit came. In 2014 the EU was declared Non-Canon. It was unceremoniously chucked out the window to make room for Disney, which Lucas had sold Star Wars to. Star Wars was now a common franchise whore. No longer a precious jewel to be cherished by her fans but a wildly successful money maker. George Lucas knew no shame and Disney never had any.

My hope, while just an ember, was still producing heat. The Force Awakens would surely redeem all these business decisions, right? Then I watched the movie and my final flame of hope flickered out.  Star Wars was now nothing but grey ash that greedy bullies had pissed all over.  A literal lifetime of fandom was dead. The only lesson I learned was to never become too invested in something you don’t control, because some jerk will eventually destroy it. Thus my Journey from Farmboy Jones to Darth Bookstooge was completed. (Man, I’m depressing myself here. Sorry about that.)

There is no happy ending for me here. The best I can do is to try to not rain on other peoples’ blogs when they go on about new Star Wars books and even then I know I’m not successful. See, I told you this was a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare.


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My apologies for dragging Ola and Pio’s wonderfully upbeat post into such a sad one.

Pawn (Chronicle of the Sibyl’s War #1) ★★★☆☆

pawn (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: Pawn
Series: Chronicle of the Sibyl’s War #1
Author: Timothy Zahn
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Format: Digital Edition



19 year old alcoholic Nicole is on her own, living on the streets, moving from one gang to another to survive. Her latest leader, Bungie shows up one morning shot and he forces Nicole to take him to the nearest VA hospital where he kidnaps a doctor in the parking lot. Suddenly, all 3 are approached by tall silvery beings and fall into unconsciousness.

Nicole wakes up and finds out they have been kidnapped by aliens. They all have jobs at keeping the ship repaired but not all is as it seems. Bungie wants off the ship and runs away. Nicole finds an Arena where other species are fighting each other for food while the humans have more than enough. The beings instigating the fighting are the apparent rulers of the ship, but as more is revealed, Nicole realizes that absolutely nothing is what it appears to be.

The ship is a sentient being and something caused it to split into multiple personalities long ago. The humans repair is aimed at restoring unity while the “ship masters” are controlled by another segment of the ship.

Nicole is a Sibyl, one that can talk with the ship through the use of drugs. The drugs have the side affect of reducing her life span to about a year though. Nicole defies the ship masters and brings what peace she can between the species in the Arena. This gets her an audience with the ship itself and the book ends with Nicole planning out how she can restore the ship to its full mind.


My Thoughts:

This was a decent read but no more. Nicole had been so beaten down by life and by her extremely bad choices that she just wants to put her head down and survive. This was a coming of responsibility story instead of a story about an already responsible person. I always have a hard time with those kind of stories.

The next book in this series comes out in 2019 and I highly doubt I’ll read it. Nothing about this book gave me that zing, that pizazz that I had with Zahn’s books back in the day. I think that it is more about me changing than Zahn as an author. I am done with Star Wars so his SW books don’t tempt me and his last couple of non-SW books have been ok but nothing special. This leads me to conclude that I am pretty much done with Zahn and that just saddens me.

From the age of 16-21 I almost literally ate his books. They were the guiding lights by which I judged all others. He was the gold standard. And now? My tastes have changed; gold isn’t so attractive, I want juicy fruit and seared steaks. Now I’m sad 😦



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