Gandalf Would Be Proud Of Me

Gandalf: “Bookstooge, now you are the Master and I the Student!”

The other month I wrote a post about how Louis L’Amour would have been ashamed of me. Well, this month I think I can more than make up for that. I have been interested in walking sticks for some time but it has only been in the last 5 or 6 years that that interest has been anything but purely intellectual.

My first “staff” was actually just a stave of diamond wood. Diamond wood is an artificial substance that is wicked strong, won’t bend or break and can take a beating and keep on going. The stave was actually meant to be cut up for other purposes but I figured it was good enough. How wrong I was. This thing was almost an inch and a half in diameter and was heavy, heavy, heavy. While it might have been great if you needed to break someone’s skull, it was NOT good for walking around. It was quickly relegated to a corner by the coat rack and forgotten about.

My next attempt was a locally made walking stick that I bought at the Pumpkin Festival. An old gentleman made them himself and would then sell them at the festival each year. I am very thankful I picked this up because after that year we never saw him again. It is very light, has some nice crooks and turns to it and has been sealed so it won’t rot away. It also has one of those 99cent compasses in the top of the handle in case I ever get lost and need to find my way to the North Pole. My biggest issue with this staff is that there is a very small crook at the top where you hold it and that angles my wrist and makes it hurt if I use it for than 15minutes. I’ve tried hold it lower but my hand just naturally keeps sliding up to that crook.

For our X wedding anniversary Mrs B and I attended the Highland Games in New Hampshire a couple of years ago. It was blustery and cold and bordering on rainy so while Mrs B attended some tented cooking thingy, I took a walk around and looked at all the knickknacks to buy. One seller had a whole rack of staves on display and I ended up picking this one and it has served me well. It fits my hand well, is just the right height and weight for me and solid enough that I can give someone a good solid “thwack” without worrying that it’ll break on the first swing. If we ever go to the Highland Games again I’ll be sure to pick up another. Because you just can’t be too prepared.

Here’s a picture of all 3 next to each other for comparison..

Surviving a Bad Book – Prince of Thorns


Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

2 Stars



Back in 2011 I kept hearing about this new up and coming author, Mark Lawrence and what a wunderkind he was. He was on the forefront of this new fantasy sub-genre, something called “grim dark”. I figured I had nothing to lose and dived into it.

Oh my goodness.  I was shocked, to say the least. Jorg was a 13 year old psychopath who raped and murdered his way through the book. There wasn’t a single good thing I could point to and it left me feeling betrayed and angry at Lawrence.  I don’t even remember any details about the plot, as Jorg dominated everything in my mind.

If I wanted that kind of entertainment, I can turn on the news. Seriously, there is enough horrible stuff in the real world, every single minute, of rape, of abuse, of neglect, of despair and of death for any sicko to get their rocks off. So why someone voluntarily reads this for fun is beyond me. What amazes me even more (in a bad way) is that someone wrote this. It boggles my mind that such filth was given the light of day. How does Lawrence go out in public knowing he penned, for any and all to read,  such things?



And those strong feelings are why I’ve never read another Lawrence book since.  In the last couple of years I have heard good things about his Red Sister trilogy. Once the final book is out and if it doesn’t stoop to frenzied levels of despairing violence, I’ll probably give Lawrence another chance. But even if I like it, I’ll always remember that this guy wrote someone like Jorg.


bookstooge (Custom)
















Surviving a Bad Book – Sword of the Archon


Sword of the Archon by D.P. Prior

1/2 Star







So, this book. I wasn’t really on WP when I wrote this review in ’14, but over on Booklikes. I was just crossposting all over so I wouldn’t lose any reviews or be silenced. It was not a good read for me and the author, who I’m guessing had a search algorithm going for mentions of him or his books, came over and commented. That wasn’t so cool but since I wasn’t using WP as my main platform, I just let it go. I’m not sure if Prior even left any follow up comments.

However. Ahhh, yes, that “However”, don’t you just love them?

Hippo Mafioso LOVES “howevers”, especially if kneecaps are involved…


However, one of his fans couldn’t let things stand, because obviously I was an evil demon sent directly from hell to destroy their beloved author’s reputation and life itself. Since I wasn’t on GR, said fan couldn’t stir up the hordes of ignorant idiots, so they resorted to commenting on the WordPress review. And they left page long comments. Showing how I was wrong, how I was destroying Prior, blah, blah, blah.

For weeks.


That was when I became very familiar with comment moderation and turned it on. I turned it on then and would just delete comments from that poster when I saw them come up. But it kept on going. So then I just turned comments off altogether and ended up forgetting I had done that, which is why there are a significant amount of reviews on here that don’t allow comments. That’s the kind of thing that’ll get fixed in my little Blog Under Construction project.

It still boggles my mind that another person can invest such energy into such a pointless exercise. Did that commenter think I was suddenly going to change my mind? Did they live in a world where nothing bad was ever said or negativity didn’t exist? That couldn’t be the case because of the rape scene in the book that they were so vociferously defending. And why do “I” draw in those kind of people for my reviews? I mean, they left comments for WEEKS! Who even thinks that way? Sigh. Must have been a Pig Ignorant Euro-snob *wink*

And there you have it, another book, author and rabid fan that I survived. This is the tenth post in this series and you know, I’m beginning to really wonder if there is something wrong with me. Do any of you have stories like this? Because one or two or even three I could see. You just can’t interact with people for 18 years and not have bad experiences, but this many? Which leads into my next paragraph nicely.

I’m getting tired of posting about all the bad experiences I’ve had with books, authors and fans. So I’m going to start another series of posts where I focus on the good experiences, kind of like my Favorite Books series but just one book at a time. Probably going to call it Thriving on a Good Book, and see how that works.

Thriving Baby!


Mattries suggested that I not give up this series of posts altogether though, so I’m thinking I’ll probably do a 2 or 3 to 1 ratio of Thrive to Survive posts. I think I can handle that. Cheers!


bookstooge (Custom)








Surviving a Bad Book – Catch-22


Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

1 Star







This book is the classic example of where humor is NOT universal. As I was reading this I could almost SEE Heller trying to squeeze in the humor but for me, it came across as the vampire bite of satire rather than the bonhomie satire.  It has been almost 9 years since I read this and I’ve never been tempted to re-read it to see if my opinion has changed or to search out any other works by Heller. In fact, this book makes me feel like this:

Yep, this book made me wish Heller was dead. Oh wait…


I know nothing about Heller’s real life experience in the war. I only know this was written 8+ years after the war had ended and wasn’t published until 1961.  I just know that I found the mocking, the bitterness and the complete degradation through humor of the men who served in WWII to to be completely unpalatable. I couldn’t find the situations humorous. It is kind of like me making jokes about dead squirrels, or running them over or something. I find that uproariously hilarious but Mrs B will burst into tears, so I have learned to not tell those kind of jokes around her.

Make Your Own Squirrel Joke.  Kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure, but different.

Another reason I was disappointed was that I was expecting the humor to be right down my alley.  Making fun of a situation and the people involved because of stupidity. Yessir, sign me up! And like I said, it just didn’t work for me.

I guess this was more of a bittersweet Survival Story than anything. I am glad I read this so I have it in my reading repertoire, but really, I almost wish I could un-read this so as to not have this huge black hole of disappointment where this book resides in my mind.



bookstooge (Custom)






Surviving a Bad Book – The Swords of the Sultan!

coverThe Swords of the Sultan! by J. Erik Booker

1 Star

Book 1 of The Elysian Dynasty






I like to put up these SaBB posts if the book is not only bad, in some shape, way or form but also has an interesting story to go along with it.  This book performs admirably on all accounts.

First off, it is the epitome of indie trash.  If you read my original review, I didn’t really hate on it, just pointed out what I couldn’t stomach and considered it a waste of time. A one star book on Goodreads, no big deal, right? Hahahaahahahahahahaa.

Attack of the Rabid Fan Girl

A fan of the author, who had written a 5star review, came over to my review and started lambasting me for what I had written.  Mind you, I hadn’t gone over to her review or had any interaction with her or the author. This was someone sticking their nose into my review and trying to roast me. I was fast approaching maximum fed up’ness with Goodreads at the time and was fully invested (very unwisely I’m afraid to say) in the Authors Behaving Badly Group. I just let loose on that stupid woman and told her exactly what I thought.

Then the author got involved. Now, let me be clear. I fully respect the members of our Armed Services. They have put their lives on the line so that I can go to work every day and not have to worry if some yahoo is going to blow up a school bus full of children. They’ve also gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to being taken care of for what they’ve gone through.  So when the author told me, once again on my review that the other person was insulting me in, that I was insulting her and that he, as a Marine, was calling me out, anywhere, any time, well, this is kind of what I pictured in my mind:




I reported him to GR, took some screenshots and then deleted all the comments.  I mean, how was I even supposed to take what he said seriously? The whole situation was just ludicrous. Here I am, writing a review for a book and suddenly a “Marine” wants to have fisticuffs with me? Five years later and I couldn’t even remember the name of the book or the author when I went looking for this. Obviously, I was terrified out of my mind by the brutish thug 😉



Thus, another piece of the puzzle that is Bookstooge is revealed. And you wonder why I’m so bitter about indies sometimes. Only unadulterated determination and pure stubborn cussedness has kept me going in the face of such odds.



bookstooge (Custom)




Surviving a Bad Book – A Quest of Heroes



A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice

1 Star

Book One of The Sorcerers Ring





Yes, Surviving a Bad Book has returned. It makes me feel like Life has returned to normal too, even though it hasn’t. And like I always say:

“Feelings are more important than anything, even Logic, Truth and Life Itself.”

Yep, that’s me, Old Man Feelz


After the last SaBB post, I wanted one that wasn’t so vile. So I started perusing my 1/2 and 1 Star books and oddly enough, the majority of them were from the last 3 years.  So either my taste had improved dramatically OR I’m just being a LOT more picky and not willing to put up with barely adequate trash masquerading as novels.

This particular novel isn’t offensive beyond it’s complete and utter mediocrity. The storyline is lifted wholesale from the story of King David in the Bible and has a dash of Arthurian Legend thrown in.

What really makes this book bad is that I wasted my precious time on it and that the writer has a whole series of the wretched things. I HATE being a Gatekeeper. Back in Ye Olde Olden Days, there used to be these people called Agents and Editors who were paid to sift through all the dreck. Now, with the Self-Publishing Revolution that the Ebook has enabled, I am the Gatekeeper. What’s more, when I actually do some Gatekeeping and call a piece of trash a piece of trash, half the time I get this kind of response:




This is the kind of book that I would DNF at the 10% mark now. Live and Learn.








Surviving a Bad Book – Freeware

freewareFreeware by Rudy Rucker

1/2 Star

Book 3 in the Ware Tetralogy


The following post will contain gross descriptions, etc. It was that kind of book so this will be that kind of post. There will also be frank discussions of sex and various fetishes.  You have been warned appropriately.



Wheewoo, wheewooo, wheewooooo!




In my actual review I didn’t get too detailed because I was still dealing with the disgustingness of the book and didn’t really want to go there. But since these SaBB posts aren’t real reviews, but introspective lookbacks, I figure I can let it all out, kind of like the author did.

First off, I was actually enjoying this series back in 2014. Software and Wetware were of the “Weird” variant of SF and while it shouldn’t have worked for me, it just did. I have no idea why, but I was really enjoying something that was just plain Out There.

Then I got to Freeware and things went too far and it was the end of the line for me. Rucker had always had a thing for sex in his books, but in this one he really went into “get some therapy” kind of territory.

I’m not a fetishist kind of guy. Pretending to be someone I’m not, dressing up in costumes, pretending I’m an animal, wearing latex, none of that appeals to me.  What also doesn’t appeal to me is pissing during sex or pooping in or on your partner. Or rubbing feces all over each other.


Yeah, pretty much my reaction too!

So when Rucker has some of his characters dress up in latex, use a clear latex sheet and then poop on each other, piss on each other and get turned on by it? Well, that is not just disgusting, it is also perversity of mind and body.  Sex is like any other appetite and if not properly used and controlled, will spiral out of control. That is the part of the Fallen Nature of humanity but I don’t want my mind filled with sewage and so I cut the book off right away.

And I wasn’t even comfortable enough at the time to write all that out in my review.  But obviously I haven’t forgotten it.

Bork, borkety, bork!


I’m just going to end this by saying, who thinks that any of that is a good idea? Who writes that and thinks it is a good idea? Who reads it and thinks it is a good idea?








Surviving a Bad Book – An Enemy Reborn

cover (Custom) An Enemy Reborn by Michael Stackpole and William Wu.

My initial review isn’t very critical but I gave it one star and I can still remember how I felt when reading and finishing it. If I can remember those feelings from 2003, then the book is deserving of the moniker “A Bad Book”.

This isn’t an angry feeling, but that feeling you get when a favorite author writes a completely amateurish piece of garbage that isn’t even worthy to be in the Forgotten Realms series. Kind of a melancholic sadness.

So, some history.  I grew up with authors like Stackpole and Zahn and the such being favorite authors back in the very early 90’s through the mid ’00’s. Stackpole was my fantasy guy.  He wrote books like Talion: Revenant and Once a Hero, books that I love and re-read multiple times. 4 times each since 2000 and once or twice before that. Therefore, Stackpole was one of those towering pillars of an author, the kind you get excited about, the kind that naive readers believe can do no wrong, until the author in question proves it beyond all shadow of a doubt.

An Enemy Reborn was originally published with ONLY Stackpole’s name on it and in the beginning was a little blurb about how this duology (A Hero Born was the first book) came from a gaming session. That should have been enough of clue and to my wiser and older self, it would have been. But to me in 2003, it wasn’t even a blip. So I read this piece of subpar garbage and wondered how Stackpole could write something so bad and in such a style that I didn’t even recognize. It wasn’t until years later when I was cleaning up my data that I came across the fact that this now had a co-author and was probably written by him with Stackpole’s name stamped on to sell. What a betrayal, a veritable sword in the back! Yet at the same time, knowing that it is actually written by someone else allowed me to begin the healing process and to allow the 5 steps of grief to truly begin.

William Wu, I FORGIVE you!

Actually, I don’t. Stackpole’s career went on a slow downill trajectory after this book and to this day I pretend that a lot of his more recent books don’t exist.

So there you go, another story of how I survived even the Publishers lying to me and selling me bad dope, really mediocre, cut with white flour dope!






Surviving a Bad Book – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

coverPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Let me be unequivocally clear about 2 things in regards to this book.

1) I am a HUGE fan of Jane Austen. I have read all her works, even her originally unpublished stories.

2) This is pure trash. I don’t mean popcorn bad for you trash, but full on pedophile serial rapist bad.


Yes, I hate this book with a passion. In fact, I hate this whole Quirk Classics line. Taking great literature and boiling it down to a lowest common denominator is wrong. It is like putting a mustache and devil horns on the Mona Lisa and then claiming that you’re helping modern kids to appreciate real art. I’m not usually a book snob, seeing as how I’m primarily invested in the SFF side of things, but this, it outraged me. YOU DON’T DO THIS.

When I first read and reviewed this, I read a couple of other reviews and had to hold myself back from calling down curses and imprecations on the heads of those idiots who were praising this puerile filth. Praising it!

I’ve seen other Quirk Classic books since and have had no desire to read them. Not even to read them to bash the ever living daylights out of them. I don’t need to read them to know they’re bad just like I don’t need to eat a plate full of manure to state that it tastes bad.

I’m not actually sure I really survived this. It’s been 7 years and even now, reading my old review, I get in a rage. I think this book got the better of me and wounded me beyond help. Man down, man down, MEDIC!!!

*gurgle, cough, spasms, dying breath*

Bookstooge, he was a good man. Just one more casualty in the War on Literature.






Surviving a Bad Book – Shadow’s Rise

shadow's rise

Shadow’s Rise – Return of the Cabal by Joseph Bailey.

The author was handing out free samples at back in ’13, so I took a chance.  Obviously, with it ending up in a Surviving a Bad Book post, you know I lost that toss of the dice. The original review was a copy over from Goodreads, hence all the gobbledy gook instead of actual links.

Sadly, gobbledy gook is a great way to describe the sample I read. I suspect the whole book was just as bad.  Basically, this book was every mistake that a writer without talent and without the patience to hone his skills could make. It was laughably amateurish and should not have ever seen the light of day.

When I was perusing my Calibre library and saw this 1star Gem, I had to wonder if it was really as bad as I thought it was. So I headed over to Librarything. Mine was the only review and I think this review “might” have been the one that started me using the “Bloviated” tag. Next I headed over to Booklikes and once again mine was the only review. Holding my nose, I went to Goodreads and there was the reason this got on my SaBB list. It was mostly 4 and 5stars with everyone gushing about how this was the best book ever. I wondered if we had read the same book? Then I started looking at some of the language in the reviews. Bunch of schills. Whether paid or not, I don’t know. But they all stank to high heaven. Finally, I went to Amazon and while there were a couple of honest reviews, most of them once again were comparing this to Tolkien.

Personal tastes in books differ, greatly. But when it comes to good and bad writing, some of that stuff is NOT subjective. This was bad writing and needed several years of practice before being made available for public consumption. This is the exact model of a book and author that I picture when someone says “Indie Writer”. An idea that was not backed up in the execution of the writing.

Thankfully, I only dealt with the sample. That’s why I “Survived” 🙂