Category Archives: book review

New Year, New Stuff

So it’s been 39 days since I last posted and unfortunately, there’s been some good reasons for that.

I’ve been looking for a new job and this week I have two possibilities, one is a temporary position for six months and the other is a full time position. Obviously I would like the full time position but since I am currently unemployed, I will take anything I can get.

Another reason for the lack of a writing-related post is that the monthly writing challenge run by ML Garrett has been discontinued because it wasn’t garnering enough interest and she wanted to focus more of her time on her publishable writing.

I am still writing Bluebonnet County stories. The one that I was originally writing for the January challenge was actually longer than I originally planned so I will post a link to it as soon as it’s finished, which will hopefully be sometime in the next two weeks.

On the reading front, I will gather my thoughts and post reviews of the last book I read, Star Trek: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm. I am currently reading Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions, and will post a review when I’m done.

I decided not to make any new year’s resolutions and it seems to have paid off, I have lost 15lbs in three weeks, so I’m about as light as I was a year or so ago. I’m going to try and make a goal of being 240lbs by the end of February. We’ll see if I make it.

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Filed under Bluebonnet County, book review, books, creative writing, Creative Writing Challenge Game, reading, Star Trek, Weight Loss, Work in Progress, Writing, Writing Competition

Turning Point

The song goes

Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Well, for most indie authors disparaging words are heard all the time and the skies are always cloudy. Sometimes this is deserved, such as when these indie authors don’t use any kind of spell-check or have their work edited by professional, or even just revise and edit. Then there the others that do their very best and hoped to be rewarded for it.

Melissa Luznicky Garrett is one of the latter group. Turning Point is a tour de force in characterization and from the opening line you feel for the main character, Jenna Lyons. The events in the book cover about four days and they are quite possibly the worst four days a human being can experience. Jenna goes from a high school graduating party that turns decidedly sour to being stranded in a small Missouri town where she is unwittingly pulled into a family situation that boggles the mind.

The short chapters keep the pace fast, and the reader is carried along a roller-coaster of emotion all the way until the very end. I’m an avid reader and have probably read more than a thousand books in my 29 years, but this is one of the very few that will stay with me. I can count on one hand my absolute favorite books, and this is a new one for the list.

I would recommend this book to anyone, teenager or adult, that thinks about how bad their life is. Reading Turning Point makes me realize that no matter how bad my life has seemed at times, it is nowhere near how bad somebody else has it, and that they would probably wish they had my life because it wasn’t theirs.

I give this book a 9.5/10.

Turning Point, by Melissa Luznicky Garrett, is available wherever good books are found.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a competition run by the author, but I would have been more than happy to pay for it. Her other books are on my wishlist.

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What Judgments Come

What Judgments Come is the penultimate novel in the Vanguard saga and it does its job well, tying up most of the loose ends left by the other books and setting up the finale.

The framing story establishes two people that definitely survived the end of the saga, Tim Pennington and Diego Reyes (but we know of least two more, T’Prynn and Admiral Nogura). Reyes tells Pennington about his time aboard the Orion ship docked at the station and this brings us to the end of the Orion storyline.

One of the best storylines in the book is the set up for the TOS episode, The Tholian Web; the Tholian screw-up on the Klingon colony of Traelus II, leading to Captain Thomas Blair and the Defiant investigating and disappearing, which would be followed up in the episode mentioned above. This also means that the Enterprise is in the area for the final book in the Vanguard saga, Storming Heaven.

The Shedai Wanderer escapes her prison and flees, vowing to return with her people to free the Shedai Progenitor and wreak havoc upon the lesser races of the galaxy. This is what I look forward to in the final book.

I give this book 8/10, it could have been a little better, but not by much.

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The Struggle Within

The Struggle Within is an eBook-only novella in Star Trek’s Typhon Pact miniseries that focuses on the Federation’s attempt to include the Talarians in the expanded Khitomer Accords, and their use of a little covert assistance in overthrowing a corrupt Typhon Pact member government, the Kinshaya. While it tells a good story and there is character development, it is too short.

I would have preferred this to be a full length novel and to have a much deeper look into the Kinshaya and Talarian societies. However, the book did what it set out to do, which was to highlight those two races as they were not focused upon during the main four Typhon Pact books.

I give this a 7/10, though I do wish it was longer.

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CSI: Shock Treatment

Shock Treatment is the latest CSI novel from media tie-in author Greg Cox (Star Trek: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Soong, Vols. 1 & 2; CSI: Headhunter) and features a horror-movie-inspired candid camera TV show called Shock Treatment. The A plot focuses on the seemingly innocent murder of an actor on the set of Shock Treatment when the scare goes horribly wrong, but throw in a sex scandal, blackmail and a zombie movie, and it turns out to be a set-up. I’m not a fan of zombies (or vampires, which also make an appearance in the book in the format of a paranormal romance series written by one of the suspects) but this was really well done and the zombies were just part of the scenery.

The B plot centers around a spa that offers snake massages and a venomous snakes ends up in the mix, becoming an innocent victim of the “It’s all my idea, why does she get all the credit?”  story line. This one was more cliched but still enjoyable and although it dragged on for a little while and introduced a few more characters than was strictly necessary (including a guy who seemed to want to be a snake, forked tongue and everything) I believe that the plot is stronger for it.

Overall a solid 8/10. I would have liked a complicated B plot but the A plot was superbly rendered. Another great work from Greg Cox and here’s a free plug for him, his new Star Trek novel, Rings of Time, comes out in January 2012.

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A Choice of Catastrophes

A Choice of Catastrophes by Michael Schuster & Steve Mollmann is the latest standalone Star Trek novel released by Pocket Books. It follows the crew of Kirk’s Enterprise as they are split up on a mission exploring what they believe is a currently uninhabited planet previously scanned by a probe and tagged for a manned follow-up because of ruins on the surface.

Kirk and Spock lead two shuttles to the planet while the Enterprise delivers medical supplies elsewhere and will later join them. The shuttles’ arrival triggers a defense mechanism on the planet designed to keep intruders away and the Enterprise is caught in spatial distortions as it approaches the planet from several light years away.

Without spoiling you too much, the A plot is Kirk’s and Spock’s teams exploring the planet and trying to find out what is causing the distortions, while the B plot focuses on Dr. McCoy trying to figure out why five members of the crew have fallen into comas with no physical cause.

The A plot is interesting and introduces a clever new alien race that I would love to see followed up on at some point in the future, but the B plot is for me, the more interesting of the two. Star Trek: Crucible: Provenance of Shadows by David R. George III is hailed as the definitive McCoy book but this comes a close second. While the former book does a great deal filling in McCoy’s life in two distinct timelines, A Choice of Catastrophes takes us on a journey through McCoy’s mind, as he’s thinking about leaving the Enterprise and having doubts about his abilities as a doctor which manifest through visual and auditory hallucinations (which have a cause of course).

I give this book a solid 9/10. My only quibble being that we did not get to see more of the alien race post-mission, but I guess that’s for another book, maybe.

The next Star Trek book out is the eBook-only Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within by Christopher L. Bennett.

In the meantime, I’m re-reading Christopher’s Star Trek: The Buried Age, a Tale of the Lost Era (which I will post a review of here) and Patricia Cornwell’s fifth Scarpetta novel, The Body Farm.

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Updates on Writing and Books

Wow, 2 months since my last post.

I really have to get better about maintaining this blog or it will fall into the internet abyss.

OK, let’s see, what happened in the last two months. Instead of shopping the short story around to the magazines, I submitted it to the Jim Baen Writing Contest, the winners of which will be contacted on/around March 15th. There was nothing more I could do with that story so I started writing another one…and I’m still writing it.

It is the second story set in my Commonwealth universe, though this time about twenty years earlier than the first story was, and it looks to be significantly longer than the first story, perhaps even a novella.

In other news, my wife and I finally moved into a new apartment in a much better neighborhood than the previous place was, though transport is more tricky, but we have worked out a suitable arrangement, at least for now.

I have not read much in the last two months but I did just finish reading a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Grounded by David Bischoff. It was set during the series’ run (1987-1994) and is therefore a cookie-cutter novel, with no major changes occurring to upset the status quo, but that said it was rather enjoyable.

An alien life form based on silicon almost causes the Enterprise to be destroyed, but one of the B plots saves the day with Picard, Data and Geordi’s assistance (Riker and Worf are both knocked unconscious). Sentient or quasi-sentient clay is not original to science fiction, I’m sure, but it is my first association with it and I found the use of the clay quite intriguing. It was deadly to the people on the outpost, being on a planetary surface, but seemed to grow while attached to the Enterprise. Apparently a simple magnetic field shift is enough to render the clay relatively harmless, and thus renders the A plot just as harmless, in my opinion.

While the A plot was interesting, I found myself more drawn to one of the B plots, where an autistic child needs help to prevent her from going catatonic at times, and an interesting speculation came forward, that perhaps autistic children are telepaths of some degree but they are unable to process all the external stimuli that come with this and retreat into themselves, becoming almost catatonic. It is an interesting notion and one that I have filed it away for later use in my Commonwealth universe, though I don’t currently know where it might fit.

I have just started reading the next Star Trek: The Next Generation novel I have, The Devil’s Heart by Carmen Carter. I will probably post my thoughts on it here once done.

Provided I don’t forget.

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Filed under Autism, book review, Commonwealth universe, Home, Original Fiction, Psychics, reading, Star Trek, Writing Competition