Category Archives: books

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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From Potters Field

This is I believe is the final entry in what I have come to call the Temple Gault trilogy in the Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell.

Temple Brooks Gault first appeared in Cruel and Unusual where was responsible for killing 4 people and escaped. Gault turned up again by proxy in The Body Farm (my review of that book is here) where he used a young woman, Carrie Grethen, to gain access to a classified FBI program. In From Potters Field Gault continues his murderous rampage by setting his sights on Dr. Scarpetta and her niece, Lucy (who was Carrie’s lover in The Body Farm).

This book follows the FBI’s hunt for Gault from Richmond to New York and seemingly back and forth before his death in the New York subway. What I am most fascinated by in this book is not the title (which again is only tangentially related to the plot at hand) or the main thrust of the plot in finding Gault, but the behavior of the primary characters.

Gault has red hair and vivid blue eyes, can imitate a flawless Northern Italian accent and steals money wired to his mentally-impaired sister (an impairment he caused years earlier by making a horse kick her in the head) before he kills said sister after taking her boots and everything else that he wanted from her. I am only just beginning to write crime stories myself and I’m not sure I would wish to write about someone as innately evil as Gault, but I am still fascinated by his character (which I suppose is why I like watching Criminal Minds).

Lucy went from being a twelve-year-old know-it-all to a lesbian FBI-intern computer genius and considering that these books were written in the mid-90s I’m glad they tackle the difficulty of a lesbian lifestyle, but only as it relates to the character, and not the plot. Lucy’s computer wizardry is instrumental in catching Gault and absolves her from the problems Gault and Grethen caused her in The Body Farm.

Captain Pete Marino comes across as a chauvinist, homophobic bigoted dinosaur but he is a cynical jaded detective who knows what to look for and I find his character just as fascinating. I’ll be giving a more detailed look at Marino’s character in another post.

Scarpetta’s character seemed odd to me in this book. We see her becoming more and more paranoid (understandable considering Gault’s fascination with her) but her fascination with guns seems completely off compared to the previous books. She went from having one gun to enough for a small army. I think Cornwell went too far in portraying Scarpetta’s paranoia.

I actually really enjoyed the book and give it a 7/10.

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The Body Farm

This is the fifth Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell and I have to wonder at the title. The body farm in Tennessee which one might think was the focus of the novel barely covers two chapters (if that). The rest of the time is spent chasing Temple Brooks Gault, who was the nemesis of the previous book (Cruel and Unusual) and the next book in the series (From Potters Field). In this book, the actual killer has taken hints from Gault’s previous works of depravity and used it to her (that’s right, you read that correctly) advantage.

To give you some background. Kay Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner for the state/Commonwealth of Virginia and is part of a crime solving troika which also includes FBI Special Agent and forensic profiler Benton Wesley, and Richmond PD Homicide detective Peter Marino. Wesley and Marino were part of a local VICAP (Violent Criminals Apprehension Program) initiative and at the end of the previous book Scarpetta became an FBI consultant.

So a body of a little girl turns up in some backwater town in N. Carolina and everyone thinks it’s Gault so they chase their tails for half the book until Scarpetta realizes that nothing fits (especially as Gault’s been seen in London). The local cops drop like flies and Marino gets involved with the dead girl’s mother while Scarpetta and Wesley start to have an affair. To cut a long story short, the killer is the girl’s mother and it appears as though she’s responsible for every death in the town from her husband and daughter to one of the local cops, and tries to kill Scarpetta.

The B plot revolves around Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy, whose mother is children’s author, lousy mother and obnoxious human being that deserves a slap every time she opens her mouth. Lucy is working for the FBI’s research division and supposedly steals sensitive information. The truth is far more sinister: Lucy’s girlfriend is working with Gault to get into the FBI’s worldwide computer database called CAIN and uses Lucy’s thumb print to gain access. The plots dovetail as when the killer mom tries to kill Scarpetta she almost succeeds in killing Lucy instead who’s actually driving the car.

I would give this book a 5/10. It could have been a lot better but it could also have been a lot worse.

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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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