28 JanRough Beasts of Empire 3

The third book in the Star Trek: Typhon Pact collection of books is Rough Beasts of Empire by David R George III.

Rough Beasts of EmpireThe story is made up of three different threads and how they weave together over the same events.

Spock is still on Vulcan, still working with the Vulcan-Romulan Reunification Movement. An assassination attempt on his life sets this book off, particularly when the attempt comes from a Reman. Captain Sisko is back, though his marriage with Jennifer is on the rocks. A prophecy from the Bajoran Prophets haunts him, forcing him to isolate himself from the people he loves. He takes up a new posting as commanding officer of the Robison, on patrol near the Romulan border. Lastly it follows the Romulan people as they come to terms with the aftermath of the Borg Invasion and the division of the state into the Romulan Star Empire and Imperial Romulan State. We also get a look into Typhon Pact member the Tzenkethi.

Overall I enjoyed this read, though I have to admit initially it felt out of line from the other Typhon Pact novels I’ve read. It begins not about the same time as the others, but around the time of the Borg Invasion. Initially I couldn’t figure out why this wasn’t the first TP book then, due to its leap backwards in the timeline.

Honestly, I could see this book being split into two because of that. One focused solely on Sisko’s story, following him and the DS9 crew during the Invasion. Another focused more on the Romulans and the division between the two states.

That said, once the book’s timeline comes more into alignment with the others, you can see why it’s the third book and not the first. Some of the information given out (I won’t spoil it) is definitely better suited to be revealed after the earlier books.

All in all I think this has been my favourite Typhon Pact book to date! Four stars.

22 JanShe Went All the Way 2

My quest to read all the Meg Cabot books continues!

She Went All the wayShe Went All the Way is one of Cabot’s earlier books, from 2001. The heroine is Lou Calabrese, a screenwriter who made it big right out of university with her first screenplay: Copkiller. Like many cop films, Copkiller has gone on to produce three sequels. Even Lou’s “tribute to the human condition” movie, Hindenburg, hasn’t stopped her from writing the fourth Copkiller flick.

Only problem is, the film calls for a scene where the star barely escapes a mine explosion, and the film’s director actually wants to blow up half a mountain to do it. Up in Alaska to try and talk some sense into the director, Lou gets caught in a helicopter crash with the film’s star Jack Townsend. Lou and Jack don’t get along, and now that people are trying to kill Jack, Lou gets caught up in the whirlwind as a witness. Running across the Alaskan wilderness, the pair try to make it back to safety before their killers catch up.

Let me start off by saying this is definitely the steamiest Meg Cabot book I’ve read! I would classify this as a romance, rather than chicklit. While the steamy doesn’t bother me, it’s definitely not what I was expecting in her books, so if you’re looking for Cabot’s regular fare I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Other than the steam factor, this is definitely your typical Meg Cabot. Lou is an average every girl who just happens to have made it famous, without letting it get to her head. Jack is a gorgeous movie star with a big heart. The pair clash throughout a lot of the book, having a previous hatred when Jack ad-libbed one of Lou’s lines – which happened to become the Copkiller catchphrase.

This is a fun and fluffy (and steamy) read, that a person can polish off in one sitting if they put their mind to it. I give this three stars.

12 JanReal Books

This has been making it’s way around the interwebs, and I thought I would share with you!

10 JanMirror Space 1

So hello, 2012! Nothing like starting off the New Year with a bang. And my first book of the year is definitely a bang!

Mirror SpaceMirror Space by Marianne de Pierres is the third book in the Sentients of Orion series.

After her world was overrun by aliens that have destroyed any humanoid in their path, Baronessa Mira Fedor has fled to plead for help from OLOSS – the Orion League of Sentient Species. Along the way she has met up with mercenaries, an intellectual, a hero of the Stain Wars, a God discoverer – just to name a few. Their stories weave together as they cross paths and separate, and yet they are still linked as the story unfolds. At the end of the second book Mira has been kidnapped, so book three begins with the characters figuring out why.

When I first started reading this series, I had a hard time getting into it. Now I’m on book three, I can hardly put this book down! Each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view. I get so into the story, that when one of the chapter’s end I can feel myself dying to get through until that character’s next chapter. But then, I get caught up in the next chapter and the cycle repeats. As the reader you just can’t tear yourself away from the story she’s constructed.

I like the fact that this book is gritty – the author isn’t afraid to gross you out, and she doesn’t sanitize things like many stories tend to. The characters feel more like everyday people instead of the almost too perfect characters often found in science fiction.

I’m really looking forward to book four in the series. So much so, that when it comes in at work it’s going to jump the line in my TBR pile :-)

Five stars!

01 Jan2011 in Review

When I fell so far behind on writing the reviews for the books I’d finished, I decided that as soon as I finished a book I would review it. That explains the time stamps for all the last few reviews of mine. I’d written them, but had been storing them until I’d caught up on all my other reviews.

So phew! I (technically) did it! 52 books read and reviewed in a year! I’m quite proud of the fact, and want to tahnk everyone who was rooting for me! Also a big thanks to Misty, my blog buddy, for taking part in this endeavor with me! It was a great year for books.

I thought I would wrap up this year with short blurbs about the other books I’d finished this year, but didn’t manage to review, since I read through 65 books total in 2011.

Book #57: Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
Queen of Babble Gets HitchedA cute finale to the Queen of Babble trilogy. I was pretty disappointed that this last book even existed, since our main character goes off with totally the wrong dude and then feels miserable about it for the majority of the book. I guess it does go to show that we don’t always make the best choices in our lives, and when it comes time to finally admitting that we’re wrong can be difficult.

Book #60: Heat Rises by Richard Castle.
Heat RisesI was so excited for a new Castle release! If you’re a book fan this is definitely a TV show you should be writing. The show’s lead character, Richard Castle, is a famous mystery writer who rides along with Detective Kate Beckett for inspiration. The books that get released as tied in with the show, and bits of the books get mentioned throughout the series.

Book #61: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Let It SnowI was needing a Christmas fix, and the cover of this appealed to me, so I picked it up. It’s three short stories centered around a Christmas snow storm. Definitely a cute set of reads.

 

Book #62: Vision in White by Nora Roberts
Vision in WhiteI was still feeling in the mood for chicklit. This was a reread for me, and I’ve been wanting to read it again for a while. It’s my favourite in the Bride Quartet by Roberts. I’m not normally a fan of her works, but when I originally read this, there was something about the characters that just plain appealed to me. The main character, Mackenzie, reminds me a lot of a character in one of my stories. I’m not sure I can stomach any of Roberts other books yet.

Book #63: Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
Boy Meets GirlIn my quest to read all the Meg Cabot books (that appeal to me) I finally got my hands on the last book in the ‘Boy’ trilogy. These books are all told through emails, notes, and transcripts. This was an easy read that I managed to finish off In just over a day.

 

Book #64: The Dark Side of Disney by Leonard Kinsey
Dark Side of DisneyThis book piqued my interest as I saw it mentioned on Twitter in the Disney parks circles I follow. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, as the premise is about scams and tricks that people pull off in Disney parks. That said, a Disney book blogger that I follow – George Taylor at Imaginerding – reviewed it and recommended it. I was still a bit weary, expecting it to be a tale of dumbass things that people do in Disney parks that usually piss me off. And though in some accounts it is (ie: doing drugs in the parks), I still really enjoyed this book. The author is clearly a big Disney parks fan and repeatedly tells readers that if you’re going to try some of the things in the book, at least be respectful of other guests and not spoil the magic for them. The book also talks about going “off the beaten track” as they venture into cast member only areas. Don’t let the raunchy cover or premise fool you, this is definitely a good book for Disney fans to check out.

Book #65: Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire by Michael A Martin
Typhon Pact Seize the FireThe second book in the Typhon Pact series that looks at the political powers behind this new enemy to the Federation. This was a Titan book, so if you’ve read my other blog posts you can probably hear me grumbling already. Of the Titan books I’ve read though, I have to say I’ve enjoyed this one the most. Again I have issue with too many characters, but alas it’s something I have to suffer through. I do like all the mentions of the Enterprise series (love love love). In this book the Titan crew watches as the Gorn discover an old terraforming device and try to get it to work again, while the planet they plan to test it on contains a thriving species of millions.

Well that’s the last few books I read this year! I’m halfway through #66, so I guess it’s going to be the first book for 2012. This year I’m going to keep reading a book a week and reviewing it. I’m also going to be launching a new Star Trek book review blog with Kat from 100 Books, Letters, and Products and our friend Matt, but those reviews will still be posted on this blog (or they will be the old posts from this blog).

Thanks for reading with us, and I look forward to another year full of books!!

01 JanZero Sum Game 56

Typhon Pact: Zero Sum GameStar Trek: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game by David Mack is the book that got me back into reading Star Trek books.

It started in the Summer of 2010. It had been about a year since I’d last read a Trek novel, after burning out on some awful ones that had totally turned me off the series. We had a customer come into the bookstore who wanted to order The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. In doing that, it lit a spark in me to poke around Fantastic Fiction for Star Trek novels, and I landed on the page for David Mack. I saw that he had written a book called The Starfleet Survival Guide. Interested, I ordered that for myself. In the coming releases section, it said he was also working on the first book in a new Trek series – Typhon Pact – and that it centered around Dr Julian Bashir. Being one of my favourite characters, I figured I’d preorder it and give it a try.

In October 2010 the book comes in. It goes into my TBR pile for a while, since I had several other books to get through first. But then that December I decide to try and read it.

The first page in says that it follows events that took place in the Star Trek Destiny trilogy. This made me a bit miffed, since I’d tried to read the first Destiny book but since I was burned out at the time, I couldn’t get into it. Figuring I could just pretend I’d read it, I started Zero Sum Game anyway.

Unfortunately, it mentions events that took place in Destiny and the books that follow. While I could have just muddled my way through, I eventually decided (being the stubborn book lover I am) it would probably be best to go back and read the Destiny trilogy then come back.

And so I did. But instead of just finishing Destiny, I went and read all the books released in chronological order. If you’ve followed this blog since the beginning, you probably would have noticed this progression.

Anyway, speaking with my friend Matt, he suggested what books to read and which I could skip. And if you’re interested in doing the same, you can skip some since not all of the titles released since Destiny follow this same timeline.

Here’s the release timeline:
+ Destiny: Gods of Night – David Mack – Sept 2008
+ Destiny: Mere Mortals – David Mack – Nov 2008
+ Destiny: Lost Souls – David Mack – Nov 2008
+ A Singular Destiny – Keith R A DeCandido – Jan 2009
+ Titan: Over a Torrent Sea – Christopher L Bennett – Feb 2009
+ Voyager: Full Circle – Kirsten Beyer – Mar 2009
+ TNG: Losing the Peace – William Leisner – Jun 2009
> DS9: The Soul Key – Olivia Woods – Jul 2009
> DS9: Never-ending Sacrifice – Una McCormack – Aug 2009
+ Voyager: Unworthy – Kirsten Beyer – Sept 2009
+ Titan: Synthesis – James Swallow – Oct 2009
+Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game – David Mack – Oct 2010

( > Books with the arrow mean they do not follow the Destiny timeline.)

And so here I am 11 books later back at Zero Sum Game. Only took me a year or so. (I can hear Matt and Kat saying “FINALLY” to me, since they’ve been itching for me to catch up so we can discuss them).

Phew, anyway this post is getting long.

Zero Sum Game begins when plans for Starfleet’s slipstream drive are stolen. All evidence seems to suggest the Federation’s new enemy. The Typhon Pact is an alliance of Romulan, Breen, Tholian, and other forces that came together following the Borg invasion. Starfleet can’t afford losing the only advantage they have over the Typhon Pact. That said, they can’t risk an all out assault on the Pact during the current cold war and while so many of their resources are being devoted to rebuilding the Federation.

Things then fall into the hands of Starfleet Intelligence. They recruit Dr Julian Bashir, genetically engineered and a history (albeit short) or working for SI. Partnered with another genetically enhanced agent, Bashir is sent to Breen space to infiltrate the mysterious species, sabotage the slipstream files, and destroy the prototype.

Let me first start off by saying: YAY AVENTINE!! Since the inclusion of the Aventine and Captain Ezri Dax in the Destiny series, I have jonesing for more. The Aventine is also in A Singular Destiny, but there’s nothing else until this book. I love it because Ezri is a character we only got to see a little bit about before DS9 went off the air – but she’s still a character that the readers know. It’s nice to have a younger CO at the helm (because lets face it, at some point Picard is going to need to retire if the timelines keep progressing like this). I also like the fact that she’s a younger female as the boss, which gives female Trek fans like me something better to relate to. It’s not often we get to see a young woman kicking so much ass. Usually female characters are older or if they’re not, they really only serve to be male eye candy. Plus as I mentioned, Ezri isn’t afraid to kick ass and pull her weight – so to the people responsible for Trek story development at CBS, Pocket Books, etc: MORE USS AVENTINE PLEASE!

Anyway, Bashir gets to play spy. It reminded me of the episode “Our Man Bashir”, where Bashir gets to play James Bond in the holodeck. Of course, this isn’t play and he’s really sent into enemy space. All in all I enjoyed the book. I like that there’s development of two of my favourite characters – Bashir and Ezri.

Admittedly there were a few of the ‘spy’ elements that I thought were peculiar. I could see Bashir making these mistakes since he really doesn’t have much intelligence training, but given that his partner has served with SI for a while it seemed like she was making silly mistakes.

That said, it wasn’t enough to take away from the book, though I would consider this one of the lighter of the Trek novels.

I definitely recommend this book, so I give it four stars.

01 JanFabulous Girl 55

Fabulous Girl's Guide to DecorumThe Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh is exactly how it sounds: a book for women about decorum. Don’t worry though, it’s not stuffy and written as if we are still living in the 1950s. It covers topics such as the workplace, relationships, society at large, and friendship.

I have to say this isn’t a book I’d normally buy for myself. I think it was a well-meaning gift from somebody that was off the mark. At any rate, it contains a fair amount of information about manners in our current society (if slightly outdated already given the advances in technology since the book’s release in 2001). Personally I found most of the topics fairly common sense, and the average person likely won’t need to read this book.

I like the tone of the book for the most part. It’s written as if it’s your friend talking, with a helpful tone and a dollop of wit mixed in for good measure. That said, there were times the authors talk down to the reader. I struggled with the first few chapters because of this, but I pushed past that and the tone became more friendly and easy to read.

I was also really turned off by the authors’ obsession with vanity. There’s no shame in taking pride in one’s appearance, and I agree with the authors that first impressions count. But, I felt like they were emphasizing looks and fashion a bit too much (Given that they both work for fashion magazine’s that’s no surprise).

I also disliked their emphasis that it was okay to sleep with one’s boss or married men. What the heck? Since when it is okay to do that?! Sluts are definitely not fabulous. I don’t consider myself a prude, but it definitely made me squeamish as the authors tried to make the above behaviour okay.

Though it made for an interesting read, it’s not something I would recommend to anyone. Zero stars.

01 JanI Remember You 54

Sometimes when it comes to reading chicklit, I need something with a little more story to sink my teeth into. I managed to find that with Harriet Evans. Her novels always tend to carry more substance and the characters are my better developed that my usual chicklit offerings.

I Remember youI Remember You by Harriet Evans definitely doesn’t disappoint in that department. Growing up in a small England town, Tessa Tennant always longed for something bigger. She moves to London to become a teacher, leaving the sleepy town of Langford behind her. But twelve years later when she’s hit a run of bad luck – dumped by her boyfriend of two years, out of work, and feeling bummed – she finds herself heading back to Langford. The town feels more quaint than she remembers, but her best friend Adam is still there, so she believes maybe she can settle back in. Unfortunately their past together leads to a bitter fight, and Tess flees to Rome where she meets Peter. But a tragedy in Rome leaves Tess trying to piece her life back together once again. She needs to figure out if Langford is where she wants to be, or if there’s something more just waiting for her to reach out and take.

All in all I enjoyed this story. It had the makings of a good chicklit novel: your imperfect heroine, her gal pals, the guy she’s going to fall for (and one she’s not), and some issues she needs to overcome in herself before she can be truly happy.

Evans always managed to use a good dollop of emotion in her novels. You feel sad at the right times, but happy in the next. That said, it didn’t play on the heartstrings quite as much as the last of her novels I read: The Love of Her Life. This book just wasn’t quite as good in that regard.

I do love Evans’ use of descriptions through out. It helps to make the reader get a better sense of the setting of the novel. While in Langford at Christmas, it felt as though my nose could be cold and red, even though it didn’t say anything about noses. You could feel the sunshine beating down on your face while Tess was in Rome, even though it wasn’t overly mentioned. I liked this inclusion the reader has.

That said, I did find this book to be a little drawn out. The story moved slowly, with new developments coming up gradually. I suppose it’s why I love Evans’ work and dislike it too. Sometimes this slow build up can help to make the story feel more realistic, since self discoveries don’t always happen instantaneously. But again, sometimes it can drag out too long. When Tess goes to Rome I thought that would lead to her moment of realization, and everything seems to indicate that. But when she goes back to Langford it doesn’t quite happen, and she defaults back to how she was. Then again – that is the way life works.

I did enjoy this book, and I recommend all her novels. I give this one three stars.

01 JanHark A Vagrant 53

Hark! A VagrantA fan of her online comics, I was happy to hear that Kate Beaton was putting out a new book. Hark! A Vagrant is a collection of the awesome comics Beaton does.

All topics are fair game, though her focus is usually history and literature. Beaton reinterprets history with humour that is all her own. She manages to make fun of the modern day and the cultural icons, and leaves the reader laughing.

I have to say this book is a great collection, and was beautifully put together. The simple style of illustration is clean and shows a great range of expression. A lot jokes are told simply through the expression on a character’s face instead of a spoken punchline. I wish I could express emotion in my art like she does!

Another thing I love about Beaton’s comics is that she can make any subject seem interesting. Her humourous take on history makes you want to find out more about the heroes and non-heroes of our past.

With so many great comics, I’m surprised the author and editors were able to decide on what strips to use. I’m sure if it were me I would have had a difficult time!

I highly recommend this book. If you haven’t read it yet, do so! You should also be following Beaton’s website, Hark! A Vagrant.

Five stars!

01 JanTitan: Synthesis 52

Star Trek: Titan: SynthesisWhile the last Star Trek: Titan disappointed me, I wanted to remain optimistic that the next book would be better. That said, when Star Trek: Titan: Synthesis by James Swallow came up in my TBR pile, I was a little apprehensive.

Trying to ignore my prejudice, I dove into this book.

The Titan discovers an interesting binary star system, that has the potential to have warp faring species. Deciding to investigate, they approach the area. Unfortunately this sector of space is riddled with spatial distortions similar to sandbars in a lake – they will stop you in your tracks if you don’t know where they are. Striking one of these sandbars, the Titan discovers a very badly damage spacecraft. The captain dispatches an away team to investigate and search for survivors. What they find is a highly sentient artificial intelligence called White-Blue. Following a misunderstanding with White-Blue’s rather xenophobic species The Sentry, the Titan falls in the middle of a war.

The storyline itself was interesting. Usually it’s humanoids that are xenophobic against each other, but what happens when it’s machines who hold the prejudice? It also involves a lot of introspection on the part of the Titan crew, trying to get past their own prejudices of AIs – particularly given the recent Borg war being fresh in their minds.

My troubles with this book is again the myriad characters that the reader has to keep track of. It’s not as bad as the last Titan book where you had characters show up for two pages and then you didn’t read about them again. But the main cast is so large I started to get them mixed up. At one point the author writes “The Trill said” and it took me a few moments to figure out just who the Trill was, because I had originally thought it was a different character not present in the scene. After discussing the book with a friend of mine, it seems that too many characters is a problem with the Titan series itself than simply the two books I’ve read. It’s unfortunate, but I suppose the minds behind this series were trying to make things more dynamic by showing not only the senior staff, but the everyday crew who do smaller tasks that are important to the ship.

My other problem with this book is that I often found that certain passages just droned on longer than I cared for. I want to say that it’s due to too much description, but I’m not entirely certain that’s too blame. I think it was more that things were mentioned that really could have been left out and the story could have been affective. I’m not somebody who likes to speed read or glance at certain passages, but I found myself willingly doing this while reading this book – I grew impatient with it at times.

Alternatively, there were also times when the storyline kept going forward that I just didn’t want to put the book down. But that said I would be reading through a great section, and then all of a sudden it was like my mind stepped in a tar puddle and the story came to a screeching halt.

I give this book three stars.