Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sommelier by Catherine MacLeod

This was a warm and delightful story about a shopkeeper who provides speciality wines for those who need to remember, to feel a lost emotion, to experience a missed opportunity or to find release.

To say much more would take away from the joy of reading this story for the first time. 

It left me feeling pretty good about the world. 

I read it months ago and it has stayed with me for that entire time.  I don't know why it took me so long to post a review of it.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Star Trek: Legacies: Purgatory's Key by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore - Book Report #184

This was a fine ending to the story.

But I will be honest here, when it comes to science fiction I like mine hard.  Hard boiled is even better.  (But that is a very thin slice of the SF pie.)

Because I like my fantastic stories to be as plausible as possible I am not a big fan of; aliens with convenient "super powers", time travel, mystic powers (like the force) and alternative dimensions.

Honestly, and I am sorry if you don't agree, but these are just conveniences that allow a writer to escape from well, reality.  If you want a dose of true hard science fiction try reading The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin.  It's in the public domain and can be easily searched.  Here is a link to a PDF copy of the story - http://photos.state.gov/libraries/hochiminh/646441/vantt/The%20Cold%20Equations.pdf

Okay, the story.  Our heroes have shaken off the Romulans now they have to convince the Klingons that the work they want to do on the planet will not harm the Empire nor give the Federation an unfair advantage going forward.

Kirk and Spock have to use the Transfer Key to locate and rescue their friends from the other dimension.  Loads of time is spent showing just how strange the other dimension is, which I found exceedingly boring, but the conflict between the Klingons was very entertaining.

In the end it was the talents of Ward and Dilmore that kept me engaged.  Their sense of humour lifted the story many times when I was just about to roll my eyes.

Yes, I liked the series.  The stories were at their best when we were in our own universe  I found the characters true to their TV roots.  Interestingly I thought the narrator channelled Karl Urban's performance of Bones rather than DeForest Kelley.  But it worked for me.

I must mention the talents of Robert Petkoff who narrated all three books.  He had perfect characterisation throughout.  He convincingly channelled the original actors of the series which was a talent that needs to be recognised.  I was transported into the story by his abilities.  Excellent work.

Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore


Monday, May 22, 2017

Star Trek: Legacies: Best Defense by David Mack - Book Report #183

Book 2 of 3.

We continue with the adventure, with Captain Una trapped in the other dimension attempting to rescue her friends.

Meanwhile, the Romulans have the key and are making a menace of themselves with it by disrupting peace talks between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.

With David Mack writing the story you know there well be mayhem.  There is lots of action to occupy the story culminating in a spectacular battle between the Enterprise and a Romulan Bird of Prey.

The story mostly is dedicated to the recovery of the key and solving the mystery of its power.  There was some interesting tension on the Romulan vessel that I enjoyed a lot.

The book teed up the next and final instalment in the series nicely and I started listening to it right away.

David Mack

Monday, May 15, 2017

Star Trek: Legacies: Captain to Captain by Greg Cox - Book Report #182

Book One of Three in the Legacies series.


I liked this one, it really felt like characters jumped out fully realized.

The dialogue was perfect although there were times that I felt that Spock spoke a bit too much.  When that happened it usually was in the service of some humor.  So I found my self forgiving him.

One of the things I love about these books is how little details from the TV show or movies are used and expanded to create interest.

The MacGuffin in the story is a special key that activates an alien machine which has the ability to send a person into another dimension.

The part of the story that stretches plausibility is that this device has been hidden on the Enterprise for a very long time.  Two captains ago actually.

The story then travels back in time, to the era of Robert April, the first captain, and the adventure that brought the key to be hidden in the captain's quarters.  And, this is the part I liked, it was hidden behind a piece of art that was in the television show.

The key is behind this panel

What I found implausible was that after finding the key Robert April kept a promise not to reveal it's existence to his superiors.  Then told the next captain, Christopher Pike, about the key and the reasons not to divulge it's existence to Starfleet Command.  Then Pike did the same with Kirk. And none of them turned the key over!

Well, to be fair, they never were put in a situation where the key was a factor.  Until now...

But that is my only complaint.

I found the story a bunch of fun and I can't wait to listen to the next installment in the trilogy.

http://www.gregcox-author.com/

Greg Cox


Monday, May 8, 2017

The Aviators by Winston Groom - Book Report #181

The subtitle says it all; Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight.

These three men came of age just whey flight itself was born.  They were instrumental in the progression of aviation.  All were heroes.

Each man should and actually have had books written about them individually. What made this book so compelling was how intertwined their lives were.

Coming into this book I only knew one name, Lindbergh and only for his trans-Atlantic flight ("Only," let's not belittle what he did here.)

I felt rather lucky that I had only vague notions of these three men, which made the book so fascinating and entertaining.  Really, these guys lead the kinds of lives that are works of fiction today.

There is no way I can sketch a brief bio of each man and I won't try.

Let me just say that if you are even the slightest bit interested in the the history of flight and the history of World War Two then this is the book for you.  Not only will it entertain and inform but it will leave you wanting to learn more.

The period from World War One to the end of World War Two changed everything about life.  It created the lifestyle we have today.

I highly recommend this book.

I enjoyed it as an audio book but I have already placed my order for the physical book as I can't imagine not having it on my bookshelf.

Winston Groom


Monday, May 1, 2017

Red November by W. Craig Reed - Book Report #180

I can't help being fascinated by the cold war.

Submarines are so cloaked in secrecy that I simply find myself drawn to them.

I've read a few books on just how close we've all come to destruction and it leaves me chilled every time I hear such a story.  So it came as no surprise when close calls from the submarine fleet were revealed in this book.

What impressed me was how small innovations could have profound impacts on the opposing force.  When the Soviets moved to burst transmissions to communicate it sent the US into a massive effort find a way to locate the subs that suddenly became invisible.

Like a Tom Clancy novel there are no small players in the American military and it takes everybody doing their jobs to the best of their abilities to keep ahead.

What was revealed about the Cuban Missile Crisis surprised me leaving me thankful that the skippers of the Soviet subs were so clever and cool-headed.

The book reveals other mission right into the mid 1980's, anything after that is still classified.  Fair enough.

In the end I would dearly love to see a day where we put all this ingenuity to use as one people instead of constantly trying to find ways to undermine each other.

That said it is this very war against ourselves that moves our society forward as technologies become available commercially and the real work of peaceful progress takes place.  Our society lags about 30 years behind the advances made by the military.  So, in a weird way, we have managed to benefit from all of it.

The book was well written and at times felt just like a fictional thriller.  I liked the personal feel of the book as it started by first following the career of his father then moved into his own career in the submarine service.

I highly recommend this book.  Publishing it helps to make the world a better place.

W. Craig Reed's website is here - http://wcraigreed.com/

W. Craig Reed.