Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: Chain of Command

Chain of Command by Frank Chadwick

Synopsis:
Lieutenant Sam Bitka, U.S. Naval Reserve, is getting used to civilian life when he is called back to active duty. Tensions between Earth and the alien Varoki are on the rise, and Sam is assiged as tactical officer aboard the deep space destroyer USS Puebla. Dispatched to the distant world of K’tok to protect human colonists, he wants nothing more than to serve out his active duty time and get back to his civilian life.

But when the Varoki launch a crippling surprise attack against the Earth coalition fleet, Sam finds himself suddenly in command of the USS Puebla, a job he is far from certain he can discharge successfully. What’s more, mounting evidence points to a much larger and more sinister alien plan.

Now, Sam must deal with faltering leadership in the human task force and an alien enemy who always seems one step ahead of them. Time for Sam to step up and rise to the challenge of command.

Review:
Chain of Command is a solid, military scifi novel. There is an impressive number of engaging, believable characters. Though the story is told mostly from Sam’s point of view and occasionally alternating to the Varoki.

Chadwick is a prolific author, but this is a standalone novel that I had no trouble jumping into. Packed with exciting space battles and political intrigue – this was a fun, well-paced story. Events build to a thrilling ending with plenty of surprises along the way.

Book Spotlight: Star Trek The Next Generation: The Art of Juan Ortiz

Star Trek The Next Generation: The Art of Juan Ortiz

I had seen some of the fantastic Original series poster artwork from Juan Ortiz, so I had to check out the Next Gen collection. There are 178 posters – one for each episode. And the seasons are separated like chapters.

The book starts out with a nice interview with the artist that talk about his choices with this new collection.

Art of Juan Ortiz

I’ve included some of my favorites here.

Art of Juan Ortiz Art of Juan Ortiz Art of Juan Ortiz Art of Juan Ortiz

Some are pretty simplistic, while others are much more stylized and colorful. There is a wide range of styles and techniques.

Art of Juan Ortiz Art of Juan Ortiz

This is an impressive collection that Next Gen fans will enjoy as a collector item or coffee table book.

Art of Juan Ortiz

Graphic Novel Review: Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman

Wonder Woman 77 Meets The Bionic Woman

Synopsis:
Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, the most beloved female icons of 1970s television, come together for globe-trotting action against their worst enemies! Diana Prince and Jaime Sommers team up to fight a rogue cabal bent on wreaking havoc and stealing deadly weapons. Can CASTRA be stopped before their real targets are revealed and lives are lost? And what three familiar villains threaten the unbeatable combination of bracelets and bionics?

Review:
Two of my favorite super heroes from the 70s make a fantastic team-up in this graphic novel. These 3 strong female leads show true girl power as they battle mysterious fembots and a mysterious foe.

Fans of both shows will get to see several familiar faces. And their adventures even take them to Paradise Island. My favorite aspect of these stories is the incredible artwork. Diana and Jaime look just like Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner. And the secondary characters are easy to distinguish as well. The story is well-paced with plenty of action and intrigue. I will definitely be reading the rest of these homages to 70s series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Leia: Princess of Alderaan

(Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Synopsis:
A young adult novel, written by New York Times Best-selling author Claudia Gray, about sixteen-year-old Princess Leia, set before A New Hope.

Review:
When Leia turns sixteen, she notices that her parents aren’t as attentive as they used to be. And when she decides to fight some injustices from the Empire’s involvement, Leia discovers that her parents have a big secret. The dinner parties that they throw are actually rebel meetings.

Adult and Young Adult fans alike will enjoy this engaging coming-of-age story. We finally get a look at how Leia got involved in the rebellion and her parent’s reaction. She’s an amazing character that Gray did a fantastic job of showing us a young Leia who has yet to develop her leadership skills and confidence. This 16-year-old Leia is completely believable and endearing. The story is well-paced and full of suspense, intrigue, and a bit of romance. This was another great character-centric prequel that won’t disappoint.

SciFi Book Review: Retrograde

Retrograde by Peter Cawdron

Synopsis:
Mankind has long dreamed of reaching out to live on other planets, and with the establishment of the Mars Endeavour colony, that dream has become reality. The fledgling colony consists of 120 scientists, astronauts, medical staff, and engineers. Buried deep underground, they’re protected from the harsh radiation that sterilizes the surface of the planet. The colony is prepared for every eventuality except one—what happens when disaster strikes Earth?  

Review:
This Mars station is divided by countries and cultures, working together for a common goal. But when tragedy strikes Earth, the scientists on Mars quickly divide, unsure who to trust. Events are shrouded in mystery, and no one knows the whole truth.

There have been several Mars disaster films and of course the recent The Martian book and film. While there are similarities, in this novel, the biggest disaster is on Earth and the repercussions with the Mars scientists. Retrograde is a fast-paced thriller – both psychological and action-packed. The characters are believable. And the suspense is combined with emotional drama and shocking surprises. With novels this intense, I catch myself reading faster to match the pace of it happening. I thoroughly enjoyed this Mars-based adventure.

Fantasy Book Review: Sorcery for Beginners

Sorcery for Beginners by Matt Harry (Author) and Juliane Crump (Illustrator)

Synopsis:
Five-hundred years ago, sorcery began to fade from the world. As technology prevailed, combustion engines and computers replaced enchanted plows and spell books. Real magicians were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten. That is … until now.

Sorcery for Beginners is no fantasy or fairy tale. Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), this book is a how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It’s also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long war when he uses sorcery to take on a school bully. Owen’s spell casting attracts the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, all of whom wish to use Sorcery for Beginners to alter the course of world history forever.

Review:
Owen is dealing with his parent’s divorce and his mother’s absence. He’d do anything to turn back time and fix things. So, when he is presented with Sorcery for Beginners, he sees it as a chance. But when a secret group finds Owen, they’ll stop at nothing to get the book from him.

Sorcery for Beginners is the first in a new fantasy series for young teens. There is plenty of danger, suspense, magic, and humor. I would like to see more character development with Owen’s friends in future installments. The strength of the story is definitely the pacing and intense suspense. And the accompanying illustrations add to the story, making it feel like you’re reading the book of magic along with the students. The engaging world-building will definitely keep me reading future installments.

Fantasy Book Review: Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Clagi Gallicano

Synopsis:
Haunted by a dream of a mythical gryphon, Sam London uncovers an ancient secret that will change the way he sees the world forever. Recruited by Dr. Vance Vantana, an eccentric zoologist and park ranger sent by the government, Sam is whisked away on an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the globe. Along this journey, Sam learns an incredible truth: mythical creatures are real and living among us in our national parks. A special department in the U.S. government ensures that their existence remains hidden.

But Sam’s dream is an omen that the secret may now be in danger. Someone seeks the power to expose these creatures and overthrow humankind—and that power can only be found in a magical talisman known as the gryphon’s claw.

Review:
Sam has vivid dreams. And his latest has him obsessed with finding more answers about the mythical gryphon he keeps seeing. When he hunts down the place from his dreams, Sam’s life will never be the same.

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw is the first in an exciting fantasy series for middle grade readers. Sam is an average boy who doesn’t feel exceptional at anything. But he has a gift that sets him on a course for adventure. There are loads of fun and vibrant characters and mythological creatures. And the hunt for the powerful grypho’s claw builds to an exciting and surprising ending. I look forward to the next in this promising series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours

Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack

Synopsis:
Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.

She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet’s dark, uncharted sea.

As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so, she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life—until now.

Review:
The Shenzhou assists a Federation colony under attack from a suspicious juggernaut that came from the planet’s own sea. Captain Georgiou is immediately suspicious, with good reason. Meanwhile, Captain Pike and and the Enterprise soon arrive, but with strange orders from Starfleet.

Desperate Hours is a prequel to the new show, now available on CBS All Access. Michael Burnham is newly promoted as first officer and her rival Lt. Saru has to deal with her promotion over him. The two were my favorite characters after watching the first couple episodes, so I was happy to see this relationship fleshed out more. In fact, we get to know Lt. Saru a lot better, and learn more about his unique heritage.

And as the Shenzhou and Enterprise jointly investigate the origins of the juggernaut and the ancient original inhabitants of this world, Burnham is reunited with an officer from the Enterprise. Their relationship is strained, awkward, and eventually leads to a fantastic, revealing scene.

Mack has written numerous, outstanding novels in various Star Trek series, so I had high hopes for this. And I’m happy to say it exceeded my expectations. The story is exciting, with plenty of drama and intrigue. I loved delving deeper into these new characters. And the meetup with the Enterprise was a fitting passing of the baton to this new series. It is a bit strange that we still haven’t seen the Discovery, but the series will focus on Michael Burnham, and this is a prequel story that gives some insight into characters and relationships that we only had a glimpse of during the first two episodes. I am very excited for the future of this new series. And I thoroughly enjoyed this prequel novel and look forward to more.