Category Archives: Book Reviews

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.

Fantasy Book Review: Wings of Fire: Darkness of Dragons

Wings of Fire: Darkness of Dragons by Tui T Sutherland

Synopsis:
Qibli knows Darkstalker must be stopped. And he knows he could stop him – if he had magic. With even a sliver of the ancient dragon’s all-powerful scroll, Qibli could rewrite history the right way: end war forever; make every dragon happy; perhaps even cast a very small spell so that everyone would like him.

Instead, as Darkstalker’s dangerous influence spreads across Pyrrhia, entrancing or killing every dragon in the seven tribes, Qibli can only grasp the small animus objects he’s borrowed from Turtle. With some clever thinking, Qibli’s talons finally hold the power to make a difference.

But prophecies are not easy to rewrite. Can Qibli be the magical force Pyrrhia needs, or will he be the one to bring Jade Mountain – and his family, his friends, his whole world – crashing down?

Review:
This is the 10th book in the Wings of Fire series, not including the standalone Darkstalker novel. This final book in the Darkstalker arc focuses on Qibli. He’s easily the most humble and clever of the dragonets. Though he has dreams, he doesn’t feel he deserves them. This is most likely due to his harsh upbringing from a mother who clearly didn’t love him, though he craved her love and acceptance.

Each installment in this series I say is my favorite, and this is certainly no exception. The character of Qibli is so amazing that you want to reach into the book and hug him. His story is full of danger, suspense, drama, and intrigue. With Darkstalker, you never know how he’ll respond, yet Qibli is the perfect dragonet to come up with a plan to take him down. There is a surprising and satisfying resolution to this 2nd story arc that was even better than the first. This fantastic series is a must-read for fantasy fans of all ages.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Phasma

Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah S Dawson

Synopsis:
One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armored stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

Review:
Phasma had a small but powerful presence in The Force Awakens, so many fans were looking forward to her backstory and learning more about her. Her story is told by a captured rebel, Vi, in short, drawn out bursts, to her captor. Cardinal is jealous of Phasma and wants to find some dirt on her to bring her down.

Phasma is born on a harsh world and makes her own way. And she will do anything to survive. Basically, Phasma is a psychopath. I would have liked to hear her story and get her point of view, to see if she feels any empathy. But her ruthlessness is evident. It was a clever way to tell her story from a third party, giving this origin story another level. As Vi finishes Phasma’s story, the even more suspense builds. This action-packed, dramatic story is dark and revealing. And I can’t wait to read more of these individual stories leading up to the next film.

Fantasy Book Review: The Silver Mask

The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Synopsis:
A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt.

Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on.

But Call has no idea.

It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power.

Review:
When a surprising prison break frees Call, he finds himself in an even worse situation. Call must decide whether or not to follow in Constantine’s studies in order to bring back his best friend from the dead.

The Silver Mask is the fourth book in this exciting fantasy series for middle school on up. This installment definitely takes a darker turn as Call confronts a big choice that will have consequences. Meanwhile, he wonders if his friends trust him anymore. Full of suspense, danger, and magic – this latest story builds to an exciting finale. I love this unique series and the complex characters. The protagonist of the story happens to have the soul of the villain living inside him.

SciFi Book Review: Killing is My Business

Killing is My Business by Adam Christopher

Synopsis:
Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman―and last robot left in working order―Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest in Christopher’s robot noir oeuvre, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Made to Kill.

Review:
Raymond is ordered to kill a man who apparently commits suicide. Then, he’s sent on a wild goose chase after a missing man. Then, he’s told to protect a man about to die – when Ray is most likely going to have to take him out later. This string of men all begin to tie together though, despite Ray’s reset memory each morning.

Ray is a favorite character of mine – a robot with hidden depths. Full of humor and heart, despite his programming. And the noir mystery mixed with science fiction is wholly unique. This latest mystery is complex and unpredictable. And the big finale doesn’t disappoint.

Graphic Novel Review: Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

Synopsis:
Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone―carried into another realm by an ogre.

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters―as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.

But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

Review:
Jack and Lilly enter a land of goblins and ogres to rescue Maddy. But these scary looking creatures are not all what they seem.

This middle-grade graphic novel is a fantastic conclusion to this different take on Jack and the Beanstalk. The artwork is quirky and fun. The adventure is full of danger, suspense, and humor. And Lilly is a strong female lead that young girls will love. Hatke’s stories are always entertaining. And the story ends with a cute twist that fans will appreciate.

SciFi Book Review: Miles Morales

Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds

Synopsis:
Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical “benefits” of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

It’s time for Miles to suit up.

Review:
I haven’t read many comics with Miles Morales yet, other than some team ups. So, I didn’t really know his background or origin story. And while this isn’t an origin story, those of us who are new to the character get enough backstory – yet not too many details for those already familiar. Miles is a good kid with loving parents who don’t have much – yet who are still giving and hospitable. Miles is an easy young man to connect with. He wants to do the right thing, yet he still has peer pressures, a pretty girl he’s crushing on, and the responsibility of being Spider-Man.

This standalone novel focuses on Miles, his daily struggles, and a creepy conspiracy that super hero fans of all ages will enjoy. The camaraderie with his best friend and roommate, Ganke, is one of the highlights for me. The plot is well-paced, mixing teen drama with suspense and mystery. I’ve always been a fan of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, and I’m happy to say I enjoy Miles Morales just as much. He’s down-to-earth and relevant and has plenty of heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Fantasy Book Review: The Squirrel on the Train

The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

Synopsis:
Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself. The police, hampered by human senses of smell and a decided lack of canine intuition, obviously can’t handle this alone. Not with Atticus likely in danger. Oberon knows it’s time to investigate once more—for justice! For gravy! And possibly greasy tacos!

Review:
When Oberon and his crew arrive in Portland, the dogs are on the look out for evil squirrels. But instead they find a murder victim who looks exactly like Atticus. They investigate to find out who the man was and to see if the murderer was actually after Atticus.

The Squirrel on the Train is a novella set in the fantasy series The Iron Druid Chronicles. This installment is told from Irish Wolfhound Oberon’s point of view – which means there is plenty of humor and mentions of sausage. The mystery is fast-paced and engaging. The characters are fun and colorful. And the finale has a surprising twist that doesn’t disappoint.