Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hearts and Minds by Dayton Ward
2031: United States Air Force fighter jets shoot down an unidentified spacecraft and take its crew into custody. Soon, it’s learned that the ship is one of several dispatched across space by an alien species, the Eizand, to search for a new home before their own world becomes uninhabitable. Fearing extraterrestrial invasion, government and military agencies which for more than eighty years have operated in secret swing into action, charged with protecting humanity no matter the cost…
2386: Continuing their exploration of the Odyssean Pass, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise discover what they at first believe is a previously uncharted world, with a civilization still recovering from the effects of global nuclear war. An astonishing priority message from Starfleet Command warns that there’s more to this planet than meets the eye, and Picard soon realizes that the mysteries of this world may well weave through centuries of undisclosed human history…
As soon as the Enterprise reaches it’s latest area of unexplored space, Picard discovers that crucial information has been withheld from him but disclosed to a member of his crew. This betrayal mars contact with these new beings. But hundreds of years ago, these aliens came to Earth, and humans may have damaged relations beyond repair.
Hearts and Minds is the latest voyage of the Starship Enterprise. Though, I do miss the original Next Gen crew, I thoroughly enjoy this new lineup of a mixture of original and new crew members. They are diverse and engaging. This latest story is told in two eras, side by side. The pacing flows well. And suspense builds to a surprising and satisfying finale. Ward’s Star Trek novels are always a must-read, and this unique story is another fun and exciting read.
Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Blüdhaven (Rebirth)
Former Robin and retired superspy Dick Grayson has returned to Gotham and stepped back into his life as Nightwing–the blue-and-black clad vigilante known for going where others won’t. Fresh off a deep cover operation to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls, Nightwing must come to terms with secrets of his past that will forever change his destiny.
Dick is easing back into life in Blüdhaven and trying to get involved in the community as more than just Nightwing. But a support group turns out to be a shocking twist. And Dick finds a new love interest.
Volume 2 is better than the last installment. With a cast of colorful characters and a fun and exciting plot, this story arc was certainly memorable. Though, I’m not crazy about Dick’s new girlfriend (mostly because I want him either with Batgirl or Starfire), she is still an interesting character. There is plenty of humor as well as action, culminating in a surprising twist ending. I look forward to the next volume and hope to see most of these supporting characters return.
The Quest to the Uncharted Lands by Jaleigh Johnson
Stella Glass dreams of exploring worlds beyond her home of Solace, but when her famous parents are sent on a historic mission to the Uncharted Lands, it’s simply too dangerous for her to join them. By order of the king, she is left behind.
Missing out on the excitement is one thing, but Stella is devastated at the thought of her parents flying into the unknown. So she takes matters into her own hands. Instead of staying with family as planned, she steals away and—right before takeoff—sneaks aboard the airship.
But Stella isn’t the only stowaway.
In the cargo bay is a boy who is also desperate to get to the Uncharted Lands. And someone else who’s determined to keep the ship from making it there at all.
Stella is a brave and smart young woman with a penchant for alchemy. Not only does she not want to be left behind on this adventure, but she wants to make sure her parents make it there safely. But she’s not the only one keeping watch over the airship. Cyrus is a secretive and mysterious boy with special abilities that make him particularly adept at circumventing the saboteur on board.
The Quest to the Uncharted Lands is the third standalone novel in the World of Solace. Each story has an incredible cast of characters, and this is no exception. This fast-paced adventure was exciting and full of suspense. The incredible and unique worldbuilding leads to fantastic and exciting stories, blending magic and science. Steampunk fans of all ages will enjoy these novels. Each standalone novel includes new characters and stories. You don’t need to read in any particular order, but you will want to read them all.
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
Audrey is a brilliant young woman who’s brave and determined to ignore propriety and pursue her dream of studying forensics. But when she begins to investigate the victims of brutal murderer, Audrey begins to think she may know the killer.
Stalking Jack the Ripper is a gothic stand-alone thriller geared towards young adults. This dark mystery was gory and descriptive when it came to the Ripper’s victims. But Audrey is a believable young woman – curious yet sympathetic towards the victims. There are creepy, period photos that accompany each chapter. The infamous serial killer becomes a part of this whodunnit with a surprising and chilling climactic ending.
Assassin’s Creed: The Hawk Trilogy
HAWK: When Desmond Miles is called away on an urgent mission, he entrusts fellow Assassin Jonathan Hawk with the search for the Scepter of Isis – a powerful ancient artifact, lost in time.
EL CAKR: In the present day, Assassin Jonathan Hawk fights through a terrible setback to unmask a traitor in the Order’s ranks, whilst his ancestor El Cakr battles Templar agents to gain possession of the powerful Scepter of Aset in 13th century Egypt.
LEILA: In 14th century Egypt, the seasoned Assassin El Cakr seeks to return the mysterious Scepter of Aset to the Brotherhood… when it is stolen by a mysterious woman named Leila. Seven centuries later, El Cakr’s descendant Jonathan Hawk desperately tries to get his hands on the relic – leading to an ultimate showdown between the Assassins and the Templars. The grand finale of Assassin’s Creed’s Egyptian saga!
The Hawk Trilogy collects three previously published graphic novels: Hawk, El Cakr, & Leila. Each with the underlying Hawk character storyline. Hawk is an Assassin with a missing eye, that the Templars have confiscated. His DNA holds the secret to the missing scepter. As the two groups search for answers in the past, it’s a race to see who finds the artifact first.
This was an action-packed adventure with intriguing and colorful characters. The trilogy flowed well, as well as Hawk’s backstory. I thoroughly enjoyed this saga and was disappointed when it ended as the characters and their individual stories were fantastic. These Assassin’s Creed graphic novels are becoming a must-read for me.
The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox
Stories have power.
In 1719, Elizabeth Goose published a collection of rhyming spells as a children’s book, creating a spellbook of terrifying power. The Librarian of that age managed to dispose of all copies of the book except one, which remained in the possession of Elizabeth Goose and her family, temporarily averting any potential disaster.
Now, strange things are happening around the world. A tree-trimmer in Florida is blown off his elevated perch by a freak gust of wind, a woman in rural Pennsylvania is attacked by mutant rodents without any eyes, and a college professor in England finds herself trapped inside a prize pumpkin at a local farmer’s market. Baird and her team of Librarians suspect that the magic of Mother Goose is again loose in the world, and with Flynn AWOL―again―it is up to Cassandra, Ezekiel, and Stone to track down the missing spellbook before the true power of the rhymes can be unleashed.
As the seasons of The Librarians are much too short, it’s nice to have these novels as something to tide me over. Eve, Jacob, Cassandra, and Ezekiel are the Librarians in charge of hunting down magical objects wreaking havoc on the general population. A slew of strange happenings all relating to nursery rhymes has the team splitting up to investigate each encounter. And the team must hunt down the missing pieces of Mother Goose’s magical book before more chaos ensues.
Cox is a great tie-in writer and has really captured these beloved characters. This fast-paced adventure is everything I’ve come to expect from the show: plenty of adventure, magic, mystery, and humor. I don’t think I’ll ever look at these Mother Goose rhymes the same again. I thoroughly enjoyed this fun and inspired story with several surprises along the way.
Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B Larson
On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.
But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn into the throne much sooner than she expected.
In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.
Princess Evelayn is just beginning to learn how to use her magic when tragedy strikes. And in order to save her kingdom, she is willing to strike a dangerous deal.
Dark Breaks the Dawn is the first in a YA fantasy duology. With plenty of drama, romance, and magic – this first installment builds an intriguing story. This tale is loosely based on Swan Lake – so loosely, that you wont see many similarities until the very end of the book. The author has created a unique fantasy world of light and dark magic that I’d like to see developed even further in the sequel. And the ending leaves off in a major cliffhanger that left me impatient for the next book.
Stargate SG-1: Insurrection by Sally Malcolm and Laura Harper
SG-1 faces a terrible choice. With the lines between friends and enemies blurring, the team must choose where their loyalties lie—and how much they’re willing to risk to save their world.
While Dr Daniel Jackson and Teal’c return to the refugee colony on Arbella, in search of allies in the coming battle for Earth, Colonel O’Neill and Major Carter discover a piece of Ancient technology that could change the future—and the past. But if using the device results in their own extinction, do they have the right to sacrifice their new friends to save a world they’ll never know?
SG-1 is stuck in a horrific future where Earth has been taken by the Wraith. As Carter searches for a way to change the past, Daniel and Teal’c become involved in a power struggle on Arbella.
Insurrection is the final installment in the Apocalypse trilogy. Carter and O’Neill make a dangerous alliance in order to rid the Earth of the Wraith. With a great of suspense and intrigue – this exciting trilogy comes to a surprising conclusion. (Mild spoilers ahead:) I was bothered a bit how the time travel aspect was handled. Instead of trying to go home to their time, Carter tries to fix what happened in the past – which sets them into an alternate timeline. Though, I can see that the authors may have wanted to show what happens in this future they’ve created rather than just resetting it. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wraith characters as well as the engaging plot twists along the way. As a huge fan of the series, this was a fun and fast-paced trilogy that makes me want to read more from the expanded series.