Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil – Book Review

Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow

The Alpha Quadrant is mired in crisis.

Within the United Federation of Planets, a terrorist strike on the shipyards of Mars has led to the shutdown of all relief efforts for millions of Romulans facing certain doom from an impending super­nova. But when the USS Titan is drawn into a catastrophic incident on the Romulan-Federation border, Captain William Riker, his family, and his crew find themselves caught between the shocking secrets of an enigmatic alien species and the deadly agenda of a ruthless Tal Shiar operative. Forced into a wary alliance with a Romulan starship commander, Riker and the Titan crew must uncover the truth to stop a dev­astating attack—but one wrong move could plunge the entire sector into open conflict!

This is a tie-in story set years before the Picard series starts, but after the synthetics attacked the Mars shipyard. And the Federation stopped assisting the Romulans in their evacuation before their star explodes. Tensions are high between the Romulans and Federation again. So, when both parties respond to a plead for help from a mysterious species, neither can trust the other’s motives. Meanwhile, a Tal Shiar agent has her own agenda and is working secretly behind her commander’s back.

Wow, this story was fantastic. I love the Picard series, and this backstory for Riker and Troi helps to show what gets them thinking about retirement and eventually finding a world to raise their family. Their son Thad is a wonderfully precocious mix of the two of them – Riker’s thirst for adventure and Troi’s sensitive nature. And I always love Romulans, so tossing them in is guaranteed suspense. The reptilian, Jazari aliens are wonderfully secretive which leads to a fun mystery. And while the timing makes them a bit predictable, it doesn’t diffuse the action and adventure in the slightest. And I loved every part of it. This is everything you want in a Star Trek novel.

Whispering Pines – Book Review

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Rae’s father vanished without a trace—and Rae knows what happened to him. But no one believes her when she says that her father didn’t run off, that he was actually taken. Now, a year of therapy later, Rae’s mother decides they need a fresh start, and so they move to a new town in the hope that life can return to normal.

The problem is, there is nothing normal about the town of Whispering Pines.

No one knows this better than Caden. He’s lived in Whispering Pines his entire life, and he’s seen more than his fair share of weird—starting with his own family, as the town is the perfect home base for his mother’s ghost hunting business.

When several kids go missing and then show up like zombies with their eyes removed, many locals brush it off. Just another day in Whispering Pines. But Caden has a dark secret, one that may explain why someone is stealing eyes. And Rae, who knows how it feels to not be believed, may be just the person Caden needs to help him put things right.

This middle grade fantasy has been compared to Stranger Things, and I definitely see the similarities. An evil creature from another dimension has been abducting children from this small town. And to amp up the creepy factor, he steals their eyes. I enjoyed the characters of Rae and Cade – both kids have lost someone dear to them and will stop at nothing to find answers. The mystery kept me guessing till the very end. Though, this is the first in a series, so there is plenty left to answer. And the suspense definitely builds throughout to a heart-pounding finale. I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure.

Resident Alien Omnibus Volume 1 – Graphic Novel Review

Resident Alien Omnibus Volume 1 by Peter Hogan (Author), Steve Parkhouse (Illustrator)

Living undercover as a semi-retired, small-town doctor, a stranded alien’s only hope is to stay off humanity’s radar until he can be rescued. When he’s pulled into a surprising murder mystery by the town’s desperate mayor and struggling police chief, “Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle” learns more about the human condition than he ever wanted to.
This omnibus collects Resident Alien Volumes 1 to 3.

When I saw the trailers for Resident Alien starring Alan Tudyk, I got really excited for the series. Then, I heard it was based on a graphic novel series, and immediately bought the first omnibus. A murder mystery with an alien? Sounds like it was made for me! Of course, some minor things are changed for television. The comic version of Harry isn’t as odd. And the characters seem more exaggerated on tv. But I’m already obsessed with these graphic novels.

Harry is a sweet man with a penchant for mysteries. He just happens to be an alien. While his arrival on Earth didn’t go unnoticed, they have yet to track him down. He appears as a mild-mannered, small-town doctor. Though it seems children can see his true form. Throughout the series, we see bits of dialog from his life before he came to Earth. But as of this first set of volumes (1-3), we still don’t know why he came here, other than he shipwrecked a few years ago. Each volume is a standalone story, but digs deeper into the character of Harry and those around him.

The artwork is fantastic, and adds to the noir feel. And the look of Harry is the quintessential alien – large, dark eyes, elongated ears, and gray skin. I loved everything about this set of stories – from the mysteries to the interpersonal relationships. With plenty of suspense, humor, intrigue, and heart – this series should appeal to mystery and scifi fans alike. I read quite a few comics, but this is now one of my all-time favorite series. I mean, it’s Diagnosis Murder, if Dick Van Dyke’s character was an alien-in-hiding – what’s not to love?

Sherlock Holmes & The Beast of the Stapletons – Book Review

Sherlock Holmes & The Beast of the Stapletons by James Lovegrove

1894. The monstrous Hound of the Baskervilles has been dead for five years, along with its no less monstrous owner, the naturalist Jack Stapleton. Sir Henry Baskerville is living contentedly at Baskerville Hall with his new wife Audrey and their three-year-old son Harry.

Until, that is, Audrey’s lifeless body is found on the moors, drained of blood. It would appear some fiendish creature is once more at large on Dartmoor and has, like its predecessor, targeted the unfortunate Baskerville family.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are summoned to Sir Henry’s aid, and our heroes must face a marauding beast that is the very stuff of nightmares. It seems that Stapleton may not have perished in the Great Grimpen Mire after all, as Holmes believed, and is hell-bent on revenge…

The Beast of the Stapletons is a sequel to the original Hound of the Baskervilles. It has been a while since I read the classic, but thankfully, there was a good recap included. It seems like another beast has been stalking and killing at Baskerville. And Sherlock Holmes is the only one who can hunt down the actual killer.

While it may seem like a sequel, the story is wholly standalone. There is plenty of suspense, drama, and intriguing mystery. And the pacing never slows. Just when you think you know what’s going on, a huge twist comes along. This latest Holmes mystery and adventure is a lot of fun. The story kept me guessing. The characters were fun, if more than a bit over-the-top. And the climactic ending was exciting and fulfilling. This escapade was unexpected.

Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil – Book Giveaway!

Courtesy of Gallery Books, I have a copy of Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 22. I’ll draw a name on January 23, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

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Received in December

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Jiu Jistu DVD
Love and Monsters 4K Ultra HD

Ad Astra / Head of Zeus:
The Children of D’Hara by Terry Goodkind

Amazon / Thomas & Mercer:
Spin by Patricia Cornwell

Ballantine Books:
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Del Rey:
Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Be More Chill: The Graphic Novel by Ned Vizzini
Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow

Harper Collins Children’s / Balzer + Bray:
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Planet Scum:
Planet Scum: A Bloody Pulp

Random House:
Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Simon & Schuster Kids / McElderry:
Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Subterranean Press:
The Dispatcher: Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi

Tor /
A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

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