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: The Unsettling Stars – Book Review

Star Trek: The Unsettling Stars by Alan Dean Foster

Taking place in an alternate timeline created when the Starship Kelvin was destroyed by a Romulan invader from the future, this bold new novel follows Captain James T. Kirk and an inexperienced crew commandeering a repaired U.S.S. Enterprise out of spacedock for a simple shakedown cruise. When a distress call comes in, the Enterprise must aid a large colony ship of alien refugees known as the Perenorean, who are under siege by an unknown enemy. But Kirk and his crew will find that the situation with the peaceful Perenorean is far more complicated than they bargained for, and the answers as to why they were attacked in the first place unfold in the most insidious of ways…

This is another quick, fast-paced Star Trek novel set in the Kelvin timeline. This has the feel of a fun episode of the Original series, yet in the alternate timeline. The Enterprise aids a group of aliens who are about to be wiped out. They’re peaceful and bright, so it’s hard to believe that their pursuers hate them so much. As the mystery behind the Perenorean unfolds, it seems to be an unsolvable dilemma. I got a bit frustrated with how naïve Kirk seems at times, but this is set when he’s still young and fairly new to the Captain’s chair. Readers will be suspicious at once. But each time the Enterprise crew meets a new species, they try to keep open minds. Full of mystery, drama, and humor – I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating read.

The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway – Book Review

The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway by Una McCormack

Kathryn Janeway reveals her career in Starfleet, from her first command to her epic journey through the Delta Quadrant leading to her rise to the top as vice-admiral in Starfleet Command. Discover the story of the woman who travelled further than any human ever had before, stranded decades from home, encountering new worlds and species.

Explore how she brought together Starfleet and the Maquis as part of her crew, forged new alliances with species across the galaxy and overcame one of Starfleet’s greatest threats – the Borg – on their own remote and hostile territory. Get Janeway’s personal take on key characters such as Seven of Nine, her trusted friend Tuvok, new arrivals like Neelix and her second-in-command, Chakotay.

I previously read the The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, and loved that. So, I’ve been waiting years for Janeway’s to publish! And I loved every bit of it. The book delves into her childhood and family life, then into her early Starfleet career. There are several instances of specific memories – some traumatic, some inspirational. My favorites were the adventures she had in her pre-Voyager days. In fact, I wish there were more. Then, of course, 7 years of her life were spent in the Delta Quadrant on Voyager, which fans already know. But this is told from Janeway’s point of view, so it’s nostalgic. And finally, we get a look at her post-Voyager years, as well as that of her crew. Sure, it doesn’t match up to the books published by Simon & Schuster, but that’s okay. I enjoyed the alternate look as well. It felt like the final epilogue on a beloved story. There wont be sequels, so I appreciated how it was wrapped up. And like many biographies, there are some well-photoshopped pics of Janeway throughout the years. This was well-worth my wait.

Star Trek: More Beautiful Than Death – Book Review

Star Trek: More Beautiful Than Death by David Mack

Captain James T. Kirk and the Enterprise crew escort Spock’s father, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, to a dilithium-rich planet called Akiron. They arrive to find this world under siege by creatures that some of the planet’s denizens believe are demons. Sarek orders Kirk to abandon the mission, but the young captain won’t turn his back on people in danger. After a harrowing encounter with the dark-energy “demons,” Kirk’s belief in a rational universe is challenged by a mystic who insists that it wasn’t coincidence that brought Kirk to Akiron, but the alien equivalent of a Karmic debt.

Meanwhile, aboard the Enterprise, Sarek’s young Vulcan aide L’Nel has a sinister agenda—and its chief objective appears to be the cold-blooded murder of Spock!

More Beautiful Than Death is a fast-paced, quick read. If you enjoyed the Kelvin timeline movies, this is a fantastic story from the alternate timeline. Mack does a great job of bringing the movie-version characters and distinguishing them from the Original Series counterparts. L’Nel is a wonderful, anger-inducing villain. And the mystery on Akiron is suspenseful and unique. I loved the fun, surprising twists along the way. With engaging characters and an exciting plot, I read this highly enjoyable book in just a couple sittings. The next in the series can’t come soon enough – as well as the next Trek book from David Mack as well.

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