Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope – Book Review

Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

Synopsis:
A thrilling novel leading into the new CBS series, Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope introduces you to brand new characters featured in the life of beloved Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard—widely considered to be one of the most popular and recognizable characters in all of science fiction.

Review:
When it’s discovered that the Romulan star will go supernova, Picard gives up the Enterprise to head up a monumental relocation of all the Romulans its potential wake. Starfleet and many officers are not as eager to help their long-time enemies. And even some of the Romulans themselves spurn the Federation’s assistance. Meanwhile, Commander Geordi LaForge is assigned to oversee the seemingly impossible task of creating a fleet large enough to relocate the overwhelming number of refugees. But an incredible tragedy threatens the relocation efforts and Picard’s future in Starfleet.

The Last Best Hope is essential reading for Star Trek: Picard fans. We’re given a deeper look at the events leading up to Picard’s resignation from Starfleet and the tragedy on Mars. I really enjoyed this well-paced, character-driven story. We’re given a better look at Raffi’s heartbreaking backstory. And I enjoyed the story behind where the rogue synth’s came from. And of course since the Romulans are one of my all-time favorite aliens, I really appreciated getting the story behind some of Picard’s efforts at relocation several unique groups. I loved this intense novel of drama, suspense, and intrigue. And this was a perfect tie-in to the fantastic, new show. I can’t get enough of this series.

The Life Below – SciFi Book Review

The Life Below by Alexandra Monir

Synopsis:
It was hard enough for Naomi to leave Leo, a fellow Final Six contestant, behind on a dying Earth. Now she doesn’t know who to trust.

The International Space Training Camp continues to dodge every question about its past failed mission, and Naomi is suspicious that not everything is as it seems on her own mission to Europa. With just one shot at Jupiter’s moon, Naomi is determined to find out if there is dangerous alien life on Europa before she and her crew get there.

Leo, back on Earth, has been working with renegade scientist Dr. Greta Wagner, who promises to fly him to space where he can dock with Naomi’s ship. And if Wagner’s hypothesis is right, it isn’t a possibility of coming in contact with extraterrestrial life on Europa—it’s a definite, and it’s up to Leo to find and warn Naomi and the crew.

With questions piling up, everything gets more dangerous the closer that the mission gets to Europa. A storm threatens to interfere with Leo’s takeoff, a deadly entity makes itself known to the Final Six, and all questions the ISTC has been avoiding about the previous mission get answered in a terrifying way.

If the dream was to establish a new world for humans on Europa…the Final Six are about to enter a nightmare.

Review:
The Life Below is the 2nd book in The Final Six series. Naomi and the chosen astronauts are bound for Europa, but there’s a saboteur on board. And ship and mission is still being controlled, and monitored, by people back on Earth. Meanwhile, Leo is training to take a secret ship to meet up with Naomi’s and warn them that there is life on Europa – right where they are set to land.

This sequel is much more exciting than the first, as it mostly takes place in space, with danger constantly looming. This thrilling adventure is fast-paced and unpredictable. I wish we’d get more character depth from the other crew members. But the strength of this story is the plot and suspense – like a scifi, thriller movie. I can see why this series has been optioned for film. And there is a dramatic finale that will leave readers eager for the next installment.

A Longer Fall – Fantasy Book Review

A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris

Synopsis:
In this second thrilling installment of the Gunnie Rose series, Lizbeth Rose is hired onto a new crew for a seemingly easy protection job, transporting a crate into Dixie, just about the last part of the former United States of America she wants to visit. But what seemed like a straight-forward job turns into a massacre as the crate is stolen. Up against a wall in Dixie, where social norms have stepped back into the last century, Lizbeth has to go undercover with an old friend to retrieve the crate as what’s inside can spark a rebellion, if she can get it back in time.

Review:
After another job goes bad, Lizbeth ends up in a dangerous, backward town called Sally. With only the help of an old flame, Lizbeth needs to figure out who her employer was so she can get paid. And find out where the missing box is now.

This sequel is another fun and exciting installment in the Gunnie Rose series. Lizbeth is a self-sufficient woman who can hold her own, who acts much older than her age. Though she starts to let her walls down. This story is full of mystery and suspense, with a bit of romance and drama as well. And there is a thrilling showdown with several surprises along the way. It’s dark and gritty – a fantasy western that really works. It’s very different from the rest of Harris’ series. I love the characters, and can’t wait for the next in the series.

All the Stars and Teeth – Book Review

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Synopsis:
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Review:
Amora starts out in the story naive and entitled. But when she has to prove her worthiness to rule, it goes terribly wrong. And Amora flees with a pirate to the open seas. Along their journey to discovery and helping her people, Amora grows. She becomes more likable and matures. And she shows her true colors in the big showdown.

All the Stars and Teeth is first in a duology. The story starts with fun characters and an exciting example of the magical power that these people have. It’s a fascinating world, but we learn more about it as we go without the dreaded info-dump. There is plenty of action and adventure with a bit of romance. And as Bastians’ secrets are revealed, there are plenty of surprises along the way. And I appreciate that the main antagonist is complicated and is a bit sympathetic when it comes to his people. The suspense culminates to an exciting finale. And thankfully, this story doesn’t have a major cliffhanger, which I appreciate. But there is plenty of story left that I look forward to in the sequel.

SciFi Book Review: Starsight

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis:
All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true–he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.

Review:
When an alien crash-lands on their planet, Spensa decides to take her place in order to steal vital technology for humanity. But Spensa isn’t trained for espionage. And she only has her secret AI to keep her company.

Starsight is the second book the Skyward series. This story is very different from the first as far as the setting goes. But there is still a lot of flight action and suspense. And there were several surprising twists along the way. I really enjoyed the new, diverse characters. In fact, I enjoyed this sequel even more than the previous novel. With plenty of danger, suspense, intrigue, and drama – this well-paced story left me excited for the next installment.

Fantasy Book Review: Potion Masters: The Seeking Serum

Potion Masters: The Seeking Serum by Frank L. Cole

Synopsis:
Gordy’s grandfather, Mezzarix, who is a powerful, evil elixirist, stole the Vessel, the source of power for all potion masters. He fled to Florida to establish a headquarters, declare his manifesto: No More Prisons. No More Rulers. No More Secrets – and launch his final attack. Gordy, an apprentice elixirist, has been hiding in a safe house with his family and friends, but his mom has become increasingly concerned for their safety. Despite her worries, Gordy and his friends enter the underground network known as the Swigs, a haven for renegade potion masters and black-market potions to secure support in the fight against Mezzarix.

Scourges, the name given to potion masters imprisoned by B.R.E.W but who have recently been freed by Mezzarix, attack the Swigs, and Gordy barely escapes with this life. He has to leave his family behind. He heads to the house of his best friend, Max, where his other friends, Sasha and Adilene, join him in making a plan to help find Mezzarix’s secret location.

As the fight intensifies between B.R.E.W and the Scourges, it falls to Gordy and his friends to find Mezzarix and prevent him from corrupting the Vessel, which would plunge the world back into the Dark Ages. With some help from new friends, Gordy realizes it will take a new way of thinking about magic and the art of brewing potions in order to stop his grandfather, save the world, and unite the potion-making community.

Review:
The Seeking Serum is the final installment in the Potion Masters trilogy. The villain Mezzarix now has the upper hand and Gordy and his friends are in hiding. But the young apprentices form a haphazard plan to find Mezzarix and steal back the powerful Vessel and save humanity.

This 3rd novel is fun and excitement from beginning to end. The danger and suspense has intensified. Gordy and his friends make a great team with enjoyable characters. And I love the unique worldbuilding of potion-making instead of just magic. This series will appeal to middle readers on up. It’s fresh, engaging, a bit dark, and sometimes silly to lighten the mood. This finale was hard to put down.

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