Monday, May 28, 2012

Book 41: Working Stiff

Working Stiff was a great reprieve from the stereotypical zombie story. Rachel Caine creates a very dynamic universe that is full of unexpected twists and turns.  

A typical first day at a new job turns horribly wrong for Bryn. Her new career in the mortuary field is cut short when she accidently walks into a drug dealing scheme. She is brought back to life by Pharmadene employees as a way to gather more information on who stole the drug Returne and what they are trying to do with it on the black market.  But working for Pharmadene isn’t so easy.  There are lies, cover-ups, and the constant threat of having the drug taken away from Bryn.  Not to mention Returne also creates some unexpected protocols in people where they can be extremely susceptible to obeying orders.   The story becomes more and more of a thriller where Bryn has to find her handlers and stop Harte from taking over the world.

I will be honest; I’m not always into the whole zombie fandom.  I quite frankly find it a little boring. It’s so seldom you find a smart zombie or the use voodoo zombies (which I think is actually quite interesting).  If it wasn’t the fact this book was a Rachel Caine book, I might have missed the book. But I love how the book has a humor about the and even tried to play itself off as ‘please don’t turn into just another zombie looking for brains.’

I loved the universe this book was set in. You got so involved in the setting and could see the mortuary in your head and a cheap apartment that Bryn was living in.  But the tech was slightly more evolved. It’s something that could stand in time for at least a brief period of time without dating itself the way things like Robocop and the Jetsons did.

I also liked the characters a lot in this book. Bryn was great since she had a realistic balance. She could be strong but there were times when she was weak and she could get freaked out by the circumstances she was in.  Then there was Pat McCallister.  He was nuance and could go from sleezy to sexy to I can handle anything in a minute.  Plus the supporting cast was well used. No one was introduced and then dropped off the face of the world.

My biggest gripe about this book is the fact it lacked transitions. The book would go from event to even to event. Little time to digest or really slow the book. The transition time could be as simple as a “it was a long night.” In the end this is minor problem. Since everything else was well done and I love fast paced books. It wasn’t something that made me want to weep at missed opportunities for greatness. Instead this is my more nit-picky comment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book 40: Star Trek Deep Space Nine Soul Key

Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Soul Key by Olivia Woods was one of the bigger disappointments for me in a long time. Not only did I get suckered in by beautiful artwork that failed to be matched with beautiful writing, I found myself wondering if the author even knew Star Trek the way she should have.

I’m one of those horrible people who will pick up books based in a huge part due to cover artwork. What can I say, if it’s a well designed, attractive cover, I’m going to pick it up and see what the back says? I won’t pick up books solely on the artwork. I do have to be very interested in the book itself. I will be honest my gut was iffy on Soul Key. I picked it up a few different times but would put it back on the shelf for one reason or another.

I was surprised to see that this book picks up the strands from Warpath. For a change, I’m reading things in order. Woot! Well mini woot. It would have been more exciting if the book was better written.

I’m a DS9 junkie. It’s my favorite Trek by far. I got started on TNG (The Next Generation) but DS9 is what I fell in love and will cosplay. I love the depth of the characters.  So I am tough on writers who do DS9 books. Don’t mess around with my favorite Trek.

I will have to say Olivia Woods had some great ideas and I loved how she pulled from the fact the Intendant was controlling Jem’Hadar from Warpath and used the Iliana Ghemor character introduced in the episode “Second Skin”.  Plus I love how she used Ezri Dax for the most part. Not sure if Ezri would say easy-peasey so much but it was good character growth to see her captain with confidence and actually announce that she was thinking about relocating off of DS9. 

Then the book quickly goes downhill. The Mirror Universe is tricky. Even trickier, using a fake Kira to replace the Intednant (Mirror Kira).   The Intendant is a piece of work. She’s equal parts power hungry, selfish, bisexual, and manipulative. Not easy to replace and pretend to be without raising suspicions. Yet somehow the Iliana/Kira somehow does without raising suspicions despite acting nothing like the Intendant. Then having Smiley cry and give up Terok Nor when the impersonator calls his bluff had me crying out in disgust. It was just unbelievable. Yes Smiley has a heart but he wouldn’t give up the station or cry when he had his own weapons aimed at Ashalla; Terok Nor is too important of a property for the Rebellion.

But another big problem with the book was that it rushed things and overemphasized other things. I don’t’ think Sisko was manipulative at all for using Vaughn and Mirror Ghemor the way he did. There needed to be an Emissary that wasn’t Iliana. But the bigger picture though to me was the whole crossing of the universes.  It was done messily. Especially when the Defiant showed up at just the right moment and same thing goes with the Mirror Defiant with a fleet of war ships. So very convenient to get rid of those pesky Klingons.

For as much as I hated the book and threw it around in disgust, I will have to say all is not lost on it. The ending wasn’t as bad as the middle of the book.  Plus there is some starts to philosophical debates (which were done too in far too shallow of waters) and the growth of Ezri.   

But this may have been one of my least favorite Trek books in a long time. This is one of the books that reminds me why I got picky with Trek writers.  Cause when the mark gets missed, it gets missed in big ways.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Blog 39: Born of Shadows

Born of Shadows by Sherrilyn Kenyon was a fun book that took readers into a world of assassins, thieves, political submits, and other evils. Full of rich heroes (in a sense) and some great plot twists.

Ive becoming a huge Sherrilyn Kenyon fan. Shes got several rich series going on right now. So when one of her books become available to read, I tend to bump it up on my reading list pretty quickly especially if Im in the mood for something with a supernatural twist.

Born of Shadows is the fourth book of the League Series. In typical fashion of me, I just jumped in and didnt care that this was my first book that Ive read in the series. Immediately you are thrown into a complex world where there is a League which enforce the politics for the whole universe and even have their own league of assassins to help insure the order within the different realms. But besides the league assassins there are the group of the Sentella which follow their own rules.

Born of Shadows follows Caillen Dagan (well you quickly learn its actually not his name) and Desideria. Caillen goes from common street thug and smuggler to a prince after his arrest for his sisters smuggling drugs proves he has the same DNA of the royal prince that was kidnapped many years ago. It becomes a culture shock except for the fact that Caillens friend Darling knew his whole story. Then there is Desideria from the Quillian empire who is a fierce woman warrior culture. Shes part of her mothers royal guard. While one a royal summit, the two are brought together when their parents lives are threatened by assassins who frame them for their parents murder. The league sends out assassins to control the two royals apparent murder attempts.

The book is just fun. It pulls together. Some great little scenes that could be surprising although they fit within the universe really well. I was really surprised when Desiderias mother decided to rouge her nipples while wearing a very skimpy Xena like costume to make it known at the political submit that she wanted to declare war on a neighboring world. It was just funny since all the other politicians were dreading to see what kind out outfit she would be wearing since they thought it would gauche and as the reader, I could understand why. Then there were just other scenes. One of the others was the discussion when they finally professed their love and commitment together. I really enjoyed the exchange since it reminds me of something I would do: 
“No buts, Cai. I can’t stand the though of you being hurt and you’re already wounded. It’s not fair of you to ask me to abstain from the fight when you’re not willing to do the same for me.”

“I really hate it when you make sense.”

She smiled, “I know. I fell the same way about you.”

“So shall we blow this whole thing off and go grab coffee? Or preferably a bed?”

She rolled her eyes at him. “You’re terrible.”

“True.” He took a deep breath. “Okay so we go with Plan B. Both of us get our asses kicked. Then limp to a bed where I kiss your boo-boos and you kiss mine. Yeah. That still works.”

She laughed. “What am I going to do with you?”

“As long as it involves our mutual nakedness, I’m up for it.”

Desideria was a strong fighter and hot tempered but at the same time very naïve and fragile. There were times when she couldnt do much of anything and other times she was the warrior princess. Then there was Caillen who was the know-it-all in a sense. He called out the Quill queen as trying to set up a fake war to make money. But Caillen was a bit of a clumsy fool who never seemed to think things all the way through. The contradictions between the two actually set up a great little romance which made this reader a tad jealous. They are a cute little couple who help fill each others holes and would fight for each others survival.

The book did make a few plot twists. Thank the lord it did. There were times I really was getting frustrated since it seemed like it was going to take the easy out for the people behind the assassinations. Then it didnt take the easy route. Instead it helped to grow even the tertiary characters in the book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book 38: The Struggle Within (Typhon Pact)

I never meant to purchase The Struggle Within by Christopher L. Bennett. But Im glad it did. It was a fun read a nice addition to the Typhon Pact series.

Sometimes Amazon can be a bit evil with its one-touch ordering. I accidently ordered a new this fifth book in the Star Trek Series. Especially maddening when I had a gift card I could have used on it. But since I ordered it, I knew I wanted to read it. The Star Trek Convention was a good place to start it.

So the photo op line with Sir Patrick Stewart was absurdly long. Even with going from one photo op line to the next, my friend Andrea and I were far back in line. But with the two of us, that meant one or the other could run upstairs to the hotel room to grab something or go to the restroom. I pulled up this book and started to enjoy it.  Unfortunately for Andrea, I gave her a little bit of a spoiler since I did a verbal reaction to part of the book.  Thankfully it wasnt a major tell and it got us talking about the series.

So this is more of a novella (about 80 pages). It has two story lines going on. First the Enterprise is sent to finish up diplomatic ties with the Talarian Republic and get them to sign the Khitomer Accords. Then secondly Jasminder Choudhury and TRyssa sneak into the Kinshaya with a Romulan unification group to observe the growth of a more secular faction of the Kinshayans.  Both storylines have a lot to them and can help shape the general politics of the Federation. Even more fun for me, how it flips some of the ideas of the ethics on its head.

The book really isolates the main actors (Picard and Crusher with the Talarians and Choudhury and Trys on Kinshaya). I loved the use of Worf. He was a minor character in the whole novella but he was involved in my favorite moments. I just wished there was more of them.

The main problem of the book was that it was wee bit hushed. This is a quick read and something to just enjoy. It adds to the whole Typhon Pact but it could have been even more. I just hope that writers take this book and use some of the outcomes.