Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Star Trek: Shell Game by Melissa Crandall

While collecting space junk, the Enterprise comes across a Romulan space station, drifting in Federation space. When they go aboard in hopes of getting information they find that the crew died of hypothermia in temperatures that should have been perfectly safe. Several away team members start to feel cold, and see something out of the corners of their eyes. As the away team gets more and more jumpy, the Enterprise develops strange malfunctions and power deficits. The crew must figure out what is happening, before their ship also ends up floating and dead.

Mediocre novel. The plot has been done to death (particularly when you find out what is causing the problems) and the Romulans were TOS stereotypes. Every now and then we got a hint of them being actual beings, particularly in the opening, but for the most part I was stuck rolling my eyes. By the time this book was published it was a well known fact in the Star Trek 'Verse that Romulans were not the pure evil, sneaky thieves they were shown as at first in The Original Series. I suppose it is too much to ask for those writing novelizations to have an understanding of the universe they attempt to portray.

On the other hand, the characterizations of the crew were pretty good. Kirk was softened WAY too much in an attempt to make him more likable, but Bones and Spock's banter was great. The writing was pretty good, there were rough patches I thought an editor should have taken better care of, but all in all it was okay.

3 Stars

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Daughter of Light: Kung Fu Princess #1, by Pamela Walker

On her 14th birthday Cassidy gets a box of 5 old, gold coins from a strange man. She starts to have strange dreams, ones with a pair of women who tell her that she has a destiny to fight 5 evil spirits. Shortly she starts to feel ill and concludes that something strange is happening. She discovers that she is going to have to fight the spirits, and the first one is weakening her with a curse before trying to take her out.

Pretty much as I remembered from years ago, a light teen fantasy. The author is an okay writer, not exceptional, but smooth and evenly paced. The plot is rather "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"-ish, and not particularly original, but fun. The characters are interesting, but not fully developed.

4 Stars

Dragon Heat by Allyson James

Lisa has had a dragon living in her spare room for a long time, that she can deal with. But when he turns in a (very good looking) human man and tells her that her life is in danger, things get weird. Turns out she has some kind of odd power that an evil black dragon trapped in the human world wants. She is going to have to take her eyes off the golden dragon's body and start paying attention to staying alive.

I think this author should try her hand at urban fantasy rather than romance. The plot was interesting and I loved many of the supporting characters, who I wish had been given a chance to really play a part. The author definitely has an ear for snappy, witty conversation. But the romance was heavy-handed, I frequently found myself rolling my eyes and skipping pages. In order to keep the book a reasonable length, but make it a typical romance, plot was sacrificed in favor of mostly, poorly written sex scenes.

3 Stars

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

A group of men summoning a dragon for nefarious purposes, a young hero, raised far away by dwarves, coming to his first city, a group of rather incompetent guards; these are common enough cliches in fantasy stories, but Pratchett turns them on their head and makes them hilarious. Fooling with cliches and assumptions, he keeps you on your toes by throwing you for a loop when things don't follow along a standard storyline.

This was the first of Prachett's books I had read, as I have always been daunted by the length of his Discworld series. I live in a rural area, and getting stuck in the middle of a series for an extended length of time because you can't get the rest of the books is not at all fun.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of this author's work though, as this was quite possibly the best comedic fantasy I have read. His writing is witty and sharp, with plenty of laugh out loud spots. (Per-maybe-haps best not read in public, as you get odd looks and people edge away when you sit there laughing and giggling over a book.)

5 Stars


Friday, February 12, 2010

The Dragon Queen, by Alice Borchardt

Born in a dangerous world of warfare fought by both magic and sword, young Guinevere may have the abilities needed to change that. This makes her a target of those who would keep themselves in power. Raised by a runaway druid, shapeshifter who can go from man to wolf, a woman rescued from pirates and a she-wolf, her talents are considerable. She learns magic, weaponry, and discovers her destiny.

This interesting take on the King Arthur stories is well-done.  The writing is smooth for the most part and the characters are fabulously detailed and interesting. It is written in a more "epic," highbrow, reserved style (think Tolkien) which I know some people find annoying when they are use to more "modern" writing with high, dramatic emotion and lots of fight and sex scenes. The plot is tight, with few troublesome, wandering digressions. I have placed an interlibrary loan to get the sequel.

5 Stars