Friday, May 20, 2016

read: Warped Factors (3 of 5 stars)

Warped FactorsWarped Factors by Walter Koenig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is probably only of interest to Star Trek completists. There are a few interesting observations about the life of an actor and creativity and what he says about the Star Trek cast (even Shatner) is pretty tolerant and non-controversial and occasionally humorous. Walter's storytelling skills are pretty decent and I did not find his voice on the audiobook unpleasant.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

read: Curious Minds (2 of 5 stars)

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am confused by this book. I know that Janet Evanovich can write funny, compelling characters. I'm not a big Stephanie Plum fan, but my wife is and I enjoyed a couple of those books. I've also enjoyed a couple of books in her Fox and O'Hare series with Lee Goldberg. They were predictable. But they were also funny and entertaining and adventurous. Imagine my surprise when I started reading this book and felt… nothing. No humor. No heart. Nothing.

I never felt engaged by either of the main characters and I never felt any chemistry between them. The stakes of the plot were never made clear, so I could not understand why anyone was doing anything. They were simply jet-setting from place to place because they could. The writing is dull, dull, dull. And the dialog is so filled with zingers and one-liners as to make it feel like the characters were writers for a 1970s sit-com. Knight was supposed to be some sort of genius. He is just a pompous ass, with even less social skills than Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. And Moon is simply along for the ride, no matter what.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

read: The Fifth Assassin (4 stars)

The Fifth Assassin (Culper Ring, #2)The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer


An amazing labyrinth of a plot that still held together to the end.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

read: In The Clearing (4 of 5 stars)

In the Clearing (Tracy Crosswhite, #3)In the Clearing by Robert Dugoni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite things about Robert Dugoni is that he never writes the same book twice when he's writing a series. Another thing I love is that the characters and situations he writes are so vivid and captivating that you can't put the book down until you've reached the end. He's done it again with the third book in the Tracy Crosswhite series, In The Clearing. The first book was deeply personal to Tracy as she literally dug through the past and put herself in the crosshairs. The second book was more suspenseful because she was dealing with an active killer who seemed to be hunting her.

This is another cold case, like her sister's murder from the first book. Yet, it's completely different. This time, the small town is unfamiliar and there's the added tension involving football heroes and Native Americans. Dugoni weaves a fascinating tale of patient detective work as Tracy digs through forensic evidence, brings in experts and talks to witnesses with bad memories and personal agendas. She's not jumping to conclusions. But she eventually digs deep enough to get the killer's attention and put herself in danger.

There's a secondary murder investigation back in Seattle involving a domestic dispute. Of course, something that Tracy learns on the cold case will help her unravel the other mystery. Thankfully, it's not too distracting and it's fun to see the author, and Tracy, stay on top of two separate cases.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

read: Zoe's Tale (4 stars)

Zoe's Tale (Old Man's War, #4)Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting and fun story re-telling the events of The Last Colony using the first-person perspective of Zoe. Her perspective, as a young woman, is based more on relationships (not emotions, as other reviewers are fond of writing) than politics (as was her father's in The Last Colony). This, along with her unique position as a revered figure for the Obin, gives the author a chance to explore life in the colony and the culture of alien races a bit deeper, though probably not deep enough.

The book clocks in as the longest entry to date in the Old Man's War series, probably due to Zoe's rambly, snarky (like her father), teenage, angsty take on things. Mr. Scalzi does an admirable job of capturing just enough of that attitude to carry the story, without sending it over the edge into unbearableness.

I can understand, but disagree with, the view that there's nothing new here, that everything was wrapped up quite nicely in previous book. But I'll grant the author his reasoning and opportunity to pull back the curtain a bit and add depth to the story. Plus, I'm pretty sure he's correct in how difficult it was to write this.

Recommended if you are a Scalzi completist or a YA-enthusiast.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

read: Star Wars: Before the Awakening (4 stars)

Star Wars: Before the AwakeningStar Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anyone aching for more details about the new Star Wars characters will enjoy this book of three separate stories. You must know, going in, that these aren't so much profiles as vignettes. This is light reading, even for something marketed as young adult (almost middle grade). We get personalities, not details; attitudes, not deep history. But they are nicely written and well plotted, with only a couple of flaws (every old ship seems to be 'venerable'). Recommended.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

read: The Handmaid's Tale (4 stars)

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that everyone is supposed to have read, but there's a good chance you haven't. But you think you know the story. This is bleaker than that--a haunting tale of subjection and powerlessness that seems without end.

If you have the opportunity, the audio book read by Claire Danes is the way to do this. It's a first-person narrative and she does an exquisite (Audie Award-winning) job of bringing it to life.

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