Archive for November, 2015

Review: Tarkin – James Luceno

Thursday, November 26th, 2015
Tarkin
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: LucasBooks; Reissue edition (June 30, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553392905
ISBN-13: 978-0553392906
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Synopsis:

Details the life and career of Wilhuff Tarkin from early childhood to his promotion as Grand Moff. As the Emperor’s third in command, he is given command of a ship known as the Carrion Spike. While he and Vader are in the middle of a mission the Carrion Spike is stolen. Tarkin and Vader travel across the Galaxy on the trail of the pirates.

Characters:

Wilhuf Tarkin – Imperial Moff
Teller – Human Pirate Leader
Dr. Artoz – Mon Calamari Technical Specialist.
Salik – Gotal – Pilot
Cala – Koorivar – Op Specialist
Hask Taff – Zygerrian Munitions Specialist
Anora Fair – Human Female

Review

Grand Moff Tarkin was always one of the more out there characters from the Star Wars universe but a lot was never known about him. That changes with Tarkin by James Luceno. Tarkin is the second entry in the new Canon of the Star Wars novels. All previous novels in the expanded universe were made null and void, with a few exceptions. The new canon was kicked off after the announcement of Star Wars Episode VII.

I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the Pirate Crew led by Teller. I liked that they kept upsetting Tarkin’s day. It was nice to see the man who oversaw the future destruction of Alderaan before all those events. The best parts of Tarkin’s story to me were about his youth on Eriadu. I wish more of the book had focused on his life and how he got to be that psychopath later in life. A large focus of this however, was his obsession with getting the Starship Carrion Spike back from the pirates who stole it. At the same time, he’s trying to determine who is orchestrating hits against imperial installations.

While there is a lot of interesting detective work being done, I just felt that this Tarkin wasn’t the guy I’d imagined him to be. I expected a lot more viciousness out of someone who is the third in line to the Emperor.

All that being said, I really enjoyed the book. All the Star Wars entries in the new canon so far have been enjoyable, but I found there were things about this one I could have liked a lot more. If you’re a fan of Star Wars though and want to get in on all the new storylines in the buildup to The Force Awakens, then grab a copy of this. If you’re just a casual fan, nothing really is revealed that you’d miss out. If you do read it, be sure and drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

A former studio musician and carpenter, James Luceno has been writing professionally for twenty years. His early novels were action tales based on his experiences as a guide for an adventure-travel company. A Fearful Symmetry, his first foray into science-fiction, was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award. Collaborating with the late-Brian Daley, Jim wrote scripts for several animated television series, and under the pseudonym “Jack Mckinney,” he and Daley adapted the anime series, Robotech. Since 2000, Jim has worked almost exclusively in the STAR WARS universe, contributing six novels to the franchise, all of which have made the NY Times best-seller lists. He has also written novelizations of Mission: Impossible, The Shadow, and Indiana Jones. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife and son.

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Review: Lords of the Sith – Paul G. Kemp

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
Lords of the Sith
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: LucasBooks (April 28, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345511441
ISBN-13: 978-0345511447
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Synopsis:

The Republic is gone. The Empire has replaced it and is beginning it’s rise of terror across the galaxy. A small band of resistance fighters is trying to restore the freedom they once had. In the attempt to do this, they attempt to assassinate Darth Vader and the Emperor. As a result, the two Sith Lords are shot down and find themselves trying to survive.

Characters:

Charm – Leader of a clandestine group of resistance fighters.
Darth Vader – Dark Lorder of the Sith.
Emperor Palpatine – Emperor and Sith Master.

Review

I really liked this book. From the time I was old enough to understand the political tones behind Star Wars I was interested in how the Rebellion began. In this novel, we get to see it, in the form of small cells of resistance fighters. This was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story for me.

This is probably the first time you really get to witness Vader and Palpatine in the field, rather than in the conrolled environment of the Death Star where you typically saw them.   There was a lot of Sith action, including one large scene that involved a group of natives.

This book did generate a bit of controversy as it along with another novel for the first time included characters from the LGBT community. While it may have upset some, I think it’s about time to represent all the various forms of relationships. But I put that in there as a warning to those who may be offended at such things.

Overall, this is an excellent launching point though into the new series. While Dark Disciple was technically the first, this one is one that actually connects into the timeline of the original trilogy. For fans of Star Wars you definitely want to pick this one up. Rated PG-13 for your normal Star Wars style violence.

About the Author

Paul S KempPaul Kemp enjoys good beer, good wine, good company, and a fine scotch every now and again. He writes sword and sorcery and space opera and works very hard to make them a fun ride.

While his mind is often in the fantastical fictional worlds, his body lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with his wife Jennifer, his twin sons, his daughter, and their various and sundry pets.

He is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan law school. When he’s not writing , he practices corporate law in Detroit. Yes, that does make him a tool of “the Man,” for which he shall bear everlasting shame.

He hopes you enjoy his novels.

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Review: Dark Disciple – Christie Golden

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Dark Disciple
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: LucasBooks (July 7, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345511530
ISBN-13: 978-0345511539
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Synopsis:

Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos and former Sith Apprentice Asajj Ventress are forced to team up on a mission to assassinate Darth Tyranus, otherwise known as Count Dooku.

Characters:

Quinlan Vos – Jedi Knight with an ability to retrieve memories of a person by touching an object they owned.
Asajj Ventress – Dathomirian Witch and former Sith Apprentice to County Dooku.

Review

I really liked this book. This was the first book in the new Canon, and concerned one of the EU characters that actually survived the whole Star Wars Canon reboot. Vos seemed to be a character that fans connected with, and it was good to finally see an adventure with him as the focus. Previous novels, now no longer part of the Canon had focused on Mace Windu, Yoda, and others. So it was good to see Vos get a little literary attention.

Asajj Ventress was never a character I connected with, but after readin this I really liked her. It’s clear she felt a little guilt and anger about her life as a Sith, and is wanting redemption and to be accepted, something the Jedi Council seems to make her feel will never happen.

Overall the whole plot of the story to assassinate Dooku never really seemed to be much of a plot, but seemed to be in there as a way to connect the two characters, and give them a goal to work towards cooparatively. Along the way there are different subplots and dangers they find themselves in. As a team, I’d love to see the two of them teamed up in more stories.

I’d definitely recommend this one to all the Star Wars fans out there. It’s one of the best of the new Canon and shouldn’t be missed, so grab a copy and stop back by to let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Award-winning author Christie Golden has written over thirty novels and several short stories in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Golden launched the TSR Ravenloft line in 1991 with her first novel, the highly successful Vampire of the Mists. She is the author of several original fantasy novels, including On Fire’s Wings, In Stone’s Clasp, and Under Sea’s Shadow, the first three in her multi-book fantasy series The Final Dance from LUNA Books.Among Golden’s other projects are over a dozen Star Trek novels and the well-received StarCraft Dark Templar trilogy, Firstborn, Shadow Hunters, and the forthcoming Twilight. An avid player of Blizzard’s MMORPG World of Warcraft, Golden has written several novels in that world (Lord of the Clans, Rise of the Horde) with three more in the works. She has also written two Warcraft manga stories for Tokyopop, I Got What Yule Need and A Warrior Made. Golden lives in Colorado with her husband and two cats.

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Review: Quilt of Souls – Phyllis Lawson

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Quilt of Souls
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1507789750
ISBN-13: 978-1507789759
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This was a beautifully written memoir. The author was sent to live with her grandparents as a young girl. The grandmother Lula Young Horn was born 20 years after the end of the civil war. The story takes you for a walk through history of that time time, and through black eyes, and does so in a very creative way.

The author would sit with her grandmother who made quilts. As she pulls different pieces of cloth from a bag, she tells young Phyllis about the people whose lives that cloth represented. This is where the most interesting parts of the book lie, as those parts really bring to life the struggles of black Americans in a post civil war but pre-civil rights time period.

Even though I’m from a different background, but similar culture to the author, I was really able to relate to aspects of the story. I remember times doing quilting with my grandmother. While I hated it at the times, I’d love to be able to go back and spend an afternoon now, and get her to tell some stories over the quilting.

No matter your ethnicity, for a good look at a section of American life, pick up a copy of Quilt of Souls. I think you’ll like it.

About the Author

In addition to her career in the military, she worked as an addiction and juvenile counselor for the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia. She currently resides in Florida. She is married and has two sons and five granddaughters.

Quilt of Souls is inspired by Lawson’s grandmother Lula—the woman who raised her and served as the catalyst for her success in life. Lula lived to be 103 years old and overcame the ugliness of racism through creating beautiful quilts.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Author for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: The Murder Road – Stephen Booth

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
The Murder Road
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Sphere (July 16, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0751559946
ISBN-13: 978-0751559941
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Synopsis:

A rainy night. A Dark road. A wrecked Vehicle. Murder. Ben Cooper and his team have their hands full in trying to solve this case, particularly against an entire small town unwilling to talk.

Characters:

Ben Cooper – Detective Inspector
Diane Fry – Detective Sergeant
Devdan Sharma – Detective Sergeant
Luke Irvine – Detective Constable
Carol Villiers – Detective Constable

Review

A Truck driver is stranded on a road when he’s attacked and murdered. A team of inspectors are pulled in to the investigation. This team headed by Ben Cooper is hardly the ideal team. One of the Detectives has trouble following through on tasks he’s given. Another is new to the department, and isn’t quite accepted. In the middle of the investigation, another man commits suicide. Are these two deaths connected?

I liked the story line of this. The characters were well developed. Some of it was a bit difficult, as I’m not always familiar with British police ranks, and some British terminology. That fact aside though, the story kept me involved to the last page. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way to keep it exciting.

If I were going to rate it though, I’d rate it for older teens and adults due to subject matter. But if you enjoy good mysteries and thrillers, then check out Murder Road. Note that this is the 15th book in the Cooper & Fry series, so if you’re one that wants to read in order, you might want to start with the first. Though it seems each one can be standalone, I’ve found typically some events in previous novels (deaths, etc.) may be spoiled.

About the Author

Stephen BoothStephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer, the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have appeared in thirteen novels set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure”.

The Cooper & Fry series is published all around the world, and has been translated into 15 languages. The latest title is ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Lucy at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Classic Corner Review: The Greek Cross Mystery – Ellery Queen

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
The Egyptian Cross Mystery
Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Signet (May 1, 1979)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451086635
ISBN-13: 978-0451086631
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Synopsis:

Ellery Queen is pulled into a string of grisly murders. Someone is murdering people and leaving them nailed to a cross minus their head.

Characters:

Ellery Queen – Special Investigator
Andrew Van – Schoolmaster.
Stephen Megara – Yachtsman

Review

This is one of the darkest Ellery Queen stories I’ve read so far, and the one that’s held my attention the most. Ellery Queen is originally called to investigate a murder in which the victim is found hanging from a cross, and missing his head. For the first time, he’s unable to solve the case. Fast forward in time, and a second murder exactly the same occurs. Again Ellery Queen is on the case.

I really like the Ellery Queen mysteries. While the characters are rather flat, cookie cutter characters, the stories tend to be intriguing. I like the idea in the first of the books in which Ellery steps out from that invisible wall, and speaks to the reader with his challenge to solve the mystery. So far out of four or five of the novels, I’ve failed to meet his challenge, and I’m good with that. To do otherwise I think would mean the puzzle wasn’t as challenging to me as it could have been.

While not for all readers, I would recommend it for older teens and adults. The imagery and language is pretty tame for the time period in which they were published. However, for the contents of the books, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers, unless they were very mature.

Overall for Ellery Queen fans, I think you should check this one out.

About the Author

Ellery Queen was a pen name created and shared by two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing, editing, and anthologizing under the name, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Although eventually famous on television and radio, Queen’s first appearance came in 1928, when the cousins won a mystery-writing contest with the book that would eventually be published as The Roman Hat Mystery.

Their character was an amateur detective who uses his spare time to assist his police inspector uncle in solving baffling crimes. Besides writing the Queen novels, Dannay and Lee cofounded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time. Although Dannay outlived his cousin by nine years, he retired Queen upon Lee’s death.

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Review: The Midwife of Bethlehem – Shad Driggs

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
The Midwife of Bethlehem
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Shad Driggs; 1st edition (November 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0990878007
ISBN-13: 978-0990878001
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Synopsis:

A woman is granted the honor of being midwife to Mary during the birth of Jesus.

Characters:

Rebecca – Midwife to the women of Bethlehem
Rachel – Her assistant.

Review

This was a very sweet story, and with the Christmas Holiday coming up would be a great purchase for those with small children. I could easily see this becoming a holiday tradition with some families.

The book’s prose is nicely done, and the illustrations by Diane Lucas help bring the story to life. For those who celebrate Christmas, and love the Christmas story, I think you’d like this book which gives a different perspective view of that night.

About the Author

Shad DriggsShad Driggs is a businessman who lives in Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife, Darla, and their six children dedicate many hours in service to their church and community. After very unexpected heart surgery in 2014, he was determined to share the beautiful Christmas story that had formed in his head. The Midwife of Bethlehem is his first book.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at The Cadence Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: The Prince Who was Just Himself – Silke Schnee

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
The Prince Who Was Just Himself
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Plough Publishing House (September 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0874866820
ISBN-13: 978-0874866827
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Synopsis:

A young prince teaches his kingdom about diversity.

Characters:

Prince Noah – A prince who is a little different than his brothers.

Review

When Prince Noah was born, most of the kingdom thought he was a little different. Some laughed at him. No one took him seriously. Prince Noah had been born with Down Syndrome. However, when he manages to save the kingdom, people realize that there is a greatness in all people.

I thought this was a very beautiful and modern fairy tale. Growing up around those with special needs such as Down Syndrome I was able to related to the story. The story was beautifully told with very nice illustrations by artist Heike Sistig.

If you have children, then by all means pick up this book. I think you’d really like it, and enjoy reading it to them, plus they’d learn a valuable lesson at the same time.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Julie at Handlebar Publishing for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.