Monthly Archives: February 2015

Comic Book Friday: Star Trek: The Q Gambit

Star Trek: Ongoing, Volume 9: The Q Gambit

IDW’s re-imagining of classic Star Trek installments in the rebooted timeline takes a break for a couple of issues with the ninth collection, “The Q Gambit.”

After debating with Picard about the reality of a “no-win” scenario, Q decides to put the one man who didn’t believe in the “no-win” scenario to the test. Q arrives on the Enterprise in the rebooted universe and after some spirited debate with Kirk, Spock and others sends the ship and crew forward in time to the Deep Space Nine era and a very different outcome to the Dominion War.

Seems that the Enterprise‘s vanishing threw the time line in an entirely different direction — one where the Federation fell and the Dominion had an easy time conquering the Alpha Quadrant.

On paper, this seems like it should be a fun, entertaining little “what if” story. But I found the story overstayed its welcome a bit as it worked a bit too hard to make sure we got a check-in with every character from DS9 and got to see them pair off with various members of the rebooted original series crew.

An interesting little twist comes late in the narrative, but by this point my interest had really waned.

I’ve enjoyed much of what IDW’s done in re-imaging some of the original episodes in the rebooted universe and their lead-up stories to both movies really offered some new and interesting shadings for the two films. “The Q Gambit” represents the first significant mis-step I’ve seen in this series. Hopefully the series will get back to the elements I enjoy in future installments and the next collection.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Comic Book Friday: Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsmanThere’s a scene mid-way though Kingsman: The Secret Service where one of our heroes and the movies baddie are discussing their mutual love of spy movies and lamenting they just aren’t as much fun as they used to be.

In many ways, Kingsman seems a response to that, upping the fun quotient for spy movies even as it ups the violence quotient as well.  Make no mistake — this movie isn’t one for the faint of spirit or those who don’t like gratuitous  swearing and violence.   (It earns every bit of its R-rating).  But if you’re willing to turn your brain off for the long running time of the film and just enjoy the world that director Matthew Vaughn is creating, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

The movie centers on a super secret spy organization run out of a UK gentleman’s clothing store.    When one of the agents is killed in the line of duty, the group (who goes by code names from the Arthurian legend) a new group of initiates is sought out and put through a series of test to see if they are what it takes to the be the next Kingsman.   The current Gallahad (played with considerable panache and charm by Colin Firth) chooses the son of a Kingsman killed in the line of duty years  before.  Unconventional and streetwise, Eggsy is probably the furthest thing from a gentleman but it’s his blend of street smarts and a willingness to try and better himself that helps him in his training. Continue reading

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Booking Through Thursday: Love Stories

btt button

No, no, I’m not asking if you like romances … what I want to know is what is it about stories that you love? Is it the stories themselves? The people? The plot twists?

It depends on the story really.

For example, Elizabeth George’s Lynley and Havers novels.  I love the mysteries and how well George can construct a mystery, but I will admit that part of me looks forward to each new installment to catch up with the characters I’ve come to know and love over the course of the series.

There are other books that I just enjoy the story or the writing style.

So, it all depends on the story.

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Way Back Wednesday Book Review: Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

waybackwednesday

April over at A Well Read Woman is hosting the Way Back Wednesday Book Review, an opportunity to reflect each week on books we’ve read in the past that left a lasting impression and to write a mini-review.

Over my lifetime, I’ve read a LOTof books.   Some have stayed with me, others it may take me a moment or two to remember reading them.

That is definitely NOT the case when it comes to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series of books.  Growing up, I purchased all the Ramona books that were available and read them multiple times.    Each one is memorable and I read them enough times growing up that I feel like I could recite large chunks of them from memory.

Which brings us to Ramona the Pest.   It’s the second book in the series and the first one to focus on Ramona.  (She’s in the first novel, Beezus and Ramona, but that one is more about Beezus).    Of course, Ramona is told that she’s a pest and she spends a lot of the book trying to figure out if she really is one or not.

ramonathepest

Ramona is also on her way to kindergarten and she’s created all kind of elaborate visions of just how finally getting to go to school will go.    The scene that sticks out to me is one that takes place on her first day of school.  Her teacher sits Ramona at a desk and tells Ramona to sit there for the present.    The teacher means to sit there for right now until the final seating order is made up and Ramona thinks she’s going to get a gift for following instructions.   Continue reading

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Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

My 2014 reading year was book-ended with offerings from the stars of Parks and Recreation. One of those books I loved and the other I was a bit disappointed in.

I hate to admit it but I didn’t much care for Nick Offerman’s book, despite loving his character of Ron Swanson on the show. But I was pleasantly surprised at Amy Poehler’s autobiography Yes Please.

Part of this could be that I chose to listen to the audio version of the book. Poehler narrates her book and has a number of guest stars stop by the audio booth to lend a hand. This helps the book take on a conversational style and made me feel more like I was sitting across from Poehler as she related each of these stories. (It also helps that the final chapter is read in front of an audience and comes across feeling less like an essay and more like a testing out of new stand-up comedy material).

Having Poehler relate her life’s story helped me to understand why she bragged about some things and why she was reluctant to talk about others. But over the course of the several hours I spent listening to this, what I came away with was a feeling like Poehler and I were now old friends who might hang out and grab waffles sometime at J.J.’s Diner (wait, that’s Leslie Knope…but you get the idea).

An entertaining, fun listen on audio book. And one that doesn’t overstay its welcome and left me wanting just another few minutes with it.

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Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Deathdate

On the morning of his funeral, Denton Little wakes up in the bed of his best friend’s older (by a year) sister with little or no memory of what happened the night before. Now as he prepares for his funeral and his final day on Earth, Denton must piece together what happened the night before as well as clues about his own identity and some of the mysteries surrounding it.

It’s going to be a busy final couple of days for Denton, who has always known the day he’s going to die. In Denton Little’s Deathdate everyone knows the day of his or her death thanks to advances in technology. So instead of waiting until after the person has passed on, funerals are now a celebration of that person’s life with the soon-to-be-deceased in attendance and possibly saying a few final words.

Lance Rubin’s Denton Little’s Deathdate is a delight from start to finish. Mixing in teenage angst with a dollop of science-fiction and more than a few mysteries, this one is a winner on just about every front. A lot of that rests squarely at the feet of Denton, who relates the story of his final days on Earth and his confusion at various aspects of his life. For example, did he really break up with his girlfriend the night before, thus leading this his waking up with no clothes in the bed of his best friend’s sister (who he’s always kind of harbored a crush on, anyway)? And now that he’s finally ready to leave this mortal coil, will he find out answers to questions about his biological mother, who died giving birth to him? And what is the nature of this purple splotch on his skin that keeps growing all during his final few hours on Earth? And maybe most importantly, will Denton give in and spend his last few hours on Earth at the prom?

Denton’s witty, sarcastic narration is just one of the highlights of this novel. Rubin wisely parcels out details on Denton’s life at a regular rate and kept me guessing about where the novel might go in its final chapters. I’m not necessarily sure if this is intended as a start to a series or not, but I can say that I’ll be intrigued to read more stories set in this world if Rubin wants to tell them.

All in all, this is a satisfying novel with just the right blend of humor and drama to make the pages quickly and easily turn. Highly recommended.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Loooooooooooooooove, it’s exciting and new….

toptentuesday2

It’s time again for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is your top ten likes and/or dislikes about romance in stories.  I’m going to list a couple of the things I like and don’t like when it comes to romantic plots or subplots in stories.

Likes:

1.  Authentic romances:   Boy meet girl and there’s a connection, but that doesn’t mean both instantly fall head over heels in love and start pining for each other.   The romance plots (or sub plots) that I like are the ones that actually feel authentic or earned, where the author gives us a reason to root for a certain couple and to understand why they may or may not get together.

2.  Romances that Don’t Go The Way We Expect:   Between boy meets girl and happily ever after, there can be a lot of wiggle room and some avenues for interesting exploration of the romance between these two characters.  And while we may want our two romantic interests to end up together, getting them to the point of being together doesn’t always have to be a straight-forward journey.   As long as that journey is an authentic one (yes, I know this ties into point number one a bit).

3.  The colorful euphemisms:  This probably comes more out of the bodice-ripping romance genre but you’ve got to give the writers props for coming up with colorful ways to describe the “naughty” bits during the romantic scenes.   There seem  to be two extremes to this — the ones who describe everything in great detail using words like “love muffin” and then those on the other other end of the spectrum where less can definitely be more.

4.  Opposites Attract (Done Right):   Call it  the Sam and Diane effect, but opposites who attract can be a lot of fun when done right.  Go back and watch the first two seasons of Cheers seeing just how well it can work and just how to find a way to break these two up in a way that feels earned and that it’s the decision these two characters would make at the time.  And any romance that points out how totally incompatible these two people should be but somehow they overcome it (or maybe they don’t) earns extra points for me.  Continue reading

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All Good Things, A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 29: Utopia?

agt On this week’s installment of the All Good Things: A Star Trek podcast, Barry and I discuss the whether or not Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the future still holds true today.

We also discuss the latest Trek related news and even have a bit of trivia for you.

You can listen at the link above or right here!

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/uv5sm-539f21/initByJs/1/auto/1?skin=109

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Musing Mondays: Similar Tastes

musingmondays51

The start of a new week means it’s time again for Musing Mondays, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s random question asks:  Do you have people in your life (face-to-face) that are readers like you? Or, do you find that you have to reach out to those online in order to find like-minded folk?

It’s a little of both, actually.   I have friends, colleagues and family members who share my enjoyment of reading and I enjoy getting to occasionally discuss our reading and to share recommendations.

But I will also admit I’ve got a solid network of on-line friends who share my love of reading and who have similar (and many times very different) interests.   My on-line friends often help me find a book that I might have overlooked or not heard of yet or share a conversation about an old favorite.  Many times I find the conversation on social networking sites fascinating just to see the reactions various people have to books I’ve read or plan to read.  I try to avoid SPOILERS and so I may not read a full review until after I’ve finished the book in question.

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Comic Book Friday: Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2

For the second installment in the Kick-Ass saga, Mark Miller kicks things up a notch — and not necessarily in a good way.

The second story seeks to offer a bit of commentary on team-ups and the necessity of community. Well, at least it does for the first three or so issues. But once the bad guys appear back on the scene in full force, the commentary and subtlety go right out the window in favor of “let’s put as much violence onto the page as possible.”

The first installment was violent, bloody and brutal, but at least all of that seemed like it had a point to it. This one seems violent, bloody and brutal just for the sake of being that way. I kept wondering if Millar was operating under a deadline and had to rush this installment in a way that he didn’t the first.

Ultimately, it makes this collection feel a bit less than the first and I am not sure yet if I want to pick up the third collection. I’m invested enough in the characters that I’m curious to see how it all comes out but I’m not going to be in a rush to run out and read Kick-Ass 3.

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