Monthly Archives: June 2015

All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 43: Questions and Answers

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If you listen to this week’s installment, this picture will make a LOT more sense.

On this week’s installment of the All Good Things podcast, Barry and I put each other on the spot. We each ask the other three questions — from the sublime to the absurd — and then try to provide a reasonable, intelligent discord on the subject at hand (even Barry’s last question, which I will leave for you to listen and find out just how wacky and fun it is).

We also discuss news of the week and avoid a long rant by me on the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover (keep tuning in!  It’s coming).

You can tune in below (assuming the embed code works like it says it will) or you can listen and/or download it HERE.

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/h3w78-56d1be

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Top Ten Tuesday: Looking Back

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This week Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) celebrates its fifth birthday.  In honor of the big day, this week we’re asked to look back on our favorite topics from the past five years.   And while I haven’t participated in all of the Top Ten Tuesdays, I’ve done a good share.  Here are some of my favorites.

1.  Books About Sports/Working Out
2. Books From My Younger Days
3. Assigned Reading
4. Quotable
5. Book Club Recommendations
6. Entry Level
7. Other Stories
8. Growing the TBR Pile
9. Books You Would Re-Read
10. Resolutions

Happy birthday Top Ten Tuesday!  And many happy returns!

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Audio Book Review: Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovich

Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks

Before I began running, I used to joke that running couldn’t be as much fun as they say it is because you never see anyone running with a big grin on their face. And while I may not have a big smile planted on my face most days while out pounding the pavement, I can’t help but think I had a big smile planted on it for much of the time I was working out while listening to Remembrance of the Daleks.

Based on one of my favorite seventh Doctor stories (and one of my favorite stories from the entire run of Doctor Who), this novel was one that I spent months looking for in book stores when it was first published (back in the days before Amazon and other on-line sellers) and then eagerly consumed once I’d found it. It was one of my favorite entries from the Target novels lines — taking a great story and making it even better with some world building, character development and hints about the past of the our hero, the Doctor that, at the time, I lapped up with a spoon.

I’ve still got my original copy of the book, sitting proudly on my bookshelf with all my seventh Doctor Target novels. And I was fascinated to see that this novel was chosen to represent the seventh Doctor’s era for the fiftieth anniversary books that came out a couple of years ago. And yet for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to re-read the book. Part of me was worried that my memory would cheat and the re-read couldn’t live to the memories I had of reading it. And then there was part of me that said — man, if there was ever a novel I’d love to see become part of the audio range, it would be that one.

And so it was that when the Target audio range finally got rolling again this year, I was took great delight to see that Remembrance of the Daleks was headed to audiobook. I ordered it the audiobook, quickly converted it to .mp3 for my iPod and was ready to start listening. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

The Book of Broken Hearts

Don’t fall in love with a Vargas. That’s the vow of the Hernandez sisters after two of Jude’s older sisters had their hearts broken by a Vargas brother. One got stood up at prom and another saw an engagement called off just weeks before the wedding. Each of the four Hernandez sisters swore and signed an oath that they wouldn’t get involved with a Vargas boy.

But when her father develops early onset Alzheimer’s, Jude wants to defy the doctor and experts by helping her father restore his Harley. And that means hiring a Emilio Vargas to work on the bike. Jude hopes she can keep his identity hidden from her sisters and parents, who may not react well to having Emilio spending time in their barn, working with their father and putting the old motorcycle back together. But as her father slowly disappears into his illness and parts of his life vanish from his memory, Jude finds herself isolated from her old friends and touched by Emilio’s sensitivity and connection not only to the Harley but to her father as well.

Could it be that Emilio is the apple that fell far away from the family tree? Or will he eventually revert to family type and break Jude’s heart?
Continue reading

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Musing Mondays: Favorite Bookstore

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Time to start the week off with Musing Mondays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

This week’s random question asks: Is there a bookshop you absolutely adore? Or, perhaps one you’ve always wanted to visit? What is the name of it, and where is it located?

I’m not sure if I adore it or not, but I always enjoy a trip to McKay’s Used Bookstore.  It started during my time in Knoxville and now that I live near Music City, I’m happy to see a branch has opened here.  One thing I like is that unlike some other used book stores I’ve visited, there isn’t a restriction on the trade credit. (I’ve seen some stores where you have to trade within genre.  I like to wander the aisles and shelves and not feel like I can only trade a mystery for a mystery!)  Like any used book store, I will visit trying not to have a specific title or titles in mind, but instead a list of things I hope I find.  If I look for a specific book, odds are it won’t be there!

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Review: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

20-books-of-summer-master-image I Am Princess X

At a young age, best friends Libby and May created Princess X together. No ordinary princess, Princess X wore red chucks and wielded a sword. Together, May and Libby created a wide variety of adventures for her as well as adversaries, backstories and side characters. But the entire collection was given to charity when Libby was killed in a car wreck with her mother and her dad donated it.

May was heartbroken by the loss of her friend and sent her parents on an obsessive quest to every charity store in town trying to find the collection. She never succeeded and thought that the saga of Princess X was lost, until years later when she sees a Princess X sticker in downtown Seattle. Digging deeper, May discovers that Princess X is a web comic — but it may be something more. With the help of a hacker, she begins to suspect there is more to the story of Princess X than meets the eye and that her old friend Libby may still be alive and trying to reach out to her.

Cherie Priest has given readers some fantastic stories over the course of her career. And I Am Princess X is no exception to that rule. It’s a fun young adult story that can be read by kids of all ages. I’m sure this will win her new young adult fans and it may even get a few new older readers as well. As an entry point into the fantastic worlds created by Priest, it works extremely well and is a self-contained story (not that I’d mind spending more time with the world, mind you). It’s also a breath of fresh air to find a young adult novel that doesn’t include sparkly vampires or a love triangle with our heroine torn between two brooding guys.

My only drawback with this one was I got an ARC from the Amazon Vine program that didn’t include the final drawn graphic novel panels for much of the book. But instead of turning me off the book, it simply makes me want to seek out a final copy and see what these drawings look like. The ARC includes descriptions and some early drawings in the first few chapters so I could imagine what they might look like.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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Filed under #20booksofsummer, Amazon Vine Program, ARC, book review, review, Twenty Books of Summer 2015

Comic Book Friday: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive

I’ll have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I first heard news that IDW was crossing over the Star Trek and Planet of the Apes franchises. Unlike the crossover of Trek and Doctor Who, this one didn’t necessarily seem like two great tastes that would taste great together.

And now having read all five issues in this collected edition, I can only say that my initial doubts were confirmed by what we get here. Set in the non-rebooted TOS era, the Klingons have found a gateway into an alternate universe — one where the Organian peace treaty doesn’t hold up and they can exploit various planets for their resources. One of those is the Earth found by Taylor in the original Planet of the Apes film (again, not any of the reboots) and where Kor has decided he’ll arm one sect of the apes against the others.

Kirk and company stumble across this and seek to find a way to stop Kor. They also have to stop Taylor from trying to take over the Enterprise and raining down full scale destruction on the apes in his attempts to set his own history “back on course.”

At five issues, the concept wears thin very quickly. The first issue feels like it’s treading water until the time that we get to the big reveal that we’re all headed to the Earth from Apes. (This is also seen in virtually any Doctor Who story with “Daleks” in the title as the audience is made to wait for 23 and a half minutes for the pepper pots to reveal themselves, even though the opening credits told us they were coming). The final issue also feels like it treads water a bit too much and like they resolved the conflict and story long before they filled the total page count for this one.

What could have been a fun romp instead turns out to be a less than impressive one. I tried to have an open mind on this one, but nothing here sold on this being mini-series being a great idea. I kept hoping there would be something here that would make me sit up and take notice, but I can’t honestly say much here did that.

The series does have some nice nods to the original continuity in the Apes films. I suppose that’s something.

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

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Review: Doctor Who: Full Circle by Andrew Smith (Audiobook)

Doctor Who: Full Circle: A 4th Doctor novelisation

After a two year hiatus, the Target audio range returned earlier this year and I couldn’t have been more delighted at the selection of titles headed to audiobook. Among them was the fondly remembered adaptation of what I consider to be one of the better fourth Doctor stories, Full Circle.

Andrew Smith (a fan of the show) wrote the script for the story and went on to adapt his story from the printed page. I remembered reading this one on a weekend retreat with my family during quiet times and devouring every last page — even though I was already fairly familiar with the story. Smith’s novelization came in an era when the Target novels were beginning to be more than just straight forward adaptations of what we saw on screen. And while Smith’s re-telling of the story is fairly faithful to what we saw on screen, he includes a couple of items and scenes that didn’t make it into the broadcast version — either for time or because Doctor Who couldn’t necessarily make these sequences come alive on its budget.

Answering a summons to Gallifrey, the TARDIS passes through a mysterious distortion in space. To the scanner, it appears the Doctor and Romana have arrived in the outer wilderness of Gallifrey. Stepping outside the time and space machine, it appears they’ve arrived somewhere entirely different.

The world is Alazarius — and it’s one that is about to undergo a change. But instead of the usual political revolution or stopping an evil force, this time around the Doctor and Romana will battle the forces of evolution and stagnation. The two come into conflict during mistfall, a time when the planet Alazarius and its lifeforms begin to undergo a change.

I have to admit when I heard that Full Circle was getting the audiobook treatment, I was fairly delighted. Smith makes the most of the standard Target book page count, inserting in background scenes and character moments that enhance the story and give you a new appreciation of this four-part serial. Smith does a nice job of keeping things moving and I found myself getting lost in the story again as I listened to it.

Part of this credit goes to narrator Matthew Waterhouse, who was introduced to the Doctor Who canon as Adric in this story. Waterhouse has shown himself to be a solid narrator in the past with his reading of The Visitation. If that one was good, this one is better, partially because the novel is a richer one that the fairly straight-forward adaptation of The Visitation.

Full Circle was a delight to hear again. It made me want to dust off the DVD of the original story and watch it again, mentally inserting some of the scenes from the novel into the televised version. It’s releases like this one that remind me just how much I enjoyed the Target novels back in the day and just how much fun these audiobooks can be as a journey down memory lane.

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Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

After accidentally not logging out of his e-mail account on the school library computer, Simon Spier finds himself being blackmailed by fellow classmate Martin. Martin wants Simon to play wingman with Abby, the popular new girl at school and help Martin get the inside track on a date with her. Simon goes along because what Martin saw could not only force Simon to come out of the closet sooner than he’d like to but also drive away his new anonymous pen-pal and crush.

Becky Albertalli’s debut novel Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a delightful, honest and funny coming of age story. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this one and I’ve got to say that the novel more than lived up to it. While it did take a chapter or two to get know Simon as our first person narrator, I soon found myself caught up in his world and his concerns. It’s not that Simon wants to hide who he is, but he wants to be the one to tell the world about exactly who is he and not have it leaked out on a school Tumblr page as a piece of gossip for everyone else.

Like Simon, I kept guessing as the exact identity of the anonymous crush and I’ll give Albertalli a lot of credit for creating several scenarios and friendships for Simon that could be the identity of the person on the other end of the computer. By focusing on Simon and his successes and failures, the story comes across as authentic and Simon comes across an authentic teenager.

As I said before, this one is getting a lot of good buzz out there and I was a bit worried it might not live up to it. It does. It may even exceed the buzz. It takes a sensitive subject and deals with it honestly, really and with Simon’s often delightful sense of humor. Give this one a try. You’ll probably enjoy it.

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Review: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

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Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2)

Outside of his Dark Tower novels, Stephen King isn’t really a writer who offers readers out and out sequels to previous works. Yes, he built up his fictional towns and connected elements from some of the novels together in a way that rewarded his Constant Readers, but there weren’t many novels that picked up on the characters or events from previous installments.

Until the last five or so years when King has shown an interest in playing again in some of his own fictional sandboxes. Last year we got a sequel to The Shining which while not as great as the original was a solid, entertaining book. Now King visits the world of Bill Hodges again with the middle novel of a trilogy about those characters with Finders Keepers.

And yet for a sequel to last year’s Mr. Mercedes, King keeps Hodges and company off stage for the first half of Finders Keepers. Instead, King gives us several new characters, all connected by their love of the best-selling author (and perhaps literary) genius of John Rothstein.

Morris Bellamy loves the work of Rothstein — well, at least his first two novels. Feeling betrayed by the choices made for Rothstein’s lead character of Morris Gold and certain the reclusive author has written more, Bellamy breaks into Rothstein’s house, stealing some money and notebooks that contain a couple of short stories and two new novels. Bellamy also murders Rothstein, throwing a monkey wrench into his plan to read and then sell the notebooks to a wealthy investor through his library/book collector friend. Bellamy is eventually caught on other charges and sent to jail, but not before he buries the money and notebooks in the woods in a secure location, just waiting for the day he can be released from prison and get his grubby mitts back on them. Continue reading

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