Star Trek Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack

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About the author

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David Mack has been writing since 1995 and is best known for his freelance Star Trek Novels. He has also produced a Star Trek script and worked on a Star Trek comic.

Blurb

Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.

She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet’s dark, uncharted sea.

As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so, she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life – until now.

Review

After watching the first season of Star Trek: Discovery I was hooked with the series and decided to see if there were any books written based on the series. My cousin who is a major Trekkie informed me there was and I immediately went out and bought all four. I have read quite a few of the books based on the Star Wars films but never any Star Trek books, so this one is a first for me and will definitely not be my last.

I loved this book as it revealed so much about Burnham and Spock and their history together and their respective childhoods. The description of Spock was perfect to what I have always seen on the TV series of the original Star Trek. Burnham was also a perfect fit to the TV Burnham and I must admit I could not help but feel sorry for both of them. They are both troubled and have their own pasts to confront and get over and will need each other eventually to come to terms with their issues.

My other favourite character is Captain Georgiou, she is so strong and powerful, I can just imagine her power and influence on the Shenzhou, she is so full of wisdom and knowledge that her crew can not help but look up to her and be inspired. She is a powerful female lead in the book who holds strong to her principles and is not pushed around by men.

The other element I like in the book is that we get to meet Captain Pike and the USS Enterprise. In all honesty I find Pike to be a bit of a young puppy in comparison to Georgiou but I do not mind that one bit either, it is just another example of Georgiou’s wisdom, firm beliefs and power. Yes she shows weakness and loss of temper but it is also always controlled and just shows she is human.

The storyline of the book I found fascinating and was hooked very early on by the idea of this ancient ship acting out its orders from long ago. I immediately wanted to know more about the ship and where it had come from and could not put the book down.

The two elements which I did not enjoy very much was firstly the character of Saru, sadly I found Saru to be a bit of a wet blanket. He was constantly worrying, being socially awkward and just generally getting on my nerves. Yes, I know it is to do with his species and his genetic make up but at some time I felt like he did not belong in Star Fleet and could be better utilised elsewhere. I was delighted every time Burnham wound him up because I think Burnham and myself share the same point of view regarding Saru. 

The second issue I had with the book was occasionally I found it to be a bit slow and I wanted it to move on quicker, this was mainly with the Burnham and Spock interactions. I just found them to be long winded, as the reader I knew the point that was being put across and did not need it dragged out like it was. I was desperate to know what was going to happen next and did not have the patience to deal with the twaddle that was present at times.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and at times could not put it down and that is why I have given it 4 out of 5 Dragons. I highly recommend it to any Trekkies out there and sci-fi lovers who are not necessarily Star Trek fans. I loved it so much that as soon as I finished it I started to read the next in the series Drastic Measures.

Lady Book Dragon.

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Caste – Off by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

Caste – Off by Jeffrey Archer

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About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Jamwal Rameshwar Singh, a hedonistic playboy prince, assumes he will never fall in love but this all changes when he meets Nisha Chowdhury. Their blossoming international relationship continues as she completes her degree at Stanford but even as their love grows, Jamwal knows that his family will oppose the match as Nisha is not of their caste. Will Jamwal choose love or will his family’s wishes prevail?

Review

After reading a few of these short stories I am starting to sense a theme, basically a man sees a beautiful woman and drops absolutely everything to chase her. I picked up this short story over breakfast and soon had it finished and it was a perfect start to the working day.

A classic tale of forbidden love that I absolutely loved. Archer set the book in India which I did not expect at all and was a nice surprise, I particularly liked the random cows on the road during the car race at the beginning. Jamwal is a typical playboy with a phonebook full of women he can call on whenever he feels like but very hard working and a successful businessman. Nisha is a Stanford student studying fashion, who is the most beautiful woman Jamwal has ever seen and guess what when he first sees her he drops all his plans in pursuit of her.

The story is beautifully written and the imagery and detail is fantastic. I loved how Jamwal’s and Nisha’s blossoming relationship is squeezed into the short story and yet it does not feel rushed or in anyway lacking, which proves Archer’s talent as an author. The question of whether Jamwal will choose his family or the love of his life has you on tenter hooks and there was no way I was putting the story down until I had finished the book.

This story took about 20 minutes to read, so an excellent read when you have a bit of time for a mug of tea and your feet up. It is free on Kindle and a wonderful read I can not recommend it enough. I rated this story 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Review)

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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About the author

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Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on the 28th July 1844, he was an English poet and Jesuit priest. His two main themes in his poetry are nature and religion. He died in 1889 of what is believed to be typhoid fever. His work was largely ignored during his life but was published posthumously.

Blurb

Considered unpublishable in his lifetime, the Victorian priest’s groundbreaking, experimental verse on nature’s glory and despair.

Review

Oh dear, as I have mentioned in the past I struggle with poetry and this book has been a massive challenge and although I persevered I did not enjoy the poetry.

The second book in the Penguin Little Black Classics is a series of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins and titled after possibly his most famous poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

The main thing I struggled with was that I found the poetry stilted and lacking fluency. I also found his use of imagery a bit strange and his wording a struggle to grasp.

Overall I just struggled full stop and would not read anything of this author again, if it was not for the fact the book was so short I doubt I would have finished it. I have problems appreciating poetry but have recently been enjoying reading through some poetry books and discovering new poets that I enjoy to read. Sadly though this book did not appeal and I only give this little book of poems 1 dragon out 5.

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Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio (Review)

Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio

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About the author

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Giovanni Boccaccio was born on the 16th June 1313 in the Republic of Florence and died in 1375. He was an Italian writer, poet and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote his imaginative literature mostly in Italian vernacular, as well as other works in Latin. He was unusual for medieval writers because he did not follow the formulaic models for character and plot.

Blurb

Bawdy tales of pimps, cuckolds, lovers and clever women from the fourteenth-century Florentine masterpiece The Decameron.

Review

When the Penguin Little Black Classics first came out I slowly started buying them and reading them, however moving house and forgetting which box they were all kept in did not help. I just recently found them all and have started to read them from the beginning with the hope of this time reading them all, so here is my first review.

I have already read this book once and I loved it, reading it for a second time I loved it even more. I forgot just how amusing medieval literature can be. I am going to review each of the four stories individually.

Andreuccio’s da Perugia’s Neapolitan adventures

This story is about a young man called Andreuccio who is the son of a horse dealer, he hears that horses are trading well in Naples and so takes a lot of money to Naples to trade horses and make more money. However things do not go as planned.

Poor Andreuccio is not the brightest of men and falls victim to fraud. Then he has a load of other adventures after the fraud. I found this story highly amusing and to be honest felt no sympathy for Andreuccio as really he should have known better. The part I particularly enjoyed was where he got covered in poo and could be smelt everywhere, if that does not teach him a lesson to be more vigilant than I do not know what will.

A very funny read and nice and short.

Ricciardo da Chimica loses his wife

Ricciardo is a judge who has more brain than muscle and thinks his way of life would also please a wife. His mistake is the type of wife he chooses, he goes for a very beautiful, young wife who will be expecting more than Ricciardo can provide in the bedroom department and life in general. Bartolommea is the unfortunate wife of Ricciardo but then she gets a better offer.

Another amusing read, now I know I should be on the side of Ricciardo but to be honest I felt sorry for Bartolommea, she ended up married to a much older man who makes any excuse possible to avoid physical contact with her. In my opinion this story has the moral of do not bite off more than you can chew and not be greedy, otherwise you will get your comeuppance.

Mrs Rosie and the Priest

Well what a naughty priest! This is my favourite story in the book because I can not help but smile about this naughty little priest. I have this image of a short dumpy priest wearing a cloak, winking at women. I do feel sorry for Mrs Rosie as she was very wronged by the priest and could do nothing about it.

A brilliant little story, that made me giggle.

Patient Griselda

This is my least favourite story of the book. I can not believe that one husband can be so cruel to his wife and she does nothing but patiently take it. It made me angry to think a woman would stand so much, I know times were different then but still, how did she not run away.

Poor Griselda is tested to the limits by her husband to see if she is a good wife, it is mainly for him to prove to his friends that he has chosen, created and tested the best wife like he said he would.

I gave the whole book 5 out of 5 Dragons because I enjoyed it so much and desperately want to read the whole of The Decameron. Even though I was not keen on the last story the other three I loved so much I still give the book full marks. I think it is a fantastic start to the start of the Penguin Little Black Classics and I can not wait to read them and see what I discover.

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne

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About the author

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Paula Byrne is a British author and biographer with a PHD from the University of Liverpool. Byrne is married to the Shakespeare scholar Sir Jonathan Bate.

Blurb

Who was the real Jane Austen? A retiring spinster content with quiet village life? Or a strong-minded woman who chose to remain unmarried and to fashion herself as a professional writer?

Bestselling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen’s life and work – a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box and a bathing machine – to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of ‘dear aunt Jane’ allows. Byrne’s lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen’s life and her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

Review

As I think I have mentioned before I discovered this book in the hotel room where I was staying in Bath over New Year and I began reading it there and bought a copy of my own from the Waterstones in Bath. I must confess that I am not the best at reading non-fiction but this book read really easily and did not seem like a biography. Whilst reading it, I have been using the lovely card we had on New Year from the hotel as a book mark as shown in the picture below.

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From the first chapter of this book I was hooked, I loved the the way it was laid out, each chapter focusing on an object owned by Jane Austen. I enjoyed how Byrne linked everything together with Austen’s life, her letters, her adventures, and her novels. Byrne has quite clearly spent a great deal of time researching Jane Austen and reading all of Jane Austen’s novels.

I found this biography to be quite an easy read that did not require too much brain power to get through. I find some biographies of famous authors quite in-depth and difficult to read and I have to dip in and out of the book. This book flowed easily and I read it fairly quickly. The only thing I disliked was how Byrne put across Austen’s opinions, when really nobody knows for sure what her opinions were and Byrne is clearly making educated guesses. I would much rather she had kept to the cold hard facts and opinions that Austen expressed in her letters.

I did find Byrne was rather obsessed with Mansfield Park but I did not mind this too much as it has encouraged me to read it again, as it has been some time since I have read it. I would also like to read Lady Susan as I have never got round to reading it but own two copies of it.

My favourite chapters were actually the last two chapters The Royalty Cheque and The Bathing Machine. The Royalty Cheque I enjoyed because it showed Austen making a living from her novels and enjoying some of her own success. I also did not realise that the Prince Regent was such a fan of Austen’s novels and that Emma was dedicated to him and Austen paid for and had a special three volume set of Emma given to the Prince Regent which is still today in the Royal Collection. It is the little facts like this in the biography which makes the book such a joy to read. The Bathing Machine made me giggle quite a bit I must confess, the idea of ladies being fully covered in clothes and going for a swim or a paddle around if they could not swim to be quite funny but also dangerous. I do not think the freezing temperatures would have done the bathers any good at all.

I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to any Jane Austen fan, I have already recommended it to my sister, who introduced me to the works of Jane Austen when I was little. It is an excellently put together biography which links together beautifully and the illustrations and photos are excellent. I have given this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon

 

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The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton (Review)

The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton

About the author

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Juliet Ashton was born in Fulham and still lives in London. She writes under a variety of names, including her real name, Bernadette Strachan, and as Claire Sandy. She is married and has one daughter.

Blurb

When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.

A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?

The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom’s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential.

The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.

Review

It has been a long time since I have read a book with so many twists and turns and so jam packed with storylines, I loved it! This book I got a while ago as a freebie on Apple Books and since reading it I have downloaded another of Ashton’s books to read in the near future.

The book’s main character is Sarah but also in my opinion the house itself is an integral character. The house is located in Notting Hill and is made up of flats. Mavis lives in one of the basement flats, Una and her mum live in the other basement flat, Leo and Helena share another, Jane and Tom in one and lastly Sarah in the attic flat. Sarah and Leo are divorced as Leo had an affair with Helena and finally married her. Since her divorce Sarah’s life has been turned upside down and somehow she is trying to rebuild her life again.

As the story follows Sarah it shows her develop and grow and as she does the other characters also grow and develop. The house also feels this, it fills with love and good feelings and friendship in every way.

I loved all the characters in this book apart from Leo as I just found him very smarmy and unpleasant. I also disliked Helena, she came across as very fake and annoying but thankfully she was not in the book much. This book kept me on my toes on every page, I made assumptions and they were quite often turned on their head. I just could not predict what would happen next and that is what I loved about it as it was not a predictable romance novel.

Sarah is such a caring character that I found myself wanting her to be my friend and wanting to give her a big hug. Tom is full of energy and love of life, you just can not help but smile when you read about him, his enthusiasm jumps from the page. Jane is also similar to Tom in her exuberance for life, even if she is a little bossy. Poor Mavis is a recluse and not a very nice lady, she has spent her life being miserable to people but I could not stop feeling sorry for her. Little Una is a wonderful child who has been affected by her parents’ break up but with Sarah’s experience and help she can recover from this experience.

I could tell that Ashton had thought about each of her characters in great detail and imagined their back stories, I also believe she has drawn on real life people as the characters are so believable. I truly adored this book and would happily read it again. I have given it a big 5 out of 5 dragons and I can not recommend it enough to people, especially if you enjoy a good romance novel. Thank you Juliet Ashton for a fabulous read!

Lady Book Dragon

One Man’s Meat by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

One Man’s Meat by Jeffrey Archer

About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

One Man’s Meat is part of The Year of Short Stories and is one of several digital shorts released to celebrate the publication of Jeffrey Archer’s magnificent seventh collection, Tell Tale.

Taken from Jeffrey Archer’s third collection of short stories, Twelve Red Herrings, comes One Man’s Meat, an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

When Michael Whitaker spots the stunning Anna Townsend on the steps of the theatre, he decides he will do whatever it takes to get to know her. Finding a way to get a ticket for the seat next to her, he then invites her to a drink at the interval. By the end of the play, Michael asks her to accompany him to dinner. But what will her answer be?

What follows are four different endings . . . choose just one, or – if choosing to read all four – they can be read in the following order: Rare, Burnt, Overdone, and À Point . . .

Review

I am back to reading to short stories at breakfast again, after having quite a break whilst I read some other books on my Kindle. I am glad to be back as I really enjoyed this book, especially because you can choose your own ending.

The book features Michael Whitaker who immediately drops everything in pursuit of Anna Townsend and pays no regard to the consequences. Each ending shows a different set of consequences for his actions. Michael is in the restaurant business and Anna is a doctor, two very different professions.

The beginning of the story sees the two characters enjoying the play and getting to know one another over a drink during the interval. At the end of the play Michael asks Anna out to dinner and from there the different endings take place. The fact that Michael drops everything because of just seeing a beautiful woman makes me wonder if the man is of a sensible and sane mind. In my opinion he is a little creepy and not a man to rely on.

Rare is the first ending and in my opinion more of a fantasy, it is more like Michael dreaming it all and it was not my favourite. It seemed a little too unbelievable like the beginning.

Burnt really shows just what a fool Michael is and that chasing this woman could have cost him everything, to be honest this is my favourite because I think the man gets what he deserves. Yes I am being unromantic but the story just does not fit in my mind.

Overdone is my least favourite mainly because I disliked the character of Anna, she suddenly seems to have had a personality change and not for the better. She is rude, irritable and spiky. I actually feel sorry for poor Michael in this ending.

À Point is my second favourite ending because if it has to end in Michael’s favour this is how I would like it to go. It is believable and a lovely ending and the reader is left dreaming of what could happen next.

All in all this was a good short story and I loved the quirkiness of the optional endings. I gave the story 3 out of 5 Dragons mainly because although the story was enjoyable I just found it rather unbelievable. It is a good read that will take you less than an hour to devour, plus it is free on Kindle. So put up your feet and have a nice break with this story and a mug of your favourite hot beverage.

Lady Book Dragon

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