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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Bird Box by Josh Malerman (Review)

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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About the author

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Josh Malerman is an American novelist, short story writer and one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung. It was during touring with the band that he wrote his novels.

Blurb

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Review

After hearing all the hype about the movie starring Sandra Bullock I was quite excited to see the book on Kindle for 99p. I always like to read the book of something before I see the movie and so I got reading straight away.

The book focuses mainly on Malorie from the time when the strange events start occurring to five years later when not much of mankind remains. Malorie has two young children to look after and try to make a better life for but she must first tackle the river whilst something follows them. As the three of them travel the long journey Malorie thinks about the past and the reader gets to see flashbacks.

Through the book Malorie becomes a strong independent woman because she has to; she has two children to look after and nobody to help her, all her friends are gone. She lives in fear of seeing the thing that drives everyone to madness and violence, this fear she has taught her children and trained them to develop their hearing so they can see using sound.

At first I loved this book and could not put it down but before long I found that it started to drag and at times I found it frustrating. I wanted to find out more about the creatures but the questions I had were never answered. I constantly wanted to know more detail and just found it lacking. It was an excellent horror story and the attic scene was by far the best but other elements in my opinion remained disappointing, there were times when an element could have been brilliant but it just felt like Malerman had given up or lacked experience to develop that element of the plot.

One element I found very unbelievable was what Malorie achieved straight after child birth, yes she had to, to survive but after all that trauma and blood loss I am not sure I believe the feats she accomplished and on so little food, whilst feeding two newborns. The part of the story I hated the most was what happened to Victor, that I really did not enjoy.

It was a good plot line, the idea of something we can not identify causing mankind to go mad, so at all times mankind must keep their eyes closed is excellent and a terrifying thought, even though we do not know what the creatures look like, or what they are, they are deadly. Without seeing them mankind has no way of fighting them, so I could not but wonder what hope is there for mankind to survive.

The book overall was a bit hit and miss for me, parts I loved parts I did not, so overall I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. I am not entirely sure that I will bother with the film but I will see in the future, one thing I do know is that Sandra Bullock is way too old to play Malorie.

Lady Book Dragon

 

Review 12: The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (Translated by Michael Glenny)

About the author

Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev on 15th May 1891. He trained as a doctor but gave up practising medicine in 1920 to devote his life to writing. In 1925 he completed The Heart of a Dog, which remained unpublished in the Soviet Union until 1987. By 1930 Bulgakov had become so frustrated by the suppression of his work that he wrote to Stalin begging to be allowed to emigrate if he was not given the opportunity to make his living as a writer in the USSR. Stalin telephoned him personally and offered him a job at the Moscow Arts Theatre. In 1938, he completed The Master and Margarita. He sadly died in 1940. In 1973 The Master and Margarita was finally published in full.

Blurb

A rich, successful Moscow professor befriends a stray dog and attempts a scientific first by transplanting into it the testicles and pituitary gland of a recently deceased man. A distinctly worryingly human animal is now on the loose, and the professor’s hitherto respectable life becomes a nightmare. An absurd and superbly comic story, this novel can also be read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution.

Review

This book was on a table in the Waterstones in London and I must admit I was intrigued. I do find the piles of books on the tables at Waterstones very tempting and I often end up buying books I usually would not go for. Having read a few books with cats on the cover recently I thought it was about time I read a book with a dog on the front. Sadly I found this book rather a disappointment. 

Firstly, I have not read The Master and Margarita but it is on my to read pile and even though this book has been a disappointing read for me, I will give The Master and Margarita a chance and keep it on my to read pile. I do not regret reading this book, as it was interesting and I did enjoy small parts of it. 

The story begins with the meeting of the stray dog and the dog’s thoughts. The poor dog has been badly wounded and is contemplating its end and the reader gets to see the world of Russia through its eyes. Then Professor Philip Philipovich comes on to the scene and befriends the wounded dog. This Professor takes the stray into his home, treats his wounds and appears to be a dream come true for the dog. The dog’s world has changed for the better and it is glorious, until it all changes and the Professor’s true intentions become clear.

The Professor specialises in rejuvenating people’s sexual organs by replacing them with animal organs. This becomes clear when he examines a lady and says he will replace her ovaries with the ovaries of a monkey. This to be honest disturbed me when I read it and I was dubious whether to continue, as things like that quite often put me off, but by this point I had fallen in love with the little dog and wanted to know what would happen to him next.

The graphic detail of the surgery really put me off and I must admit I had to skim some of the details as I could not handle it, especially just before sleep. It was extremely realistic and this is obviously where Bulgakov’s medical background comes in handy when writing about the surgery. Again I only kept going because I desperately wanted to know what would happen next to the dog.

The descriptions of the way Soviet Russia was becoming was very interesting and I can see how worrying it would have been for the people living in Russia at the time it was all happening. I can also see why the book was confiscated from Bulgakov, because the last thing the Soviet Union would have wanted was this bleak view of Russia being broadcast to the world. I think the stray dog’s point of view whilst in the doorway waiting for death was the best description of Russia and really summed up what Bulgakov was trying to get across. 

However as the story went on, I just think it went somewhat off the rails and a bit too over the top for me. Also Philip started to drive me slightly crazy with his constantly quoting from the theatre for example “To the banks of the sacred nile…” it was like the man was demented and just made no sense. 

The dog as a normal dog was the best part of this book and I just could not understand why a man would want to perform the experiment that he did to the dog. Maybe it is because I have no real interest in science but it just did not make sense. Frankenstein made sense to me because the good doctor was trying to find a cure for death but putting the testicles and pituitary gland of a human into a dog made no sense at all to me. 

As a Russian book I was surprised at how short it was, my general experience of Russian literature is of huge tomes, some of which are my favourite books. Shortness for this book was one of its advantages though.

I do not think my review of this book will be popular as I tend to be against the general consensus but my views are my own and everyone has their own opinions, which is good as we would be a pretty boring race if we all felt and thought the same. My overall rating of the book is 2 stars out of 5, the reason it was not 1 star was because I liked the beginning a great deal and the dog before it all went wrong. 

A quick read to while away an afternoon break like I used it for.

Lady Book Dragon 


Review 8: Watermelon Snow by William Liggett

Watermelon Snow by William Liggett

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About the author

William Liggett is an American author who writes climate fiction. He holds a BS in geology, an MA in Education from Stanford University, and a PhD in applied social psychology from New York University. Liggett has experience working as a teacher in schools and colleges, conducted behavioural science studies for IBM, and consulted with health care and educational organisations. He currently lives in Boulder with his wife Nancy and loves the outdoor life.

Blurb

A climate scientist uncovers a long-held secret, triggering a series of tragic events that threaten her research, her career–and the lives of everyone around her.

Review 

I used to enter all the Goodreads giveaways and in total I won four books from them, and I am pleased to say they were excellent books. I really hope they bring the giveaway scheme back soon. I entered every giveaway for this book as I loved the sound of it. Sadly my efforts were left unrewarded, but then I got my Kindle and the first book I actually bought for it was this. I can say with hand held on heart that I do not regret my purchase.

This book had me hooked from the very beginning and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is my first venture into reading the genre climate fiction and I must admit I will be happy to read more of this genre. It was fast paced and I could not put it down, I loved the twists and turns it took with the plot and the characters.

The main character Dr Kate Landry is a climate scientist who has discovered something groundbreaking in the Blue Glacier, in Washington. However she is terrified that her discovery might be stolen and she lose all credit for the amazing find. She must race against time to make her discovery securely hers.

Dr Grant Poole is a scientist who studies behaviour for NASA and is sent to study and observe Kate and her team. Kate finds his presence a threat to her work and so she must keep Grant distracted from the discovery. Grant has secrets of his own and this study is not just for science but for himself as well.

The other three main characters are Frank, Charlie and Alice who are students working under Kate’s supervision on the glacier. However when a strange illness strikes the three of them Kate is left trying to save her team and keep her discovery a secret from the world. She has to accept help from Grant.

Kate’s character was good; she was a strong determined young woman who was determined to further her cause of promoting the damage of climate change and to make sure that she gets the full credit for her discovery. However at certain points in the book Kate’s character wound me up a little, she was very narrow minded and selfish at times and that let the story down. At certain points it was like she did not care about her team at all. Grant’s character balanced Kate’s character out, he was patient, understanding and a problem solver. Kate is good at problem solving when she thinks straight, but her temper lets her down a great deal and if something goes against her plan or idea she will not listen to reason. 

I really liked the layout of the book, each chapter is another day of the expedition, it was like reading a journal, you had the place and date for each day so you knew exactly what was going on. It made me feel like I was reading about a real science expedition. The detail of the characters’ surroundings was also excellent, the details of the glacier made me almost feel like I was there and want to see one in person one day, as they sound incredibly beautiful.

The science that was discussed in the book, the theme of climate change, the team building work all points to Liggett having a good background in these areas. It was all well laid out and realistic.

This was a fabulous read and it kept me on my toes with its twists and turns. The only reason it did not get 5 out of 5 stars was because I struggled with Kate’s character at times, mainly I wanted to shake her and tell her to get into the real world. 

I’m looking forward to reading more climate fiction in the future and I hope it is as good or better. If you have any suggestions please drop me a comment.

4 out of 5 stars.

Lady Book Dragon.