Star Trek Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow

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About the author

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James Swallow is a British author who is a BAFTA nominee, a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. He is also the only British author to work on the Star Trek television series. He has written several Star Trek books, scripted the video game Star Trek  Invasion and over four hundred articles in Star Trek magazines. He currently lives in London.

Blurb

Lieutenant Saru is a Kelpian, a member of prey species born on a world overrun by monstrous predators… and a being who very intimately understands the nature of fear. Challenged on all sides, he is determined to surpass his origins and succeed as a Starfleet officer aboard the U. S. S. Shenzhou.

But when Saru breaks protocol in order to prove himself to his crew mates, what begins as a vital rescue mission to save a vessel in distress soon escalates out of control. Forced into a command role he may not be ready for, Saru is caught between his duty and conflicting agendas of two antagonistic alien races. To survive, he will need to seek a path of peace against all odds, and risk compromising the very ideals he has sworn to uphold…

Review

I found this book a really hard read, I struggled to get into it and kept forgetting what I had read and had to re read certain parts. I am pleased I stuck with it though as towards the end I began to enjoy it and got into it. I am not sure whether it was the writing style I struggled with or just the general storyline but I just couldn’t gel with the story.

This was an interesting story focusing on Saru and it helped me understand him a bit more, as so far watching his character in the TV series and reading about him in the previous two books I have not liked his character and found him unfeeling to others and a bit of a wet blanket. This book however showed that he did have feelings towards others and that he can be brave, decisive and commanding. 

I enjoyed the character of Captain Georgiou. She is fast becoming a favourite and I would have liked her to feature a little bit more in the story. I also liked how Saru found her an inspiration and always thought of what Georgiou would do when trying to decide his next course of action. Michael Burnham also started to show her human side in the book which was nice to see.

The character I did not enjoy and was pleased that he did not feature greatly in the book was the Shenzhou’s first officer Commander ch’Theloh. I found him bad tempered, grumpy and way too hard on his underlings.

The storyline was a good storyline and I enjoyed meeting the Gorlans and Peliars and would have liked to have found out a bit more about both species and what happened to them.

Overall I found this book to be quite a let down after Drastic Measures, and I did not enjoy the book nearly as much. It was hard work to read and follow and at times rather boring. Sadly this book only got 2 out of 5 Dragons. It has not put me off the series though and I am looking forward to reading the next.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

Lady Book Dragon

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Review)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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About the author

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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. He studied law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson was against the Presbyterianism of both Edinburgh’s professional classes and his devout parents, but the influence of Calvinism started his fascination with evil. After much travelling Stevenson eventually settled in Samoa with his wife, he passed away at the age of 44.

Blurb

Published as ‘shilling shocker’ in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the popular idea of the split personality. Set in a hellish, fog-bound London, the story of outwardly respectable Dr Jekyll, who unleashes his deepest cruelties and most murderous instincts when he transformed into sinister Edward Hyde, is a Gothic masterpiece and a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.

This edition also includes Stevenson’s sinister story ‘The Bottle Imp’.

Review

This is another book I am ashamed to say I have never read and just recently I bought a lovely little edition from Waterstones and it has been sat on my TBR pile ever since. I decided it would be a good book to discover Robert Louis Stevenson’s work as I have never read any of his work before.

The first and main story is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I went into it with high hopes, however it quickly started to disappoint. Mr Utterson the lawyer and good friend of Dr Jekyll is a perfect gentleman and shows the reader that you would be blessed to consider him your friend. Mr Utterson in fact was my favourite character and he was probably the only reason I kept reading. Mr Hyde was also a good character, he was bad to the bone and showed a man with no morals to guide him or conscience, he was happy with his actions, showed no remorse and was dangerous to all around him.

Dr Jekyll is the character which I disliked greatly! He was weak and pathetic he had bad desires within him and a perverted mind that lay hidden because of his status in society and his title. We have no idea what horrors he performed in his past but they are hinted at, now due to getting older the desires are still there but he can not act upon them without losing everything or facing the gallows. Then Mr Hyde comes along, Mr Hyde is Jekyll’s answer to everything, Hyde does all the horrors and faces the gallows and Jekyll remains the good Dr. In my opinion Jekyll is evil, he just does not show it.

Jekyll tries to reform himself but this soon fails and Hyde starts to take over. Hyde was always going to take over because Jekyll is weak but also enjoys what Hyde does, if he was truly horrified and repulsed by Hyde’s actions he would have beaten Hyde and got his life back. Jekyll did not deserve the life he had or the dedicated friends like Mr Utterson in my opinion because he was as guilty as Mr Hyde.

This story annoyed me greatly because Dr Jekyll is shown in a light where the reader should feel sorry for him but I disagree with that. Dr Jekyll was weak and evil and in my opinion worse than Mr Hyde because he had the power to stop Hyde but did not. This story on its own would have only got 2 Dragons from me.

The second story in this book is The Bottle Imp and that was my favourite out of the two. This story is about a magical imp that lives in a bottle and can grant you any wishes, however it comes with conditions that could leave the owner going to hell.

The story contains many topics greed, love, hopelessness, despair, faith, courage and much more. I really enjoyed how Stevenson came up with the story and the morals behind it. Keawe is not a greedy man he does not ask for millions off the imp he asks for enough for his dream house that he can live in for the rest of his life and enjoy it. Kokua is the woman that Keawe falls in love with and risks everything for and she in turn risks everything for him. Their love is so strong they will do anything for each other. Others in this story do not show such selflessness and greed is the dominant trait in their characters. These two people are not greedy they just want to live happily together for the rest of their lives, but can they?

A real love story that was beautiful to read and not too long. I gave this one 4 out of 5 Dragons, so overall balancing the results I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon

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Star Trek Discovery: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward

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About the author

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Born in 1967 Dayton Ward is primarily known as a Science fiction author who writes Star Trek novels and short stories. Before Ward became an author he served for eleven years in the United States Marine Corps. He currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri and is a software developer when not writing.

Blurb

It is 2246, ten years prior to the “Battle at the Binary Star,” and an aggressive contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV and the eight thousand people who call it home. Distress signals have been sent, but any meaningful assistance is weeks away. Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca and a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost are caught up in the escalating crisis, and bear witness as the colony’s governor, Adrian Kodos, employs an unimaginable solution in order to prevent mass starvation.

While awaiting transfer to her next assignment, Commander Philippa Georgiou is tasked with leading to Tarsus IV a small, hastily assembled group of first responders. It’s hoped this advance party can help stabilise the situation until more aid arrives, but Georgiou and her team discover that they’re too late – Governor Kodos has already implemented his heinous strategy for extending the colony’s besieged food stores and safeguarding the community’s long-term survival.

In the midst of their rescue mission, Georgiou and Lorca must now hunt for the architect of this horrific tragedy and the man whom history will one day brand “Kodos the Executioner.”

Review

My reaction to this book is just wow. I’m not even sure if I should even use the word ‘wow’ to describe a book but I am going to. The more I have thought about this book since finishing it the more it has made its mark on my mind.

The storyline of this book is shocking but the way the characters deal with the situations and the horrifying circumstances is fantastic. There are so many intertwining storylines and that just adds to the story and makes it addictive. I also really enjoyed how the book gives you more background information on Lorca and Georgiou, it was really good to see a part of their lives early in their respective careers in Starfleet that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There are so many emotions in this book and it does not hold back or sugar coat anything which is another element I enjoyed. There is anger, grief, fear, denial, cowardice, love and much more. The amount packed into this book is fantastic and was a real surprise to me. I really enjoyed the first book in the series Desperate Hours but it does not have the edge like this one, mainly due to the pace of this book, there was no dull, dragged out moments where I lost interest and it constantly had my attention hooked. I think this just shows that Dayton Ward is an experienced author of the genre and knows what the reader wants to read.

This story also contained a lot of twists and turns and so you never knew what could happen next and that really kept you on your toes. The characters we know so well from the TV series Lorca and Georgiou were brilliantly portrayed in the book and in my mind perfectly linked in with the TV series. The other character I was intrigued by and I really hope we see more of in future books is Captain Robert April, the eccentric captain who likes to wear cardigans over his uniform seems like a real character and I would love to see him featured in a story.

However, my favourite thing about this book is the very last section called Elsewhere. This section has had me thinking a lot since finishing the book and I absolutely loved the idea it is putting across but I will not say more as I do not want to spoil the surprise for you.

So as you might have guessed I love this book and so I rate it 5 Dragons out of 5 Dragons. For all you Trekkie fans out there it is a must read and even if you are not a Trekkie fan but adore a good Sci-fi set in space or on another planet I can not recommend it enough.

Lady Book Dragon

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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.