Other Books in the Series....
Our story begins with our main character, Captain Mackenzie Calhoun searching the planet Xenex for survivors of an alien attack and slowly deciding that once he finds the aforementioned aliens, he’s going to make them all dead aliens. Remember when I said the author changed the usual Star Trek tropes? Anyway Cap’n Calhoun and the crew of the Excalibur decide to go to a pocket universe to kill all the hostile aliens. Once they get to their destination they meet with an alien species with similar goals and decide to team up even though the Excalibur crew suspect something’s up. Anyway the alien’s double cross the Excalibur and Big Mac’s rage is brought to an end as he realizes the aliens want to escape to our universe and end all other sentient life, like a bunch alien space Nazis. Q is also involved though the Excalibur crew does not know why.
To Mister David I say well done. My only problem is that the last book had some twists that helped the story but didn’t match some of the characters personalities. 4 stars and for trekkiness
give it a Tribble / 10.
Months later, unable to get Suzie out of his mind, Kevin, his friend Otto, along with Brad, decide to investigate. Nick and his girlfriend Stephanie end up along for the ride. And what a ride it is. I’m not going to break down the plot too much, to keep the spoiler hid, but also because of how crazed it is. There are vengeful wrestlers, walking corpses, psychotic and sadistic cheerleaders, and blood-thirsty strippers who work at a strip club that may have an authentic UFO perched on its roof. The tale is littered with the trashy tropes of the 70’s, and told with a stripped-down style that places horror and humor cheek-by-cheek. Most of the boys are interchangeable, except for Otto, who is written with empathy and smarts, but all of the girls, most of whom are downright evil, are full of life and vigor. Suzie, presumably the Siren of the title, is both enthralling and despicable.
It’s easy to drop brand name and bands, but Mr. Reichenbaugh brings the era to life with equal parts love and disgust. He also does a good job of catching that particular mix of hope and helplessness that seems to define the essence of being a teenager. In this story these characters are literally fighting for their lives, and they have nothing better than bike-chains and scavenged tools because they know that there isn’t a adult that would possibly believe them. Judging them from the way that the adults are portrayed in Sirens, I would say that they are right. I haven’t seen such a scuzzy, seedy and downright incompetent bunch in a long time.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly on the surface is an extremely good book. It is a well crafted mystery set in New York during the 1800’s. It is the story of Josephine Montfort, a young debutante, coming of age in high society. Jo quickly found a place in my heart of literary characters because she is smart, determined, driven, and yet naive and sheltered. She has a strong vision about her future, but is hindered by family expectations. Very early in the story a tragedy occurs in the Montfort family, and Jo, with her curious spirit, soon finds herself embroiled on a search for a killer and on a mission to uncover the truth of a crime that occurred many years ago. This also leads Jo to discover some of the most refreshing and captivating supporting cast I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Some of my favorite characters in this book include Fay, the streetwise young grifter that will soon be sold into prostitution, Oscar, the ever so funny coroner intern, and Eddie Gallagher, the young ambitious news reporter who steals Jo’s heart. They are all written so lively that they literally jump off the page and quickly become characters the reader is wholeheartedly connected to.
Ms. Vowell’s sly, dry wit would enliven the most boring story, but here it’s paired with a truly exciting story, as she takes us through the Revolution, from Valley Forge to Yorktown. All of the iconic figures are brought to new like in Ms. Vowell’s deft hands, but none surprisingly as much as Washington himself, who, while still heroic, seems more like a living breathing person than any other portrayal I have read. All of the biggies, from Franklin and Adams to Jefferson and Lord Cornwallis are here, and they all ring true, as well as many of the smaller characters that flit through the narrative. The inclusion of the everyday is a good reminder that history is made by everyone, not just the famous.
Ms. Vowell also displays some serious scholarship and a true grasp of the material without ever slowing the pace. Tome-writing historians should take note. What I found most admirable about this books was the way that Ms. Vowell refuses to leave history in the past. She more or less constantly uses the present to inform the past, and vice versa. Comparing and contrasting the struggles of the Revolution with the political situations of the present helps to show how so many of the current ideological divisions had antecedents dating back to the founding of the Country, and even before. She also makes the often forgotten point that those divisions are a purposeful part of the process, not an addendum to it.
What makes The Witches so fascinating is Ms. Schiff’s ability to show us the details of Colonial life with detail and clarity, in all its facets, from the personal to the public. The research is impressive, but not s0 much as Ms. Schiff’s skill at making lives and times so distant from our own not only interesting, but affecting. Until this book I pretty much assumed that I would never be able to put myself, for even a moment, into the shoes of someone with such overwhelming conviction in causality and religious belief that nearly every innocuous action could be portended to be a Sign, but Ms. Schiff pulled it off.
One of the more intriguing ideas in The Witches is that the Trials was the first time in American history where women had a pivotal role to play, at least until the beginning of the Suffrage movement. Ms Schiff gives us a taste of the rebellious role that many women from this period played in an otherwise Patriarchal society, from famous examples like Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer, to the everyday mothers, daughters, sisters and even servants, whom were frequently left out of the history books. Even more astounding is that during the Trials these were, for the most part, unwed teenaged virgins, figures for most of history that have been ignored to the point of being invisible.
The novel starts with Parker living in an isolated house in the small coastal town of Boreas, Maine, recovering from a near-fatal shooting. His only neighbor is a woman, Ruth, and her daughter, Amanda, who suffers from haunting dreams. Trouble soon arrives. A body washed up on the beach, dead from either murder, or suicide. Weak as he is, Parker, being Parker, is interested. The town has a large German population, and has a link with a certain Nazi concentration camp. More deaths are discovered, and unable to help himself, Charlie resumes acting like a detective. Soon the usual cast of characters, Sam, and Angel and Louis, the Collector, Agent Ross and Liat and Epstein, all become involved. Unexplained supernatural events occur, and the story, slow to build begins to move at a quicker pace.
A dead body, covered with ritual carvings is found on the salt flats where local legend says the escaped Salem Witches came to hide, leads the investigators to the first step of a long and twisting path through the troubled history of the small town of Exmouth. What a history it is! Shipwrecks, racism, Witchcraft, starvation, mass murder; it’s all hidden deep beneath the granite facade of the myth of New England. Together Pendergast and Constance tease out the details by coming to know the town, and more importantly, it’s inhabitants. The townsfolk are all well drawn and believable, with just the right undertow of secrecy and menace. It’s impossible to divulge much more of the plot without dropping spoilers, but I can tell you that like the old sports cliche, “It’s not over till it’s over.”
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