Star Trek: Khan by Mike Johnson and Claudia Balboni

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE STAR TREK AND STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS MOVIES.

The five volumes of the “Countdown to Darkness” comics  are bound in this paperback that explores Khan Noonien Singh’s past.

THE PLOT: The Khan of Star Trek Into Darkness (Bennedict Cumberbatch) is on trial for his crimes. But Kirk points out that he can’t even be Khan, because he looks nothing like the real Khan (Ricardo Montalban). What follows is an explanation that ties the Original Series in with the skewed timeline of the new movies.

Star Trek: Khan cover (IDW)

Star Trek: Khan cover (IDW)

MY TWO CENTS: I kind of love that they did this story. I’ve been a Trekkie (Trekker? I don’t care) for more than 25 years. I was surprised to find that the reboot was acceptable to me. (Well, I wasn’t surprised about Zachary Quinto. He’d be more than acceptable no matter what he did.) But that doesn’t mean I like all the history being lost. This was someone’s brilliant idea of marrying the two timelines. Oh, but they do kind of offer an out as well, so if you have already established in your head that Khan was ALWAYS “John Harrison,” then you’ll still be okay. It’s mythology for everyone.

BOTTOM LINE: If you spent the entire second movie saying, “But Benny Batch CAN’T be Khan, because the timeline didn’t skew that early!” then you need to read this. It’s also an entertaining story about Khan’s childhood, rise to power, and ultimate trip on the Botany Bay.

TEACUP RATING: Five out of five teacups. Love it.

ON SALE DATE: The book will be available June 3, 2014, in paperback. All volumes of the individual comic are available now.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Born of Deception by Teri Brown

This sequel to Born of Illusion finds magician and psychic Anna van Housen (possibly Harry Houdini’s illegitimate daughter) in danger across the pond.

Born of Deception Cover (Harper Collins)

Born of Deception Cover (Harper Collins)

THE PLOT: Anna has moved to London to be with boyfriend Cole, tour Europe performing her magic act, and possibly work with the society of “sensitives.” She’s not too sure about the society, which seems to be in chaos. Then there’s a murder, Anna is the target of psychic attacks, she and Cole seem to be drifting apart, there’s a new cute guy, and, worst of all, Anna’s mother comes to visit.

MY TWO CENTS: I read book 1, Born of Illusion, in August 2013. I didn’t retain lots of details from that book, but I still enjoyed this one. I would say if you haven’t read that one, you really should to get a true picture of Anna’s background and the start of her relationship with Cole. However, I think the mystery in this book is enjoyable even if you didn’t read Illusion first.

I DID pick up early on who was behind the psychic attacks, but maybe a younger reader wouldn’t. Plus, I was expecting yet another reveal in conjunction with the perpetrator, but that didn’t pan out. Or maybe just hasn’t panned out YET. (Please tell me there will be a book three!)

BOTTOM LINE: Fans of the first book may be really annoyed at Cole in this book, but Anna is still a captivating and sympathetic heroine. You want to see her succeed and be happy, no matter what twists and turns her life path takes. Fans of supernatural YA who are sick of vampires and angels should give this one a try.

TEACUP RATING: Between three-and-a-half and four teacups. It certainly keeps you reading, but may not be as memorable as other YA series. Nevertheless, I’m hoping there’s another book in the series.

ON SALE DATE: Born of Deception will be available in hardcover and e-book formats on June 10, 2014.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

 

Doctor Who: Tales of Trenzalore (Anthology)

I, for one, was not very happy with the last Matt Smith episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor stayed on Trenzalore for NINE HUNDRED YEARS??? Okay, I get that it was partially because the TARDIS was stuck (thanks, Clara), but nine hundred years is almost the Doctor’s entire lifespan up to that point, spanning twelve different incarnations. So when we get acquainted with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, the Doctor will be about 2,100 years old? And about 43 percent of his ENTIRE life will have been spent on Trenzalore! Think of all the adventures all the Doctors have had, and then imagine them ALL taking place on one planet. What the heck went on there for nine hundred years???

Anyway, I was interested in this book because I thought it might fill in some of those gaps.

Tales of Trenzalore Cover

Tales of Trenzalore Cover (BBC Books)

THE PLOT: There are four short stories written by four different authors: Justin Richards, George Mann, Paul Finch, and Mark Morris. They take place at different times during the Doctor’s tenure on Trenzalore, and each features different citizens of Christmas and a different type of monster. We get to see Ice Warriors, the Mara, Autons, and Krynoid. A couple of the stories take place when the 11th Doctor has already aged, so…past the 700-year mark? You do not see Time Lords, Clara, or the TARDIS. (There is mention of the crack in the wall.)

MY TWO CENTS: I was familiar with two of the authors from reading other Doctor Who books, but unfamiliar with the other two authors. It was an unfamiliar author’s story I liked the least. I think the stories were most successful when they showed the Doctor in action doing something, rather than told the reader what was happening. When the Doctor had someone to talk to, you got the flavor of the Doctor much more than when the narration told you what he was doing. I think the story I liked least had far too much “telling” and not enough “showing.” However, I do think all four stories portrayed the 11th Doctor authentically.

BOTTOM LINE: I didn’t walk away from this book feeling that the gaps were filled, or even partially filled. I would say it was because it was only four stories, but the thing is, how many stories can you tell of the Doctor guarding one planet, one town, from various monsters? Without the TARDIS? without a “permanent” companion? It was an interesting read, and not painful, but not fulfilling. It didn’t give me that “Oh, so that episode WAS okay after all!” feeling I was hoping for. Maybe my perceptions of the episode made me expect too much from this book.

TEACUP RATING: I do give it three out of five teacups, because the stories were well-written and captured the spirit of the 11th Doctor. But I didn’t love it, and really recommend it only for die-hard Doctor Who fans (more specifically, die-hard 11th Doctor fans).

ON SALE DATE: E-book version is already available; paperback will release on July 3, 2014.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Boleyn Reckoning (Boleyn Trilogy #3) by Laura Andersen

This is the third and final book in Laura Andersen’s Boleyn Trilogy. While I again enjoyed the world Andersen created, I found the second half of the book an emotionally difficult read as misery overtakes all the characters.

The Boleyn Reckoning Front Cover (Ballantine/Random House)

The Boleyn Reckoning Front Cover (Ballantine Books/Random House)

SPOILER WARNING: There will be spoilers from the first two books in the series, The Boleyn King and The Boleyn Deceit.

THE PLOT: This book again follows an alternate universe in which Anne Boleyn gave birth to a healthy son after giving birth to Elizabeth. Events leading up to the break between England and Rome still occurred, Mary was still proclaimed illegitimate, but everything following changed. Anne Boleyn and her brother George were never executed, Henry VIII never married four more times, the Seymours never came to power, etc. (I feel the need to explain this because at least one review I’ve read trashed the book on its faulty history. Uh, no, the word you want is reimagined.)

Anyway, this book focuses mainly on the idiocy of Minuette and Dominic from the end of the last book, where they secretly got married even though Henry IX, known to his friends as William, was making it clear that HE expected to make Minuette his queen. Will breaks his betrothal to the French princess and announces his intentions toward Minuette in a very public yet nonverbal way. For half the book, Minuette and Dominic sneak around, pretending to Will that they are still all the best of friends…and then finally, unexpectedly, he finds out the truth. Not surprisingly, Will loses all trust in his two friends. A little more surprising is his newfound distrust of his sister Elizabeth and just about everyone else as well. Then, he just devolves into the same sort of monster his father really was in history, but wasn’t in this alternate universe. Oh, and he has to deal with a Catholic rebellion, too, which offers up a whole lot of traitors to execute but doesn’t help his mood any.

MY TWO CENTS: The first two books, and some of this book, were almost light and fluffy in their handling of the subject matter. The second half of this book is somewhat hard to take as Will becomes brutal. I realize that he is stunned, hurt, and betrayed. He leaves the couple alone at first, and you’d think this would allow him time to start getting over it. But no, this time of rebellion just underlines how he doesn’t have his friends at his back (in fact, they stabbed him in the back) so he just loses his anchors to humanity. He finds ways to torture his friends (and his sister), physically, mentally, emotionally…did I already say “monster?” Yes? Well, once isn’t enough.

What I do find enjoyable, as I have throughout all three books, is Elizabeth. Her character is so similar to the real Elizabeth’s–her intelligence and leadership is apparent. What’s different is her aversion to marriage, as her parents’ legacy in this universe is one of loving partnership and not betrayal and murder. It will be interesting to see this Elizabeth come front-and-center in the author’s next books.

I like how characters and situations ultimately end up with similar ends as their historical counterparts (Jane Boleyn) or slightly different variations (Calais). I also love what the author does with figures that DON’T have the same end as their historical counterparts, such as Jane Grey and Mary Tudor. The author does a good job of saying, “Where would these people have wound up in a different timeline? How would they have acted?”

BOTTOM LINE: I didn’t love this book as much as I did the other two, but I still enjoy this world Andersen has created and look forward to her continuing it in The Sovereign Trilogy.

TEACUP RATING: I give this book 4 to 4½ out of 5 teacups. I just feel Will’s actions made for such an unpleasant read that I docked a few points. I wish the author could have found some way to salvage Will, but I fully understand why she couldn’t and didn’t.

ON SALE DATE: This book will be released in paperback and e-book formats on July 15, 2014.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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