Doctor Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards

I was so excited to read one of the new Twelfth Doctor books! I chose one by Justin Richards because I had read a few of his Eighth Doctor books, such as The Burning, and really enjoyed it. Plus, this one features the Paternoster Gang, and Strax is always great fun.

Doctor Who: Silhouette Front Cover (Random House Publishing)

Doctor Who: Silhouette Front Cover (Broadway Books/Random House)

THE PLOT: A creepy carnival in Victorian England is the setting. A man is strangely murdered after beginning a letter to Vastra. A friend of Strax is also murdered, drained to a husk. At first, the two don’t seem connected, but of course they are. The Doctor and Clara show up to help unravel the mystery. The Doctor is enthralled by a strange shadow puppet show performed by a lady called Silhouette. A weird man hanging around the carnival also seems somewhat anachronistic, knowing things he shouldn’t for this time period. As they investigate, Clara, Jenny, and Vastra each meet people who seem especially sympathetic to them personally, but are these people really friends or foes?

MY TWO CENTS: This was the first Twelfth Doctor book I read, and I felt that the author captured him very well. Newer fans could pick up this book and clearly know they weren’t reading about Nine, Ten, or Eleven. This book also seems to distribute well among Clara, Jenny, and Strax, so it’s not all “The Clara Show” as I felt the show sometimes became at the end of Twelve’s inaugural season. I did feel that Vastra didn’t have as much of a presence, but she was strong in the finale.

I loved the idea of the paper origami birds that come to life. This is the kind of effect that works well in the a book, as the effect on film probably wouldn’t be as cool as what the imagination can conjure. The villain was the perfect kind of foe for the Doctor; totally selfish and destructive, and using innocent people to do the dirty work.

Note that this is a pretty short book, clocking in at 258 pages. I read an ebook ARC and it definitely moved along swiftly.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re missing Twelve and companions, and the Christmas special and next season seem too far away, check out this book. You’ll be entertained, although only for a short while. (But probably still for longer than the run time of an episode!)

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: The book is available now in trade paperback and eformats.

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

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.

 

 

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.

These Broken Stars (Starbound series #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars Front Cover (Hyperion)

These Broken Stars Front Cover (Disney-Hyperion)

I had to really think about this book before writing my review. It’s a sci-fi YA, not supernatural or straight dystopian. YAY! It’s got a stunningly gorgeous cover. (Seriously, I hope the cover of the next book can remotely compare.) It gets a wee bit draggy during the “survival” part, but that’s really small potatoes compared to all the awesome this book has to offer.

THE PLOT: The setup is very Titanic-esque, only on the spaceship Icarus (also aptly named!) instead of an ocean liner. Lilac is the only child of the man who, pretty much, owns the entire galaxy. Tarver is a young country-bumpkin solder who’s only in first class because of some heroic deeds. There is instant attraction, which Lilac quickly squelches. (See, her powerful father has a problem with any man who might want his daughter, so even though it doesn’t seem like it, she’s protecting Tarver.) But all Tarver knows is that she’s a spoiled rich girl who thinks he’s beneath her.

Then the Icarus crashes, and the only reason Lilac and Tarver survive is through chance and Lilac’s hidden skills. What follows is a story of two mismatched companions struggling to survive on a completely abandoned planet. (Or is it?) Lilac believes that her father will move heaven and earth (figuratively speaking) to rescue her, but as time goes on, Tarver is more and more sure that they’re stuck for good. Something on the planet seems to be causing Lilac to lose her mind. In the meantime, our characters fall deeply in true love…the kind that lasts, not the “OMG he’s so hot” kind. Then something happens that’s so shocking, so mind-blowing, that the reader is astounded.

MY TWO CENTS: I didn’t even realize just HOW emotionally invested I’d gotten in this book and these characters until the shock that comes 2/3 through the book. I loved the characters. Lilac has an amazing strength at her core; not only does she survive, but for a while she does it in a silk dress and heels. She’s got seriously hidden depths and is pretty smart, too. Tarver is a gentleman soldier, your very first pick for who to be stranded on a deserted planet with. Keep in mind, I did feel that the “survival” part was getting a little slow, but it’s all build and strengthening their relationship. It’s worth it, I promise.

BOTTOM LINE: I love this book. It’s beautifully written with a love story you can believe in. The story is a springboard for the rest of the “Starbound” series. From what I understand, the next book, This Shattered World, will focus on a different couple in the same world…this time, a female soldier and a rebel. For those counting down, This Shattered World will release on 11/11/14.

I really do have to do one more shout-out on the cover design for this book. Covers are supposed to catch your eye and draw you in, and boy, this one does. The beautiful jewel tones, the dramatic reach, the dress that is TRUE TO THE STORY!!!! These artists got it all right. Love it. LOVE IT. This is a book you want on your shelf.

TEACUP RATING: Five out of five teacups full of starry yet romantic tea. A book to love and savor for years to come. (You’ll probably want an immediate re-read.

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

Star Wars: Crucible By Troy Denning

I spent the last couple of weeks dealing with a nasty ear infection, but hopefully now I’m on the mend. Here’s a book I’ve been meaning to review for a while now: Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning.

Crucible Cover

Crucible Cover (LucasBooks/Random House)

When the world rocked with word of the sale to Disney and release of future movies, I (and undoubtedly many other Expanded Universe fans) thought: “Where will this fall in the timeline? Are they stopping production of the ‘future’ books so they won’t interfere with the movie storyline?” Maybe this book provides some answers.

THE PLOT: This book is mostly about “the big three” (i.e., Luke, Han, and Leia) on an adventure initially to help Lando with some pirating problems, but it’s actually a much bigger issue. They take lots of damage and struggle a lot with age issues (which seems very realistic at this point in the timeline), yet still remain the heroes we know and love. For those of you who read the last series Fate of the Jedi, Vestara is also integral to the plot, only with a new name.

MY TWO CENTS: I LOVED this book. It was a really easy read, and I just wanted to keep going with it until I was finished. It went down MUCH easier than the Fate of the Jedi series; I’m still only through 6 of 9 of those books. Forgive me, but I also liked that Jaina Solo and Ben Skywalker were basically sidelined for this entry. We NEEDED a book that was mostly the big three, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Is this the setup to “The big three are retired now until the movie?” Maybe; it would be a good move. And we still don’t know where in the timeline the new movies will be set. Will Jaina, Ben, and Allana be featured? If so, it’s a good idea to sideline them and their adventures for the time being, too. If this book was meant to be a temporary wrap-up, mission accomplished.

BOTTOM LINE: Read it, enjoy it. If you haven’t been following the Expanded Universe, I’d read this as a crash-course in what everyone is up to and some background on the newer characters.  (Vestara, PLEASE don’t get rehabed like Mara. You need to stay a villain, only worse.)

TEACUP RATING: Five teacups full to the brim of nice, spicy holiday tea. Lots of good but relatable action in this book.

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

Razor’s Edge (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #1) By Martha Wells

razor

Razor’s Edge Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

I tend to find Star Wars books somewhat hit-or-miss, but this first book in a new series was kind of in the middle for me.

THE PLOT: The book takes place after A New Hope, but before The Empire Strikes Back.  Leia and Han are on an Alliance mission, but get caught up with some half-hearted pirates…native Alderaanians who have survivor’s guilt. Then there are the deadly serious pirates, who capture everyone; and finally, the Imperials swoop in along with a spy set close to our heroes. Most of the book is from Leia’s point of view, with some from Han when they’re separated, and a teeny bit from Luke. (He’s not in it very much.) No Vader, no Emperor, not much Chewie.

MY TWO CENTS: First, the good: this is really good time setting for Star Wars novels. Luke and Leia don’t know about their relationship to each other or Vader; Leia and Han are flirty but not yet serious. And what did they accomplish after the Death Star blew up, before Hoth? Also, this book allows Leia to shine on her own, both as a diplomat (her verbal battle with pirate leader Viest while trying to hide her body language, which Viest can read, is a high point) and physically (the arena battle she’s forced to fight). We’re reminded that this is the princess who blows holes in garbage chutes when her rescuers don’t have a plan.

Then, the bad: Unfortunately, you know going in that everyone in the core group will come out okay, so there’s not as much tension. Also, if you’ve read far into the Expanded Universe future, you know the newly introduced characters aren’t important to any other story (unless there’s something I missed, which is always possible). You know they either end up dead or are just disposable. So this book is kind of just filler. It was a pretty slow read for me. It started out well, but I just kept falling out of the story. I wasn’t consistently into it.

BOTTOM LINE: I would really only recommend this one if you’re a completist or a serious Leia fan. However, I will still check out the next book in the series, the Han book Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey, which releases in March 2014.

TEACUP RATING: Three teacups, but a bonus for this great line from Threepio, translating for Chewie, to Luke: “He says it can’t be the Death Star, as you might recall the memorable occasion when it blew up.”

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

Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Kenobi Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

Kenobi Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

This is my favorite Star Wars book I’ve read in a long while. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though.

THE PLOT: After delivering newborn Luke Skywalker to the Lars farm on Tatooine, Obi-Wan Kenobi sets up his home on Tatooine to keep watch over the child. His intent is to change his name to Ben and keep a low profile…but he is reluctantly drawn into the problems of the nearby farmers and their ongoing battle with the Sand People (and each other). Annileen Calwell (nicknamed “Annie”…a deliberate move on the author’s part) is a widow who runs a general store with the “help” of her two teenage children. Her deceased husband’s best friend, Orrin Gault, is a smooth-talker who has started the  “Settlers’ Call,” an alarm to bring aid to settlers being attacked by Tuskens. We also get the point-of-view of a Tusken named A’Yark. Of course, all is not as it seems, and “Ben” is forced into the forefront in order to keep innocents safe.

MY TWO CENTS: I loved this book, which kind of shocked me. I actually devoured it within a couple of days, which I haven’t done with a Star Wars book in a long while. I loved the very “American West” feeling you get from the settlers, their farms, the general store, and their mannerisms. You get the slightest hint of romance when Annileen and her teenage daughter both develop crushes on Ben…which we know, of course, can never be reciprocated. In fact, there’s a lot of dramatic irony going on here. We know the whole story, while the settlers know pretty much nothing. Ben works hard to hide his true abilities from everyone, although the Tuskens are the first (and just about only) ones to figure it out. We get to see Obi-Wan struggle with guilt over what he did to Anakin and grief over his lost friends and way of life. The villain is pretty darn sleazy. Luke, Owen, and Beru do not appear, even though they are mentioned.

BOTTOM LINE: If your’e looking for the typical space dogfights or lots of Jedi action, this may not be the book for you. (There is SOME Jedi action, but it’s done pretty stealthily.) But if you’re interested in the gaps in Obi-Wan’s history, really love the idea of Star Wars as a Western, or just want something different from the norm, then I highly recommend it.

TEACUP RATING: I easily give this five teacups. I really enjoyed the writing and the characters.

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

%d bloggers like this: