Ed (LazerFlash) - - Reviews

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Airframe
Airframe
Author: Michael Crichton
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 212
Review Date: 4/21/2007


Not Crichton's best, but far from his worst!


Ambush at Corellia  (Star Wars)  (Corellian, Bk 1)
Ambush at Corellia (Star Wars) (Corellian, Bk 1)
Author: Roger MacBride Allen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 93
Review Date: 5/1/2007


This book (and the two that follow it) is one of my favorite Star Wars novels. Although it started off a bit slowly, it built to a climactic cliff-hanger. (Not much, since I read all three as one series.)


Assault at Selonia  (Star Wars)  (Corellian Trilogy, Bk 2)
Assault at Selonia (Star Wars) (Corellian Trilogy, Bk 2)
Author: Roger Macbride Allen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 69
Review Date: 5/1/2007


As middle books frequently do, this one started off exciting and then slowed down tremendously. Add to that the fact that I found parts of it confusing and downright dumb. It does keep you hanging so you'll want to read the final book, but the author could easily have compressed things a bit and made this a two-book series.


Black Water
Black Water
Author: T. Jefferson Parker
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 12/18/2009


Merci Rayburn returns! One great thing about T. Jefferson Parker is his creativity... Unlike many other mystery writers, he rarely stays with the same characters from novel to novel - with the exception of female homicide dick Merci Rayborn. Although I would like to read the further adventures of "Silent" Joe Trona, having a third Merci novel is acceptable, too. ;-)


Blood Game (Eve Duncan, Bk 9)
Blood Game (Eve Duncan, Bk 9)
Author: Iris Johansen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 126
Review Date: 3/17/2012


I have been reading Iris Johansen's novels for some time. I never thought the day would come when I'd rate one below 4 stars. To say that I found "Blood Game" a disappointment is a bit of an understatement. Other than the fact that it includes Eve Duncan, it really shouldn't be labeled an "Eve Duncan Forensics Thriller". It didn't involve any forensics and certainly wasn't a thriller. My overall impression of this book was that it was (1) a foray into a different genre for Ms. Johansen and (2) a mechanism to flesh out the character of Seth Caleb for use in "Eight Days To Live". Although I don't rate books on their length, one look at the font size and layout bears this out. Had it been done in the same format as "Eight Days...", (which was published single-spaced and in a smaller font), the hardcover version of "Blood Game" would have been no more than 100 pages.

after seeing the success other authors have had writing in the heavy supernatural, I suspect that Ms. Johansen decided to try her hand at delving deeper into the supernatural from the mildly paranormal story-lines of previous Eve Duncan novels. I honestly think that she needs to leave that genre to others who do it better. I can buy into Eve seeing/dreaming Bonnie. And, I think that Jane MacGuire's dreams in a previous story arc worked perfectly. I can even stretch things to include Megan Blair's abilities. But, now we have Joe turning psychic and there's a sometimes-evil maybe-vampire that the firmly rooted in reality Jane is now lusting after? What's next... werewolves? Demons?

My feeling has always been that Johansen's strongest character has been Eve Duncan. In the past, with Eve's unresolved psychic/not-psychic connection to Bonnie, Ms. Johansen has brought just the right amount of the paranormal to her novels. IMO, that made a perfect counter-point to the reality-based world view of Joe Quinn. By changing an underlaying facet in the dynamic between them, Ms. Johansen is asking us to also change how we relate to the relationship. This is a mainstay of what makes the whole Eve Duncan-Joe Quinn-Jane MacGuire trilogy work.

I was also bothered by the fact that Eve left the sculpting of a lost child unresolved, something unheard of in other books. Anyone who has read any two other Eve Duncan novels knows that just is something she would never do.

I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone except a die-hard Eve Duncan fan. It is a necessary component in the multi-book arc starting here, and extending through "Eight Days To Live" and "Chasing The Night". Where Ms. Johansen takes Seth Caleb (and Jane MacGuire) and how she deals with integrating Joe's new-found abilities remains to be seen. I'm not yet ready to give up on it al just yet.

Lastly, I pretty much feel that if Ms. Johansen wanted to experiment in the world of vampires and the supernatural, she should have developed an entirely new world with new characters that didn't include the Eve Duncan set.


The Cestus Deception (Star Wars: Clone Wars)
The Cestus Deception (Star Wars: Clone Wars)
Author: Steven Barnes
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 5/9/2007


A bit slow moving at times, overall, this book was not bad. It was also a bit too long... the author could've knocked about 50 pages off of it.


Chasing the Night (Eve Duncan, Bk 11)
Chasing the Night (Eve Duncan, Bk 11)
Author: Iris Johansen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 63
Review Date: 3/17/2012


I'm only giving this book 3-1/2 stars. Although not as low as the rating I gave "Blood Games", (which seemed to be nothing more than a vehicle to introduce Seth Caleb), in its own way, this book was similarly disappointing. Here are my issues:

▼ I agree with Caitysmom: this novel had a much slower pace than I've come to expect from Iris Johansen thrillers.

▼ Ms. Johansen seems to have crept into the writing style where all of the characters have to have a lot of inane dialog. I mean, c'mon... just how many times do we have to go through the same Eve telling Joe/Jane (or Jane telling Eve/Joe) just how tough she is?

▼ Although I understand that the author needn't some mechanism to add urgency to the search - and to give Catherine a reason from hanging back - I think the whole terrorist plot was pretty much a waste of ink.

▼ My only serious issue with this novel was that it was just a bit too predictable - even for an installment of an ongoing romantic thriller series. (I will admit that the mechanism by which the main bad guy was dispatched did catch me by surprise.)

▼ I was also disappointed that there was no resolution to the crushed skull that became such a focal point during the story. It would've been a good twist to have used that child as a tie-in to something else.

▼ Lastly, although I realize it's tough to bring everyone in Eve's growing universe into every Duncan story, I find it hard to believe that a psychopath like Rakovic would have left Jane alone.


All of that said, there are positives:

▲ The story's predictability made it light and easy read.

▲ The actual storyline was mostly believable and showed that Ms. Johansen had done her homework on the Russian mob and the very real brutalities between the Russians, the Georgians and the Ossetians.

▲ I think the new character - Catherine Ling - adds another person to Eve & Joe's world that's more believable than some of the previous ones (like Seth Caleb). I hope that she continues to be a part of the series.


It continues to be a pleasure to read the entries in this series of books. I'm looking forward to cruising through "Eve", "Quinn" and "Bonnie". Hopefully, the pace will pick up and some of the other deficiencies that have started to creep into the series will be taken care of. It will also be interesting to see how all of these new characters introduced in this three-book arc merge into the world of Eve and Joe and Jane.


Cloak of Deception (Star Wars)
Cloak of Deception (Star Wars)
Author: James Luceno
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 47
Review Date: 4/11/2007


Interesting tale of intrigue within the Old Republic.


Collision Course (Startrek:Starfleet Academy)
Review Date: 5/12/2010


Okay... I'll admit it: I enjoy most things ostensibly penned by Bill Shatner... even those Tek War novels.

This particular adventure certainly bears the unmistakable style of the Reeves, while showing flashes of Shatner's abilities and opinions... and ego. I read somewhere that in the multi-faceted 'Shatnerverse' things ofttimes happen differently than within the same time-line already established with Trek Lore and Roddenberry's official canon. Buy hey, these are science *fiction* stories revolving around a TV series originally created a long time ago, in a galaxy far... (oooops, wrong universe ;-) ). Seriously, let's get above it all and try hard not read into it what isn't there. Hell, we all know that even the series itself mucked things around a bit at times, so what's the problem? Like most fans of hugely popular fictional universes, I *would* like it if things could agree even 90% of the time, but since it doesn't, I'm not going to lose sleep over it. (Even if the two most recently released stories about Kirk & Spock's origins are grossly different.)

So, how was the book? In my humble opinion, and having read some true dogs over the past few decades, I would say that this one is pretty good - especially as you near the end. As with time-travel stories which give me a headache, fiddling with the origins of the two major characters of Star Trek is dicey at best. But, this novel does a fine job of it. As with many Shatner-penned novels, the plot twists often come out of both left- and right-fields, and are sometimes a bit incredulous (I mean c'mon -- a handful of Academy mids actually stealing... ooops, sorry, no spoilers). Let's just say some of it fits REALLY well into the over-the-top nature of our heroes and their adventures. ;-) As a coming of age story, this book does a good job and explains a key point in Kirk's back story, even though it leads you into yet another one of those contra-canon areas. Considerably more mature than his chronological age, Captain Kirk is immediately recognizable in young Jimmy Kirk. And fans of the angst Mr. Spock suffers throughout most of the series and the movies holds true in the teenage representation presented.

Lastly, there's the morality play that all Trek stories are known for. This story is no different, tying the 21st century to the 23rd as this tale reminds the reader of the contemporary tragedy of child soldiers in places like the West Coast of Africa.

I give this book a solid 4.5 stars and highly recommend it. My only real complaint is that three years later, where is the promised sequel?


Cretaceous Sea
Cretaceous Sea
Author: Will Hubbell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 4/11/2007
Helpful Score: 1


One of many of this kind of science-fiction. Not the best; somewhat predictable. But, the action is good and the ending adequate.


DeathDay (DeathDay, Bk 1)
DeathDay (DeathDay, Bk 1)
Author: William C. Dietz
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 52
Review Date: 5/21/2015


-= CAUTION: This review contains references to plot elements that could be considered "spoilers". =-

I first thought about reviewing 'Death Day' and 'Earth Rise' separately. However, since the story never really ends in 'Death Day', (even the countdown doesn't hit "0" until the end of 'Earth Rise'), it makes much more sense to write one review for the entire story.

Like many who have posted here, I am a die-hard sci-fi reader. I have been reading sci-fi since I discovered my first Isaac Asimov robot novel back in the late 1960's. Although my reading preference these days falls mainly in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, I enjoy occasionally expanding into other story-lines - especially if the novel is written by a "known" author.

FWIW, I tend to find that the whole alien-invasion/end-of-humanity theme has been over-done, but I figured that I'd give this duology a shot. I have yet to decide if it was a waste of valuable reading time or not. There were sections in both books that were page-turners, but there were others that seemed to drag. The author attempts to use the writing style of introducing multiple characters in differing situations in diverse locales, whose paths weave together ultimately concluding at the end of the story. This writing style is hard to do well, and Dietz only does an average job of it. At times, the writing was so disjointed that I needed to go back and reread several paragraphs to figure out where he switched tracks. This problem was exascerbated by the fact that the author kept flipping between a character-driven and plot-driven storyline.

Others have made negative comments about the color-based racial plot line in this book. I found it to be an interesting twist - especially coming from the pen of a white male author. Some reviewers have poo-poo'ed the thought that white supremacists idolizing Adolf Hitler would continue to exist in 2020, *and* that they wouldn't be interested in joining the rest of humanity in the fight against the Saurons. The "racialist" group 'White Rose' chooses instead to execute non-whites, homosexuals and Jews. Anyone who has had any contact with those people would know that Dietz sadly pegged it pretty much dead-on. One area of the race morality play where I think the author dropped the ball is that he spends very little space exploring the huge emotional toll it would take on those "people of color" who were not only forced into slavery, but also being elevated to the role of (the hated) overseer. With not one, but two influential African-American characters, there could have been a LOT more development of that aspect of the story.

Dietz does try to introduce a couple of 'romantic' elements to the story. I won't go into details on this, but I think that he fails miserably. In fact, I found that whole element just a bit distracting; this is a humanity-extinction tale, not a love story in space. Another distraction was the all-to-brief introduction of human slaves being taken into space to mine asteroids. It would seem that the sole reason for the author to go there was to provide a mechanism to join two characters together and then bring them back to earth. Once they return, no more page space is given to the slaves mining asteroid AR-39.

One aspect that I feel was left completely unexplored was the biology behind the Sauron's asexual reproduction. While not unique in the genre, (such as the Drac race in 'Enemy Mine'), it certainly is unusual. With almost 800 pages between the two books, the author could have spent some time dealing with how this evolved. For an aggressive insect species, having no females should eventually result in the extinction of the species. While on the topic of biology, I think the whole concept of 100-125 pound bugs stretches the envelope some. I would think that the only environment that would support that size would be one where the gravity is less the Earth's. With that in mind, the stronger gravity here would make it all but impossible for the Saurons to easily move around, let alone leap up to 50' in the air.

I initally found it odd that the Saurons opted to build their sole death/birth citadel in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. (Of course, we are eventually teased to the fact that there is at least a second citadel in the southern hemisphere.) After a bit of thought - and a statisdtical revelation in "Earth Rise" - it does make a bit a sense. Based upon the quoted numbers, two citadels would be more than sufficent to hold the entire Sauron race. And, since even conquoring races have limitations in resources, two construction projects makes more sense. That said, the choice of the jungle of Guatemala makes no sense. If the whites in the human race are the primary source of physical slave labor, I think it would be very difficult to find enough white slaves to complete the project with.

I suspect that this duology was intended to be the start of another series for the author, either Dietz or his publisher decided that it just needed to end. This is evidenced by the fact that after almost 800 pages, Dietz wraps up the entire invasion and rebellion, puts the few surviving Saurons on a "reservation", sends the Ra'Na on their merry way, and sends the two remaining major males characters off to live happily ever after with new love interests - while the sole survivor of the 'White Rose" and her child continue on to spew racialist bile in a post-Sauron United States.

---------------

As another reviewer put it, "Fiction is, in the end, in the eye of the beholder". I agree entirely with that sentiment. While 'Death Day' and the sequel 'Earth Rise' aren't everyone's cup of tea, I have decided that it was worth the time to read them. Do I wish the author had spent more time developing or further exploring some aspects of the story? Sure. That's why it rates 3 stars.


EarthRise (Deathday, Bk 2)
EarthRise (Deathday, Bk 2)
Author: William C. Dietz
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 5/21/2015


-= CAUTION: This review contains references to plot elements that could be considered "spoilers". =-

I first thought about reviewing 'Death Day' and 'Earth Rise' separately. However, since the story never really ends in 'Death Day', (even the countdown doesn't hit "0" until the end of 'Earth Rise'), it makes much more sense to write one review for the entire story.

Like many who have posted here, I am a die-hard sci-fi reader. I have been reading sci-fi since I discovered my first Isaac Asimov robot novel back in the late 1960's. Although my reading preference these days falls mainly in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, I enjoy occasionally expanding into other story-lines - especially if the novel is written by a "known" author.

FWIW, I tend to find that the whole alien-invasion/end-of-humanity theme has been over-done, but I figured that I'd give this duology a shot. I have yet to decide if it was a waste of valuable reading time or not. There were sections in both books that were page-turners, but there were others that seemed to drag. The author attempts to use the writing style of introducing multiple characters in differing situations in diverse locales, whose paths weave together ultimately concluding at the end of the story. This writing style is hard to do well, and Dietz only does an average job of it. At times, the writing was so disjointed that I needed to go back and reread several paragraphs to figure out where he switched tracks. This problem was exascerbated by the fact that the author kept flipping between a character-driven and plot-driven storyline.

Others have made negative comments about the color-based racial plot line in this book. I found it to be an interesting twist - especially coming from the pen of a white male author. Some reviewers have poo-poo'ed the thought that white supremacists idolizing Adolf Hitler would continue to exist in 2020, *and* that they wouldn't be interested in joining the rest of humanity in the fight against the Saurons. The "racialist" group 'White Rose' chooses instead to execute non-whites, homosexuals and Jews. Anyone who has had any contact with those people would know that Dietz sadly pegged it pretty much dead-on. One area of the race morality play where I think the author dropped the ball is that he spends very little space exploring the huge emotional toll it would take on those "people of color" who were not only forced into slavery, but also being elevated to the role of (the hated) overseer. With not one, but two influential African-American characters, there could have been a LOT more development of that aspect of the story.

Dietz does try to introduce a couple of 'romantic' elements to the story. I won't go into details on this, but I think that he fails miserably. In fact, I found that whole element just a bit distracting; this is a humanity-extinction tale, not a love story in space. Another distraction was the all-to-brief introduction of human slaves being taken into space to mine asteroids. It would seem that the sole reason for the author to go there was to provide a mechanism to join two characters together and then bring them back to earth. Once they return, no more page space is given to the slaves mining asteroid AR-39.

One aspect that I feel was left completely unexplored was the biology behind the Sauron's asexual reproduction. While not unique in the genre, (such as the Drac race in 'Enemy Mine'), it certainly is unusual. With almost 800 pages between the two books, the author could have spent some time dealing with how this evolved. For an aggressive insect species, having no females should eventually result in the extinction of the species. While on the topic of biology, I think the whole concept of 100-125 pound bugs stretches the envelope some. I would think that the only environment that would support that size would be one where the gravity is less the Earth's. With that in mind, the stronger gravity here would make it all but impossible for the Saurons to easily move around, let alone leap up to 50' in the air.

I initally found it odd that the Saurons opted to build their sole death/birth citadel in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. (Of course, we are eventually teased to the fact that there is at least a second citadel in the southern hemisphere.) After a bit of thought - and a statisdtical revelation in "Earth Rise" - it does make a bit a sense. Based upon the quoted numbers, two citadels would be more than sufficent to hold the entire Sauron race. And, since even conquoring races have limitations in resources, two construction projects makes more sense. That said, the choice of the jungle of Guatemala makes no sense. If the whites in the human race are the primary source of physical slave labor, I think it would be very difficult to find enough white slaves to complete the project with.

I suspect that this duology was intended to be the start of another series for the author, either Dietz or his publisher decided that it just needed to end. This is evidenced by the fact that after almost 800 pages, Dietz wraps up the entire invasion and rebellion, puts the few surviving Saurons on a "reservation", sends the Ra'Na on their merry way, and sends the two remaining major males characters off to live happily ever after with new love interests - while the sole survivor of the 'White Rose" and her child continue on to spew racialist bile in a post-Sauron United States.


As another reviewer put it, "Fiction is, in the end, in the eye of the beholder". I agree entirely with that sentiment. While 'Death Day' and the sequel 'Earth Rise' aren't everyone's cup of tea, I have decided that it was worth the time to read them. Do I wish the author had spent more time developing or further exploring some aspects of the story? Sure. That's why it rates 3 stars.


Eight Days to Live (Eve Duncan, Bk 10)
Eight Days to Live (Eve Duncan, Bk 10)
Author: Iris Johansen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 81
Review Date: 3/17/2012


This is the second book in the three-book arc that began with "Blood Game" and ends with "Chasing The Night". IMO, this is the best of the three. My only real complaint with this novel is that it is really only an "Eve Duncan" story in the very minimal sense of the words. Eve is very much on the periphery of the story; the central character is Eve's adopted daughter, Jane. Some might find that a major fault, I actually find it a bit refreshing.

Ms. Johansen has been introducing new characters throughout the series. This novel not only continues the tale of the very unusual Seth Caleb, (introduced in "Blood Game"), but reacquaints us with Jock Gavin, John MacDuff and the ever-present CIA spook Venable. She does an excellent job of weaving a tale that combines religious fanaticism, greed, human sacrifice and a millenia-old cult that worships Judas Iscariot. More than any of her other novels, this one takes the concept of good versus evil - or rather evil in the name of perceived good - and shoves it right in your face.

This novel is long! It's almost 400 pages of single-spaced text. (Compare that to "Blood Game" which was barely 350 double-spaced pages.) Even so, the story moves fast and I found myself riveted at more than one point. One thing that stood out to me in this novel: Ms. Johansen took a lot of time and effort to not only flesh out a totally believable fictional Judas cult, but also build a criminal enterprise, as well as concoct all of the clues to allow Jane to find the one religious relic that will give her the leverage she needs to defeat those who want to sacrifice her.

As with many novels in a series, it's often a bad idea to read one without having read some of the ones that have come before. "Eight Days To Live" may be an exception to that rule. If you're an Eve Duncan fan, you won't want to miss this book. If you've never read one before, you'll still enjoy this one by itself.


Engines of Destiny (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Engines of Destiny (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Author: Gene DeWeese
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 4/11/2007


This was a good alternate Trek history book. Not the best of its kind, but certainly well worth the time spent reading.


Forbidden Knowledge: 101 Things Not Everyone Should Know How to Do
Review Date: 9/1/2010


Like many who have acquired this book, I had high hopes of it being a sort of "how to" book of useful, forbidden information. One quick skim revealed that it was more in line with the kind of "advice" one finds in Maxim or FHM magazines. That said, it is entertaining and some of the tips are useful, in a perverse sort of way. My take is that it's a good bathroom or TV commercial book. Read it once or twice and you'll be ready to pass it along to another PBS user. ;-)


F.T.L. (Exploration Chronicles, Bk 3)
F.T.L. (Exploration Chronicles, Bk 3)
Author: Kevin D. Randle
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/11/2007


Pulp sci-fi at its best! The last of a three-book arc that tells the tale of humankind's haltering steps to the stars. Get all three and read them together.


Gemini (Star Trek)
Gemini (Star Trek)
Author: Mike W. Barr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 4/11/2007


Classic ST:TOS story with Kirk and the crew of the original Enterprise coming to the rescue and coming out on top once again.


Hoax (Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi, Bk 16)
Hoax (Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi, Bk 16)
Author: Robert K. Tanenbaum
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 77
Review Date: 4/11/2007
Helpful Score: 1


"Hoax" is a marvelously crafted thriller, continuing the tale of the Carp family. Fans of Butch Karp shouldn't miss this one.


The Hutt Gambit (Star Wars: The Han Solo Trilogy, Vol. 2)
The Hutt Gambit (Star Wars: The Han Solo Trilogy, Vol. 2)
Author: A.C. Crispin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 90
Review Date: 5/1/2007


Unfortunately, I read this one so long ago, I cannot offer a reliable review.


Labrador on the Lawn (Animal Ark, Bk 38)
Labrador on the Lawn (Animal Ark, Bk 38)
Author: Ben M. Baglio, Ann Baum (Illustrator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 10/18/2009


My 3rd grade grand-daughter loves the whole Animal Ark series; this one was no exception.


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