Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This historical fiction paired well with "Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" as a visit with the events of WWII. An epistolary novel, Shaffer reels out a fascinating story of the German occupation of Guernsey during the war. One of those stories that draws you in and won't let you go - and leaves you a little sad when it's over.

Highly recommended!

(Also might pair well with the Blackout/All Clear! Duology!)

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Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Sundiver by David Brin

Sundiver (The Uplift Saga, #1)Sundiver by David Brin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Invention and remarkable world-building!

The first of Brin's Uplift Saga, Sundiver presents a remarkable future. Complex, and with a galactic milieu unlike any in SF. As much as I enjoy what I call "franchise fiction" (Star Trek, Star Wars) (and I *do*) sagas like Brin's are a wonderful example of deep world building.

I think the breadth of these books are amazing - and I like to think immune to being done as film - this is a place where books really rule. I've read this before (and will again, no doubt) - this time around, thanks to my public library (libraries rule!) I listened - it was excellent!

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Saturday, November 02, 2019

Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat by Giles Milton

Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's DefeatChurchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat by Giles Milton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Remarkable!
An excellent story, an amazing accomplishment - this behind-the-scenes history of WWII efforts that significantly aided the allies is riveting.

It's like "Mission Impossible" - clever gadgets, undercover work and more - but not fiction!



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Friday, November 01, 2019

Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: The Klingon Empire by Dayton Ward

Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: The Klingon EmpireHidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: The Klingon Empire by Dayton Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was fun - lots of detail - I especially appreciated the shout-outs to "The Final Reflection."


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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Uhura's Song Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan

Uhura's SongUhura's Song by Janet Kagan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Always a pleasure! Kagan creates characters, situations, and cultures that give you an ethno-mystery, a medical-mystery, a travel adventure and more. Excellent world building within the Trek TOS universe. I've not doubt I'll read this again (and again!). Just a top-notch story!



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Friday, October 25, 2019

Star Wars: Pirate's Price by Lou Anders

Star Wars: Pirate's Price (Flight of the Falcon, #2)Star Wars: Pirate's Price by Lou Anders
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Giving *voice* to Star Wars.....

I enjoyed this light bit of the GFFA mostly for Jim Cummings voicing the carefree pirate Hondo. Having just been to Black Spire Outpost (i.e. Disney's Galaxy's edge) it's also another bit of the world building for the Star Wars land - there are many references to that locale, along with some rather silly action featuring Hondo, Han and Chewie.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Collateral Damage by David Mack

Collateral Damage (Star Trek: The Next Generation)Collateral Damage by David Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nice coda to the whole Section 31 episodes. Plus there's action, adventure, humor and more!


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Ishmael by Barbara Hambly

Ishmael (Star Trek: The Original Series, #23)Ishmael by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent! It's a historical novel! It's Star Trek! It's .... "Here Come the Brides??"

I've read this before - the first time I didn't even know that I was in "Here Come the Brides" fanfic - but it works very well. The historical details, and the character development - are excellent. I have no doubt I'll be reading it again sometime.


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Friday, October 11, 2019

Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War by John Jackson Miller

Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise WarStar Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War by John Jackson Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nice tie-in to Discovery - interesting world-building.

The Klingon war is raging and Captain Pike is chomping at the bit to leave an extended mission exploring a nebula and get into the action. Request denied and, oh boy! There are consequences.

An interesting multi-species world, and eternal war, piracy and press-gangs ensue.

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Vol. 2 by Michael A. Stackpole

Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Vol. 2 by Michael A. Stackpole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice assembly of New Republic stories from the era of Legends!

I enjoyed the art and the action. I can only hope that new Canon will continue to mine the Legends for stories.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last ReunionThe All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nice entry into the history of WASPs through humorous southern tale!

I've not read Flagg before, but this was a great deal of fun. Follows in split-time, a contemporary Southern lady, Sookie, who discovers a connection to a Polish family from Wisconsin. Split between her story in the current day, and the story of the Wisconsin sisters, their family's filling station, and the girls involvment in the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Really a touching story and nice tribute to those women's service and sacrifice.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg

Across a Billion YearsAcross a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice yarn about archaeology - spanning across the galaxy and (read the title) eons of time.

Good world building with multiple species and cultures. A nice standalone story!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Antares Maelstrom by Greg Cox

The Antares MaelstromThe Antares Maelstrom by Greg Cox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Boldly go!

A nice adventure in TOS Trek - always worth the time.

This adventure by Cox, a master at weaving together all sorts of canonical Trek details splits the action between three scenes - a space station, a frontier colony and a pre-warp civilization on the verge of Prime Directive violating contamination. It's a nice mix and Cox does a good job shifting from one crisis to another as our heroes work to solve some problems!

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Monday, September 09, 2019

Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson

Black Spire (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, #2)Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was fun! And as is often the case, it is especially fun to read a book set in a place you've actually visited!

Okay, yes, this book is set in a Galaxy Far, Far Away (tm) - but in particular it is set on Batuu, at Black Spire Outpost - which is ably represented on our world at Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland and Disney World. Just having been to Disneyland where I enjoyed this new land, it was fresh in my mind and all the more fun to "visit" again via Delilah Dawson's prose.

It's a story that is at times harrowing - it helped that I'd also just read Phasma, a book which dovetails nicely with this story - both following the exploits of Vi Moradi, Resistance spy extraordinaire.

And despite being SW, science fiction/space-opera and all, it has a fair amount of real world overlap - particularly the depiction of PTSD and the trials of deployed personnel.

So - even if you don't have a chance to visit Black Spire Outpost at a theme park - your local bookstore (or library - how I got my copy!) will give you a way to take a trip there!


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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the UnexpectedBroken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Short, moving memoir.

Okorafor presents all the ways she was broken following a surgery, and how out of that brokenness she emerged as the writer she is today.

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WanderersWanderers by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - a daunting tapestry of an apocalyptic future.

Wendig weaves a driving story that at times seems too much like newspaper headlines. A nicely paced epic that has no shortage of twists and turns.

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Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Vol. 1Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Vol. 1 by W. Haden Blackman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great fun!

This is a lot of fun - fast paced with beautiful art. I look forward to getting to the rest of this series!

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PhasmaPhasma by Delilah S. Dawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not what I expected! (And that's GOOD!)
I didn't know where this book was aimed... I couldn't imagine wanting to read about Phasma... Instead it was a spy's story - kind of a Scherezade telling the story- stories! - of who Phasma really was.

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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Night Train to Rigel by Timothy Zahn

Night Train to Rigel (Quadrail Book 1)Night Train to Rigel by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hitchcock... in SPACE!!!!

Take the 39 Steps / North by Northwest and put it on an interstellar train (yes, really) and you've got a hint of what Zahn has going on here. Accepting the notion of this interstellar train and building it into a hard-sf / noir story, there are plenty of twists and turns going on here. Obviously Grand Admiral Thrawn is not Mr Zahn's only trick.

Intricate plot and plenty of mysteries wrapped up here - I'm sorry it took me almost two years to get around to reading this one. Happily, I've got three more in my TBR pile (virtual pile in the cloud - thanks, Kindle!)



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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Treason by Timothy Zahn

Treason (Star Wars: Thrawn, #3)Treason by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent - remarkable!

Zahn continues the tale of Thrawn and his work for the Empire. Intricately plotted as always, with Thrawn as the brilliant Sherlock Holmes of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. His relationship with others gives him an ability to lead them to learn "his methods" far better than Holmes ever had with Watson.

The plotting and clever twists are first-rate. My minimal knowledge of the TV show "Rebels" did not matter - Zahn gives you everything you need to know (though it left me wanting to see more of Rebels.)



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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Buffalo Dogs by Lawrence M. Schoen

Buffalo Dogs (the Amazing Conroy Book 0)Buffalo Dogs by Lawrence M. Schoen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing is the word!

Lots of fun - with some clever twists and turns, this is a terrific story!(Oh - and it's FREE on Amazon!)

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Friday, July 26, 2019

The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon by Todd Zwillich

The Man Who Knew The Way to the MoonThe Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon by Todd Zwillich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very good history of John C. Houbolt, the unsung engineer who persisted in pushing, pushing, PUSHING for Lunar-Orbit-Rendevous as the *way* to land on the moon. Good detail and the real voices of the participants in the space program. While he didn't create the mode, he's the one who really made sure that it was not ignored - without it, it's not likely we'd have made the moon landing within John Kennedy's goal.

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American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space RaceAmerican Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The politics behind the story.

A good recounting of much of the political machinations behind the American Moonshot. Not as detailed a story of the space program and science - more about Kennedy and the program.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Golden age classic!

Not an elegant writer, and one with a wealth of talky-talky characters - this the final book of the original Foundation books wraps up (or DOES it?) the story of the two Foundations created to restore an Empire to the galaxy. As ever, Asimov shines in creating intricate logical arguments and counter-arguments as characters wrestle with solving problems. Sometimes it feels more like a murder mystery than a space opera.

IT was an interesting contrast to read Alphabet Squadron in the middle of this Foundation re-read.
While a work-for-hire set in the midst of a huge media franchise, Alphabet Squadron felt more "real" and gritty in its depiction of action and characters.

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Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2)Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More fun in the Foundation series. Again - bits are clunky, but still a wealth of fresh ideas.


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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

Alphabet Squadron (Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron, #1)Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whoa. Gritty - more real than I expected.

Freed gives us the story of the forming of a motley crew - the eponymous "Alphabet Squadron," of the title. Drawing on decades of the GFFA, he creates a breathtakingly moving story of the swirl motives and backgrounds driving the team.

Funny - after finishing this, I went back to reading "Second Foundation," the classic by Asimov. While Asimov is certainly groundbreaking, I was surprised by how ... two-dimensional his book seemed in contrast. (Not a slam on Asimov - just a recognition of the depth of what Freed crafted.)

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Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Captain's Oath by Christopher L. Bennett

The Captain's OathThe Captain's Oath by Christopher L. Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great visit across time with Captain Kirk!

Bennett does an excellent job weaving all sorts of canon together in an account of Captain Kirk's early career. By skipping back and forth in Kirk's career, he portrays the evolution of Kirk's style. Very nicely done - it was like a whole season of Star Trek in one novel!

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Friday, June 28, 2019

The Way To The Stars by Una McCormack

The Way To The StarsThe Way To The Stars by Una McCormack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great prequel to Discovery, and especially the back story of Ensign Tilly!


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Friday, June 21, 2019

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Foundation (Foundation, #1)Foundation by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic.
Stitched together out of separate stories in a "fall of the Empire" arc, Asimov created an SF analog to the fall of the Roman Empire - which has echoes even in our time. While there are amusing anachronisms within the story (eg. smoking, paper newspapers) this remains an enduring classic.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Star Wars Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

Star Wars Dooku: Jedi Lost (Star Wars)Star Wars Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting audo-only publication - more of a radio play with sound effects, music and a full cast.

Lots of details of how Dooku became Count Dooku and left the order - as well as his history as a "youngling" and finally a Jedi Master.

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Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

Pebble in the Sky (Galactic Empire, #3)Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Asimov's FIRST novel - though he'd been writing many stories, some stitched later into books (eg. the Foundation trilogy).

I enjoyed this a lot - like the other Galactic Empire books, there are some creaky bits. (Let's just say romance isn't his forte). I appreciate a far-flung future with newspapers still around! Even with comics and sport sections.

The idea of Earth as an almost mythical place, forgotten as the birthplace of humanity seems to be one of the most interesting ideas in this series (as well as the Foundation). Troubling too is that Earth, while still inhabited has glowing regions of high radioactivity - presumably from past wars.


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Monday, June 17, 2019

The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov

The Currents of Space (Galactic Empire, #2)The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before the Foundation....

This, the second in Asimov's "Galactic Empire" trilogy is a complicated story of trade, betrayal, and more. There's a mystery, and maybe a bit of creaky 50's era science, but it's still a good yarn.

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Friday, June 07, 2019

Available Light by Dayton Ward

Available Light (Star Trek: The Next Generation)Available Light by Dayton Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nice story in the Section 31 arc - with a good trek adventure regarding an abandoned (or is it haunted?) ship. Fending off scavengers and discovering the abandoned/not-abandoned ship's secret.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2019

A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4)A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH, for my Kindle!!!

This is the first Veronica Speedwell that I've read in PRINT, not E-, form. I wish I had read it on my Kindle - Raybourn loves using all sorts of antiquated language to accent the Victorian setting of the book. I didn't realize - till i encountered Veronica in hard copy - how much I appreciated the Kindle's built-in dictionary (and Wikipedia) to sort things out.

That aside, this is another enjoyable romp with Stoker and Veronica - whose long simmering passion is perhaps finally coming to a boil.

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The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov

The Stars, Like Dust (Galactic Empire, #1)The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stars, Empire, Revolution and Asimov!

Wow - this 68 year old classic still has life in it. I won't pretend there aspects of this that are, perhaps a bit dated (the romance, for one), but I still enjoyed this classic from the good doctor.

There are twists and turns, betrayal and more surprises as the hero finds himself enmeshed in plots against the despotic Tyranni who hold sway over the stars. And it's only part of a series... on to the next entry...

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Sunday, May 05, 2019

Asking for a Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation Obsessed by Jessica Weisberg

Asking for a Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation ObsessedAsking for a Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation Obsessed by Jessica Weisberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My advice: read this book.
Weisberg presents a survey of "advice" in the US, from colonial days, through Ann and Abby, right up to the present with Quora. With an even hand, she reviews the backgrounds of the advice-givers and the arc of their careers in giving that wisdom that people - apparently EVERYONE - seeks.

Along the way, it's a revealing history of America - the problems, pitfalls and goals that people experience and the guides they seek to navigate life.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth E. Wein

Cobalt Squadron (Star Wars)Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth E. Wein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice adventure - fun to have more or Rose's back story.

I picked this up from the library after hearing Kelly Tran was the reader for the audiobook.
It's a nice YA addition to the GFFA, filling in details preparatory to The Last Jedi. I can definitely see the author's background with her historical novels about women in aviation is used well. I appreciate when authors bend the fantasy world of Star Wars more towards a hard-er SF milieu.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Master and Apprentice (Star Wars)Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent story - prequel to the prequels!

As Gray first demonstrated with "Lost Stars," she is a master at finding new stories within the GFFA.
This novel weaves a back story of Qui Gon and Obi Wan's relationship around a host of new characters - along with more  details of Count Dooku's tale.

Great fun - and thoughtful political intrigue and reflections on slavery as well.

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

CosmosCosmos by Carl Sagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thoughtful, deep and poignant.

Began this with the print copy, then finished listening to Levar Burton read the audio book. It's a classic and worth reading. As a survey of science and speculation for the future, it's a valuable time capsule.

The poignancy came when listening to Sagan's speculation on Mars rovers, written when there were none (we'd only had fly by's and the Viking landers), as well as his speculations on finding extrasolar planets. At the time we'd really found almost none - and now we have hundreds!



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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delving into Stoker's past and more! A mummies curse!

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A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2)A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These are just great! The mysteries of Victorian England with a worthy pair of investigators!

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A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great fun! History and mystery in Victorian England. Not *quite* steampunk, but a heroine enfused with rather modern sensibilities, and paired with a heroic partner.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies by Jason Fagone

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's EnemiesThe Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies by Jason Fagone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marvelous history!

This is a fascinating story - both an unknown history of cryptanalysis as it played out from WWI through Prohibition, to WWII and beyond. And it's a love story, of two unlikely heroes who worked together in amazing ways. And it's a crazy story of how an obsession with a crackpot theory of Shakespeare's authorship spawned amazing scientific advances in cryptography. Highly recommended!!!!


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Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Language Construction Kitlet by Mark Rosenfelder

The Language Construction KitletThe Language Construction Kitlet by Mark Rosenfelder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nice introduction to conlanging (constructed language creation).
Many practical ideas and tips - a great start for anyone making up a new language for fun or fiction!


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Child of Two Worlds by Greg Cox

Child of Two Worlds (Star Trek: The Original Series)Child of Two Worlds by Greg Cox  - re-read, 2019
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spock, Klingons, Captain Pike - a great combination.

This is an excellent example of threading the tricky needle of filling in details within a highly developed canon. Cox takes *many* facts about Trek, even from the Enterprise series, and weaves them into a story when Spock was second officer under Pike. Carefully set up with a Spock's life paired up against a Klingon who, like him, is a "child of two worlds." Twists and turns are nicely plotted - just a great story - worth reading!


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Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil's Bargain by Tony Daniel

Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil's BargainStar Trek: The Original Series: Devil's Bargain by Tony Daniel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice set of ideas and concepts. The characters felt a little "off" of how I picture them from video/film/books, but the story and ideas were fun and an interesting imagining of Horta culture. Perhaps we know how Ensign Naraht came to be!


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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A classic - one of Christie's ground-breaking best.

Not much to say (without spoiling it). I watched the '74 film recently, then re-read the original. Both are worthy. Not too many liberties were taken in the film and it was fun to read the original after seeing the movie - it made it fun to watch all the ways Christie gave out clues, as well as Poirot's comments as he began to realize what had happened.



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Monday, February 18, 2019

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Fun, funny, thoughtful, exciting....

This was a treat! I really enjoyed to worldbuilding Chambers put into this, and the layered backstories of the characters, along with the varied cultures and attitudes of the alien cultures. It's episodic qualities made it feel like a full season (seasons!) of a really good SF show. More, please!


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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Star Wars Omnibus: Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry

Star Wars Omnibus: Shadows of the EmpireStar Wars Omnibus: Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun adventure in the time of the "Legends." Lots of different episodes, and the introduction of the nefarious "Black Sun" criminal syndicate.


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Cloak by S.D. Perry

Cloak (Star Trek: Section 31, #1)Cloak by S.D. Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice TOS introduction to Section 31. picked this up on one of the Trek discount sales - didn't know what to expect, but it was a nice "original Trek" story which only glanced off of Section 31 - I appreciated the subtle touch, as well as the great original series call outs and characterizations.


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