Sunday, July 15, 2007


Dr Who: The Resurrection Casket, Justin Richards - 07.14.07 ****

The Doctor and Rose find themselves trapped on the world of Starfall, the last stop before the mining regions, people with prospectors hoping to discover treasure, and space pirates hoping to relieve them of it once they've found it. Modern technology refuses to work - including the TARDIS - leaving the pair in a quandry. How to repair the machine that can't be moved, if they can't move it so it can repair itself? When the Doctor starts looking into a trio of murders, they learn the story of the famous pirate Hamlek Glint, whose fearsome ship and robot crew were the terror of space 50 years before. Everyone wants to find the lost treasure of Glint and his crew, which is said to include the amazing Resurrection Casket - capable of returning the dead to life - and when the Doctor suggests he might be able to find it, a wealthy investor offers the use of a ship that will carry them and the TARDIS beyond the region of space affected by the EMP energy that is crippling the TARDIS. Followed by terrifying enemies, an apologetic monster-assassin named Kevin, oxygen hungry Krarks, the group sets out to find the famous pirate ship - and far more danger than any of them - except the Doctor, of course - could imagine!


Belladonna, Anne Bishop - 07.13.07 ****

Belladonna is the sequel to Sebastian in Bishop's Ephemera series (although I don't know if it will continue past this book), and tells the story of Glorianna Belladonna, a Landscaper with amazing powers to control the world. Many, many years ago, powerful wizards sundered the world into various magical Landscapes, connected only by magical Bridges, in an effort to isolate the Eater of the World - a being of darkness and despair, tainting peoples hearts and souls against the Light. In the first novel, Sebastian, Belladonna and Sebastian managed to win a strategic battle against the newly-awakened Eater of the World, and in Belladonna, she continues her fight to hold her Landscapes to the Light and deny the invasions of the Dark. But when an ancient prophecy is found which suggests that the only way to destroy the Eater is for the Warrior of Light to drink the Cup of Darkness, Belladonna must make a choice - remain with her family and wait for the Eater to slowly destroy all she holds dear, or sacrifice herself to an eternity of unending torment to save the world. At one time the choice would have been easy, but now that love has finally touched her heart, will she make the right choice?


Forgotten Realms:
1. The Crystal Shard, R A Salvatore - 07.02.07 ****
2. Streams of Silver, R A Salvatore - 07.05.07 ****

Awhile back I decided that it might be fun to read some of the Forgotten Realms fantasy novels that I had sampled back in the 1990's. The Crystal Shard and Streams of Silver were original the first two novels in the Icewind Dale trilogy, but are now considered part of the much longer series, the Legend Drizzt Do'Urden. In The Crystal Shard, Drizzt - a Drow Elf, considered an outcast by humans - and his companions help defeat an evil wizard under the spell of an ancient crystal artifact, who is intent on defeating the humans of Icewind Dale and becoming the ruler of the land. The free humans manage to defeat the hordes of evil creatures the wizard summons to his army, and Drizzt manages to defeat the wizard himself, in the process burying the Crystal Shard beneath half a mountain, where it will hopefully remain hidden. At the end, Bruenor, his dwarven friend, tricks Drizzt into accompanying him on a quest to discover the legendary Mithral Hall - the ancient home of Bruenor and the dwarven nation.

In Streams of Silver, Bruenor, Drizzt, Wulfgar (a barbarian raised by Bruenor) and Regis (a halfling thief) set out on their quest to find Mithral Hall. Hundreds of years have passed since the dwarves were driven out of the mountain hall by dark and evil beings from the depths of the earth, and all the Realms consider Mithral Hall to be a legend. Nevertheless, the heroes begin the search, confidant that the can discover its' secret location. As they travel, others carefully track their progess - an assassin who is under contract to capture Regis for a long ago theft, and a powerful wizard who believes that Drizzt still posessess the Crystal Shard and who wants it for his own. When the heroes and their followers finally arrive at Mithral Hall, they find it still occupied by foul and evil creatures, and must use all their cunning and strentgh to survive each other and the escape the dragon of Mithral Hall.


Three Days to Never, Tim Powers - 07.11.07 ***

A modern fantasy about a father and daughter (who share paranormal abilities) who may be the descendants of Einstein, and are relentlessly stalked by two shadowy groups intent on finding the key to what might have been one of Einstein's greatest discoveries - a machine that allows one to travel back in time. As the two groups fight for possession of the machine itself, the father and daughter must find a way to save themselves from the two black-ops groups, a demon named Matt, and a mysterious man from the future who is determined to see one of them dead.

Confusing at times, but often amusing, this was good enough for me to give the author another chance in the future - unlike the previously mentioned Joel C Rosenberg, who I will probably never read again.


The Copper Scroll, Joel C Rosenberg - 07.09.07 ***

The Copper Scroll is a religious thriller about a couple of newly-married ex-spies, who become involved in the search for a fabulous mythical treasure of gold, silver and jewels that was once a part of the second temple in Jerusalem. But when an unusual scroll made of copper is found and decoded, it seems to be an inventory list of the treasures, along with a key that points to the hiding place, scholars and archaeologists begin to believe that the treasure may be real after all. And when those same scholars and archaeologists begin dying is violent manners all over the world Jon Bennett and his new wife Erin McCoy find themselves in a race to reach the treasure before the vicious band of terrorists find it.


Rollback, Robert J Sawyer - 07.07.07 *****

Robert J sawyer is one of my favorite scifi authors and in his newest book, Rollback, he has once again taken a unique idea and explored its' moral and ethical boundaries.
Thirty-eight years ago, Dr Sarah Halifax decoded and translated the first radio message from an alien civilization light-years away. A reply was sent, and now, 38 years later, a second message has arrived! Sarah, now in her mid-80's, is thought by many to be the key to unlocking this second message as well, but with her deteriorating health, she may not live long enough to so. When an extremely rich businessman offers her a rollback - a medical procedure, costing billions, that could return her physical age to her mid-20's - she accepts with the condition that her husband of 60 years receive the same treatment. Unfortunately, the rollback doesn't work for Sarah at all, but magically transforms her husband into a young man again, leaving them both with interesting dilemmas and struggling to deal with his new found youth and the seeming age difference between the two, while Sarah must find a way to deal with the message from stars before it's too late.
As always, Sawyer writes a stunning novel about what it means to be human in an ever-progressing world of technology.

Friday, July 6, 2007


The Russell Quant Mysteries, Anthony Bidulka:
Amuse Bouche - 03.09.06 ****
Flight of Aquavit - 03.11.07 ****
Tapas on the Ramblas - 03.13.06 ****
Stain of the Berry - 06.28.07 ****

This series follows the adventures of Russel Quant, a gay private investigator in Canada. to be perfectly honest, I don't remember the details of the first 3 novels (except that I thoroughly enjoyed them). Stain of the Berry, though, takes Russell on an odd journey through his past, for while he's been trying to find his missing friend Sereena, who disappeared a year ago (in Tapas on the Ramblas) he also discovers tantalizing clues about some of the mysteries in his family's past. Interwoven with the search for Sereena is the case he's currently working - trying to discover is a young woman to jomped from balcony of her high rise apartment was a suicide or murder. Some had been harassing her - sending threatening letters, whispering "the boogeyman is going to get you" during late night calls, etc - for months. Did the strain become to much for her to bear, or did the "boogeyman" finally "help" her off the balcony? No one seems to know, but when Russell discovers that other have been receiving the same treatment, he gets sucked into a nightmarish world of threats, harassment, and attempts on his own life, as the Boogeyman comes ever closer.


R is for Ricochet, Sue Grafton - 06.26.07 ****

At first the assignment seems simple - wealthy recluse Nord Lafferty hires Kinsey to "babysit" his daughter, Reba Lafferty, who is about to be paroled. Nord wants to make sure his daughter stays away from booze, gambling, and in general abide by the terms of her parole. But when Reba's old boyfriend, Beck, shows up, things begin to get complicated. It turns out that Reba went to jail to protect her lover from the embezzling charges, but it seems that he's more interested in using her to further his money laundering schemes, than in rekindling their relationship. When the Feds show up to try to convince Reba to help them gather information, at first Reba will have none of it - but when Becks starts trying to eliminate all evidence against him, Reba finally realizes that she's a liability, and leads Kinsey on a hilarious and suspenseful journey to out-trick the trickster.

S is for Silence, Sue Grafton - 06.27.07 ****

Violet Sullivan was the town bad girl - she cheated on her husband with half the men in town, drank outrageously, and was, in general, a wild woman. When she disappeared on the 4th of July, many assumed she'd finally made good on her many threats to runaway with a lover, many guessed she'd been murdered by her husband, and everyone sighed with relief that she was gone. Everyone except her husband and daughter, that is. Now, 34 years later, Daisy asks Kinsey to try and track down the missing mother and prove once and for all if Violet is dead or living elsewhere, so that Daisy can finally achieve closure. Of course, after so many years, memories are distorted, and many people have secrets to hide, but when Kinsey manages to discover Violet's missing car, all the clues point to murder - and the killer is still desperate to protect his identity!


P is for Peril, Sue Grafton - 06.22.07 ***

An ex-wife of a missing doctor hires Kinsey to try to locate the man. While many believe the doctor disappeared to avoid the scandal of an upcoming investigation into a Medicare fraud case, the current wife is convinced that her husband is the victim of foul play, and soon Kinsey begins to believe her. As she digs deeper into the mystery, uncomfortable truths come to light, and when she finds the doctor himself in his car at the bottom of a nearby lake, it is left to her to find the murderer. Meanwhile her personal life tries to fall apart when she meets a handsome and charming young man who may or may not have murdered his parents.

Q is for Quarry, Sue Grafton - 06.24.07 ****

Kinsey's estranged family enters the picture again when she dives into a nearly 20 year old murder mystery of a Jane Doe. The woman, whose identity has never been discovered, was murdered and dumped into a ravine near the old family quarry. Kinsey learns more about her extended family - both past and present - as she attempts to ID the victim. When her questions seem to make the murderer uncomfortable, more bodies start appearing, and her investigation takes a desperate turn as she races to uncover the killer, before the killer buries her in the desert!