Twilight Zone- Books

TBR List for November 2009

Ok, so I forgot to post the reading list in September- that was my fault. Between things going on in my personal life, and the upcoming HalThanksBirthMas season. {That’s right, the time of year when the shelves are packed with items relating to the upcoming Halloween, Thanks Giving, and X-mas season. BTW- the “Birth” part should be pretty obvious…}. And of course, the change in position at work….  {And throw in the weekend I just had of what I am sure has got to be a combination of Swine & Avian flu, with just a hint of Bubonic Plague thrown in for fun….)


But never fear, I am still reading- still plugging along, albeit at a much slower pace- 2-3 books per month, as opposed to the 3-5 books I use to do. (Although I still can never beat my old record of 35 books in 30 days during 1996…). And because I cheated you out of so much, I am going to post both Septembers and Octobers reading list here…


September 2009:


The Testament- John Grisham; more than a few times, in past reviews, I have expressed my interest in John Grisham legal thrillers. So, I am going to skip the gushing part and get to the review- I LIKE THIS BOOK. It starts out with a first person perspective of Troy Phelan, going through what is to be mental status testing before signing his last Will and Testament. But after a tragic end to this testing, the story shifts to the race to find the sole heir to the multi-billion dollar fortune before the other heirs managed to seize control of the heritance and use it for their personal gain. Problem is- the sole heir does not want to be found, nor want the money. At the same time, there is the personal redemption of the main lawyer- Nate O’Reily- who is trying to rebuild his life after having one too many failures with drugs and alcohol. Overall, the book was pretty entertaining- it takes on a “Heart of Darkness” feel in the middle, when O’Reily starts voyage of discovery, and self discovery, but then it gets it bit to preachy, for my tastes. (I still have doubts about one man’s near-instant recovery and regained focus on life following a brief encounter with a woman he doesn’t know and who is never going to be in his life). But, as one who has recently started to work on my own personal wills, I enjoyed watching the aftermath as people who thought they were going to be set for life suddenly discover that their past actions have resulting in an uncertain future….


Flashforward- Robert J. Sawyer; yes, this is the book that the ABC tv show is based on. However, this is going to be a review of the book. Overall, I was impressed by this novel. It was written a decade back, before our current global events that play such an important part in our world. But oddly enough, the setting of the book was for 2009, and some of what was talked in the book had come true- flat screen/ plasma TVs was one of the first things I noticed. (Remember, this is from 1999…). But the story was what really got me going- at the moment of a critical scientific experiment, the entire globe has a blackout- and the majority of the people catch a glimpse of their future. (In the TV series, it is a few months from the date; in the book, it is 20+ years). It is those that don’t have visions that people begin to realize that maybe, they will not be around in 20 years time. This last one is a case for one of the main characters- he learns that he will be killed, and this forehand knowledge drives him to try to solve a future crime. Meanwhile, the rest of the population of the earth is coming to terms to the changes that occur during the blackout- millions are killed (think about it, how many cars, planes, boats and other vehicles are in operation at any one moment- how many life threaten things happen to a person in one day- crossing a street; standing at a metro platform, washing a window dozens of stories up), companies discover their value- or lack there of- in the future; people get to know who they married, divorce, love, hate, parent, or what they are destined to be. At the same time, the question of pre-destiny vs free will is debated- until that first death occurs. One of the few things I had to wrap my head around was the “world not in a global crisis of terrorism” concept. In the past few months, I have been reading books that were written prior to 2001, so the tone and feel of the novels have been more upbeat and positive. And yet, when I know that the moment I pull my head out of the book, I will be back to the real world- a place that is scary, uncertain, and a bit frightening…..



October 2009:


· Twilight- Stephanie Meyes; many of my friends have raved about how good the series is. Finally, I was challenged- CHALLENGED- to read the first book in the series, and after that, try not to want to jump in and read the rest of the books. Well, Challenge accepted- and sadly, they were wrong. Yes, the book was good- but I had seen the movie a few months ago (and before that, I had seen the ending of the movie when it was out opening weekend). So, I sort of knew what to expect. But the book was good- very entertaining and humorous. These are not your typical vampires- there isn’t any “I vant to suck vour vlood….” (come on, you know you are soo saying that line right now in your mind… - nor are they the vamps from the Anne Rice books or even the Buffy series (got to show love for the Buffy- after all, that series is what sort of got me into the idea of vampires, demons, werewolves, etc…). Instead, these are vampires who are just like you and I- they got to school (apparently, after 75+ years, they still are struggling to complete that Shakespeare paper), they fall in and struggle with their feelings of love and desire and passion. But, these are vampires that are all sparkly in the sunlight- they’re the glitter vampires. (I am thinking that in the world of Vampire types, they would be bullied and teased and given vampire wedgies- “Sparkly Sparkly/ little Vampirely. Won’t bite a human/ and that’s no foolin’”). But as for rushing in to read the 2nd novel- well, I want to try to finish the New Dan Brown and the latest ST:Voyager before I jump into the 2nd book.


ST: Voyager Unworthy by Kirsten Beyer; this is a follow up to this year’s ST:VOYAGER FULL CIRCLE novel. Once again, the surviving crew members from Voyager find themselves back in the Delta Quadrant, trying to determine if the Borg really are gone for good. Along the way, we run into old friends, meet some new ones, and see a new direction being set down for the crew. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the book- I certainly enjoy it more than the last Voyager novel- it didn’t feel rushed or tried to cover to much ground at one time. (The last one was slated to bridge a gap of many years between the previous two Voyager Post Finale books and the recent Borg invasion- while touching upon the deaths of _________ and ____________ and how the crew reacts to it).  I did like the addition of new crew members from other Star Trek series- it is great that the powers that be decide that it is ok to start using non-cannon characters in major roles, rather than sticking with the “if they were on the screen, they are to be used” tactic from the past. At the same time, it help set up the plots for future books- the ongoing search for the Caeilar, possible encounter with rogue Borg (I am thinking that having the Borg that Lore helped to convert might be an interesting encounter), and of course, the search for __________.





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TBR September 2009

Ok, so the dog days of August are over- and with it comes the start of September- a time from my youth when it meant a return to School and the opportunity to fulfill my thirst for knowledge and learning. Seriously- I loved learning. (I hated the return to waking up early- as most of you already can tell). And with this learning also came the semi-dread “Ross, stop reading your pleasure books and read what is assigned to you…” (I still love the irony of it all- being told to stop reading to read…. ). Alas, I am no long youth and thus, miss out on the fun of a start of a school year….


Anyway, this past month had a potential for me getting a lot of books read- I had hoped with 31 days and a slowing down of work stuff, I could spent my time partaking of the e-books. But, instead, the Powers that Be (And Pay Me) decided that I was to go for two weeks of training and nesting for our upcoming department change, and thus, I was to busy to read. But, I did managed to finish a few books- two novelizations of movies (including the Star Trek novelization- the first time since 1985 that I have seen a Trek movie BEFORE I read the book… yes, I am all about the duration and longevity… VBEG), a manga collection (which I only read when it is on a subject or series I enjoy) and a Teen novel about a very adult character that I have enjoyed over the past 15 years. At the same time, I am thinking that September might be a month of short lists as well- new TV season, so new shows to watch. (Not to mention the stuff at work that is going on…. ). But before I get to the September list, I give you what I read in August:



· G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra- Max Allen Collins; this is the novelization of the upcoming G.I. Joe film. As a novel, it is pretty quick paced and easy to read. (Took me around 2 days to read it… not a record for me, but one that is shorter than most books).   Gives the details of the events, and some background information on some of the characters in movie (including, IMO, the WORSE background story for Snake Eyes- sorry, but don’t go messing with Snake Eyes…. Don’t try to go and rewrite his background story- it is NOT going to work). One thing that was a bit of a disappointment to me was how the author took complete passages from the prequel novel G.I. Joe: Above and Beyond, and used it in the book as background filler. (This is like one author using his other nom de plume to write a review of his own book….). I am not sure how the book stacks up against the movie- you will need to see me at 2:30 am on Friday, August 7 to tell you this. I would recommend the book for anyone who is a G.I. Joe fan and wants to get more information about the movie…


· Star Trek- Alan Dean Foster; As I have said before, I tend to want to read a novel (or novelization) of a movie before I go and see the movie. This year, though, I did the opposite. I went to see Star Trek cold. Without ANY knowledge of what was to come. Which made the movie experience that much more enjoyable. Well, is has been 2 ½ months since the movie came out, and I decided to sit down and read the novelization. For me, it was a different experience- I could, once again, SEE the movie in my head, but at the same time, could also know what was going on with the characters- to see the emotional struggles and fears; to witness the ego and courage; to marvel at the re-launching of a new line of Trekdom. The book was good- not amazing or spectacular- but good. The problem is- I saw the movie. The movie was AMAZING. Which meant that the book had to be equally amazing, if not BETTER than the movie. So, the bar was set a bit high. (Further mudding the waters, I am sure, is that the past few months, I have been Trek heavy in the reading, with books written by authors who put their heart, sweat, and soul into the books- and it shows. They are having to write an ORIGINAL story- in some cases, a follow up/ aftermath story- without the benefit of a set media to follow. Which meant what they wrote was original, dynamic, and exciting…). I would say the book is good for those who are die hard Trek fans, who want to learn more; the book is good for those who want to read something light and quick and easy to read; the book is perfect for those not to familiar with the stories and adventures of Shatner’s Kirk but are looking to be entertained by a story of heroics and the first steps into a new epic series.


· Star Trek: The Next Generation- The Manga- Boukenshin; I am not much of a fan of Manga art styles; call me a traditionalists, but I like my character drawings to be realistic looking. But, being a die hard Trek fan, I have to give the Manga series a go. This one is no exception- it is the first TNG theme manga book, which contains 4 original stories. Changeling sees a young Wesley Crusher going through a Wizard of Oz progression of changes. (NOT a big fan of “Wizard of Oz” btw- some of you reading this can relate. And one of you is laughing your butt-off, I am sure. “LPK in da house..” ::rolls eyes::) Sensation has Dr. Crusher and Deanna Troi working together to discover the source of a raging contagion that threatens both a planet and the crew. The Picardian Knot looks at the aftermath of Picards’s mind-meld with Sarek. (This one has like the STUPIDEST ending I have seen in a while), and Loyalty has Riker having to defend Picard’s ability to command following the events of Wolf 359. (This last one, I say, had the potential, if filmed, to have been the LOUDEST EPISODE OF TNG EVER; EVERYONE SEEMED TO WANT TO SHOUT AND YELL AT EACH OTHER!!!). 


· Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Story- Robert B. Parker; I have been a fan of Parker’s Spenser series since I picked up the first book back in 1993. The series is one that appealed to me on many different levels- Spenser was a guy who was assured of himself; he was a modern day Knight errand, trying to save the world one person at a time. He knew what was right and what was wrong, and if what was right was outside the law, so be it. And he was one with a snappy comeback. For me, this seemed to be how I sort of felt. And with the passage of time, I really did come to look forward to the latest Spenser novel. (Well, except when there was the whole Spenser without Susan period of books- some might disagree with me, but I find the love and romance between Susan and Spenser to be realistic and favored  more then any other in fiction….). So, when I learned there was going to be a Young Spenser novel, I was ….. well, concern. Yes, Spenser is a series that seems to be about death, violence, and the search for right and wrong. How can this be translated into a book that is aimed for Teens and Younger readers. But, I was willing to give it a try- at least to see how it was done. (I read a Young James Bond book a few years ago- was less then thrilled how they took the superspy and made him a Harry Potter like character. But I was impressed by using this same formula, it would get younger readers into the superspy. Trust me, when you are 11 years old, reading the original Ian Fleming stuff is ROUGH- especially the torture scene in Casino Royale…..:winces:). However, when I read the book, I was not disappointed- it paints a brilliant, easy to understand glimpse into the early life of young Spenser. Instead of being the man he is today, we see the boy he was and the life lessons he was to learn during his teen years that would, eventually, be his moral code of life. It looks at three or four events from Spenser’s life, and how the advice he received from his father and uncles helped to mold him and guide him in life. I would recommend this book to young boys who are seeking a positive role model in life, who is not a superhero with impossible power, a sports star who is currently under investigation for animal cruelty, or for pretty boy teen actors and singers, who are leading Madison Avenue driven lives. 


Well, there it is… not much reading, but a lot of reviewing. ( I honestly think that my review of the TNG manga had more words then the whole book did…). I am going to make a few changes for September- I currently am in the middle of two books and have a 3rd on reserve with the library, as well as adding the upcoming Dan Brown thriller…




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TBR August 2009

Wow, it is already August... which means that we are just 5 months away from 2010. 


Seriously, take a moment and think about that. 2010..... Excluding the obvious sci fi/ literature references that the concept of 2010 bring to mind (yes, I am talking about the Arthur C. Clarke book, for those who are less than Geek....), the idea of 2010 seemed to be something so...distant. So foreign. So exciting and fascinating and beyond belief. 2010 was less of a year and more of a goal- a time when we, as humans, should have been escaping the gravity of our home planet, and making ways to settle other heavenly bodies. A time when we would be using hover cars and jet packs to move around the planet, and would be taking meals that were not supersized, but pellet sized. (Although I would recommend avoiding the Soylent Green after dinner mints pellets. This is a main reason why I tend to avoid things with the word “soy” in the ingredients).  A time of peace and harmony- provided we had not been blown up in an exchange of nuclear missiles during the Cold War…


Instead, it is going to be a world of smaller and smaller sized computers; a world where cars are hybrids (and junkers are being bought by the government); a world where couples are not defined by their opposing body parts, but by the love in their hearts. A world where we, the individuals, are survivors of the Cold War, but are the soldiers in the Cellular War. (VIVA LA PALM PRE!!!). A time where friendships are not definited by location, but by IP address; where you can tell ALL your friends what you had to for lunch, are stuck (on the ground) in traffic, and that you are enjoying your low fat, low foam soy latte on the patio of Starbucks #134,135,204, 045. (Wait a minute- Soylent…Soy latte---- anyone else getting a bit worried)? A time when those in power were, at one point in the past, consider to almost NEVER have any chance at being anything more than 2nd class citizens. It is not the world of Sci Fi, but a world of Soc Fi- where the sociological, and not scientific, changes have moved our society into the new era of existence….


Ok, enough waxing philosophically- this posting is about BOOKS!!!!!!! NOVELS!!!! BIBLIOTECHA!!!


So, July was a pretty active month for me- I managed to read 5 books during 31 days. And as you can see, most of the books tend to be from the popular (and personal favor) line of Star Trek Novels. (Guess I was compensating for missing out on Shore Leave and ComicCon this year….. NEXT YEAR, THOUGH. A winning Lotto ticket is going to be in my near future- I can feel it). Meanwhile, I am getting ready to wrap up my  “summer reading” and start in on some more serious reading, in the fall and winter. (Stop laughing.. I might try to pick up something more…non-fiction-y in the next few weeks…I have books on OCD, the body, and even a possible military novel on my upcoming TBR lists…). So, here are the books for July…



· ST:Vanguard Open Secrets- Dayton Ward; This, the latest entry in the Star Trek: Vanguard series, shows the after effects of the shocking events from Reap the Whirlwind.  Set at the edge of mankind's greatest mystery (although slightly less mysterious as before), there is the trial of a fleet officer, the inner battle for control of the mind of a Vulcan, the introduction of what will be the Federation's greatest scientist, the build up of galactic tension between the main superpowers, and even a surprise guest or two from various Trek movies and TV series.  Clocking in at 425 pages, this is one massively intense book, which in the hands of the authors, flows like butter on a hot Texas day....


Personally, I am in AWE over how great the Vanguard series is- in the hands of its' three authors, there is an ongoing conhension and unity in the books.  It reads less like a stand alone Trek book, or even an entry in a trek miniseries, but more an episode of 24, set in the realm of Star Trek- a political battle between superpowers, a race for discovery of some hidden secret, a hero who is flawed and willing to do what it takes for the greater good, even at the cost of his own personal wellbeing, and all the techno goodness that geeks love.  Furthermore, one can't just read ANY book the series; no, you have to read the first book, and then the second book, and then the third... and you see the pattern. (Plus, it helps if you are a TOS fan and remember certain details from the 1960's series- like the First Federation, the court martial of Kirk, or even the Organian-efforted peace treaty).  My one problem with the series was that there are NOT enough Green Skinned Orion sex slave orgies- seriously, what does a guy have to do to get more Orion women in the books?!?!


· Star Trek: New Frontier Treason- Peter David; the latest in Peter David's ST: New Frontier series. Sadly, not the greatest. This time around, the book picks up about nine months following the events of the last book (and only a few months after the events of the New Frontier comic series- which is important, since there are a few passing references to the comic series in the book). This time around, what starts with a surprise rescue Hermat survivor and the birth of a heir to an empire, evolves into a race across the sector, to save the lives of two innocent victims, while trying to come to terms with the sudden betrayal of a loyal Starfleet officer and the fight against an enemy that seems nearly impossible to defeat.

This book is lacking in ALOT of what has made the previous New Frontier books great- humor and witty dialogue, unexpected actions by people in power, and cowboy tactics that would make Kirk look like an Toto, the Native American sidekick. What was once a great series has now fallen to a good series, that occasionally has sparks of greatness. Whether this is because to time lapse between books, or that the author seems to have lost his passion for the characters, or that in the past 3 years, the bar to which Trek books are to be judged has been raised so high, is up to the individual reader. I am just hoping that future books can recapture the spirit of the series


· Star Trek: Troublesome Minds- Dave Galanter; This TOS era book really surprised me. What starts off as a rescue missions turns into a race by Kirk and Spock to help stop the mental enslavement of an entire race. This story feels like it could have been made during the 1960’s- it has that moral theme and an inner struggle by characters, who question their very actions- are they making their own decisions or are they acting under the influence of the powerful Troublesome Mind? For me, the added bonus of the novel was the element of having a race communicate with Sign Language- having studied sign language back in college, and recently gotten back into using it more and more at work (a coworker & I use it to communicate across the unit to each other- it confuses the bosses, perplexes our coworkers, and puts a smile on our face when the naughter of signs are used), I found the idea of sign as the form of communication to be….fascinating. (Sorry- couldn’t resist the pun. Now, I just need to work in “Oh my….” into this review). I would recomment this book to anyone who is new to Star Trek and wanting to get into what the books are about- it has a stand alone quality about it that new readers could enjoy.


· G.I Joe: Above and Beyond- Max Allen Collins; Growing up, G.I. Joe was, to me, the end all, be all of 80's toys.  It was a cartoon, a comic book, a toy, a video game, and even a series of books. AND NINJAS!! Don't forget the Ninjas.... Storm Shadow... Jinx...the Hard Master...the Soft Master... the Blind Master.... and of course- SNAKE EYES!!!
(Side note- no matter how COOL Chuck Norris is, he takes a back seat to Snake Eyes.... while Chuck has the beard, Snake Eyes has a mask.  While Chuck would stare a victim to death, one glimpse at Snake Eyes' face would cause hair to turn white, the body to lose bladder control, and the eyes to explode 3 seconds before the person was to die...). So, when this book came out, I knew I had to read it. Now, if the Joes of my youth were above and beyond, then this book is one that is based on reality.  People die- people are shot.  Soldiers have weaknesses- and Snake Eyes is still UBER COOL!!  The book looks at the two main characters from the upcoming movie- Duke and Ripcord (the latter I always considered to be a minor Joe)- before they were to be part of the G.I. Joe team.  But while they are not part of the regular Joes, they are assisted (behind the scenes) by a team of Gung Ho, Scarlet, Breaker (minus the bubble gum- which is a shame), Heavy Duty (WTF?!?!) and of course- Snake Eyes.  But what starts off as a simple rescue of scientist turns into a hunt for next generation weapons and even possible super solders.  Along the way, there is plenty of gun battles and super cool ninja action... and not one mention of a certain Serpent themed organization or even a Silver Masked arms dealer...

This is the G.I. Joe book written for those who grew up watching the safe, imaginary worlds of cartoon Joe violence, but are needing some reality thrown into their iconic heroes updated adventures....



ST:TNG Losing the Peace- William Leisner; following the events of ST:Destiny series, the world Star Trek has been forever changed. Where once there was peace and harmony and plenty for all, now there is fear, disorder, and want for basic needs. Gone are the carefree times; now, refugees and survivors must fight and hope and pray that they are going to be safe and have somewhere to stay and something to eat. And in the middle of all this is the crew of the Enterprise- E. Suddenly, they are tasked with not exploring new worlds, but to search for survivors and try to bring some order to the growing confusion and chaos. For some of the crew, it is a time to grieve- for lost family, friends, and homes. For others, it is a time to celebrate their treasured family, even at the cost of breaking (or bending) the very rules and regulations they swore to uphold.   This novel is less like your traditional Trek novel- where everything is good and is cleaned up at the end, and more a gritty, harder edge book. (Picture one part DSN and one part BSG- a time for seeking not new life and new civilizations, but a place people can call home).

(On a personal note- I am deeply impressed by all the hard work the various authors- Leisner, Bennett, DeCandido, and Beyer have done, to explore this new setting of a Federation in the throws of Reconstruction. Not to mention those working behind the scenes- editors, friends, and fanboys/ fangirls- who are there to help support this new era of Star Trek Fiction.).




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TBR- July 2009


Ok, somehow, in all that is going on in my life these days, I COMPLETELY forgot to post a TBR list for the month of June. (::Slaps the hand with a thick Shakespeare book:: Ouch…). So, this month, I am going to include both month’s lists reading list- with reviews- as well as a bit of what I wrote last month. (June, for the most part, has been a pretty busy month for me, so I really don’t have a lot to say).



Well, the summer is here….


There once was a time when I looked forward to the summer- for I suddenly found myself with all the time in the day to read. I was free from the stress and burden of school, and could spend my time reading what I wanted to read. (Yes, there is a bit of irony in the idea of getting excited over the battle between being FORCED to read something and have the FREEDOM to read something….). For me, it was a time to join the library’s summer reading clubs, to picking out books from the library which would interest me, and then sitting in either my hammock or my raft in the pool, and reading the summer hours away. It was a time to explore the globe trodding adventures of James Bond, to solve crimes with Sherlock Holmes, to explore the new worlds of the galaxy with Kirk and Picard, and to have the Force be with me with Star Wars…..


Sadly, those days are over- I am adult now, and my job doesn’t understand my need for 3 months of freedom to read and sleep…..


Anyway, this past month [May] was a theme month for me- something I use to do a lot when I was younger, but stopped doing. (Mainly cause it seemed to put a burden on me- limiting myself to a certain theme prevented me from exploring more of the works around me…) This month’s theme was Trek- in honor of the new Star Trek movie coming out at the beginning of the month. Of the 5 books I read (I am leaving Star Trek: Manga #3 off the list- the Manga books almost seem to be a cheat, of sorts. They are good, but not as good as traditional Star Trek novels… Same logic is being applied to the two Star Trek Graphic novels I read- although the New Frontier one had me laughing at work, at the idea of family pictures being used as torture devices against Romulans…), all of theme were, in some way, Star Trek related….



ST:Voyager Full Circle- Kirsten Beyer- Once again, a Post Finale Voyager book has been written. And by far, this is one of the best around. Picking up after the events of the previous Voyager novels- Enemy of my Enemy Series- this one details the events of the crew (and former crew) through a race across the Empire, in pursuit of key figure in the future of Klingon Empire, an examination of the crew’s actions (and reactions) to the Borg-related death of their former captain, their heroic attempt to stop the Borg invasion, and their post Borg Invasion plans for the future. Personally, I felt, at first, that the book should have been divided into two sections- one detailing the chase and the other dealing with the 2nd half of the book. But, as I read the 2nd half, I realize that the book needed the first part, to set things up for the latter, and that the latter part was not one that could have stood on it’s own as a novel. The plot manages to cover most of the crew that the reader has come to know and love (with one exception- who has jump ship, as it were, to join a new crew), and even gives a few updates on the lives of minor members of the crew. And it sets the pace for what is to come in future novels- a new mystery for a new captain, a reunion for a crew member, and a new destiny for those not joining the crew.   {And on a personal note, two parts of the novel stood out for me. The first being the concept of a gender-opposite activity being filled with honor and strength (see pg 130), and the second dealing with how two close, personal friends can have feelings for each other, but have the strength and courage to only act on those feelings with the time is right.}


ST:TOS # 13 Wounded Sky- Diane Duane; this is one of the early Star Trek novels, that came out during a time when the books were written to be stand alone novels. The style and tone of the novel reflects this idea. Over all, I found myself reading the book in bits and pieces over the course of the past 13 months. (Yes, it has taken me THAT LONG to read this book). As I was reaching the end of the novel, and being introduced to The Others (not the The Others from Lost, btw- although how cool would THAT have been…. ), I began to compare the concepts to Marvel’s Beyonder Character, and wondered if the folks behind The Beyonder had read this book…




TBR – JULY 2009


· ST:Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind- David Mack; In the past, I have praised much of David Mack’s work in the world of Star Trek Fiction. You want to kill people off- you call in David Mack. You want to destroy something BIG- call in Mack.    Feel like causing a major ripple in the world Trek- Get David. And once again, he does just this in Reap the Whirlwind. Continuing the adventures of the men & women of Star base Vanguard, Mack finally reveals the power and reason why the Federation desires to have a presence in this new frontier of Space. At the same time, the reader learns of the secret connection between this ancient and powerful race and one of the Alpha Quadrants more mysterious races.  And the ending of the novel sets things up for an interesting 4th book in the series…


Transformers: Veiled Threat- Alan Dean Foster; this is prequel novel, to help bridge the two year gap between the end of the first Transformer movie, and the 2nd, upcoming Transformer movie. Returning humans are Captain Lennox and Sargent Epps, and Sector Seven’s former agent, as well as Autobots Optimus, Rachet, and Ironhide. And a few new Transformers are introducted. Basically, if you are a fan of the Transformers, you will want to read the book; if you are going to the beach and want something to read that is not going to make you think but entertain you for a few hours, then you will want to read the book. But I you are looking for some deep, dark secret of the Tranformers or looking for hints for the new movie, then you will want to read….


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen- Alan Dean Foster; this is a novelization of the new Transformers film. The book, like most novelizations, offers insight into the thoughts and emotions, of the characters, as well as providing a few extra scenes one does not see in the film. Among the more interesting little Easter Eggs in the book is references to various current pop culture events and organizations (ie: Massive Dynamics), as well as references to the events of the previous Transformer novel (see above entry). When compared the to movie, the novel is ALOT better; it is not quiet as busy and cluttered with the various fight scenes that tend to overwhelm the viewer. Instead, the action is pure and left to the reader to envision in their heads.




Well, there is it- two months worth of reading. For most people, that would seem like a lot. (Many of my friends have admitted to only reading this many books in a year). But for me, it was a slow couple of months….


Anyway, here is the list of what I am hoping to tackle in the next few months.

(Or weeks, if I end up winning the lotto in the next few days…)





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Trek Books

Damn it, Jim, we are popular again… (Spoiler Alert)




Ok, so I have had a few hours to let the movie work its’ way into the subconscious and can now take a more logical approach to the new Star Trek movie…




Now, this is not just a fan boy’s unwavering lust for things trek. Nor it is the answer to a long wait for either a new Star Trek film or for a new Star Trek launch. And it is not even a need for something new and refreshing in the world of Trek.


No, this is an appreciation for a film that is long overdue and is a fresh perspective on an iconic legend. Just like the myths of ancient Greece, the heroes (no pun intended, considering the casting) of our modern time need, from time to time, to be retold and given new life. Hercules went from having just one task (“Herc…the baby needs new loincloth diapers and goats milk. Can you marathon to the corner store and get some… Herc? Herc? HERCULES!!! PUT DOWN THAT GYRO AND GET THE STUFF!!!”) to a series of tasks.   King Arthur originally had ordered a square table, but after they weren’t able to it in the castle doors, they decided to round it off and wheel it in. And Superman could only leap tall buildings in a single bound; there was no flying around….


And Kirk and Spock and crew had an early start at saving the Galaxy from threats from the beyond……


This is what the film is about- a refreshing re-launch for a new generation (or two new generations). 



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Twilight Zone- Books

TBR for May 2009

Well, April is over and it was a pretty rough month for me, personally. A lot of ups and downs; a lot of new stressors and pressure placed on me. But I managed to survive and for the most part, keep my sanity. (Although I am sure a few people would have a few CHOICE comments to make on my sanity…. ::glances with suspicious eyes:: yeah, I am talk to you…. ). 


And I even managed to read a few books while I was at it. (Although the sad part is that 3 of the 4 books were read exclusively AT WORK…. ). Luckily, with the tv seasons coming to a close, I will find myself with more time on my hands, so I can spend more time reading… (I REALLY miss the days of sitting on a raft in a pool, with a novel in one hand and a little drink with an umbrella and fruit on a sword in the cup holder… ah, the good of days of summer… Maybe I will have to find a place to put up my hammock and sit in it and read, like I did when I was in college and between classes….).


So, here is the list of books I managed to read this month…



· Star Wars: New Jedi Order- Agents of Chaos- Hero’s Trial- James Luceno; the 3rd book in the New Jedi Order Saga from earlier this decade. This book examines Han Solo’s ongoing grieving for the loss of ________________. At the same time, a plot to attack and kill the Jedi is hatched by the invading Vuuzhan Vong forces. Meanwhile, a new twist is introduced in the novel- a possible new ally against the invaders? Overall, the series is starting to pick up, a bit. Up to now, there hasn’t been much involving Luke Skywalker- the series seems to be focusing more on the Solos and other members of the Jedi Order, but at the conclusion of this book, one gets the feeling that Skywalker is going to show who is the BMF Jedi around…


· ST: DSN- Rising Son – S.D. Perry; I am steadily getting caught up on my DSN novels . (Like the New Jedi Order saga, I hope to be caught up on things by the end of the year… HOPEFULLY). Now, this book never really struck me as one that I was looking forward to reading. (Sorry, but Jake Sisko has always struck me as the Small School Bus version of Wesley Crusher). But, I knew that in order to read the other books, I had to read this one. But once I started, it was pretty good. My first thoughts when meeting the crew of Even Odd’s were- hello, anyone thinking “Firefly”? A crew of misfits, who go around “salvaging” stuff from around the quadrant, while avoiding the authorities….


· Who Moved My Blackberry? – Lucy Kellaway; As I have said before, one of my reading weaknesses is journals and diaries. Well, with the 21st century comes the newest versions- blogs and e-mails. This novel falls under this newest category. During the course of one year, the reader is introduced to the successes and failures of Martin Lukes, a director of Marketing at a Global company (that seems to do NOTHING… I am wondering if this the same company that Dilbert works for…). Using messages sent by e-mail, blackberry, and text messages, one watches the guy struggle to get ahead in a company that seems to be going nowhere, making a name for himself and subtly undercutting his coworkers, while trying to avoid all responsibilties at home with his family. (At one point, while reading the book, there is a section about the company wanting to find a new name for itself; the next day, at my RW job, we got a similar memo about trying to come up for a name for a new process we are starting… The irony of it was NOT lost on me). I would HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a few laughs at the ridiculous of the corporate world.


· Rainmaker- John Grisham; As I said a few months back, I am trying to get back into the books I read when I was younger and more naïve. And Grisham legal thrillers DEFINITELY fit this category- I read my first Grisham novel (The Firm) in 1992, and for a few years, I made it a point to read each one as it came out that year. Sadly, this practiced stopped and only recently had been picked up again. The Rainmaker is one of the books I first started reading back when it came out (I use to sneak reading the book while babysitting the neighbors kids; their Dad is a lawyer and LOVED reading the books). But sadly, I never managed to get very far into the book. And what was worse was that I had to sit and watch the movie, with the Ex Wife, before I had a chance to read the book. (This is a BIG Ross NO-NO… I try to read a book before I see the movie). So, while I had an idea how the trial would end, I was surprise by what happened AFTER that. (The movie failed to give the complete ending of the book… so I was surprised by part of what happens). And while the idea of a client dying from cancer did hit home a little to close for me right now, I still managed to enjoy the book.


And here is the ones for May:




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Me- October 2008

Voice Post

145K 0:44
“I'm in Abilene Texas about a 150mi away from where I live. Why am I driving out to Abilene don't really know. Just got in the car but the top down started driving next thing I know I'm in Abilene Texas. Lights smack out in the middle of Texas as you can get. Looking around it I guess wash(?) house(?) that's about it. So I guess I just need to us pay from everything going on my life chemo, work, family and all the other things that are bothering me right now.”

Auto-Transcribed Voice Post - spoken through SpinVox

Goodbye ER...

 This evening, ER will be closing it's doors for good. AFter 15 years, the show is going off the air- and with it, the weekly medical adventures of the doctors and nurses of County hospital. For me, this is a sad time. I first learned about "ER" WAY back 1994- about three weeks before the show was to be aired. It was at that time that I was HEAVILY into Michael Crichton novels- and after reading his Five Patients, I learned that it was going to be made into a series. Well, come sunday night, there it was- a tv movie that was based on the book- right down to the old lady coming in for treating a hang-nail (and really just looking for a little attention in her life). But, unlike the book, there was more- and like so many of Crichton's novels, there was a character named Ross. (Yea, I know- but in my life, there are so FEW Ross-es out there. But that fall, there was not one but TWO Rosses on prime time tv- Ross in "Friends" and Dr. Ross on "ER"). And after about three minutes of the tv movie, I was a fan. Over the next year, I would come home from work, and watch the episodes that I had recorded earlier, while having dinner. Later on, I got a different shift, and was able to watch the show as it was being broadcast- often times while sharing a taco meal with my mother. By the end of the first season, I had converted my mom over into watching both ER and Friends. (She got into the show in April- WELL into the season and had missed much of both series). So, during the summer, every thursday night, we would sit and watch ER- for me, it was repeats, for her, it was new episodes. It was a special bonding time for us. Then, she got sick and went into the hospital. But we still would watch the show. August 24th 1995- I had been up since 5am that day- worked a full shift at the daycare, and after work, came to the hospital, with dinner, and we sat and watched ER together. For the last time. A few hours later, my mom would have her stroke and end up in a coma. During the next two weeks, I was living the life of ER, in many respects. Even my cousin, when she visit, whispered to my mom "Carol, you have all these doctors around you right now, but none of them are as cute as that Dr. Ross..." Sadly, things did NOT get better for my mom, and she would pass away shortly after. The next second of ER, that started around the time of my mom's funeral, was one of melancholy and depression. I would watch the show, and think "Mom is not here to watch it with me..." But as the second went on, I found myself getting more and more interested in the episodes. By the 3rd season, it WAS my Thursday night thing- I would get chinese food or pizza, watch the show, and then go back a few days later and maybe a few days later, go back and rewatch it. At the same time, I discovered it was a way to break the ice with people- "My name is Ross... like Dr. Ross on ER. Oh yeah, I watch the show- love it.... blah blah blah...". (I also discovered that one of the little ones in my daycare watched the show, and like her, I wanted to see certain people get together...). Over the next few years, I would continued to watch the show- sometimes the night it was on, other times, a day or two later. But I was a fan of the show and would make it a point to be there. (During a period of time when I was having to wear scrubs to work, I use to pretend, late at night, that I was in the ER- and would even take my stethoscope and fling it around my neck like them...). But as time when by, I found other things taking my time away from the show- insert School and Job here. (Surprisingly, Sydney was one that NEVER really took away from the show- we both were fans of the show and would watch it together.... ). But this past two seasons, I have found new enjoyment in the show- and sadly, it is ending this evening. So, in honor of the passing of the show, I give you my list of .... Favorite/ Powerful Moments in ER History: 1) Death of Mark Greene- the one who was the ER has his final moments offscreen, as he passes away while in Hawaii with his daughter, wife, and new born baby with him. Never has the word “shit” carried such power and emotion as when it is said by Greene when he is no longer able to walk… 2) The Sudden removal of Rocket Romano’s arm- in the history of ER, here have been moments of “whoa” but personally, NEVER have I ever sat up in bed, after seeing something and gone “whoa” . But the sight of Rocket, stand up while a patient’s clip chart in hand, and watching as he has his arm CUT OFF by a pair of helicopter blades- well that was something to be forever burned in my mind. (And within moments of it happening, my Ex Mother in Law was calling us and yelling “DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!?”). 3) The departure of Carol Hathaway and the Return of Doug Ross- if there ever was a couple of the ER, it was Doug and Carol. The premiere movie had Doug feeling guilty for Carol’s Suicide attempt; Doug managed to have a hand in the break of up Carol’s marriage; and after several failed attempts at relationships with others, Doug and Carol finally managed to become a couple. (I still get a kick out of the teaser opening where Doug is busy setting up a video camera in the bedroom, while he and Carol talk about a medical case). And after Doug leaves, Carol learns she is pregnant, gives birth to the babies, and raises them alone for the first year- only to end up dropping everything in her life, flying out to Seattle, and being reunited with Doug Ross. 4) The Stabbing of Carter and the Death of Lucy (Kellie Martin’s character)- If Greene was the veteran of the ER, then Carter was the eye of the viewer- new and young and inexperienced in the ways of the ER. But as the view became more comfortable with the characters and situation, so did Carter. Until one particular shift, where a crazed Schizophrenic patient gets a hold of a kitchen knife and ends up destroying one life and causing a lifetime of problems for another. 5) The Grieving Mother, rocking her dead baby- this image, of a mother having one last moment with her deceased child, singing to him and loving him in a way only a mother in shock could ever do. To this day, this image haunts my mind when I image anything happening to one of the children of my various mom friends…. 6) Greene’s assault in the Bathroom- After failing to save the life of a patient, Greene is brutually attacked in the restroom by an unknown assault, resulting in the breaking his Mark’s hand and a change in his basic attitude towards patients. 7) The Death of Carter’s baby- after spending an entire evening with his hand pressed against his wife’s pregnant belly, and feeling no kicking or movement out of the fetus, Carter’s wife is forced to go through with forced labor, all the while knowing that the child is going to be a stillborn. 8) The Final Death of Romano- if you are EVER looking for an example of irony, you need not look any further than the death of Romano. After having his arm cut off, reattached, and then finally removed again, he has a flashback to the event while on the roof of the hospital, while attempting to get an inbound ER patient. Unable to deal with the emotions, he flees the roof, escapes to the ambulance bay, and tries to catch his breathe, only to have the same helicopter come crashing down on him, killing him. And the topping on the cake- everyone keeps asking “Where is Romano?!?!” (For me, in particular, this emotions has personal memories associated with it, that I really don’t want to get into at this time). 9) Susan’s departure from the show- After years of Greene and Susan being friends and work spouses, they start to get closure to each other, and when Mark is ready to admit his feelings, she leaves him standing at the train station, with a broken heart and a feeling of “what do I do now?” 10) Dr. Greene’s Bad Night- during the first season of ER, it was one of two shows that was to be the new Water Cooler show. (The other being this little show called Friends… ever heard of it?). It was a season where the viewers got to see more medical drama and miracles in an average night then they would see in their entire real world lives. But sometimes- things don’t always have a happy ending. Towards the end of the first season, Dr. Greene is working his shift during the night, and husband and wife come in, with a simple case of early labor pains. What starts off as a simple procedure will end up with the passing of a mother, the permanent brain damage to a baby, a father having to deal with life and death in the same night, and a moment that would be talked about by people for weeks. (I still remember it being talked about the next day on the radio- how no matter had bad of a day one might have, it could be a thousand times worse for doctors working the ER). {TV GEEK Trivia: The husband/ father of the baby was played by Bradley Whitford, and during the emotional birthing scene, Anthony Edwards played a practical joke on the crew and staff and help give birth to one of the V alien babies…) 11) The Suicide of Bob Newhart- no, the actor did not kill himself. After the return of Susan, she ends up befriending and becoming the object of affection for Bob Newhart’s character, who is suffering from an eye disease that is causing him to go blind. Susan, feeling sorry for him at first, goes over to help him with things. AS time goes by, the friendship turns into a crush on his part, and when things go bad, and he realizes that he is in for a lifetime of ongoing problems, he places a DNR notice on his chest, puts a gun to his template and ends it. For me, was like watching a member of the family dying- I was raised, on my parents knee, while watching Bob Newhart Show; I spend my teen years watching Newhart, and could remember driving in the car with my father, listening to his Bob Newhart comedy albums. So to think of Bob Newhart killing himself- well that was something else 12) The ER- 3rd Watch crossover- When Susan’s niece calls, in a panic, Susan hops a plane to New York, and enlists the assistance of the Police Officers of 3rd Watch to help track down her sister and niece. I never really thought ER would need to have a cross over episode, but when it was done, it once again showed that the show didn’t really need it. 13) The various extreme medical cases- ranging from the guy in the waiting room, with an Arrow in his head, to the brothers covered in glue and stuck together, to the EMS (and Tag’s rig mate) who was slowing dying from chemical burns, the show managed to show some of the more unusual and extreme medical cases around. 14) The Out of the ER episodes- not all the episodes were limited to the ER; whether it was Doug and Mark’s road trip, to claim the body of Doug’s father, to the visits to Darfur’s ongoing genocide, to Peter Benton’s trip to the Deep South, ER managed to show the doctors outside the confines of the hospital 15) The Episode where the Nuclear bomb goes off and Jack watches as the mushroom cloud…..wait, sorry, that is for “24” memorable moments… 15) The Guest Stars: Ranging from Sally Field and the forementioned Bob Newhart, to Red Buttons, Miguel Ferrier, Rosemary Clooney, Ray Liotta, CCH Pounder, Alan Alda, Mare Wilhingham, Rebecca DeMorey, not to mention future CSI stars Jorja Fox and Marg Helgenberger And while there are surely something that I forgot- the "special episodes" that would be teased about all week; the deaths of beloved characters, or the departure of others- these are the ones that really stand out in my mind, more than others. Alas, TV history is over and a new saga is to begin.....
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Twilight Zone- Books

TBR April 2009

            So the month is over- which means that we are just 9 short months away from 2010.  (Isn’t THAT a scary thought.  All my life, 2010 represented a) a future of hovercars, jet packs, and exotic foodstuffs, and b) the setting for the 2nd Arthur C. Clarke novel.  Sadly, I don’t see anything in the air that has not been there for a century before hand, and 2010 WILL be the first book in read in 2010.  But I digress..


            This past month was yet another one of high stress and distraction for me.  As many people know, my father started his chemo in March, as well as going for a 2nd surgery; this has resulted in more stress and more headaches and restless nights for me.  In the meantime, I have been busy trying to get a new car (which I finally got- the end of an era of truck driving for me), and working as much as possible- so that I could pay for the rental car and so that I could end up loaning out a percentage of my check to people who have been hit pretty hard by the downturn the economy has taken.    No to mention more changes in my personal life- but this is a posting about BOOKS, damn it.  And Books it will be about…


            My reading this month was sporatic; I was often times distracted by things to find the time to do much reading- most of the reading  I did accomplished was either while at work, when things were slow, or when I was relaxing before bed.  But, I did manage to read three books- one of which is a new series that I am getting into….


· Gambit- Rex Stout- I have a weird relationship with Nero Wolfe novels- I know they are great and are a nice way to relax and unwind.  The books have a comfortable feeling about them- you know that Wolfe is going to be an ass; that Archie is a smart ass; and that the crime will be solved and the orchids will be tended to.  But- but- I have to read and finish the book within a few days of starting it, or else I loose the drive and desire to read the book.  Luckily, this time around, I was excited about the book (it was one I was to read 16 years ago for class, but at the last minute, was changed to a different Rex Stout novel by the prof), and was able to finish it in like 4 days.


· Clockwise Man- Justin Richards- My first Dr. Who novel.  And it wasn’t too bad.  Sort of reminded me of a combination of a few other Dr. Who episodes- but then, at the time of writing, these episodes had not yet been written, so really, the concept would have been new and original.


· ST:Titan Over a Torrent Sea- Christopher L. Bennett- Ever since the relaunching of the TNG/ Voyager/ DSN novels, a few years ago, (and including the newly launched Titan series) I have had more and more excited to read the continuing adventures of the crews from the 24th Century.   And this one is no exception.  Following up on the events of ST: Destiny Series, but before the shocking events of ST A Singular Destiny, the crew of Titan discover a water-planet, that holds a mystery (and gives writers a chance to have some character development in some of the non-televised characters that have been created over the past few years).   But I have to ask- it is wrong that the whole time I was reading the book, I had a craving for Calamari?


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