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review 2018-05-27 16:45
An efficient Star Trek adventure
The Covenant of the Crown - Howard Weinstein

Howard Weinstein is a prolific author of Star Trek franchise novels, and if his first one is any guide it's easy to see why. In it he provides an efficient tale of a planet whose Klingon-sparked civil war is winding down and who needs their exiled king to return to cement the peace. Due to his personal connection with the king James Kirk is ordered to transport him to his homeworld, only to arrive to find the monarch near death. To salvage the mission, Kirk must retrieve the all-important crown and convince the king's reluctant daughter that she has the strength necessary to assume the throne — all while dealing with a Klingon battlecruiser and Klingon intelligence operatives who are determined to do everything within their power to stop the Enterprise crew form fulfilling their mission.


The plot of Weinstein's book is not that different from that of an episode of the original series, which often had the Enterprise crew intervening in the planetary politics of strategically important worlds. What Weinstein does is put Leonard McCoy at the center of events and expand the scale beyond what was ever possible in the series by making it a truly interstellar tale, with journeys to multiple planets, spaceship pursuits, and struggles with alien fauna. While Weinstein does not draw any great moral from the tale, he does nonetheless provide readers with an engaging adventure, one that is fresher for its scope and its concentration on a previously under-utilized character.

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review 2018-05-27 15:17
Twice As Nice by Sandra Liu

So many great recipes to try.
As I was flipping through the recipes, I was happy at how thorough the book felt. Don't get me wrong, each cookbook has step-by-step instructions, but this one felt more in depth detail than most. I also like that in the recipes, specifically the one I made, had fresh and prepared methods. So instead of soaking beans overnight, she had an alternate solution in canned beans.
I tried the  Broiled Chicken and Pepper with Hummus recipe.
I didn't make hummus, but adapted the chicken method to make wraps. 

They were so delicious too, I ate 4 of them! Flavorful, and quick to whip up, I am eager to try another recipe, or even use one to suit my tastes as I did with this one. I know I am going to have much fun with this book. If you love chicken, this is definitely a cookbook for you!
Source: www.fredasvoice.com/2018/05/twice-as-nice-by-sandra-liu-22.html
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review 2018-05-27 10:51
A Certain Light
A Certain Light - Cynthia Banham

Full disclosure: I won an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway I don’t remember entering. I mean, I must have entered it. It’s right there on the list of giveaways I’ve entered. I had to have clicked on the giveaway and gone through several confirmation steps. It’s not something one can do by accident. The only explanation I can come up with is that I was super fibro-fogged that night and brainlessly entered a bunch of giveaways for books I wouldn’t normally be interested in.


You see, I don’t generally care for memoirs. I prefer biographies. Linear, non-rambly biographies. And if I’d been in a non-fogged state, I would have steered clear of the memoir of a catastrophically injured plane crash survivor. (I am very uncomfortable with the whole inspiration porn thing. Not that this is inspiration porn, but I wouldn’t have taken the chance.)


But since the book showed up on my doorstep and the genealogy aspect did sound interesting, I decided to give it a shot. And I did enjoy the parts about the author exploring her family history, though I found the book as a whole to be a bit repetitive and disjointed in a stream-of-consciousness, memoirish way that would be perfectly fine if I liked memoirs.


My biography preference aside, this was well-written and I learned a lot of things about Italian soldiers in WWII that my teachers never covered in history class.

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review 2018-05-26 20:22
Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
Murder on Black Swan Lane - Andrea Penrose

Series: Wrexford & Sloane #1



I'm not sure what it was exactly, but this mystery didn't really work for me. Part of it may have been the alchemy references.; I was very pleased that the story didn't veer off in a woo-woo direction. And at least in this first book, there wasn't a silly romance. So in theory it gets points for that.


But I still felt pretty meh about it.

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review 2018-05-26 19:23
A deeper exploration of the dilemmas in a Star Trek trope
The Joy Machine - Theodore Sturgeon,James Gunn

Of all of the Star Trek novels that I read, there are none that I look forward to reading more than the ones by authors who also scripted episodes of the show itself, in no small part because they developed the canon upon which the entire series is based. Though Theodore Sturgeon's novel was developed from a plot outline for the series by another author (the under-appreciated James Gunn), to read a work originating from the writer of "Shore Leave" and the Vulcan-defining classic "Amok Time" was an exciting prospect, especially considering its origins as a proposed episode for the series.


The result proved every bit as good as I thought it would be. In it the Enterprise is dispatched to Timshel, a planet that has quarantined itself off from the rest of the Federation. Beaming down, Captain Kirk finds a population that has turned away from intellectual pursuits to a life structured around laboring daily for a nightly dose of stimulation from the Joy Machine a computer created to provide a life of perfect happiness for the people. As Kirk investigates further, he grapples with the moral questions entailed in ending the Joy Machine's rule, as well as the frightening prospect of falling under the machine's control himself.


Sturgeon and Gunn's plot evokes a lot of the tropes that often recurred in the original series, echoing in particular the first season episode "Return of the Archons" in which a computer's rule established a tranquil population by eliminating individual expression. What sets the novel apart from the episode is the extended exploration of the implications of the Joy Machine's rule. Often this takes the form of dialogues between various characters, as the Enterprise crew argues with both the computer and its subjects, who readily and even eagerly accept the computer's programmed regimen and who raise larger questions about the purpose of  human lives in the process. In this respect it evokes the moral and ethical dilemmas posed in some of the best episodes of the show, which are explored in greater depth than was ever possible due to the constraints posed by the format. As such Gunn's novel possesses a fidelity to the original series often lacking in other products of the franchise, while at the same time showing just what fresh possibilities exist by exploring its themes using other media.

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