STTNG: A Time to Love & A Time to Hate

Star Trek: The Next Generation #5: A Time to Love A Time to Hate (Star Trek The Next Generation)

Robert Greenberger

* * * * *

The fifth and sixth volumes in the A Time to… series re-introduce us to Kyle Riker, and the flawed relationship he has with his son Will.

It also involves a dispute between rival factions who mysteriously became peaceful when they colonized a specific planet, never realizing that the environment itself was drugging them – interesting questions of medical ethics are brought up, as Beverly Crusher tries to find a cure that doesn’t end in a brutal war.

And of course, the set-up of Nemesis continues….

A Stroke of Midnight

A Stroke of Midnight (Meredith Gentry Novel)
Laurell K. Hamilton

* * * * *

I’m beginning to think that I need to start keeping a scorecard while reading the books in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series, because I’ve lost count of which men she’s bedded and how many times, and where. It’s a good thing Meredith is a fictional character, because otherwise I’d have to hate someone who has more good sex in a single DAY than most of us have over the course of a lifetime.

At any rate, stepping back into the world of beautiful sidhe men, and Princess Meredith was just as much fun the fourth time around as it was the first time. Perhaps more so, because by now I expect it to be almost PWP.

A Stroke of Midnight takes place in a single day, picking up pretty much immediately after the previous book, and also takes place entirely within the sithen. There is a murder mystery – someone’s killed a reporter and a member of the court – but mostly it’s about the different men that Meredith encounters, and their individual magical talents. Mostly. There’s some political intrigue in it, of course, and the next novel should be pivotal, if the setup is to be believed.

Faerie porn: gotta love it.

The Mermaid Chair

The Mermaid Chair: A Novel

Sue Monk Kidd

* * * * *

Last year, when I read The Secret Life of Bees, I fell in love with it. In that book, Sue Monk Kidd’s words had a rhythm of their own, reminiscent of a sultry summer day, and the slow blossoming of a girl into womanhood.

This year’s offering, The Mermaid Chair, is a vastly different novel, told in a totally different tone, but there’s a similar vividness in Kidd’s scene-setting. Her fictional Outer Banks island is so real I could smell the salt air, and feel the sand under my feet. Her characters are distinctive – the daughter who is having a mid-life crisis, the mother who is still mouring her long-dead husband, and doing a personal penance by cutting off and burying her own fingers, the young novice monk who finds God in the island’s bird rookery…all are fundamentally gentle characters, with streaks of quiet ferocity…and all are intertwined.

To describe the plot would be to ruin it. There is romance and pain, enduring friendship, and the strained relationship that often occurs between grown women and their mothers.

If you read The Secret Life of Bees, and liked it, than read The Mermaid Chair. Actually, read it even if you haven’t read the other.



Allen Drury

When I was in high school, I read everything Allen Drury had ever written up to 1984, most of which were novels set in and around the Nixon presidency, Watergate, all of that. Drury tells good stories, and his original characters were fresh and interesting, as well as being multi-dimensional.

So, when I found Pentagon at a used bookstore several months ago, I thought, “Oh, great, something of his I haven’t read!” And I saved it until this month, knowing it was there, but wanting to savor it.

There is nothing worse than when you pick up a novel by a favorite author, and hate it. And I hated Pentagon. The ususal Drury-esque attention to detail was there – if you want to know every last detail about what it was like to work at the Pentagon in the early eighties, this book is for you – but if you want a plot, well, half way through the book I could have drawn a map of the building, but I still had no idea where the plot was.

(There is no available image for this book.)

Ya-Yas In Bloom

Ya-Yas in Bloom

Rebecca Wells

* * * * *

I first encountered Rebecca Wells when I read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, about seven years ago, long before there was even thought of a movie. I fell in love with the vivacious, scandalous, wonderful, and wonderfully human characters that Wells had created.

When I encountered them again, in Little Altars Everywhere, I thought, “Ok, we’re obviously in our dark period, now.” I didn’t dislike that book – it expanded on a lot of events that weren’t made clear in the other – but it didn’t have the same vibrance.

Ya-Yas In Bloom, the third book in the series, has some of the darkness of the second, and some of the effervescence of the first, and combines both into an enjoyable story. This time, the events are more centralized, different perspectives of one core incident, although there is a flashback to the forming of the Sisterhood, when the Ya-Yas were barely out of diapers. It’s much more an integrated story, though it keeps the format of being a series of vignettes.

Some critics have called it lackluster, but I disagree. True, it’s a much quieter novel than either of the others, but that’s not at all a bad thing. Even though it doesn’t have flash and melodrama, it’s still perfectly in keeping with the characters that Wells originally created.

I recommend it, but with the caution that it may be wiser to wait til it’s out in paperback, or borrow it from the library.

It should be noted. I am aware that Little Altars… was really the first book, however, I read Divine Secrets first, and they are not books that must be read in a specific order.



Kelley Armstrong

* * * * *

The second installment in Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series begins with Elena – and us as readers – learning that there are other mythical creatures running around – witches, shamans, vampires, telekinetics – some of whom feel they’re being hunted.

The story is good, though, in retrospect, much of the plot feels like set-up for the third book in the series. Still I’d recommend it.

Just a Geek

Just a Geek

by Wil Wheaton

* * * * *

If you’re a regular reader of Wil Wheaton’s blog, there isn’t much that is new or surprising in his second book, though it does include far more material than Dancing Barefoot did.

Still, even for someone like me, who reads his blog fairly religiously, the book was a witty and engaging read, and only supports the notion that this man would be a great person to meet for coffee.

There isn’t much to review, really. But it’s worth buying this book if for no other reason than it helps support a nice guy with a gift for words.

V (and others)

V - The Final Battle

by A. C. Crispin, and others.

* * * * *

As part of my recent geeky nostalgia festival of watching all of V (the original miniseries, The Final Battle, and all nineteen episodes of the television show) I went upstairs to The Room That Will Someday Be a Game Room and found all the V novels. (I have only eight of the fifteen) and read them in spurts during the last two weeks. With the exception of the first one, by A.C. Crispin, which is a novelization of both miniseries, they are short novels, averaging 200 pages each, and they’re total fluff – even fluffier than the Trek novels I’ve also been reading – but fluff can be fun, sometimes.

Other titles read:

The Pursuit of Diana
Prisoners and Pawns
Death Tide
The New England Resistance
The Crivit Experiment
The Florida Project
East Coast Crisis
The Texas Run

Dancing at the Edge of the World

Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places

by Ursula K. LeGuin

* * * * *

My aunt gave me this book when I turned 21. It’s not a novel, but a collection of essays and transcribed speeches – the commencement address given to a graduating class at Mills College, is one such speech.

Nearly fourteen years later, it’s still a book I go back to, and is most often found in the upstairs bathroom, the one between my office and Fuzzy’s.

LeGuin’s fiction is wonderful, but this book is truly insightful, inspiring, and interesting.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

by Lauren Willig

* * * * *

They seek him here, they seek him there.
The Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven, or in hell?
The damned elusive Pimpernel

Those four lines sparked my love of historical intrigue when I was twelve years old, and saw the remake of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel on television, the version with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymore. I fell so in love with the period, and the concept, that I bought a lorgnette (a monacle on a stick) and pestered my mother for calligraphy pens and sealing wax (I guess you can blame Sir Percy for my stationery fetish).

So, when I saw a display of Lauren Willig’s first novel The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, in Barnes and Noble several weeks ago, I knew, even before picking it up, that this was not a history of a flower, or even a normal romance novel, it would, in some way, relate to my beloved Pimpernel.

And I was right, sort of.

Willig has set her story a bit after Sir Percy Blakeney’s illustrious career, created a prodigee-cum-successor in The Purple Gentian, and also created a pair of romance-struck hero-worshiping girls, who decide that they, too, must save people from the French government, by working in tandem with The Purple Gentian (thus discovering who he is). And thus is the Pink Carnation born.

The novel is part historical romance, part swashbuckling action-adventure. There is as much swordplay as there is talk of fashion, and the historical bits are bookended by the tale of a modern American history student doing her dissertation on espionage during the French Revolution, and, in the process, trying to discover what we, the readers, know from the start: the identity of The Pink Carnation.

As novels go, it’s neither the best nor the worst I’ve ever met. The author is talented, and her attention to detail is amazing. (An article about her suggests that she majored in history for the sole purpose of writing an historically accurate romance novel one day, so this is not surprising.) The characters, in both eras, are likable and interesting.

The book screams for a sequel, and I suspect one will be forthcoming. For further info, check out the author’s website: