Retro-reading: STTNG: A Time To…

It’s no secret that I revel in escapist reading from time to time. Between January of this year, and the beginning of July, I’ve been re-reading the Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Time To… series, a collection of nine novels, the first eight of which are in pairs, that span the time between the last two Next Gen movies (Insurrection and Nemesis).

The specific novels are:
STTNG: A Time to be Born, by John Vorholt
STTNG: A Time to Die, by John Vorholt
STTNG: A Time to Sow, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
STTNG: A Time to Harvest, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
STTNG: A Time to Love, by Robert Greenberger
STTNG: A Time to Hate, by Robert Greenberger
STTNG: A Time to Kill, by David Mack
STTNG: A Time to Heal, by David Mack
STTNG: A Time for War, A Time for Peace, by Keith R.A. DeCandido

You can read them individually, I suppose but they’re better savored as a whole collection, and while each of them have great moments, together they give a really plausible picture of how Starfleet reacted to the events of First Contact and Insurrection, explain why Data says in Nemesis that he has no feelings after two and a half films worth of emotion chip issues, and set-up the wedding of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, and their move to the U.S.S. Titan.

It’s no secret that I’m a great fan of Keith DeCandido’s work, so it should come as no surprise that his book, the last in the series, is my favorite. His take on the canon characters is always spot-on, but he also adds a political background – think “The West Wing in Space” – that I maintain would be an awesome series in and of itself (he revists the political aspect of the United Federation of Planets in a subsequent novel, Articles of the Federation).

Star Trek novels are my comfort-books, and I often read them when my day job has me so exhausted that I don’t have the brain power for reading deeper fiction, or writing my own stuff. There’s a ten-year span of TrekFic that I think of as the “DeCandido Years” where continuity was followed and all of the writers used some of the same original characters. These are, in my opinion, the best of the genre, and the A Time To… books are the best of the era.

Review: Bookended by Beauty Queens, by Victoria Marshal

Bookended by Beauty Queens
Victoria Marshall

Product Description (from
Angie Palmer likes her life just the way it is-private. She has no desire to entangle herself in complex friendships, and her relationship with her two beauty queen sisters is safely distant. When disaster strikes Angie takes her Grandmother into her home. Life with Grandma comes with a world of changes, and new friends, including Val, a drag queen with hopes of being the next US-Gay Beauty Queen. Angie is determined to keep Val at a distance but Val has an instinct for knowing Angie’s heart. Just as Angie gets comfortable with Grandma living with her, a budding friendship with Val, and a new romantic interest, everything takes an unexpected turn. Val is the victim of a violent crime and ends up in a coma. Angie begins a struggle against Val’s family who wants to remove their son from life support. Suddenly Angie’s private life becomes very public, and her world becomes a media circus. She is caught in a clash between religious beliefs and gay rights. Through many twists and turns, Angie discovers a new appreciation for family, friends, and love. In the end, Angie learns that a life filled with people to care about is never too crowded.

My Thoughts:
I have to confess, I began this book thinking it was going to be a fluffy romance novel with a drag queen best friend as the only twist. In fact I read the first chapter while I was on vacation in Mexico last month, put it aside, and didn’t pick it up again until the end of June. I’m glad I returned to it, though, because while there are elements of fluff in the novel, the reality is that it addresses some ripped-from-the-headlines issues, like when to pull the plug on a comatose patient (how odd to find my liberal self siding with Angie, who wants to keep Val alive).

It’s refreshing to read books that end well. Not perfect happy endings, because Val and his/her family (I’m not sure which pronoun is correct) don’t really reconcile, but definitely on an up-note.

While I liked the characters and the plot of Bookended by Beauty Queens my Kindle file was rife with typos. I blame bad editing, not bad writing, but it was frustrating to be reading along and suddenly be jarred out of the story.

Overall, however, Bookended by Beauty Queens was a satisfying summer read, and I hope to read more from this author.

Goes well with: your favorite cocktail. Or any drink with an umbrella in it.