Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Dark Mirror, by Diane Duane

My Thoughts

Thanks to the Amazon class action suit about ebook price fixing, and a lovely $60 payout, I’m catching up on many, many Star Trek novels that I missed during the years when I wasn’t reading them for whatever reason.

One such acquisition was the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dark Mirror, by Diane Duane. It’s TNG’s chance to experience the “mirror universe” we got to see on-screen in both TOS and DS9, and, as I expected it to be, it was well written, with a few moments that really delighted me.

One was the introduction of the dolphin, Hwiii, a hyperstring researcher who ‘swims’ through the ship in a sort of water skin. Another was when Data, meeting Hwiii, tilts his head for a moment and then ‘speaks dolphin,’ because, of course he does.

I liked that Geordi and Deanna were the initial away team to the mirror Enterprise, and that they both got to use the knowledge they gleaned both from study and experience. Some of my favorite episodes were when Troi actually got to be a psychologist, and in this novel, she uses that training as much as she uses her innate empathetic abilities.

Similarly, Geordi’s incredible depth of knowledge is highlighted in this book, as he works, sometimes with colleagues, and sometimes alone, to figure out a way to save, not just the ship, but the universe itself.

I’m not sure when this was originally written but it felt like early TNG-fic. Data is very ‘sciency’ but doesn’t have as much depth as he does in later novels – even in later pre-emotion-chip ones. It’s obviously before the contemporary push for continuity within the novels, but it’s still an entertaining read.

Trek fiction is my crack. This was a delightful fix.

Goes well with Sashimi and tempura and Kirin beer.

Review: Black Chalk, by Christopher J. Yates

About the book Black Chalk

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Random House UK; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)

One game. Six students. Five survivors.

It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

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About the author, Christopher J. Yates

Christopher J. Yates

Christopher J. Yates studied law at Wadham College, Oxford from 1990-93 and initially pursued a career in law before he began working in puzzles, representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, sub-editor and puzzles editor/compiler. In 2007 he moved to New York City with his wife, and currently lives in the East Village.

For more information on Christopher, please visit his website,

Click here to read the first two chapters of Black Chalk

My Thoughts

Wonderfully constructed, wonderfully plotted, and completely gripping – that’s my description of Black Chalk. We’re dropped into the narrative with a visit to the apartment of someone who has physical mnemonics for every part of his life, and left to wonder what caused this obsessive hermit behavior.

All too soon, we spiral into the rest of the story, one that spans 14 years, includes six people, and is completely entangled in a psychological game that began when they were freshmen (freshers) in college and continues to influence their adult lives.

With twists and turns that are the textual equivalent of the best roller coaster rides this book’s only flaw is that at some point, it had to end.

Goes well with A bento box and Japanese beer.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops for Black Chalk, click here.

Review: Vintage, by Susan Gloss

About the book, Vintage


• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (March 25, 2014)

At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women whose lives the store touches.

Yellow Samsonite suitcase with ivory, quilted lining, 1950s

A small-town girl with a flair for fashion, Violet Turner had always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. But while she values the personal history behind each beautiful item she sells, Violet is running from her own past. Faced with the possibility of losing the store to an unscrupulous developer, she realizes that despite her usual self-reliance she cannot save it alone.

Taffeta tea-length wedding gown with scooped neckline and cap sleeves, 1952

Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect vintage wedding dress to Violet’s shop, she discovers a world of new possibilities, and an unexpected sisterhood with women who won’t let her give up on her dreams.

Orange silk sari with gold paisley design, 1968

Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her vibrant Indian dresses, remnants of a life she’s determined to leave behind her. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears her best days are behind her . . . until she discovers an outlet for her creativity and skills with a needle and thread.

An engaging story that beautifully captures the essence of friendship and style,Vintage is a charming tale of possibility, of finding renewal, love, and hope when we least expect it.

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About the author, Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she’s not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.

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My Thoughts

I remember exploring all the different closets in my grandmother’s house – her bedroom, the guest room, the wardrobe in the middle bedroom – taking out dresses from different periods, trying them on, clacking around in too-big shoes, and too-long necklaces. Vintage isn’t about that, but it had the same soft-focus feel.

Violet, the owner of Hourglass Vintage, struck me as being a person I’d love to have a coffee with, while Karen, her lawyer/friend with a nursing baby struck me as the person I sometimes (but not often) wish I was. April, the young teenaged) woman who comes into Violet’s life first by buying, then returning a vintage wedding dress is a bright soul, and reminds me very much of the daughters of some of my friends.

This feeling was enhanced by the author’s decision to open each chapter with the profile of a vintage garment or accessory, each of which is related to the overall story. It makes you feel like you’re in Violet’s store, looking at the items she has for sale.

It is this easy familiarity that is part of the reason Vintage is such a great read. From the first page, I was enchanted, as well as slightly regretful that in the years we lived in South Dakota, we never managed to visit any part of Wisconsin – including Madison – except for an accidental detour into Eau Claire on the way to Minnapolis. (There were cornfields involved. It was a thing.) As I wrote to author Susan Gloss in a comment on her blog (see link above), her writing voice makes you feel like you’re chatting with an old friend.

And let’s not underestimate Gloss’s nuanced tone. This story could have gone to extremes, becoming either maudlin or saccharine-sweet, but it didn’t. It has elements of romance, yes, but it reads like the best contemporary fiction. The relationships, both the friendships between women of different generations, and the romantic relationships with men, feel completely organic and believable.

This is not a book to rush through, although it is a fast read. Instead, it’s a novel to be savored, preferably while wearing a vintage outfit and your grandmother’s ancient pearls.

Goes well with: Hot tea with lemon and cucumber sandwiches.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a virtual book tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information about Vintage, by Susan Gloss, visit the tour page by clicking here.