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killarneytraynor

Wanderings

I tend to wander, picking up books and stories as I go.

Sets too fast a pace...

Corona - Greg Bear

Corona is not, alas, an illusion to alcohol, but the name of the sentient being that controls the hapless Vulcan scientists that Kirk and crew have come to save. A fast-paced novel with an intriguing sci-fi basis, this episode rushed along too quickly for me to really get into the story. This is really too bad, as there are several elements to the story which could have been drawn out and delved into. At 192 pages, it's not the shortest Star Trek book I've read, but it felt like it.

The characters come off pretty well, with Bear's Kirk being more thoughtful and less gut-instinct than Shatner's. While entertaining and fun, Corona will not rock your world and adds nothing to the Star Trek universe. Rating: Meh

 

Characters:
Kirk and Spock - B
McCoy and Uhura - B+
Checkov - B-
Everyone else: too little seen to judge

Fun time-travel adventure!

Home Is the Hunter - Dana Kramer-Rolls

Captain Kirk and his intrepid crew are dispatched to the primitive planet of Cragon V to offer them Federation support, only to find that the Klingons have beaten him there. When a dispute between the Klingons and Federation landing party consisting of Kirk, Sulu, Scotty, and Chekov turns deadly, the mysterious and powerful leader of the planet condemns both parties to death. He renders the two ships helpless - and exiles Sulu, Scotty, and Chekov into the past. Scotty lands in 18th century Scotland and in the middle of Bonnie Prince Charlie's doomed revolt, Sulu in feudal Japan on the wrong side of a bloody power struggle, and Chekov in World War II Russia, where one wrong move can send you to Siberia - or worse. As the Enterprise is gradually pulled towards its destruction in the planet's gravitational pull, Kirk must discover how to save his ship and his men - before time runs out.

Home is the Hunter is a pleasant outing that takes place right after Star Trek: the Motion Picture, when the crew is a little more seasoned. There's plenty of action in Sulu's Japan, where he is mistaken as a Samuri and falls in love with the wrong woman, while Chekov attempts not only to save himself, but also a man who could just be Captain Kirk's ancestor. Scotty contends not only with a country in revolt, but a memory loss. Captain Kirk, meantime, must work with the ousted captain of the Klingon ship to convince the planet's leader to restore their ships and crewmates. The author has a keen sense of humor and a light touch. This book doesn't do much to expand on or add to the Star Trek saga, but it's fun to see some of the more underused characters (Sulu, Scotty, and Chekov) have own adventures.

Summary: A fast and fun read - well worth the effort.

Character ratings:
Kirk, Sulu, Chekov - A
Scotty - B+
Spock, McCoy, Uhura - not used enough to tell

Goodreads Giveaway. Dec. 17-24th, and Free Kindles Dec. 17th and 18th!

— feeling amazing

Christmas is only a few days away, and I couldn't be more excited! I love this time of year, and one of the things I love most is (corny as it sounds) giving gifts - so here's one for you!

I'm running a Goodreads giveaway for signed, paperback edition of my newest book, Necessary Evil. It's a mystery/romance, chock-full of things that I love: adventure, suspense, buried treasure, and history. Check out the description below: I'm giving a signed paperback copy and an awesome bookmark - perfect for anyone who wishes for adventure and romance! To enter, just follow this link:

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Necessary Evil by Killarney Traynor

Necessary Evil

by Killarney Traynor

Giveaway ends December 24, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

 
Enter Giveaway

 

You can also download Necessary Evil for free on your Kindle, Dec. 17th and 18th! If you like it, be sure to leave a review!

 

Here's the back cover copy:

My name is Madeleine Warwick and I'm a woman under siege.

Several years ago, a treasure hunting reality show resurrected the long-forgotten tale of Civil War treasure buried on my family's property. Ever since, amateur treasure hunters have been trespassing, invading our land. When their negligence cost my uncle his life, I forged a letter to disprove the treasure's existence. This stopped the hunters – but only for a time. Now they are coming back and, what’s worse, my secret has been discovered.

Arrogant Professor Gregory Randall knows about the forged letter, and he can ruin me with one phone call. But he won’t – as long I let him stay on the property to search for the treasure himself. It isn't easy living in the same house as your blackmailer, and there's more to Randall than meets the eye. He’s convinced there’s something to find, and I’m starting to think he might be right.

But even as we race to find the treasure first, the situation is becoming dangerous. Someone is determined to stop us: and they aren't afraid to use violence to do so. I’m running out of ideas, options, and time, and what’s worse, my blackmailer is the only one I can rely on.

​My first defense is the last man I can trust.

 

Good luck, enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Evocative, surrealist drame

Somewhere In Between - Katie Li

By Katie Li

Pseudo-punk Magnolia and underachieving gamer-geek Rom are two unlikely friends who only hang out during their walks home together after school. When they find the a portal that leads to different worlds, they use the “in-between place” as an escape from their lives in high school, then later, after college. Their visits through the portal bring them teetering along a tight-rope of fantasy and reality, where they don’t always believe what is in front of them, not even their feelings for each other. 

Li's stated ambition is to write an anime novel (novella, in this case), and she achieves that beautifully here: the characterizations, the scenery, the shifting narrative, all evoke an anime-other world. Rom and Magnolia wander through the maze of life, adrift and apart from it, trying to come to terms with reality even while they shy from it. The story shifts between their high school years and the lost summer after college, when both characters escape into the In-Between Place to avoid the pressures of life. But the In-Between Place changes every time they enter it: it's a lonely forest once, a ruined town the next, an abandoned amusement park, and so on, and the only constancy is the complete lack of any other life forms. When Rom suggests they stay, Magnolia asks, "What will we eat?" When he replies that he can nip back out into reality for groceries, she reminds him, "But who says the place will be the same when you get back?" The loneliness that the characters feel is etched into the very fabric of the place they find refuge in.

Li writes lyrically, and her work is delicately sketched and thoughtful, with an ending that left me wondering, "Wait, did that just really happen?" Even weeks after reading her book, I'm still mulling it over. Needless to say, I highly recommend Somewhere in Between.

Solid, if uninspired, entry

Mutiny on the Enterprise - Robert E. Vardeman

The Enterprise, long over-due for repair and relaxation, is unexpectedly sent on a mission to the fringe of the Federation world to deliver a diplomat intent on halting hostilities in two far worlds and preventing a Romulan take-over. Not only is the Enterprise under-powered and over-strained, but the diplomat's abrasive manner lends serious doubts to the efficacy of his mission. Things turn dangerous when Kirk rescues a stranded space-traveler - a woman who casts a curious spell of pacifism over his crew. Suddenly, Kirk is facing not only Romulans and hostile natives - but his own mutinous crew!

Mutiny on the Enterprise is a good, solid addition to Star Trek.The characters are well portrayed, the pacing is good, and the story line feels like an episode for the original series. I loved the fact that, though Captain Kirk is never really fooled by the woman he's taken on board, he is nevertheless susceptible to her powers of argument - a touch of smart humanity that more careless writers wouldn't add. 

The only draw back (which isn't really a negative, so much as an observation) is that the author doesn't do much more with the story than present it. This is a fun adventure and not much more. The Star Trek morality-play hallmark is missing - or perhaps I just missed it. (Totally possible - I was overly charmed by the single-entity planet that Kirk and loyal crew are marooned on.) 

Summary: A good entry into the Star Trek series, with the cast and crew well represented. This book won't rock your world, but it's an enjoyable way to get your weekly Trek fix.

Character ratings: All As and Bs. 

Terrific first novel!

Secret Hunger (The Harper Sisters) - Satin Russell

Olivia Harper is a hard-working, ambitious woman with a big heart who gave up college in order to raise her sisters in small town, Maine. Mason Clark is a Boston detective, recovering from injuries sustained in the line of duty and still reeling from the loss of his partner. When the two meet, sparks fly. But even as their attraction intensifies, are they ready to let go of their past in order to embrace a new future? And when Olivia suddenly finds herself the subject of a murderous stalker's obsession, will she even have a future to consider?


Satin Russell's first book strikes a great balance of romance and suspense, while setting up for future books featuring the Harper sisters. The writing is tight, the dialog is strong, and the descriptions of small town Maine feel just like the real thing (I live just south of ME.) While the focus stays on the intense new romance and encroaching danger, Russell fleshes out the supporting characters, creating a world of family and friends that feel like people you know yourself. Olivia is a spunky, hardworking, and likable heroine, while Mason is just what you want from a hero-cop.

 

Russell writes with authority and confidence. While it can be read as a stand-alone, Secret Hunger leaves one hungering (see what I did there?) for the next Harper Sisters novel. Highly recommended.

 

Note to young readers: graphic bedroom scenes

Star Trek's Ishmael is way more fun than it ought to be

Ishmael - Barbara Hambly

Summary: While on a peaceful mission at Starbase 12, Spock uncovers a Klingon plot to destroy the Federation by going back in time to murder a man. But before he can relay the information to Kirk, Spock disappears along with the Klingon ship. Meanwhile, back in 1860s Seattle, Washington, Aaron Stemple comes across a strange man who has lost his memory - and may not be human. Stemple takes a huge risk by taking the man in as his nephew, Ishmael - little realizing that the danger comes, not from the alien, but from those seeking him. Can Kirk find Spock before the Klingons do?

Ishmael is quite possibly the strangest crossover book in the history of Star Trek crossovers. Barbara Hambly takes advantage of the fact that Sarek was played by Mark Lenard, who also played Aaron Stemple in the romantic dramedy series, Here Comes the Brides. In Brides, Stemple is the somewhat unscrupulous businessman who puts up money for Jason Bolt's bridal scheme - with the proviso that, should any of the women go home before the year is up, Stemple will take over the considerable Bolt property. Hambly sets the story in season 1 of Brides, and changes the terms of the bet for her own purposes: in Ishmael, Bolt will lose the bet if any of the women remain un-betrothed by the end of the year. 

Ishmael has a lot of fun drawing Spock into Seattle's romantic intrigues, while still maintaining the tension of Kirk's desperate search for his missing first mate. The Trek cast are pretty strong, focusing, by necessity, on Spock, Kirk, and McCoy. The Brides' cast doesn't fare quite as well. While Stemple and singleton Biddy Cloomb get sympathetic treatment (especially Stemple, who is played as a misunderstood loner than the more acrimonious figure in the TV season one), the smooth-talking, charismatic Jason Bolt of the TV show suffers, coming across as a desperate schemer - a surprise, considering he's the hero of the show. One gets the impression that Hambly didn't like him very much, but perhaps she's approaching him from Stemple's POV.

All in all, Ishmael is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of fan-fiction that seeks to answer some of the questions left open by the end of Brides and tie Spock more firmly to his human past. While sci-fi and action take a backseat to character and relationship building, this is a satisfying outing, especially to fans of both shows. 

Bonus: keep a sharp lookout. there are cameos from other TV shows, such Doctor Who andBonanza, sprinkled liberally through out the book.

Character ratings:
Star Trek: all As and Bs.
Here Come the Brides: Mostly Bs, except for Jason, a definite C.

Fun, brisk adventure

Amanda's Room - Chuck Miceli

When infant Amanda died, her parents abandoned their luxurious home, leaving the room untouched. 18 years later, a small group of clever students stumble upon a anomaly - the atmosphere in Amanda's bedroom is stable and unaffected by outside weather conditions - they convince their brilliant professor to study the incident. Little do they know that they are about to witness the unleashing of a supernatural force - and they may not survive to tell the tale.

Author Chuck Miceli crafts a tightly plotted, swift moving thriller, using an unusual (and terrifyingly effective) weapon: the weather. A fishing trip turns deadly when a water spout suddenly appears, a clear road suddenly becomes icy, a courthouse is literally attacked by cyclone - all these frighteningly familiar scenarios become tools in the hand of a supernatural power. True story: I've had nightmares since reading this book about the water spout. 

But weather is only one part of what's going on: there is the mystery of Amanda's parents, one of the students is accused of murder, and another is presumed dead - but may not be. And Miceli adds lots of fun details about weather tracking and patterns and keeps you guessing about who will survive. Throughout it all is the question: is Amanda trying to communicate? Or is she trying to kill? 

This is a fun, brisk adventure, with a mystery at it's core, and anyone who enjoys old fashioned horror/thrillers is sure to enjoy this one.

Note for younger readers: some strong language, gruesome killings, some sensuality, and one brief bedroom scene.

Disclaimer: This review was part of a book exchange for reviews.

Genuine Thrills and a Surprisingly Capable Chekov

Ice Trap - L.A. Graf

In Ice Trap, Captain Kirk and his crew are dispatched to icebound Nordstral to investigate a mysterious outbreak of insanity only to quickly discover that there is much more going on than they first supposed. A team of research scientists have already disappeared - and even the otherwise friendly natives have no clue about their whereabouts. While Kirk and McCoy take on the medical mystery, Uhura and Chekov lead a team composed of Enterprise crew and untrustworthy outsiders in the frozen tundra to find the scientists. But with the planet undergoing massive instability, both teams risk never coming back alive.

LA Graf has a great sense of pacing and paints an impressive picture. The landscape is so barren and cold that I had to layer on extra sweaters just to get through some of the scenes. As it true with Star Trek books, the author (actually a pen name for two, possible three collaborators) gets most of the cast correct, but falls a little short on one. Chekov is so intense and rigidly capable in Ice Trap that he almost seems like a different character from the lovable TV version played by Walter Keonig. This is more than made up for by the attention paid to McCoy (whose childhood secret is revealed) and Uhura, who plays a meaty role in this outing.

Summary: Ice Trap is a great book filled with thrills and chills - sorry, had to do that - and feels just like one of the original Star Trek movies (by which I mean the even ones, not the odd). Highly recommended.

Character Ratings: Except for Chekov (who is an excellent character in this, but just didn't feel like the original), all As and Bs.

Throw-back adventure/romance

Deadline for Danger - Christine Bush

Dedicated reporter Frankie Ann dreams about covering more than just the Garden Club news for her paper - she wants to investigate the hard stories, like the pier burning in her home town. But even as she covers the safe stuff, a case of missing newspaper ads woman thrusts her into mystery full of mistaken identity and murder. But even as the dangers intensify, Frankie is determined to unravel the mystery - with the help of the handsome new police chief. But will determination be enough to keep her alive?


Frankly, Deadline for Danger is a much better title for this throw-back adventure/romance. Reading like a Nancy Drew mystery, Bush keeps a brisk pace and a sense of fun pervades the whole story. The characters are very likable, especially Frankie, and while the mystery is not Agatha Christie level, it's entertaining, like a Saturday afternoon TV movie.

Summary: Some weak prose, but this is a fun way to pass an afternoon. Recommended.

SPOILER ALERT!

Upbeat and Hopeful

Rag Dolls: Callie's Story - Shelley Terrell

Rag Dolls: Callie's Story reads like a fairy tale: a beautiful young girl, beset by one calamity after another, manages to get by with a little faith and a little help from a variety of 'fairy godmothers'. The tone, despite some of the intense subject matter, is upbeat and hopeful and Callie is a likable main character. The pacing is good(if somewhat repetitive) and the author's voice fun. Initially, I thought the narration was too childish for the story, but this was explained later on.  However,  there are a few too many coincidences, lucky breaks, repetitive narration, and unanswered questions, (chief of which for me was: is Callie's talent magic or psychic?) for me to give this a five-star. 


Summary: While the book could use a hefty story edit - although mostly grammatically sound -, Callie's Story was an enjoyable way to pass a few hours. 

Note for younger audiences: some violence and an off-screen rape.

Compassionate and Fearless

AN EARLY FROST (October Snow, Part Two) - Jenna Brooks

Will Remmond is a high-powered Family Law attorney who’s fed up, burnt out, and ready to walk, but two cases of child abuse keep his hand in the game: 5-year-old Alexa, whose abusive father wants Remmond dead, and Maxine Allen, the woman he’s waited half his life to find. But Maxine is a mess: Trying to recover from the shocking death of her friend stirs up old wounds from childhood, and she becomes withdrawn, even abusive. Whip-smart and angry, she falling deeper into her own personal hell even as she's falling in love with him. Remmond is determined to help her and Alexa - or die trying.

Maxine and Will’s relationship shows the long-term damage done to a abused child, playing out along-side of custody battle for Alexa, a sweet little girl who seems to be just another victim in a long and continuing line. Brooks (a former victim’s counselor) creates compelling drama, educating the reader in Family Law while exposing weaknesses in the current justice system. In doing so, however, she never fails to remind you that there is hope, even when the proverbial deck is stacked.

A compassionate and fearless look at the long-term damage caused by domestic violence, An Early Frostis fast-paced, energetic, and insightful, deftly blending romance, drama, and danger. Like its prequel, the award-winning October Snow (review coming soon), An Early Frost dares to ask the question: Who is willing to stand up and stop the cycle of abuse?

Dark, driven, and truly gripping...

October Snow - Jenna Brooks

Josie Kane is a "difficult" woman, a pure enigma - one who survives her abusive husband by honing her unnerving talent for playing mind games: she knows exactly how to manipulate a bully. Her one remaining refuge is in her bond with Maxine and Samantha, the two friends whom she loves like sisters. When Samantha becomes pregnant by Jack - an abuser who makes known his intentions to use the baby as a weapon of control - Josie's hatred ripens to a vengeful fury. She sets out to take on one more batterer, manipulate one more bully... 


With her friends helpless to stop her - and with Samantha hanging in the balance - Josie squares off with Jack in a life-and-death, winner-lose-all battle of wits to determine which side will win Sammy's future. 


Like its sequel, the equally compelling An Early Frost, Jenna Brook's debut novel, the award winning October Snow is a nail-biting thriller. Showcasing the long-term damage done by domestic violence, this book also explores the daunting legal obstacles that victims have to overcome in separating from their tormentors. 

Josie and Jack emerge as the opposing dark forces that drive the narrative. Jack is an abuser who isn't about to let go of Sammy, the lost woman at the heart of the problem. Josie, a former victim and worn-out advocate, is haunted by her past, tormented by her present, and rapidly losing hope. She's holding on, if only by a thread, and even her two best friends, Sammy and Maxine, can't seem to get close enough to help. But Josie's a warrior and she's got just enough twisted smarts to bring this last bully to justice - but will it be enough?

Written with Brook's usual unflinching honesty and natural prose, this book is dark, driven, and truly gripping. With believable characters, heart-twisting scenarios, a jaw-dropping final act, and a realistic style that will leave you unnerved, October Snow is one book that will stay with you long after you put it down.

STAR TREK #60: ICE TRAP HAS GENUINE THRILLS AND A SURPRISINGLY CAPABLE CHEKOV

Ice Trap - L.A. Graf

In Ice Trap, Captain Kirk and his crew are dispatched to icebound Nordstral to investigate a mysterious outbreak of insanity only to quickly discover that there is much more going on than they first supposed. A team of research scientists have already disappeared - and even the otherwise friendly natives have no clue about their whereabouts. While Kirk and McCoy take on the medical mystery, Uhura and Chekov lead a team composed of Enterprise crew and untrustworthy outsiders in the frozen tundra to find the scientists. But with the planet undergoing massive instability, both teams risk never coming back alive.

LA Graf has a great sense of pacing and paints an impressive picture. The landscape is so barren and cold that I had to layer on extra sweaters just to get through some of the scenes. As it true with Star Trek books, the author (actually a pen name for two, possible three collaborators) gets most of the cast correct, but falls a little short on one. Chekov is so intense and rigidly capable in Ice Trap that he almost seems like a different character from the lovable TV version played by Walter Keonig. This is more than made up for by the attention paid to McCoy (whose childhood secret is revealed) and Uhura, who plays a meaty role in this outing.

Summary: Ice Trap is a great book filled with thrills and chills - sorry, had to do that - and feels just like one of the original Star Trek movies (by which I mean the even ones, not the odd). Highly recommended.

Character Ratings: Except for Chekov (who is an excellent character in this, but just didn't feel like the original), all As and Bs.

Free Kindle Day and Sneak-Peek!

Help me win a bet!

Today only, to celebrate the sneak-peek of my new book, Necessary Evil, you can download my first book Summer Shadows to your Kindle app for free!

Be sure to also download Jenna Brooks' award winning October Snowalso free today only. You can check out my review of her book on my Indie Book Review page at www.killarneytraynor.com.

Go to http://jennabrooks.weebly.com/may-11-... for more details about the Free Kindle Day!

And for more information about Necessary Evil, check it out here:http://www.killarneytraynor.com/neces...
 
 
The Luck of the Weissensteiners - Christoph Fischer

When Greta Weissensteiner of the sleepy town of Bratslava in Czechoslovakia, falls for a Berliner bookseller, little does she know just how much her life is going to change. The Weissensteiner family has always been lucky, using their Aryan name to balance against the prejudice of their Jewish faith. But as their society starts to disintegrate and war begins, can their luck hold?

The first novel in the Three Nations Trilogy pulls you into a world gone mad. The Weissensteiners’ comfortable life as congenial outsiders begins to crumble as Nazism takes hold, forcing the family to make compromises, compromises that are not enough when World War II starts. The book follows Greta, an idealistic young Jewess whose Aryan husband takes her son and deserts her for Berlin, her stoic father and fragile sister Wilma, their extended family, and the eccentric aristocrats that try to shelter them. Fischer walks you through each loss, following the family as they are forced underground, lose their business, friends, members of their family, and then finally each other. But the real test of the famous Weissensteiner luck begins when the war ends.

Much care went into the research behind this book and the historical data is relayed in newish bulletins that seem frighteningly current. But despite the horrors and cruelty of time, which Fischer never shies from, the overall message is that, no matter how chaotic the world is, good people can still be found and family is worth sacrificing for. The luck of the Weissensteiner family will not save them from the ravages of war, but their faith in and love of each other may just be enough to see them through it.