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Wanderings

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

Well written and surpringly moving

Yesterday's Son - Star Trek #11 - A.C. Crispin

"Moved me close to tears" is not something you would normally write about a Star Trek book, but A. C. Crispin's Yesterday's Son had me reaching for the tissues by the last page.

 

When Spock realizes that he left behind a son on the planet Sarpedion (see the 3rd season episode All Our Yesterdays, TOS), he uses the Guardion of Forever (see 1st season episode The City on the Edge of Forever, TOS ) to retrieve him. Only by the time they find the boy, Zar, he is 28, too old to be easily explained as Spock's son. As the two newly-found family struggles to bond, a Romulan attack threatens the Guardian - and the galaxy as the crew knows it.

 

This was A. C. Crispin's first novel and it is an impressive debut. Strong writing, good characterizations, and a heartbreaking family drama sets this short novel above the rest. Highly recommended.

 

Character ratings: All 'A's

Fun and fast-paced, but rather silly

The Tears of the Singers - Melinda M. Snodgrass

When a star ship disappears in the Taygeta V system, Captain Kirk enlists the help of a prominent, but tempermental musician and two Klingon warship to help him investigate the phenomenon. The anomaly may be linked to the semi aquatic creatures who live on Taygetian. But with the restless Klingons on one hand, human hunters decimating the Teygetians on the other, and an expert who may succumb to illness at any moment, Kirk might just run out of time...

 

This isn't the best in the Star Trek series, although the author has a good sense of the characters, and their speech patterns are pretty spot one (see below for individual analysis). A bonus is that Uhura gets more screen time than usual: unfortunately, most it is spent mooning over the expert, a new character who is more irritating than fascinating.

 

Summary: Tears of the Singers is quick, fun, with a good pace, but rather silly with a heavy-handed moral about animal rights. Good when you need a book to fill an hour or so.

 

Character portrayals (author understood character, good voice, etc)

Kirk: B 

Spock: A

McCoy: B (Voice - B-)

Scott: B

Uhura: A-

 

(Sulu and Checkov were not in this enough for analysis)

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference - Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell has the happy knack of writing books that a informative, fun, and uplifting. This one is no different. Thought provoking and quick, The Tipping Point is well worth the read.

Girl on a Mission

The Clay Lion - Amalie Jahn

Brooke Wallace is a girl on a mission. Losing her beloved brother to a tragic decease has brought her own life to wrenching stand-still, and nearly destroyed her family. To rectify this, she decides to use her one ticket to go back and save his life, but Brooke's single-minded determination has far-reaching and devastating consequences, not only for her and her family, but also for the people around her.

The Clay Lion (the a first in a series of young adult novels) reads like a the Twilight Zone episode: it isn't so much sci-fi as it is a thoughtful coming-of-age story and Jahn keeps a good pace. The book's themes of love, loss, responsibility, trust, and learning when to let go are tough subjects to handle without slipping into melodrama, but Jahn's clear writing style and crisp pace treats the heavy emotional load with grace and ease. 

Brooke emerges as a wounded, but ultimately well-rounded character that you can really cheer for, and the relationship she has with her brother is heartfelt, never cloying. With a good cast of supporting characters, an intriguing premise, and a strong, satisfying ending, The Clay Lion is one Indie book you'll want on your shelf.

Source: http://www.killarneytraynor.com/indie-book-reviews/the-clay-lion

Living the dream

Burning Down Rome - Melodie Ramone

Told in a brisk, take-no-prisoners voice, Ramone’s Burning Down Rome tells the story of the rise, fall, and resurrection of a Chicagoan rock and roll band, Cry Baby Jake. But more than that, it’s a coming of age story for the four band members: Kid, Joey, Cecily, and Natasha, four young adults madly in love with making music. With talent, guts, and sheer determination, they put together a band that sky-rockets to the top forty, and that’s where the story really begins. 

Fame and fortune come too quickly to the little group. The foursome are each struggling with personal problems – child abuse, crippling self-doubt, personal loss, to name a few - , and use music as their outlet, only to find that the intense media attention and pressure from their record label makes the battle that much harder to fight. When one of their own succumbs to his demon, the band must decide what’s truly important: fame or family.

Ramone, who worked in Public Relations, keeps up a break-neck pace while still allowing plenty of time for character development. Snappy dialogue and thoughtful passages about life, love, and the pursuit of worth are sprinkled liberally through-out. It’s an exhausting, but ultimately uplifting story about the power of love and living the dream.

Source: http://www.killarneytraynor.com/indie-book-reviews/book-review-burning-down-rome

Compassionate and fearless

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

Will Remmond is a high-power 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.

A compassionate and fearless look at the long-time 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?

Official Author Website

Summer Shadows - Killarney Traynor