March 2019


The third book in the Star Trek: TNG Q-Continuum trilogy. Also ST:TNG book number 49.

Publication year: 1998
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books
Page count: 270

Riker has decided to take the Enterprise-E inside the Galactic barrier because the Calamarain’s attack is tearing the ship apart and he thinks that it’s the only place where they wouldn’t follow. However, this puts all the telepathic people aboard the ship in danger, including his imzadi Deanna Troi and the Betazoid scientist Lem Faal and his two young children. Riker decides to put the Betazoids to coma for their safety. However, Faal is obsessed with his experiments and refuses to end them. In fact, he’s doing everything he can to start the wormhole he created to punch through the barrier. He also cruelly ignores the needs and fears of his kids. However, he’s apparently under the influence of otherworldly power.

Meanwhile, Q has kidnapped captain Picard and led him through Q’s own history, when Q was quite a bit younger and under the influence of a murderous otherworldly being calling himself 0. Eventually Picard witnesses how the Q-Continuum is at war with 0 and his four nefarious minions, with young Q caught in the middle. Picard realizes that if the Enterprise-E goes through the galactic barrier, they might unleash the horrors of the malicious 0 once again.

In this final book, the different story lines come together for an exciting and enjoyable ending.

I ended up liking this last book the best, perhaps because the TNG crew themselves had a larger part to play than in the previous books. The book, like the whole trilogy, had quite a lot of references to classic Trek episodes, as well as TNG and DS9 episodes. I had fun revisit old friends, even though Q was far too human for my tastes.

Writer and artist: Yukito Kishiro

Originally started publishing in 1991. Finnish translation started in 2006.

After the tragic end of the previous story line, Alita has vanished. Her mechanic and adoptive father Ido is looking for her increasingly desperately, because she left without a word a month ago. When Ido comes across a couple of thugs trying to rape a woman, he hesitates but beats them up. The woman, Shumira, is immediately attracted to Ido, offering him a place to stay. Instead Ido asks if Shumira has seen Alita. Shumira takes him to the Motorball arena. Alita is there, as one of the contestants. Ido tries to talk with Alita but she just walks away, letting security drag him out. Ido is furious and joins the current champion’s team so that Alita will be humbled and return home safely.

Alita is heart-broken and throws herself into the fights. Motorball is supposed to be a just a game, but a lot of players are seriously hurt or even killed. Alita has a new team and a new body. Unba is her new mechanic and Ed is a former Motorball player who advises her. She also has a small, flying furball, which seems to be there just for a bit of comic relief. Alita is still in the third league but her team pushes her to fight so that she can rise to the first league.

After the more emotional previous plot arch, the new plot arch is focused on fighting or rather playing Motorball. Alita says that she’s starting to see small flashes of her former life while playing. Also, she meets rivals, such as Ajakutty whom she has to play against in order to get the player number she wants, 99. Her biggest opponent is the current champion Jashugan who fights with the power of his mind as well his cyborg body. Alita says that she needs challenges to make life worth living. However, in order to challenge Jashuagan directly, she needs a team of Motorball players.

We finally get another female character, Shumira. She’s much more sexualized than Alita, wearing revealing clothing and flirting with Ido. She’s the younger sister of Jashugan. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with her. On the last page, we also glimpse a third female character who is a Motorball player.

Despite the focus on battle, there’s some character growth as well, for Alita, Ido, and even for Jashugan. Ido wants Alita back and doesn’t care what the cost will be for Alita. No doubt he must confront his actions later. Alita has abandoned Ido in her pain and refuses to even talk to him.

The third collection in English seems to have the chapters 13 through 17. The comic ends in a cliffhanger when Alita and her Motorball team are going to engage the champion of the second league.

The Finnish edition (Gunnm 3: Teurastajaenkeli) has chapters 12-17.

Writer and artist: Yukito Kishiro

Originally started publishing in 1991. Finnish translation started in 2006.

Alita meets Yugo, a teenager who is living by himself and working very hard to support himself. Alita is immediately attracted to him, his brash manner, and the way he admires Zalem, the city in the sky where the wealthy people live. When a criminal Alita is tracking attacks, Alita conceals her fighting abilities from Yugo, which I found very strange. Alita softens up the criminal behind Yugo’s back (literally) but Yugo kills him and claims the head. Alita has been disgusted with the practice of bringing in heads to get paid but when Yugo tells her that he needs to gather 10 million credits so that he can go to Zalem, Alita decides to help him. Yep, Alita has fallen in love with Yugo. Unfortunately for her, he doesn’t feel the same way, focusing on his jobs instead.

However, trouble is on the horizon, because Yugo is the infamous “spine thief”. Spines are very expensive. Yugo and his group of two other young thieves knock out cyborgs and steal their spines. However, Yugo leaves them always alive. But when the local big crime boss Vector notices what Yugo and his friends are doing, he wants to expand the operation, working quicker and killing the victims afterward.

Meanwhile, one of the bounty hunters whom Alita battled and humiliated earlier, wants revenge. He realizes what Yugo is doing and is determined to put a bounty on Yugo’s head, forcing Alita to kill her love or to defend him and make herself a rogue bounty hunter, fair game for the other hunter-warriors.

We also get to see Yugo’s life and what makes him tick.

This second collection deepens the world and the characters. It’s also not focused as much on combat, but instead on Alita and Yugo’s growing relationship (or rather Alita’s growing obsession over him), Alita’s insecurity because she’s not a ‘real girl’, and Ito’s concern over her. Alita is faced with tough choices and also feelings about herself. She worries that because her cyborg body is so much stronger than a human body, she can never be with Yugo.

I didn’t care for Yugo and it seemed like Alita fell for the first boy near her own (emotional) age. But of course they’re both teenagers and so very focused on themselves. I’m also not sure where her impulse to hide her artificial body and her combat skills came from. Ido surely didn’t teach her that. I guess it’s just a means to create conflict in her. While I didn’t care for the main story line, I still really like Alita, her determination and loyalty. She’s also very proud and quick to anger.

The second collection in English seems to have the chapters 8 through 12. The comic ends at an natural break in the plot.

The Finnish edition (Gunnm 2: Rautaneito) has chapters 7-11. It ends with a cliffhanger.

The first book in a cozy mystery fantasy series, the Casino Witch Mysteries.

Publication year: 2017
Format: ebook
Page count: 166

Some time back I wanted to read fantasy books which are cozy mysteries. Turns out that these actually exist!

Ella Ramono is an accountant. When her father died, she inherited his building in Rambler, Nevada and moveed there. However, on her first day at a new job as an accountant to a casino, a big black cat bites her. The bite awakens her magical talents but Ella doesn’t know anything about magic or mages so she has a lot to learn. Just like her father, she has a talent for reading people’s emotions but the magic also burns a lot of calories. She also now has the cat, Patagonia, as a familiar. And her new co-worker Vin is handsome but also rude, stubborn, and pushy.

Olivia, who owns the casino, agrees to tell her what’s going on but not until Ella finds out who murdered people in the casino. Five people have died in the casino in previous weeks but all, except the newest one, have been ruled as suicides, until now. One of the victims is Olivia’s own father who owned the casino. Also, Ella’s dad has left her a mysterious note about people she doesn’t know. Her dad was also a mage but didn’t tell her anything. Ella agrees: she doesn’t really have a choice. Olivia, her aunt Ann, and cousins Vanessa and Vin will do what they can to help Ella.

This was mostly a fun and quick read, however both Ella and Olivia have recently lost their dads, so Ella does miss him quite a lot. She knows literally nothing about what’s happening to her and the people around who do know are very tight-lipped, sometimes frustratingly so. Ella does manage to pry out some info out of them about magic during the investigation. Of course, hilarity ensues when Ella doesn’t know things that the other mages take for granted. Also, apparently most mages are trained when they’re teenagers so Ella is old to start her training. Another source of humor is Patagonia and her continued habit of twining herself around Ella’s legs so that she falls.

I instantly disliked Vin and I’m hoping that he’s there just as someone to spar with Ella rather than an actual romantic interest. However, I enjoyed most of the other cast: Auntie Ann and Olivia are more pragmatic than Vin and Patagonia is quirky but fun.

Collects Wonder Woman vol. 4. issues 7-12. The New 52 relaunch.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

The previous collection, Vol. 1: Blood, ended in a cliffhanger when Haades took Zola (and her unborn child, of course) to the Underworld with him. Now, Diana and her team of Lennox and Hermes must get her back. To do that, Diana turns to Eros and Hephaestus. Unfortunately, things go wrong and while Hermes is able to take Zola back to the world of living, Diana must agree to stay and be Haades’ bride. The rest of the team tries to get her back. Getting to Hell again isn’t too hard because some of them have been invited into the wedding, along with Strife. Fortunately, Diana doesn’t need anyone else to save her.

Then the plot kicks up even higher when Hera sends Apollo and Artemis after Zola and her unborn child.

I must say that the unusual way the deities look is really growing on me. I didn’t even blink an eye when we saw Eros with double pistols. Artemis actually looked pretty cool as a pure white woman. The god of the forge looks like an ogre which seems oddly appropriate. The other thing I found strange was that the deities called each other by their (currently) primary sphere of influence. Hermes is Messenger, Hephaestus is smith, Ares is War, Artemis Moon, Eris is Strife. However, nobody calls Hera Marriage or Women or Fertility for some reason. Most likely, because it doesn’t sound cool. Of course, each Greek deity has several spheres so calling them with just one is strange. For example, Apollo could just was well be Muse or Healing or Diseases, as Sun.

However, I don’t understand why DC wanted to change the Amazons even further. This time we’re told that three times in a century, the Amazons go to ships and have sex with the sailors. Then they kill the sailors. All girl children stay with the Amazons but the boys are given to Hephaestus as virtual slaves. If he doesn’t take them, they’re killed. And apparently not one Amazon has a problem with that? That’s damn cold and very strangely different because previously Diana was the only child on the island and the others were all immortal. Now, DC has stripped them of immortality and made them mortals and pretty strange ones at that. So, from (mostly) noble women warriors to cold killers of lovers and babies? Not good. Then again, DC has treated the Amazons pretty harshly in the past, from the whole strange Amazons Attack story line to periodically destroying the Paradise Island.

Except for that, I rather enjoyed the adventures in the Underworld with various Greek deities. Diana was able to hold her own against them. In the final issue, she suddenly got a weird power boost from nowhere which was very strange. The collection ends again in a cliffhanger.

Again I enjoyed Chiang’s artwork a lot.

The second book in the Star Trek: TNG Q-Continuum trilogy. Also ST:TNG book number 48.

Publication year: 1998
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books
Page count: 270

Enterprise-E is on a mission to investigate a way to go through the galactic barrier using a wormhole technology. However, the gaseous alien species called the Calamarain have attacked, enveloping the starship and trying to get through the shields. The shields are failing and Commander Riker is desperately looking for a way to save the ship and crew. Meanwhile, Professor Lem Faal, who came up with the wormhole technology, is equally desperate to try his technique. He’s even ignoring his young children who are on board with him. His son especially is starting to really resent him.

Q has abducted Captain Picard and is showing him certain points in Q’s own history. Specially, how much younger Q has fallen in with a malevolent being calling himself 0. 0 and his equally malevolent comrades talk about testing developing species and then torment entire empires.

The majority of the book follows the Tkon Empire which was a vast star spanning empire long before Federation. We get scenes from different key people around the empire, such as the empress. They’re a humanoid species and not very different from humans. 0’s companions are various entities from the original Trek. We also get to see where Calamarain’s original hatred from Q came from (as seen in the episode “Q who”). Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for the plight of the Tkon Empire, terrible as it was.

Q’s mate and child are also a significant part of the book.

This is clearly a second book in the series when stakes are raised and nothing is resolved.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Top 10 books in my spring TBR.

It was snowing here in Finland just a couple of days ago so talking about spring seems more than a bit premature. But here goes:

1, Q-Strike by Greg Cox
First, I’m going to finish the Q Continuum trilogy.

2, Fahrenheit’s Ghost by Trish Heinrich
The next book in the Vigilantes historical superhero series. It’s also the start of a new series, Pandora Project.

3, The Triangle by Dan Koboldt Mindy McGinnis, and Sylvia Wrigley
I got an ARC from Serial Box! It’s set in the Bermuda Triangle where a team of shipwrecked experts must find out the secrets of the place.

I’ve got a lot of unread ebooks and I’m not sure which ones I’m going to read next but I do know which of my unread printed books I’ll read.

4,Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The first book in the Lady Astronaut SF series.

5, The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
And the next book in the series.

6, Lady Astronaut of Mars Mary Robinette Kowal
This is a novellette set in the same world and it’s available for free here: https://www.tor.com/2013/09/11/the-lady-astronaut-of-mars/

7, Desperate Hours by David Mack
The first Star Trek: Discovery book which is apparently set on starship Shenzhou so we’ll get more captain Georgiou!

8, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
Alternate history where Dracula is Queen Victoria’s husband!

I’ve also got a couple of audio books I haven’t listened yet and currently I’m thinking of listening these next:

9, Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff
I’ve loved Huff’s other fantasy books.

10, Einstein’s Secret by Irving Belatche
Another alternate history book which sounds very interesting.

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