Tag Archives: entertainment

Book Review- The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed

I shall bookend this week with another review. This one is for book two in the Displaced Detective Series by Stephanie Osborn. This past Monday I reviewed book one. 

***Contains a few spoilers***

Book two, The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed, picks up right where book one left off. The heroine, Skye Chadwick spends a good portion of this book recovering from a gunshot wound received in book one. Sherlock finds himself torn between the principles of logic and reason and his emotions. While Holmes and Chadwick believe they thwarted the spy ring’s attempt to sabotage the Tessaract, they still must identity the members of the spy ring and determine the motive for the sabotage.

The romance holds center court in the first half of the book, but the mystery and the danger surrounding it influences the motivations of each character. As clues are slowly revealed, the plot unfolds and tension mounts. Even toward the end of the book, the insecurities of each character makes for romantic tension, as one isn’t sure they’ll find common ground.

In regards to the mystery, they end up chasing their quarry across dimensions to prevent catastrophic damage to multiple continuums, and in the process of their investigation Holmes and Chadwick each end up injured multiple times. Moriarty in any continuum is not a fellow one wishes to trifle with.

The book is primarily character driven and written to mimic Arthur Connan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes writing style. The pacing makes one feel the passage of time, and the frustration that comes with having to wait for the next information tidbit, rather than making it seem as if complex investigations magically wrap up in twenty-four hours. Another thing I liked, was that the characters are not “super people”. You know how in so many stories the hero or heroine face overwhelming odds and escape without so much as scratch? Holmes and Chadwick each earn their fair share of bruises and they feel it. One winces as it seems they spend a good portion of the story recuperating from yet another mishap.

If you enjoy fast paced, action pack stories, I’d suggest you read another book. If, however, you enjoy character driven stories where mystery and science entwine with romance, give this series a shot.

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Book Review- The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

Today I’ll be doing a little something new. As the title informs you, I’ll be reviewing a book. I might have watched Bambi a few too many times as a kid and taken Thumper’s mother’s advice to heart, because I hate giving anything but positive reviews. I’m also rather picky when it comes to books, which is another reason I have not embarked on a review before.

Thankfully, this is a good review, as I greatly enjoyed the story. I love genre blending and I fell in love with Sherlock Holmes long ago when I was maybe eight or nine and saw the old black and white “Hound of the Baskervilles” on television. When I discovered it was an entire series, I, of course, proceeded to read them all. When I ran out of books to read during the summer, I never minded re-reading Sherlock Holmes.

As I mentioned in my post about my haunted phone, I’ve been immersed in all things Sherlock Holmes of late. That would include the lovely Ms. Stephanie Osborn’s Displaced Detective Series.

Displaced DetectiveI shall forewarn you that this is NOT a typical Holmes mystery where he runs around solving everything with poor Watson wondering how he did it. Dump a Victorian era genius into the modern world and things get interesting rather quickly. What I enjoy the most is that this is not simply a mystery. Ms. Osborn blends mystery, science fiction and romance– yes, ROMANCE. So those of you who balk at the idea that Mr. Holmes might be more than a walking logic computer, clearly you have yet to see CBS’ Elementary, where Holmes sinks into  grief-fueled drug addiction when Irene Adler, “The Woman” dies. Of course, I shan’t give any spoilers for that.

If that peaks your interest, you may very well enjoy The Arrival. Written to mimic the style of the original Conan Doyle books, the narrative captures the attention from page one and weaves a tale of parallel universes where a figure from literature in our universe is a living breathing individual in another. By accident, he gets brought here when the heroine, Dr. Skye Chadwick, instinctively intervenes to save him, rather than letting him fall to his death at Reichenbach Falls. Over the course of events, the reader finds out that in that particular universe, Holmes did not survive, as he had in others. Sending Holmes back is impossible without collapsing the universe, so he is kept here and Dr. Chadwick is assigned to integrate him into modern society. Of course, a project with potential to change events across multiple universes attracts the interest of some nefarious individuals. Cue Holmes’ investigatory interest as intrigue unfolds.

While another reviewer remarked on the numerous scene divisions, or as he said “random squiggly things”, I did not find them distracting, as they served to demarcate a change in point of view, which happened perhaps more often than in modern writing style.

Ms. Osborn’s characters explain the physics very well, effectively suspending my disbelief.  The tension does not build rapidly, as it does in many modern action adventure works, but more subtly as bits of the mystery are woven into place. The tale ends at an emotional climax and with partial resolution of the conflict. The cliff hanger ending seemed perfectly calculated, not unlike an especially intense TV series episode that’s a 2-parter.

Another bit I enjoyed about the book was that it contained a few words which might be termed “five-dollar words”, meaning words not normally used. I can hardly imagine being around a space-time physicist and the great Sherlock Holmes and NOT adding a few words to my lexicon. In this case, Kindle readers will get a chance to use that dictionary feature

The author uses all-caps for emphasis. As it is not used overly much, I did not find it distracting, especially as I’ve been known to do the same thing (*cough* prior paragraph*cough*). I found that the italicized script was particularly small, but this is a publisher formatting thing and not something the author has control over. I tend to overlook things of that nature. If you have trouble reading small print, I suggest buying a hard copy rather than the ebook.

If perchance you are interested in checking out the series, The Arrival is on sale for a limited time.

Highly Illogical

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m attempting to play Star Trek Online.

When Soup King plays, only once in awhile does he seem to get intense. Usually he’s sitting back in his chair, and if he dies and has to re-spawn…oh well. Me? I still have that learned trauma from back in the day: dying equals game over. Okay, so I know now that I can re-spawn and tackle the situation again, but it doesn’t make it any less dire in my brain.

No! Must NOT DIEEEEEEE! I crouch over my laptop as if my intensity can telepathically transfer to my digital character. When the ships I’m battling keep coming at me like sadistic Energizer bunnies, I tend to blurt out, “Why won’t you DIE?!!!!!”

In the process of gaming I ran across some things which make no sense, either from a non-gamer logical stand point, or from a Trekkie history opinion.

  1. One cannot use full impulse during battle. You can’t warp away and come back after your ship repairs either. Have the game designers  even watched Star Trek? One ship vs ten? The logical thing is to pick off several, warp away, repair, warp back and repeat. Clearly the game designers are not tacticians or Vulcan.
  2. My ship responds faster to the keyboard controls than to the mouse, but W,A,S, and D are all crammed in a tight little area and are on my left side. I’m right handed. I want a joy stick. THAT design is logical.
  3. If I’m supposed to use an item and a weapon on a mission, I can’t use both at the same time. No, I have to scroll and click appropriate buttons. That’s equivalent to going through my purse while an attacker charges me…totally illogical. Console controls can handle left hand/right hand movement. Is there some secret keyboard combo I need to know?
  4. Why do you have to manually pull up a map and then point your ship in the direction of a system? Same holds true for finding people on a station or ship. Anyone who has ever watched Star Trek knows you just ask the computer.
  5. I just remembered a plot hole from ST:TNG. Using warp engines causes temporal rifts, or something like that, correct? So, in a couple of episodes, they have to get permission to use warp 9 or whatever. After that, the problem just disappears. So if warp is bad, wouldn’t transwarp be worse? In either case, I still want a darn warp button.

I’m playing a Vulcan. Too emotional, you say?

My storyline...also highly illogical.

My storyline…also highly illogical.

 

Let’s just say it’s all the human influence and their clearly incompetent skills in designing ship controls.

This guy knows how to fly:

That's a logical setup

Anything for Trek

I am a die hard Trekkie. I grew up watching the original Star Trek series re-runs, the movies,  the animated series, and saw Star Trek:TNG when it was brand spanking new. I watched DS9, Voyager, and yes, even Enterprise. I can’t say I liked some of the story lines in the latter, but it was Star Trek and I love Scott Bakula , so I watched it.

While my inner scientist cringed at the whole “red matter” thing, I liked the alternate universe approach for the movie reboots. Oh, and I’ve read far more Star Trek books than I can list. My first foray into “grown-up” reading started as reading every Star Trek book I could find. For one, I’ve never, ever read a bad Trek book. I’ve read some that were forgettable and some so good that I’ve re-read them a dozen times. It was sort of that way with most of the movies and shows. It was guaranteed to entertain, and sometimes it made you look deeper, and once in a while it hit with an unexpected emotional punch, but very rarely was I ever dissatisfied. Okay, there were times I sat there watching Enterprise and I argued with the TV. “That is NOT cannon! The Vulcans would never, ever do that! OMG What are they thinking?” Still, this was more of an issue of the show not conforming to prior history rather than bad acting.

So where am I going with my ode to the Trek universe?

I’m getting there….

Soup King, if I haven’t mentioned it, is a gamer. I am not. I dabble from time to time, have a bit of fun, and then get bored and wander off to do non-gaming things. I grew up with 2-D, insanely hard games like Pac-Man and Mario Brothers (Damn you level 4 dragon!…b/c I never cared enough to hunt up those 99 lives, I never made it past world 4, except once, but I promptly died when arriving at world 5). Any one who knows me can attest, I have a hard enough time navigating in the real world. The 3-D characters that traipse about in games now take rather more skill than hitting an arrow key and A (or was it B?) to jump.

In any case, some of the games he’s played have indeed looked quite interesting. He tried to get me play PortalI kept walking into walls and couldn’t get my person to point where I wanted to go. I gave up quickly. I didn’t care if there was cake promised. Besides, from what I hear, the cake is a lie anyway.

Soup King started playing Star Trek Online. Even better? It’s free. I jumped all over that.

I’m sure there are hundreds of people watching my ship wobble helter skelter though a system and wonder if I’m drunk. Maybe by the time I get high enough in rank for PvE or PvP game play I’ll quit walking into walls. Then again, this is me. I walk into walls in real life.

When I finished the tutorial the NPC Admiral said, “You’ve shown great promise.  You’ll make a great Captain.”

Soup King commented, “Clearly he didn’t see you fly.”

I retorted, “He said Captain, not pilot!”

For Star Trek though, I’ll brave 3-D game play….going where [I] have never gone before!

Don't let her pilot!

Don’t let her pilot!

Geekdom Just Around the Corner

It’s that time of year again. MidSouthCon 31 is this weekend. Once again, I shall be in attendance as a moderator. I rather hoped to achieve “guest” status this year, but there’s always next year. If you happen across me Friday evening, no I’m not impersonating a zombie. Likely I’ll be brain-dead from exhaustion after teaching a lecture at the perky, ungodly hour of 8:30am, followed by lab stuff, meetings, and somewhere in there cramming food into my gullet before making my grand entrance.

By grand entrance I mean nick-of-time mad dash to my panel.

There’s something invigorating about being surrounded by other writers and artists and discussing our craft. Every year it gives me a creative high for weeks after.

For those of you who’ve never attended a convention let me summarize what MSC offers. There are panels on various topics, from costume design, gaming, science, anime, to writing and fiction. There’s a video gaming room, a large board game area (not Chutes and Ladders, but in depth board games), costume contest, shows, art auction (for charity), and a dealers’ room with cool stuff to buy, or for the financially challenged, gaze upon wistfully. There’s also a ton of people in creative costumes.

I anticipate a fun weekend of geekery, laughter, and sleep deprivation. If you’re in the area, check it out. If you’re from farther corners of the world, be brave, embrace your inner geek and check out a con near you!

It’s a Trek World

I’m not much of a gadget person. In part this is due to not being able to afford lots of gadgets, but the other part I blame on Star Trek. I’m holding out for mind-blowing awesome. You can keep your miracle cloth that only costs $19.95, if I order in the next hour. Towels still work just dandy.

Crazy, you say? I may not be so crazy after all.

The medical tricorder is a reality. Sure, compared to the sleek gadgets in the show it’s like those giant stupid looking mobile phones that came out in the 1980’s, but the point is that they ushered in a new era in communication. Even better, the tricorder, called SCOUT, will cost less than any brand new apple product.

So, maybe we’re a few decades away from visiting other solar systems, but it seems physicists have found a way to make warp drives more feasible than they once thought.

What I really want though is a transporter. Scientists can already beam atoms from one place to another. Of course, freezing a person to near absolute zero would kill them, but that’s a pesky detail I’m sure they’ll eventually work out.

Why do I have Star Trek on my mind?

In the mean time, if a hot Vulcan lands on Earth, I volunteer to make first contact.