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Reviews Written by
Jayson Olson (Rancho Santa Margarita, ca, United States)

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Stone and Anvil
Stone and Anvil
by Peter David
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Fleshing out of Calhoun, June 15 2004
This review is from: Stone and Anvil (Hardcover)
I love Peter David, and especially his spin on the Star Trek universe. All of his plots are fresh, and never the same recycled space opera ideas we've read so many time before. But where Mr. David really shines is in his character development.
After reading only a few of his novels, you feel as if you really know the characters on a personal basis in his corner of the ST universe, and 'Stone & Anvil' is no exception.
The overall theme of the book, which may not be apparent at first is the deeper origin of Capt. Mackenzie Calhoun. Think of this novel as Calhoun: Year One. We get to see Mac's first days in the academy, more on his home planet, how he first met 'Eppie', and how he became the new James T. Kirk of his era.
However, all this back-story feeds into the more crucial, upfront story: the murder of shipmate Gleau as was the cliffhanger in the previous novel. Is Ensign Janos involved? As the murder mystery unravels, as is so with any Peter David novel, all is not what it seems, and there are some very original plot twists that will have ST fans ecstatic at past references.
The only issue I had with this novel, and I can understand the method in which it was used, was that every other chapter bounced between 'Now' & 'Then'. Meaning, chapter one takes place in the present Next Generation timeline, while chapter 2 find a young Calhoun entering Starfleet Academy. And thus for the remaining of the book the reader must shift gears between past and present.
Why this was a hardcover, and not a soft, I don't understand. While a good book, there was no 'earth-shattering' events that are usually reserved for hard covers. And I seemed to have missed any cliffhanger. I guess the next novel will start a new storyline altogether, something that seems out of place for a Peter David ST novel.

Everyone Dies
Everyone Dies
by Michael Mcgarrity
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 1.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Best 'who-done-it' in the series, May 26 2004
This review is from: Everyone Dies (Hardcover)
Even though this novel is a stand alone book within the Kevin Kerney series of novels, it would probably help to read a few of the others first, only to flesh out some background history on some of the characters.
I think that's beneficial only because the murders that plague Santa Fe, NM and Kevin Kerney's department hits close to home. First a seemingly random, yet planned murder of a gay attorney in town has the community and the police baffled. As the story progresses and the body count increases, it soon becomes evident that the murderer is singling out and sending a very private yet cryptic message to Kerney.
Kerney then realizes that his pregnant wife, and his estranged son may also be targets, and the clues are vague at best. This is no ordinary killer, this one has spent a lot of time crafting his trade and will have the reader guessing for quite sometime on who's next and where we are going.
That's the testament to this novel. You can really empathize with Kerney as he begins to feel helpless for not only himself but those few remaining close to him. The novel does a great job in pacing the action and guesswork, and you'd be surprised how fluid it moves along, all the while the bodies start stacking up.
The only issue I had that prevented me from assigning 5 stars was the very last chapter. After the climax, which was a little short after such a wonderful buildup, the last chapter jumped the reader a few weeks forward and everything was back to normal...too quickly and done within only a few brief pages.

by Tim LaHaye
Edition: Paperback
72 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Most action yet!! Some good surprises for long time fans., April 22 2004
This review is from: Armageddon (Paperback)
As both authors have taken us on a fictional/non-fictional journey for the past few years that has now spanned 11 books, there was sure to be some slow moments and some harrowing moments that would keep the reader turning pages.
Often I though a few of the books were a bit too long, and maybe a couple in the series could have been consolidated to make for a more flowing and cohesive arc.
I happy to report that 'Armageddon' delivers very strong story content, much more action and pacing, and quite a few character surprises that leads to the final chapter: Glorious Appearing.
It seems that the 7 year tribulation is almost over. With less than a year left to the prophesized return of Jesus, the world has pretty much chosen sides, albeit there are some dissidents that have that one last chance who have yet to take the mark of Carpathia (the antichrist), or accepts the messiah. Leading up to the battle of all battles, Carpathia's iron fist begins to be more prominent....accept his mark, or die. As the beheadings pick up pace, the Lord also quickens his judgments and the world is faced with a few more 'natural' dilemma's.
Armageddon picks up pace, and soon the reader is moved ahead 3 months where some of the characters we have come to enjoy meet their fate, often with dire consequences. Some of the majors will not make it all the way to the end.
In a chilling moment within the book, Carpathia summons his 10 regional leaders to discuss upcoming battle plans against the rebels. Carpathia finally reveals to them his true nature and his true intent in a very descriptive manner on how he wasn't the 'only' angel around when he became conscious and describes his interactions with the one who calls himself God and his son Jesus, and how they had met once before and have been locked in a struggle for millennia. Carpathia finishes his 'pep-talk' with some supernatural acts, and its surprising how his followers react and respond.
The book closes as a cliffhanger as the reader once again is moved forward in time: Carpathia and his forces, an army unlike the world has ever seen before, are at the doors of the Holy City and that of the rebellion stronghold of Petra. Here the remaining undecided world dissidents must make their final choice, as it is only hours away from when Jesus is prophesized to return and deal with Carpathia in the ultimate battle.

Dark Crystal Collector's Edition Box Set (Senitype and Jim Henson original notes in Collector's Box) [Import]
Dark Crystal Collector's Edition Box Set (Senitype and Jim Henson original notes in Collector's Box) [Import]
DVD ~ Jim Henson
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 35.21
10 used & new from CDN$ 8.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, but overall DVD CE package was lacking., Jan. 26 2004
I really won't rehash the story here as it can be read in the editorial or other reviews, but I will simply comment on the Collectors Edition DVD and complete package instead.
Foremost, the widescreen transfer was pretty good, but seemed to be lacking the extra re-mastering touch. I think today we expect DVD CE's to be re-mixed and re-mastered for a crisp picture, brilliant color, and over all visual enhancements. However, even though the transfer was good, I thought the colors could have been more brilliant at times.
The enclosed 'notepad', while a neat idea, was a little disappointing. It is a small scale reproduction of some of Jim Henson's notes for the movie during production. For me, it was a little small to read or enjoy, and most of 'notes' where very fragmented, and maybe only Jim Henson would be able to decipher their actual meanings.
The enclosed film frame is pretty cool. It is a single frame of the movie sandwiched and framed in very decorative heavy card stock. But it is also very small and not really for young children to enjoy.
DVD Extras and presentation:
1) Documentary was about an hour long and very interesting. It was a very nice addition to the CE disk. It was very deep into showing the viewer the movie from concept and design to actual shooting. Very informative and revealing. 5 stars.
2) Illustration Gallery. A few nice pics and illustrations, but not really enough to warrant this a special feature. There may have been all of 8 stills, and with no accompanying text, music or captions, it was nothing special. 1 star.
3) Audio setup: Beware, the default audio setting was 2 channel stereo, which is unusual. It was only after I watched the movie, and went into the audio menus did I find a 5.1 Dolby track. Most DVD's today use this as the default or standard. I thought it was strange that the CE disc used 2 channel as a default. 2 stars.
4) Deleted Scenes: there were a few and they were interesting but not spectacular. 3.5 stars.

Star Trek: New Frontier: Gods Above
Star Trek: New Frontier: Gods Above
by Peter David
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars �Gods Above� stands tall for Peter David, Dec 3 2003
In what seemed to have taken forever to produce the next installment of the New Frontier series within the Star Trek universe was well worth the wait to readers.
After developing a very interesting storyline and expanding upon it from the original television series all those years ago, Peter David re-introduced the entities known as The Beings. The Beings are god like creatures whom ancient humans wrote about as Apollo, Zues, and the like from different human mythologies.
The prequel to Gods Above, had The Beings once again bring their drug-like substance known as 'ambrosia' to the people of Danter with promises of enlightenment and prosperity in exchange for worship.
But Capt. Calhoun of the Excalibur and wife, Capt. Shelby of the Trident know better. Calhoun's ship suffered greatly from the powers of The Beings when he challenged their power, in order to save the misguided Danteri people. Even Ambassador Si Cwan and sister Kalinda seemed to be at the mercy of the gods in the form of Anubis, Egyptian god of death.
With both crews of the Trident an Excalibur trying to devise a way to stop the rampant spread of ambrosia and influence of The Beings, other sub-plots introduced continue:
Mark McHenry who 'died' at the hand of Artemis, may not be dead at all even though his corpse resides in sickbay.
Kebron continues his hide shedding and metamorphosis and the results are unexpected.
Calhoun's adoptive son, Moke, learns something new about himself and surprises all.
Soleta is tempted by the god of truth, Thoth, and even this Vulcan 'logic' comes in question.
A really interesting development with Robin's mother, Morgan Primus comes to light.
A classic Star Trek Icon stops in for a visit.
And many more developments to keep the reader entertained. To me, it is amazing on how easy author Peter David can keep the reader energized and continually surprised with all the different plots. The New Frontier easily and continuously fleshes out its characters to keep them fresh and up to date. More so, the New Frontier series really is the more exciting of all the Star Trek series. Think of the crew of the Trident and Excalibur as a combination of a sorority/fraternity life, seedy soap opera, and a dark comedy all rolled into one continuous space faring jaunt.
And as always, just when you think things are wrapped up, in classic Peter David style, he leaves the reader with a jaw dropping cliff hanger.

The Final Prophecy: Star Wars Legends (The New Jedi Order)
The Final Prophecy: Star Wars Legends (The New Jedi Order)
by Greg Keyes
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.33
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Conclusion in sight?, Oct. 30 2003
After the mediocre reception and drawn out plotlines of books 15, 16, 17, finally author Greg Keyes puts some sparks back into the The New Jedi Order and builds a well paced and action packed story that genuinely keeps the readers attention.
With Sekot finally found and Tahiri finally becoming whole again, Keyes brings back the idea that a war is actually going on, and certain characters actions play defining moments in the setting of the future of the Star Wars Universe.
There are two main plotlines here in The Final Prophecy and they play out very well:
1) Master Shaper Nen Yim, Priest Harrar and Prophet Nom Anor devise a plan to secret themselves off Yuuzhan'tar (formerly Coruscant) with the aid of Jedi's Corran Horn and Tahiri Vella in a stolen Sekotian ship. However, everyone of them has their own motives and the three Vong clearly do not trust each other leaving Horn and Vella to constantly watch their own backs and form alliances with their foes if they are to survive. Once they all set foot upon Sekot, the Vong show their true colors and the reader will be surprised by revelation by Harrar and Nen Yim, who also suprise themselves. Nen Yim also takes it a step further by yet again revealing something new to Tahiri which makes her question her own being once again. Not to be outdone in crafty plots, Nom Anor makes his move who proves fatal for one character and jeopardizes the well being of Sekot itself.
The other main thrust of the novel see the Vong develop a new weapon which has taken out the communications network of the Galactic Alliance as General Wedge Antilles develops a strategy to retake the planet Bilbringi. What Antilles has in mind with the aide of the Imperial Remnant and General Garm Bel Iblis quickly falls apart as communication blackouts sweep the galaxy. As sitting ducks, Antilles must fight a decisive battle and get reinforcements as soon as possible. Enter Jaina Solo who discovers a once hidden battle station being abducted by pirates, and Jag Fel who must also find reinforcements.
With Han & Leia Solo piloting the Falcon, the reader can once again enjoy a fast paced and easy to follow action page turner as events around the galaxy come to a forefront on both Sekot and the battle of Bilbringi.
Yes, there are many characters missing, but unlike other novels in this long series, they aren't missed too much because of the action and logical forward movement of the big picture. Great job overall.

Black Holes and Baby Universes: And Other Essays
Black Holes and Baby Universes: And Other Essays
by Stephen Hawking
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.92
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Science, but for non egg-heads., Oct. 6 2003
It's kinda hard to review a book that has no plot per se, but more of an explanation on the theories of space, time travel, our universe and its creation and demise, and of course black holes.
What is really nice about this relatively short scientific book, is that Stephen Hawking makes his research and theories very accessible to the everyday reader. His explanations are not overly complex and deep that it leaves you with a headache afterwards. In other words, you need not be a rocket scientist or have and alphabet soup degrees to catch on.
Mr. Hawking keeps his chapters relatively short and not mired into too much techno-babble, but gets straight to the meat of any said topic and presents wonderful layman analogies that we can all identify with. It's also pleasant that he interjects a certain degree of wit and self humor into his style so as he doesn't come across as a stiff scientist.
The book ends with a transcript of a wonderful radio interview he did when he was 50, which surprisingly depicts a very human side to Mr. Hawking while still presenting his thoughts on creation, God, dark matter, time travel, and what exactly 'may' happen if one were sucked into a black hole.

Reunion: Star Wars Legends (The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic, Book III)
Reunion: Star Wars Legends (The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic, Book III)
by Sean Williams
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
42 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Best of 3 in this mini trilogy., Sept. 15 2003
The 'Force Heretic' story arc concludes with this third installment (or book 17) of the New Jedi Order series which has spanned the last few years, and thank God.
Heretic I & II seemed like complete filler material to me, doing little to advance the overall grand storyline that the New Jedi Order had set in motion. They did introduce a few marginally interesting points, but due to teh fact they were so drawn out, verbose, with little payoff it was a struggle to read through those. However, Heretic III was far superior to its prequels.
We finally see the resolution of Tahiri, the young Jedi girl who was saved by Anakin (who she was smitten with) from horrible experiments the Vong had dealt to her when she was in captivity. Finally, her bipolar personality story point comes to a head.
We also witness the 1st major campaign with the allied New Galactic Alliance (formerly The New Republic) and the Imperial Remnant. This makes for an exciting dynamic, and the ensuing space battle is one of the best to be read after many books.
Luke, Mara, Jacen, Danni, Saba finally see their quest for the search of the living planet, Sekot, also come to a head. Here the authors really make up for a campy and wild story regarding Sekot to the point where it actually can be read as plausible. Sekot hold some deep secrets regarding the Jedi, the Vong, and itself and its place in the galaxy. While some questions are answered, others are introduced in a exciting way which really helps make up for the previous two books attempts for the reader to care about finding Sekot.
And within the pages concerning the Vong, as always, Nom Anor's character shines. Nom's character makes the whole trilogy bright spot as his scheming and malicious ways make for great reads. Especially the attempt on his life from one of his own, and the revealing of one of his spies to Shmirra. More Nom, less filler.
After reading all three books, I am convinced that the story could have been much tighter and acceptable if completed in two. Unfortunately, the epilogue only hints at what is to come and the reader must decide if reading the three novels really accomplished anything on a 'grand galactic' scale.

National Lampoon's: Animal House (Double Secret Probation Edition)
National Lampoon's: Animal House (Double Secret Probation Edition)
DVD ~ John Belushi
Price: CDN$ 5.97
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars 25 year edition, not that special., Sept. 9 2003
Everyone, whether you liked the movie or don't find mindless Lampoon humor all that funny, can agree that Animal House gave birth to the college & high school hi-jinx movie genre.
Putting my opening statement aside, the movie debuted in 1978, and now being 2003, this would make it the 25th Anniversary. Usually, when movies hit the fabled 10, 25, 50 year mark, the public thinks of these as classics and when released or re-leased we expect something special of our special editions.
Unfortunately, Animal House 'Double Secret Probation' does not deliver in my book. I'm not going to review the movie, by now everyone should know what it is and you can read other reviews if needed. However I will review the technical aspects of the movie as well as it's so called extra's.
The movie itself, though at times may seem dated in it political correctness or even sophomoric humor still can stand by itself. However, I think the flagship for National Lampoon would have deserved a clean re-mastering of teh pring and sound. This didn't seem to be the case. Overall coloring still seemed no better than my VHS copy as well as sound. Disappointing to say the least.
Then there is the infernal mandatory viewing of 5 minutes or so of various Universal previews you cannot skip. Annoying feature.
There are four extra's, but I only felt only one or two of them warrant any special attention:
1) Alumni update: Approx 15 minutes in length. Actors are in character all these year later in small 2-3 vignettes each explaining where they are today and what they have been doing. Some lines are funny, others are not, and sadly some important characters are absent from this update.
2) Shout music video: recent update by some rock group I've never heard of. Typical movie/music video crossover- band members in some empty warehouse playing a butcheredd version of a song interlaced with movie snippets. No biggie.
3) Animated trivia. Re-watch the movie with this feature turned on and gain some trivia..Kinda cool.
4) Making of. This 45 minute documentary describes how Animal House went from being idea to actual celluloid. Pretty interesting as this interview segment has many of the main characters, director, composer, screen writer, producers and more talk about the making of the movie along with on-set stories and behind the scenes footage. Very interesting and the only real extra on this DVD.
I would have loved to have seen a few bloopers, and screen tests, especially that of the late John Belushi, and maybe even the location and tour of the Delta house.

Big Gamble
Big Gamble
by Michael Mcgarrity
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from CDN$ 1.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Kerny's second string expands., Aug. 21 2003
This review is from: Big Gamble (Hardcover)
Taking place just a few short months after the Color of Law, Kerney is just settling into his new role as police chief, when of course an old case resurfaces back to the forefront.
It seems that Kerney's son, deputy Clayton Istee (formerly of the tribal police) while investigating a fire/homicide also discovers the remains of a woman who had disappeared over a decade ago. Could the remains of a long missing student be connected with the slaying and cover-up of a recent homeless man?
The investigation leads Clayton to a small time gambler and his dealings with a local Indian casino. But that's not all...the web to be revealed goes way beyond a few small time gamblers, but includes some very powerful and political figures that may have known the missing student many years back. A reluctant Istee must turn to his estranged father, Kerney for help, and the relationship (or lack of) between the two established some time back comes to the forefront.
Kerney has his own issues however. His pregnant wife is seeming to have certain maternal issues, he is scheduled to have a second leg operation, his dream home begins construction, and then he comes across an underground prostitution ring that may somehow be connected to a recent string of murders and gambling.
It's amazing how all these loose threads come together and are interconnected throughout the whole novel, and as in the authors recent style, you feel like you are reading 2-3 short stories, and only at the end do all the pieces of the puzzle fit.
McGarrity also introduces to new characters into the mix, a local undercover cop big on busting up the skin trade and a young female deputy who dons a disguise to get involved in the inner circles where drugs, prostitution, gambling, and politics are interconnected.
McGarrity does a great job of fleshing out new characters to breathe life into his southwestern universe, as well as keeping the long going story arc interesting when it comes to Kerney, his wife, and long lost son.
I look forward to many more of his novels to come.

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