All posts by SciFiChick

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TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery

About Star Trek Discovery:
Star Trek, one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises, returns 50 years after it first premiered, with Star Trek: Discovery. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to watch on CBS All Access:
http://www.cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery/

Review:
CBS has kept details of the show secretive. After production and release delays, and the disappointment of the show only airing online via yet another paid service, I still remained optimistic. After all, the small glimpses, casting, and setting all looked great. And this is the first time that a Star Trek series will be serialized, rather than individual, one-hour storylines. Discovery is set 10 years prior to the Original series of Kirk, Spock, and Bones. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham – a human first officer who was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s father Sarek.

What stands out the most on first-watch is the amazing set designs and special effects. Especially with the Klingons, who have been revamped and look very different than the ones from the previous series. From costumes and prosthetics to the set details – it’s stunning and impressive. In fact, as I watched the first episode it felt like I was watching a big budget blockbuster, not a television show. The bridge design and uniforms are not unlike the recent JJ Abrams Star Trek films, yet they have their own spin. I especially liked the spacesuit design.

My biggest complaint has to do with the Klingons – and it’s the subtitles. I can’t stand reading subtitles for long periods of time, and it’s really not necessary unless it’s a foreign film. We know they’re speaking another language, so phasing to English should’ve happened at some point.

The casting and characters are fantastic as well. Michael Burnham is a tremendously complex young woman, brilliantly cast, and an intriguing main character. Doug Jones as Lt. Saru, of a new alien race, is already a fan favorite as he has a great rivalry with Burnham. And Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou of the Shenzhou is flawless as Burnham’s mentor and boss. Unfortunately, episodes 1 and 2 only show the Shenzhou, so we haven’t even met the crew of the Discovery yet. But with Jason Isaacs as the captain, I’m already excited.

Episode 1 ended in a major cliffhanger, making fans like me scramble to sign up for CBS All Access to watch the next episode. And I enjoyed the second installment even more. In fact, as I watched it I realized I immediately wanted to rewatch as soon as possible. The heart of what Star Trek about is here – optimism for the future. Though we do get to see the grittiness of having Klingons as definitive adversaries for the first time. There is plenty of suspense, adventure, drama, hi-tech gadgets, techno babble, and questions of morality. “The Vulcan Hello” itself is a wonderful example of a scenario that will make viewers think and question. It has been a long time since I found myself so giddy and geeked out about a new show. And I can’t wait for the next episode.

Fantasy Book Review: Wings of Fire: Darkness of Dragons

Wings of Fire: Darkness of Dragons by Tui T Sutherland

Synopsis:
Qibli knows Darkstalker must be stopped. And he knows he could stop him – if he had magic. With even a sliver of the ancient dragon’s all-powerful scroll, Qibli could rewrite history the right way: end war forever; make every dragon happy; perhaps even cast a very small spell so that everyone would like him.

Instead, as Darkstalker’s dangerous influence spreads across Pyrrhia, entrancing or killing every dragon in the seven tribes, Qibli can only grasp the small animus objects he’s borrowed from Turtle. With some clever thinking, Qibli’s talons finally hold the power to make a difference.

But prophecies are not easy to rewrite. Can Qibli be the magical force Pyrrhia needs, or will he be the one to bring Jade Mountain – and his family, his friends, his whole world – crashing down?

Review:
This is the 10th book in the Wings of Fire series, not including the standalone Darkstalker novel. This final book in the Darkstalker arc focuses on Qibli. He’s easily the most humble and clever of the dragonets. Though he has dreams, he doesn’t feel he deserves them. This is most likely due to his harsh upbringing from a mother who clearly didn’t love him, though he craved her love and acceptance.

Each installment in this series I say is my favorite, and this is certainly no exception. The character of Qibli is so amazing that you want to reach into the book and hug him. His story is full of danger, suspense, drama, and intrigue. With Darkstalker, you never know how he’ll respond, yet Qibli is the perfect dragonet to come up with a plan to take him down. There is a surprising and satisfying resolution to this 2nd story arc that was even better than the first. This fantastic series is a must-read for fantasy fans of all ages.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Phasma

Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah S Dawson

Synopsis:
One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armored stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

Review:
Phasma had a small but powerful presence in The Force Awakens, so many fans were looking forward to her backstory and learning more about her. Her story is told by a captured rebel, Vi, in short, drawn out bursts, to her captor. Cardinal is jealous of Phasma and wants to find some dirt on her to bring her down.

Phasma is born on a harsh world and makes her own way. And she will do anything to survive. Basically, Phasma is a psychopath. I would have liked to hear her story and get her point of view, to see if she feels any empathy. But her ruthlessness is evident. It was a clever way to tell her story from a third party, giving this origin story another level. As Vi finishes Phasma’s story, the even more suspense builds. This action-packed, dramatic story is dark and revealing. And I can’t wait to read more of these individual stories leading up to the next film.

Fantasy Book Review: The Silver Mask

The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Synopsis:
A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt.

Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on.

But Call has no idea.

It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power.

Review:
When a surprising prison break frees Call, he finds himself in an even worse situation. Call must decide whether or not to follow in Constantine’s studies in order to bring back his best friend from the dead.

The Silver Mask is the fourth book in this exciting fantasy series for middle school on up. This installment definitely takes a darker turn as Call confronts a big choice that will have consequences. Meanwhile, he wonders if his friends trust him anymore. Full of suspense, danger, and magic – this latest story builds to an exciting finale. I love this unique series and the complex characters. The protagonist of the story happens to have the soul of the villain living inside him.

Book Giveaway: Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories

Courtesy of Mariner Books, I have a copy of Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories by Hugh Howey for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 13. I’ll draw a name on October 14, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories

Box Review: Smuggler’s Bounty – September 2017

Smuggler's Bounty

“Star Wars and Funko are proud to present Smuggler’s Bounty, the only OFFICAL Star Wars subscription box in the galaxy! Featuring 100% exclusive collectibles, apparel and accessories from the Star Wars universe, each box is carefully curated for Star Wars fans and shipped directly to your doorstep. Every box is themed specifically around the Star Wars films with collectors in mind. For just $25 (plus shipping) every other month, members will receive a box full of exclusive Star Wars-themed Funko collectibles and a host of other surprises valued at over $50. Each box will focus on a different part of the Star Wars universe and include memorabilia exclusive to the program, perfect for any Star Wars fan.”

The theme this month was Jedi!

Smuggler's Bounty

Patch and Pin – these are small collectibles included in each box.

Again this month, there was no card detailing the items included.

Smuggler's Bounty

Star Wars Young Luke Skywalker Tshirt – Yet another black tee. And it’s not a great rendering of Luke.

Smuggler's Bounty

Plush Yoda – This is really cute. I don’t collect the plush dolls, but they are cute!

Smuggler's Bounty

EXCLUSIVE Obi-Wan Kenobi – I only have an older Obi-Wan, so this younger version is nice.

EXCLUSIVE Aayla Secura – Here’s a more obscure Jedi from the prequel films. I don’t care for those, so I barely remember her. But it’s still fun to have a different looking POP, instead of all humans.

Summary:
I still miss the detail card about the items included. This was another great 2 Funko POPs in a box month! Both characters were from the prequel films that I didn’t care for. But there were way more Jedi’s to choose from in those films!

Will vs. The Future on Amazon

Writer and Producer Tim McKeon gave me a heads up about his latest pilot, now available on Amazon (no Prime needed!), called Will vs. The Future! He and Kevin Seccia created this fun and exciting middle-school, science fiction adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

You can watch it for free here: http://a.co/g2R8wRR

I’m hoping the pilot gets picked up by Amazon. The first episode is promising, with clever characters, an unpredictable plot, and plenty of humor. It’s reminiscent of Terminator – but for all ages. Go check it out, especially if you have a young scifi fan in your life.

Blu-Ray Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital Combo Pack

SYNOPSIS:
Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

REVIEW:
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in this origin story that leads in to the upcoming Justice League movie. We were introduced to her in Batman v Superman, which I would mostly like to forget. Although, she was definitely the highlight of the film. This story takes us back to WWI, when Themyscira becomes involved in man’s war. And Diana decides to join the world of man, convinced that Ares is behind the war.

With fantastic action and stylized fight scenes, this adventure is visually stunning and well-paced. Wonder Woman didn’t disappoint despite being one of my all-time favorite super heroes. I appreciated her naiveté and altruism having lived in such seclusion. Chris Pine plays a suave Steve Trevor, a good choice for the man to win Diana’s heart. And Lucy Davis as Etta Candy made for unforgettable comedy relief. I thoroughly enjoyed her character. The story was fun and exciting. And though a bit predictable, it was no less enjoyable and emotional during the climactic scene. Thankfully, despite the terrible BvS, this film gives me hope for the Justice League.

Special Features Include:
– Epilogue: Etta’s Mission
– Crafting the Wonder
– A Director’s Vision: Themyscira: The Hidden Island
– A Director’s Vision: Beach Battle
– A Director’s Vision: A Photograph Through Time
– A Director’s Vision: Diana in the Modern World
– A Director’s Vision: Wonder Woman at War
– Warriors of Wonder Woman
– The Trinity
– The Wonder Behind the Camera
– Finding the Wonder Woman
– Extended Scenes
– Blooper Reel

Own Wonder Woman on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on September 19 or Own It Now on Digital HD!