Box Review: Comic Bento – May 2016

Comic Bento

Comic Bento is a subscription Graphic Novel Box – A surprise selection of fantastic Graphic Novels with at least $60 worth of comics in every box and mailed right to your door!

Pricing starts at $20/month plus shipping. Sign up now and save 15% with code SAVE15 and this link!

Comic Bento

This month’s theme was Rewriting History. Each box comes with a nice card describing each of the month’s picks.

Comic Bento

Ivar Timewalker: Making History (Retail $9.99) – This is new to me and about time travel – I’m excited to check it out.
Publisher: Valiant (June 2, 2015)

Comic Bento

Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol (Retail $19.99) – The time travel AND Allies against the Nazis and Dinosaurs? Yes, please.
Publisher: Titan Comics (March 11, 2014)

Comic Bento

Mankind: Story of All of Us (Retail $14.99) – This one really isn’t time travel – it’s based on a History Channel show. Kind of dull. I’ll be skipping this one.
Publisher: Zenescope (November 27, 2012)

Comic Bento

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Retail $19.99) – This is the inspiration behind the film – and a fun, retro book. I also have the prose novel based on this story, but I’ll probably read this one first.
Publisher: Marvel (December 21, 2011)

Summary: 3 out of 4 titles that I’ll read and keep is great. The value is as good as always. And I LOVED the theme this month!

Fantasy Book Review: Warcraft: Durotan

Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

Synopsis:
In the world of Draenor, the strong and fiercely independent Frostwolf Clan are faced with increasingly harsh winters and thinning herds. When Gul’dan, a mysterious outsider, arrives in Frostfire Ridge offering word of new hunting lands, Durotan, the Clan’s chieftain, must make an impossible decision: abandon the territory, pride and traditions of his people, or lead them into the unknown.

Review:
Disclaimer: I have never played World of Warcraft. But the movie trailers made the upcoming film look so appealing, that I had to read this movie prequel.

Durotan is an Orc from the Frostwolf Clan. The clan are noble, but fierce warriors. They do not tolerate weakness, but have no taste for cruelty to their prey. Durotan is a fantastically vivid character – and thrust into a role of leadership in an impossible situation.

This prequel doesn’t disappoint. It’s the story of how Durotan (a main character in the movie) and his clan must flee their land just to survive. It’s a survival story full of mystery, mysticism, and adventure. It definitely made me more excited to see the movie. If the character development is half as good as it is in this prequel, I’ll enjoy the film. I have a feeling that I’ll be reading more in this series.

Star Trek Blog Tour and Giveaway!

BTE_ChapterFour_Header

Excerpt from Boarding the Enterprise, the Anniversary Edition:
“The Prime Question” by Eric Greene

Eric Greene played the alien child Loki on the 1977 Saturday morning SF series Space Academy, which also starred Pamelyn Ferdin and Brian Tochi, who had guest starred in the Trek episode “And the Children Shall Lead.” He went on to write the brilliant critical study Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race, Politics and Popular Culture, and to work for the American Civil Liberties Union. We could think of no one better qualified to look at Star Trek’s relation- ship to the real world of the 1960s.

We had the overarching authority of science fiction and we could go anywhere with that and under that guise we could also talk about the issues of the day…. The war in Vietnam… no one was allowed to talk about on television if you had a contemporary show, but under sci- ence fiction we were able to get in commentary on Vietnam.

—d. c. Fontana, Star Trek Story Editor

Has a war been staged for us, complete with weapons and ideology and patriotic drum beating? Even… race hatred?

—Captain James Kirk, “Day of the Dove”  (3-7)

 

In its forty years Star Trek has become a legend. As the legend would have it, Star Trek derives its popularity from its positive view of the future, a future in which humanity has overcome poverty,  prejudice and war, reached out to alien species and joined with them in a United Federation of Planets to explore the stars in peace and friendship.¹ Camelot in outer space.

More than an exciting concept for a series, this is an inspiring prospect for humanity. Like any mass media project, Star Trek was many things: entertainment, a livelihood, art, product. But it was also a bold attempt, conceptually, to burst open an unoccupied space—the future—and shape its contours. It was a bid to create that future by suggesting what it might look like, how it might function and what values it should embrace. That must be why the show struck such a nerve, right? Yes. But there was more to it than that. There always is.

Like Arthur’s Camelot, or, more to the point, Kennedy’s Camelot, the legend of Star Trek and the history of Star Trek overlap but also diverge. The legend represents an appealing and important piece of Star Trek’s success but overlooks other essential truths. Star Trek was not only a vision of a utopian future; it emerged from, described and addressed a fractured, violent present.

I by no means want to dismiss  the positive  vision  that  was such  an important element of Star Trek. In my own case, for example, as a kid watching Star Trek in the ’70s, the image from the show that most excited me—more than  the colorful  bridge,  the magical  transporter or even the elegant starship—was the briefing room. That’s right, the briefing room. Just a table and some chairs. “The briefing room,” you might ask yourself, “a table and some chairs? That certainly doesn’t sound exciting. What could possibly be so exciting about that?” But I remember taking the worn copy of Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry’s Making of Star Trek paperback that I shared with my older brother Jeff (the  person  who earned  my everlasting  gratitude for introducing me to Star Trek—and all that came with it), staring at the picture of the conference room set and marveling at the memory  of Captain Kirk looking around at those gathered together of different races, species and specialties and saying to them, “I want options.”

¹ Leonard Nimoy provides one of the most articulate versions of this view explaining that Star Trek “was always a very humanistic show; one that celebrated the potential strengths of mankind, of our civilization, with great respect for all kinds of life, and a great hope that there be communica- tion between civilizations and cultures.” (Quoted in Greenwald, Jeff. Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth. New York: Penguin Books, 1998, p. 111.)

Something about that seemed encouragingly democratic, meritocractic, American. That conference room was where  decisions were made, and destinies were shaped—where all that mattered was if you had the brains and imagination to sit with the best and the brightest, think through problems and create solutions. The position you earned counted. The wealth of your parents, the color of your skin, did not. That’s a pretty powerful idea when you are seven years old, and I suspect I’ve carried the image of that briefing room with me into committee meetings, board rooms and conference tables throughout my adult life.

But the picture of that idealized briefing room was not the whole picture of Star Trek. This complex series had its share of contradictions: yes, the show featured a groundbreaking mix of ethnicities and nationalities and featured many guest stars of color in nonstereotypical parts,

even playing authority roles;² yet the recurring actors of color were kept in subordinate parts (as the TV satire In Living Color would brilliantly lampoon twenty years later). Yes, the show featured aliens who while initially feared as monsters, were eventually understood as beings who were just trying to defend their homes, protect their children or survive as a species; however, the Federation and Starfleet were largely “homo sapiens only” clubs.³ Yes, the show featured TV’s first interracial kiss, but that was hardly a breakthrough: Kirk and Uhura were forced into that kiss—it was desired by neither and resisted by both. And a Black woman forced to kiss a White man against her will ain’t romance. It’s rape. And a kind of rape with a disconcerting resonance in a country in which, for the majority of its history, Black women were subject to the sexual depredations of White slave holders.4

²Indeed African American actors were repeatedly cast as doctors, scientists, even commodores. This casting diversity seems to have been quite by design. While Gene Roddenberry had to fight for the inclusion of the alien Mr. Spock, an August 17, 1965 letter from NBC executive Mort Werner to Gene Roddenberry explained that NBC’s non-discrimination policy included encouraging the casting of racial minorities in order to reflect accurately U.S. population demographics and that “mindful of our vast audience and the extent to which television influences taste and attitudes, we are not only determined but anxious that members of minority groups be treated in a manner consistent with their roles in our society.” (Letter reprinted in Solow, Herbert F. and Justman, Robert. Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. New York: Pocket Books, 1996, pp.76–77.)

³ As a Klingon would pointedly observe in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in an admirable instance of those who made Star Trek actually challenging the legend themselves.

4 What’s actually striking about that much-hyped scene is not the obviously faked kiss (you never really see their mouths touch), but the surprising level of emotional intimacy in the dialogue leading up to the kiss. And that was not forced.


Courtesy of BenBella Books, I have a copy of Boarding the Enterprise, the Anniversary Edition by Charlaine Harris for two (2) lucky winners!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 24. I’ll draw a name on June 25, and notify winners via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Star Trek Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Box Review: Loot Crate – May 2016

Loot Crate

“Loot Crate™ delivers the best in geek + gaming gear. From collectibles, apparel, tech gadgets, art, and other epic gear, it’s like Comic-Con in a box!”

LootCrate is $13.95 plus $6 shipping and handling for month-to-month subscription. Less for multiple month purchases. They also now offer “Level Up,” 3 apparel upgrades at different pricing levels that you can add to your monthly subscription.

Loot Crate

This month’s theme was POWER.

Loot Crate

Each box comes with a nice mini mag that gives details about the items, interviews, and more.

Loot Crate Loot Crate

EXCLUSIVE Infinity Gauntlet Oven Mitt (Retail $15?) – This is genius… and hysterical. I love it.

Loot Crate

EXCLUSIVE Dragon Ball Z Shenron Plush Keychain (Retail $3-5?) – This really isn’t a keychain as it’s a plastic hoop. It’s more like a strange plush toy for a child or dog. Though, Lois Lane wouldn’t care about it since it doesn’t have a squeaker in it.

LootPin – A new one each month for collectors… or hoarders.

Loot Crate

EXCLUSIVE Warcraft Tshirt (Retail $10?) – Just in time to wear to the movie release! I haven’t played the game, but the trailers look great – so, I’m excited to see it. This is a clever design on a really soft shirt that I’ll definitely get use out of.

Loot Crate

Hulk Q-Fig (Retail $10+ on Amazon) – I haven’t heard of Q-Figs before. But then, I only really collect Funko POPs. This is a really cool figure for Hulk fans though. I can’t decide if I’ll keep it or save it for my nephew for his birthday.

Loot Crate

Summary: While there wasn’t a Funko POP figure, I really like this Q-Fig for something different. And the great shirt and oven mitt made this box a hit for me.

Next month’s theme is: Dystopia (logos of The Matrix, Fallout, RoboCop, Terminator 2, and Bioshock all shown in the email.)

Received in May

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in May for review and/or giveaways:

Blu Ray/DVD:
The Shannara Chronicles: Season 1

Mystery Box:
1Up Box
Bam Box

Del Rey / Ballantine Books:
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
Infernal by Mark de Jager

Disney Hyperion:
Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa De la Cruz
The Trials of Apollo: Book One The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty
Munchem Academy: The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Commander S. T. Bolivar III
Race the Night by Kirsten Hubbard
Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie
Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia
Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Spindle by E. K. Johnston
The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Waterfire Saga: Sea Spell by Jennifer Donnelly
The Drake Equation by Bart King
Gabby Duran: Troll Control by Elise Allen

Harper Voyager:
Urban Allies by Joseph Nassise
Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
The Perdition Score by Richard Kadrey

KTeen:
Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Macmillan Teen / Henry Holt / Feiwel and Friends / Roaring Brook Press / Imprint:
The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker
Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino
Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
Nemesis by Anna Banks
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Penguin Teen / Putnam:
Lotus and Thorn by Sara Wilson Etienne

Pocket Books:
Star Trek: The Original Series: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward

Roc:
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Scholastic:
Harry Potter Artifacts Coloring Book by Scholastic
Wings of Fire: Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland

Subterranean Press:
Resume Speed by Lawrence Block
The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred by Greg Egan

Titan Books:
Warcraft: Durotan: The Official Movie Prequel by Christie Golden
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: The Art of the Film by Peter Aperlo

Tor/Forge:
Chapel of Ease by Alex Bledsoe
Awakenings by Edward Lazellari
Eternity’s Mind by Kevin J. Anderson

Tor Teen:
Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: The Original Series: Elusive Salvation

Star Trek: The Original Series: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward

Synopsis:
The Arctic Circle, 1845: Escaping the tyranny under which their people have lived for generations, aliens from a distant planet crash land on Earth’s inhospitable frozen wastes. Surviving the harsh conditions will pose a challenge, but over time the aliens will migrate to more populated areas, with decades passing as they work to conceal their presence from their former oppressors, who continue to hunt them at any cost.

San Francisco, 2283: When a mysterious craft is detected entering the solar system, Admiral James Kirk is dispatched by Starfleet to confront the vessel. He meets with an emissary from the Iramahl, a previously unknown alien race who have come in search of their brothers and sisters thought to have gone missing in this area of space centuries earlier. Having recently thrown off the last chains of subjugation by another species, the Ptaen, they now believe their lost people hold the key to saving their entire race from eventual extinction.

New York, 1970: Roberta Lincoln, young protégé of the mysterious agent Gary Seven, is shocked when she receives the oddest request for help—from the future…

Review:
Elusive Salvation had me at Roberta Lincoln – I knew there’d be time travel involved. Kirk at the Enterprise meet a new alien race who need their help. The only problem is that they’ll need the help of friends from the past. This story jumps back and forth in time, but follows a logical pattern with specific characters that is easy to follow. New aliens, time travel, and a cameo from Guinan – this story had some of my favorite things from the Star Trek universe. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the familiar characters, with plenty of mystery, intrigue, and suspense. It was so fast-paced at times, that I found myself reading faster in excitement. Fans of the original series wont want to miss this latest, fanastic installment.

Box Review: Bam Box – May 2016

Bam Box

The Bam Box was founded in 2015 by Bloof, the same team of geeks, comic book lovers and pop culture collectors that started ComiconAuction.com. We love collecting. We love the thrill of it, the mystery of it and especially that feeling you get when you have a collectible in your hands that you are really excited about. So we set out to bring something different to everyone.

There are some great subscription boxes on the market, but we felt there was still something missing. We went to the drawing board with the goal of creating the box we would want to show up on our doorstep. After a lot of ideas and prototypes we arrived at the Bam Box. From the design of the box to the items inside to the instant winners we send out, we accomplished what we wanted to do: give you the subscription box we would be jealous of.”

Cost: 1 month plan starts at $24.99 plus $7.99 s/h

SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

Bam Box

The box comes with a half sheet, full-color information on what’s in the box.
This month’s theme was ABILITIES!
Right away, I knew I was going to enjoy this one!

Bam Box

Spider-Mander Pin – One of the unique and fun things about this box is that they offer 1-Up variants of some of the items in the box! I scored a Gold version of the pin (limited to 250).

Bam Box

Tony Todd “Zoom” Signed Photograph (Retail $20?) – Signed prints usually go for about $20 each at conventions. And signed items in Bam Boxes always come with a card of authenticity. Fans of Flash will appreciate this cool item.

Bam Box

EXCLUSIVE “The Wolverine” Print, signed by Rick Martin This is a very cool piece, signed and numbered by the artist. I love this one.

Bam Box

“One Ring” from the Lord of the Rings (Retail $10-15?) – 600 lucky people received a 1-Up for a gold-plated version! Still, this is a fun replica even as the black variant.

Bam Box

Google Cardboard VR Viewer (Retail $15) – I’ve had a lot of fun with this little gadget. It took me a while to find a QR code that worked to stop double-vision, but now it works like a charm. There are several free VR apps that work with it that I can’t wait to try out.

Bam Box
Bam Box

Magnetic Thinking Putty (Retail $10) – This was another great item too. The texture of the putty is like silly putty, but magnetic. So, when you get the little magnet close to it, the magnet snaps to the putty and slides through – embedding itself. It’s fun for all ages – I’m sure my niece or nephew will try to confiscate it.

Summary:This month was a great month of curation and value! At first glance, there didn’t seem like much in the box. Surprisingly, I liked both of the signed prints and the cardboard VR viewer was not something would’ve ever bought for myself but ended up really enjoying it. Finds like this are what makes mystery boxes so much fun.

SciFi Book Review: Lois Lane: Double Down

Lois Lane: Double Down by Gwenda Bond

Synopsis:
Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over–and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy.

Review:
Double Down is the second installment in this Lois Lane series for young readers. Lois is a high school student who works part time as a student reporter for the Daily Planet. She is the same young woman from the comics – loyal, smart, fearless, with plenty of gumption.

This story involves her friend’s twin sister and a mysterious medical experiment that happens to tie into a conspiracy involving another friend’s father. The story is fun, fast-paced, and a great mystery with a science fiction twist. It’s loaded with suspense, drama, humor, and a bit of romance (even if it is online with a certain “SmallvilleGuy). I love reading about strong, female leads; and Lois Lane is one of my top favorites (my dog is her namesake). This series is a great reinvention of the character in her early years in a slightly futuristic setting.

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