SciFi Book Review: The Arctic Code

The Arctic Code by Matthew J Kirby

Synopsis:
It is the near future, and the earth has entered a new ice age. Eleanor Perry lives in Tucson, one of the most popular destinations for refugees of the Freeze. She is the daughter of a climatologist who is trying to find new ways to preserve human life on the planet. Dr. Perry believes that a series of oil deposits she has found in the Arctic may hold the key to our survival. That’s when she disappears—but not before sending Eleanor a series of cryptic messages that point to a significant and mysterious discovery. Now it’s up to Eleanor to go find her.

This search will launch Eleanor on a breathless race to unlock the mysteries of what has happened to our planet, solving the riddle of the cold that could be humanity’s end—and uncovering a threat to the earth that may not be of this world.

Review:
As a fan of the author, I have been looking forward to this new series for quite a while. Eleanor is a smart and determined girl who sets out to find her missing mother and uncovers an incredible conspiracy. Kirby’s ice age Earth is a unique dystopia, where heat is a scarcity.

The Arctic Code is the first in an exciting, science fiction, adventure series for middle readers. Packed with danger, suspense, and mystery – this is a fast-paced story that I thoroughly enjoyed. The unique world is linked to an intriguing premise that doesn’t disappoint. I look forward to the next installment that can’t come soon enough.

The Water and the Wild Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

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Spaceship in My Basement: How My Trekkie Dad Inspired My Writing
by K.E. Ormsbee

K. E. OrmsbeeThere is a spaceship in the basement of my childhood home. My dad, a civil engineer and hardcore scifi nerd, built the aforementioned ship when I was a toddler. It’s a glorious amalgamation of 2x4s, dental chairs, slide projectors, and dozens of lite-brite pieces. From the pilot’s seat, you can click through various lunar phases, watch the IMAX classic The Dream Is Alive, and command the ship using an MS-DOS shuttle launch program. In this ship, you can pay a visit to the moon, Jupiter, or the farthest reaches of deep space. And believe me, as a kid, I did all of the above.

I can’t remember a house party at my place that didn’t involve a quick trip to the moon. The spaceship was a magical experience, a talking piece, and the obsession of every childhood friend my sister and I brought home. Later, it became my go-to fun fact so often required by summer camp icebreakers. It’s saved me from many a conversational rut and even found its way into my official author biography. But only recently have I begun to contemplate the long-term effect that spaceship and my dad’s general love of scifi had on me and, by extension, my writing.

My personality is a carbon copy of my dad’s. I inherited his melancholic disposition and his obsession with all things theoretical. Growing up, he and I debated everything from Plato to predestination to the legalization of pot. He taught me the fundamentals of calculus, logic, and rhetoric. And he instilled in me an abiding love for Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost In Space, Battlestar Galactica, and The Twilight Zone. Looking back, I realize that those philosophical debates, differential equation lessons, and Friday night family movie dates all shared a common theme. They were all about asking big questions and looking for answers. (It’s just, the questions The Twilight Zone asked were way more fun to answer than the questions found in my Calc 101 textbook.)

My dad and I didn’t watch all those scifi shows and films for the special effects. (I mean, have you seen tribbles?) We watched them because their screenwriters weren’t afraid to explore difficult issues in unique ways. I remember staying awake in bed after our movie nights, brain whirring through questions about mortality, mob mentality, eugenics, treatment of “lesser” sentient beings, addictive behavior, vigilante justice, justice versus revenge, and harmful measures taken in the name of “the greater good.”

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Fantasy Book Review: Dream a Little Dream

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier

Synopsis:
Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what’s really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn’t possibly know—unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute.

Review:
Liv and her sister are great characters, relatable with spunky and humorous personalities. The characters in this novel are what I loved the most. Liv is drawn to the dark and brooding Henry from the mysterious group of boys with a secret. They can all dream-walk for some reason, and when Liv is able to – the boys see her as a way out of their predicament.

Dream a Little Dream is first in a new series, originally set to release in January. This is a YA fantasy with mystery, suspense, drama, and a bit of romance. It’s a fun, unpredictable, and thrilling story that was a quick read. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in this romantic, fantasy series.

Book Giveaway: The Originals: The Loss

Courtesy of Harlequin Teen, I have a copy of The Originals: The Loss by Julie Plec 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 May 1. I’ll draw a name on May 2, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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SciFi Book Review: Before Tomorrowland

Before Tomorrowland by Jeff Jensen

Synopsis:
The year is 1939. A secret society of extraordinary geniuses is about to share an incredible discovery with the world.

A misguided enemy-half man, half machine-will stop at nothing to prevent the group from giving this forbidden knowledge to humanity.

And a mother and son on vacation in New York City are handed a comic book infused with a secret code that will lead them straight into the crossfires of the conspiracy.

Review:
Before Tomorrowland is a prequel story to Disney’s upcoming Tomorrowland film. The story jumps around to different character’s stories. The story of the cyborg, Henry, is a bit disjointed and confusing. It would have almost been better to make him more of a mystery than what little information we’re given about him. The heart of the story is with the young man and his mother who stumble across a magnificent secret after a visit to a science fiction convention.

Despite its flaws, the premise is fascinating. A group of scientists and explorers have created their idea of a utopian society where creativity and science are much more advanced than present day. This fast-paced, fun adventure with colorful characters has definitely made me excited to see the film. The book ends with a 20-page comic book with a unique look at the story as well.

Zeroboxer Exclusive Excerpt

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee
Carr gripped the rungs and climbed. At the stadium entrance, the rumble of the crowd suddenly faded as the music and lights dimmed and blue spotlights began sweeping back and forth. The announcer’s bass voice bellowed, “Fighting out of the red corner, with a mass of seventy kilograms and a record of four wins, one loss, CAAARRR … ‘THE RAPTOR’ … . LUKAAA!”

Carr kicked off the final hallway rung and through the entrance. He somersaulted tightly, then uncoiled, reached, and landed in a dramatic crouch on the deck, gripping it easily with the balls of feet and fingertips. The crowd roared its approval, and as he straightened, Carr saw close-ups of himself on the huge screens hanging around the stadium.

Great stars, there were a lot of people. They filled the tiered stands that stretched in all directions, blurred into shadow beyond the stark, glaring lights. Carr’s pulse sped up, beating in his palms and the soles of his feet. Zeroboxing was the sort of thing people watched on screens at home; most planet rats couldn’t afford to travel beyond atmosphere very often, and even those that could generally liked their artificial gravity. These spectators were the really hard-core fans, the ones who would rather be strapped into seats, drinking beer from squeeze bottles and brushing away floating globs of spilled orange soda and candy wrappers in order to see the fight live. Tonight, there were thousands of them, some still pulling themselves along the guide-rails to their seats.

Below the deck hung the Cube, empty, like an enormous minimalist ice sculpture. The sweeping spotlight beams distorted on its transparent surface, tingeing its edges and corners with cool blue light. Even experienced zeroboxers got shivers looking at the thing. To willingly enter it was to be completely imprisoned and utterly exposed. It was the prism of truth. There was no hiding in the Cube, no angle from which you could not be seen, and no way out until you had been proven victor or vanquished.

The announcer, Hal Greese, had a thick neck and a gut that, without gravity, migrated upward from the region of his waist to fill out his torso in a kind of general bulbousness. He turned in a slow circle in the center of the deck, one arm raised in anticipation. “Fighting out of the blue corner, with a mass of seventy-one kilograms and a record of nine wins, three losses, JAY…‘DRACULA’… FERRRANNOO!”

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Blu-Ray Review: Interstellar

Interstellar Blu-ray

Synopsis:
In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

Review:
Cooper is out of his element in an Earth where science and exploration take a back seat to agriculture and simple survival. When he discovers a code that sends him to a secret NASA installation, he is chosen to be a part of a small crew to help save humanity – with only one backup plan.

Interstellar is a unique science fiction epic from Christopher Nolan. It often felt like Signs meets 2001 Space Odyssey . The storytelling was unique, jumping from Cooper’s mission to back home on Earth where his family is aging and his daughter is trying to help NASA come up with a solution to save the humans left on Earth. The acting is gripping and emotional. And surprisingly the message is about love overcoming science.

Science and science fiction fans may be the only ones to appreciate (or understand) some of the mechanics of interstellar travel and the passage of time. I was impressed with the level of detail. I was pretty disappointed with the robot crew members, being so boxy with limited movement. Though, they were the only ones with a sense of humor through the movie – of which there definitely wasn’t enough. The visual effects were the highlight of this movie, and sometimes the story seemed to drag because of it. The film is a bit disjointed and strange – as the trailers suggested. It’s intensely dramatic, but a bit too slow for my taste. There are points of brilliance and creativity, however. I have mixed feelings about this one. I’m glad I finally saw it, but I don’t know that I’d watch it again.

The Blu-ray Edition also includes:
• The Science of Interstellar—Extended cut of the broadcast special.
• Plotting an Interstellar Journey—Discusses the film’s origins, influences and narrative designs.
• Life on Cooper’s Farm—Bringing Americana and the grounded nature of a farm to a sci-fi space movie.
• The Dust—Learn how cast and crew avoided sand blindness, and see how to create, and clean up after, a catastrophic dust storm.
• TARS and CASE—Designing and building these unique characters and how they were brought to life on set and in the film.
• Cosmic Sounds—The concepts, process, and recording of Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable score.
• The Space Suits—A look at the design and build of the suits and helmets, and what it was like to wear them.
• The Endurance—Explore this massive set with a guided tour by production designer Nathan Crowley.
• Shooting in Iceland: Miller’s Planet/Mann’s Planet—Travel with the cast and crew to Iceland and see the challenges they faced in creating two vastly different worlds in one country.
• The Ranger and the Lander—A look at the other two spaceships in the film.
• Miniatures in Space—Marvel at the large-scale models used in the explosive docking sequence.
• The Simulation of Zero-G—Discover the various methods that the filmmakers used to create a zero gravity environment.
• Celestial Landmarks—Explore how the filmmakers used practical special effects informed by real scientific equations to give the illusion of real space travel for both the actors and the audience.
• Across All Dimensions and Time—A look at the concept and design of the Tesseract, which incorporated a practical set rather than a green screen.
• Final Thoughts—The cast and crew reflect back on their Interstellar experience.
• Theatrical Trailers

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