Tag Archives: scifi

Box Review: Comic Bento – August 2015

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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.

This box was sent to SciFiChick.com for review purposes.

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The first thing I noticed is the fantastic packing job. Boarded and wrapped in protective plastic and bubble-wrap, these graphic novels were in mint condition.

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The box comes with a nice card that gives details on each of the selections.

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This month’s theme was EXPLOSIVE and included the following titles:

Grimm Volume 1: The Coins Of Zakynthos by David Greenwalt(W) and Jose Malaga(A)- I’m a huge fan of the tv show, and already own this one. But I highly recommend to fans of the show. (Retail $19.99)

Complete Dracula by Leah Moore(W) and Colton Worley(A)– This is a cool-looking take on Bram Stoker’s original tale. I’m excited to read this one. As a bonus, this is a hardback. (Retail $24.99)

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz(W) and Bob Gill(A) – Koontz is known for his scifi thrillers, so this will be right up my alley. (Retail $14.99)

New Vampirella Volume 1 by Nancy Collins(W) and Patrick Berkenkotter(A) – Definitely not for me. I usually enjoy vampire stories, but she looks more like an embarrassing pin up. (Retail $24.99)

“Horror” would have been a better theme than “Explosive,” but the reason was that these all have the same publisher – Dynamite!

Summary: This is a great value for someone looking to expand their graphic novel reading and for those just staring out. I eagerly look forward to the next!


September’s Theme is: Fight the Fight

Right now, there’s a coupon code for $5 off the monthly subscription (PROMOBENTO5) or $10 off the 3-month subscription (PROMOBENTO10).

Blu-Ray Review: The Vampire Diaries Season 6

Vampire Diaries: Season 6 Blu-ray

Synopsis:
The Vampire Diaries continues its sixth season with more delicious drama to sink your teeth into. In season five, after a passionate summer with Damon, Elena headed to Whitmore College with Caroline, not knowing Bonnie sacrificed her life for Jeremy’s. Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline’s friendship deepened as they stood up to the Travelers, a nomadic witch tribe driven to strip Mystic Falls of magic and cast out its supernatural residents. In the shocking season finale, Damon, fearing he would lose his loved ones on the crumbling Other Side, made a huge sacrifice to bring them all back — with catastrophic and heartbreaking results. Season six follows the characters’ journey back to each other as they explore the duality of good versus evil inside themselves. Matt Davis reprises his role as Alaric Saltzman, recently returned from The Other Side. Plus, the season will make you misty-eyed as the departure of a major character will turn lives upside down and leave us asking what happened to Mystic Falls.

Review:
Big changes happen in this sixth season. Bonnie and Damon are stuck in an (seemingly) empty world stuck decades in the past. The two that hate each other the most are forced together and begin forming a strange relationship. One that will have a big affect on the season finale. The Big Bad Guy this season changes up a bit as well. From a psychotic, power-hungry brother to a surprising return of an old family member, then back again.

No one stays the same for long in Mystic Falls. Even Caroline takes a walk on the Evil side after a heartbreak she can’t handle. This season is full of surprises, mystery, heartbreak, romance, and more heartbreak. Knowing that Nina Dobrev would be leaving, meant that there would be an end to Damon and Elana – my favorite couple. It was a bummer knowing it was coming, but there are so many other strong characters and so many other stories to tell – that I have no doubt the writers can keep the show going without their central character. Caroline and Stefan have great chemistry, and they’ve barely begun. Bonnie’s back, and she and Damon have something… so who knows. We lost Jeremy, but got Alaric back – which was fantastic. I can’t wait to see what the next season holds.


Own it on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD September 1, 2015

Box Review: LootCrate August 2015

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“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!”

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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.

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Included is a nice booklet, detailing the box contents.
Los Pollos Hermanos Apron (Retail $29.99 but $25 on Amazon) – This is apparently from Breaking Bad, which isn’t something I’ve ever cared to watch – and isn’t remotely scifi or fantasy. So I’m not sure why the series is sometimes included in geek boxes. Total fail for me.

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Next up is easily the ugliest mug I’ve ever seen.
Carnage Mug (Retail $9.99) – Subscribers could receive either Venom or Carnage mugs (for the Villains 2 theme). Both are equally hideous. And neither would be used, as it looks like something paint-by-numbers not official Marvel. Another bummer.

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The Joker Painted Wooden Figure (Retail $12.99?) – This is another LootCrate original, a cute toy with an interchangeable face.
Hydra Prop Replica (Retail $15) – This was my favorite item in the box, and probably the only thing I’ll keep.
LootCrate Button – Venom

Summary: The two highest retail items were a total bust for me. Not a great start to my LootCrate experience. But they have 2 more months to win me over, since I signed up for a 3-month subscription.

What do you think of this month’s LootCrate?

Received in August

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

Movies/TV:
The Originals Season 2 Blu-ray
The Vampire Diaries Season 6 Blu-ray
Supernatural Season 10 Blu-ray

Subscription Box:
Comic Bento

Amazon Publishing / 47North:
Here & There by Joshua V. Scher

Berkley:
Undead and Unforgiven by MaryJanice Davidson

Clarion Books:
The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

Crown / Broadway:
The Martian by Andy Weir

First Second:
The Fall of the House of West by Paul Pope
Little Robot by Ben Hatke
Last Man: The Chase by Bastien Vivès

Gallery Books:
HALO: Last Light by Troy Denning

Harper Teen / Belzer + Bray / Katherine Tegen:
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
The White Rose by Amy Ewing
The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Endgame: Sky Key by James Frey
Balance Keepers 2: The Pillars of Ponderay by Lindsay Cummings
A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt
The Fate of Ten by Pittacus Lore

Paizo:
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures by Jason Bulmahn

Penguin / Vintage Crime:
The Reckoning by Carsten Stroud

Penguin Teen / Putnam / Speak:
Nightfall by Jake Halpern
Unfriended by Rachel Vail

Pyr:
The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats by Mark Hodder

Quercus / Jo Fletcher Books:
Marked by Sue Tingey

Random House Teens / Delacorte Press:
Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Roc:
Chapelwood: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest

Scholastic:
Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale
Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack
The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black

Subterranean Press:
Can & Can’tankerous by Harlan Ellison
A Fantasy Medley 3 by Kevin Hearne

Titan Books:
Gestapo Mars by Victor Gischler
Cracked by Barbra Leslie
Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea
Nod by Adrian Barnes
The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Tor:
Nightwise by R. S. Belcher
Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
Updraft by Fran Wilde
The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Rage by Ken Shufeldt

Blu-Ray Review: The Originals Season 2

The Originals: Season 2 Blu-ray

Synopsis:
As Original vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson returned to the vibrant, supernaturally charged city of New Orleans in season one, he was stunned to learn — along with his siblings Elijah and Rebekah — that Hayley, a werewolf, was pregnant with his child, and his vampire protégé, Marcel, whom the Original siblings had thought long dead, was ruling the French Quarter. Soon, a bloody war escalated between vampires and witches — the stakes raised by powerful teenage witch Davina and by Klaus’s bond with Cami, a student with a painful past — and a ruthless pack of wolves seized the opportunity to stage a violent coup. Now, in season two, a new status quo must be adjusted to, as the newly empowered werewolves control the city. Klaus struggles with weaknesses as Elijah desperately tries to save Hayley — now a hybrid — from a vicious spiral of self-destruction. Meanwhile, with the re-emergence of several Mikaelsons, “family is power” takes on new meaning.

Review:
The first season of The Originals centered on the rise of the witches in New Orleans. This season, Klaus’ baby is central – keeping the baby hidden and safe. Meanwhile, the witches are still at war with the vampires. And because of the baby, there is an uneasy alliance between the werewolves and vampires. Some of the missing (and dead) Mikaelsons come back in some form or another, but Klaus doesn’t trust any of them.

The Originals just keeps proving that it’s one of the best shows on television. And this second season heats up with new characters, more backstory for the Mikaelsons, and familiar characters in other bodies… My only complaint was that I was ready for the real Rebecca to come back (Original form). She’s a great actress and character; and other actors just can’t pull it off as well. Just like no one else could play Klaus. He is easily one of the most complex characters on the small screen.

This show is full of suspense, horror, romance, magic, and clever twists. The writers for this show never disappoint. And I can’t wait for the next exciting season.


Own it on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD September 1, 2015

Fantasy Book Review: Mechanica

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Synopsis:
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.

Review:
Nicolette (or Mechanica) is a brilliant mechanic like her mother was. But after her parents died, Nicolette is forced to be a servant for her stepmother and stepsisters. However, she still has her little machines – and dreams of the future.

Mechanica is a fun and intriguing twist on the Cinderella story. Nicolette does fall for a young man, but this isn’t a Disney fairy tale. She has a good head on her shoulders and thinks with her head more than her heart. Full of fantastic inventions, magic, and suspense – this story is captivating. YA fantasy meets steampunk in this inspired tale with plenty of heart.

Box Review: Marvel Collector Corps – August 2015

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This is the 3rd box from Collector Corps, and this month set a new bar. The Marvel Collector Corps offers these boxes starting at $25 plus s/h.

The theme this month was Secret Wars. And, as the box hinted, we are treated to the female (Jane) Thor.

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As you can see, it’s Jane-Thor heavy with the Secret Wars theme.

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Secret Wars Tshirt (Retail $10?) – This is a cutesy Funko Pop! style that’s newly released to Hot Topic. It’s not my style, but the little ones in my life will enjoy it. I’m also over so many geek tshirts in black. I need more color.

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Secret Wars #1 Variant (Retail $4.99 – though Variants are usually worth more) – I love that the variants we receive have all been #1’s so far. Great for collectors, like me.

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Collector Corps Pin and Patch – I love getting these each month. I’ll have to figure out something fun to do with them, other than just store them in my collection.

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Thor (Secret Wars) Funko Pop! (Retail N/A as this is an exclusive. They are running about $33 on Amazon right now.) – I love, love this Jane Thor. I had heard rumors since the box cover featured her, so I was glad it was true. I was so happy to have more female Marvel Pops to add to my collection.

Spider-Man (Miles Morales) Funko Pop! (Retail N/A as this is an exclusive. Amazon has it listed as $36.94) – As a big Spidey fan, I was doubly excited to receive not 1, but 2 Funko Pops this month! And the designs on both of these are just fantastic!

Summary: Two exclusive, awesome Funko Pop!’s that cost as much (each) as the entire box… Collector Corps outdid themselves this month. How will they come close next time? I guess we’ll have to reserve judgment until we hear what the new theme will be. Is it too much to hope for a Star Wars theme later this year???

What do you think of August’s box… and have you signed up yet?

Exclusive Author Guest Post: Katherine Harbour


VINTAGE ‘80S FANTASY: FEMALE WRITERS
by Katherine Harbour

The 1980s, for me, was the perfect decade for fantasy, and not just because that’s when I discovered it as a teen (fantasy, not the ‘80s). I’d already read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Oz books, and Peter Pan. When I was nine, I’d picked up The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe from a library shelf and opened it to the illustration of the White Witch about to sacrifice Aslan, and hastily set it back on the shelf because it looked too scary.

The first fantasy book I bought was Riddle of the Wren by Charles de Lint. The Secret Country by Pamela Dean followed, then Barbara Hambly’s Time of the Dark.

I was hooked.

Glancing at my bookshelves, I am surprised to see that most of the books are by female writers. Many of them are books I bought in the ‘80s. I didn’t seek out women writers—it just happened. Here are some of my favorites:

C.J. Cherryh is known mostly for her SF, but it was her fantasy books—The Tree of Swords and Jewels, Rusalka, The Books of Morgaine, and the swashbuckling Angel With the Sword that I loved. All of them had strong female characters.

Tanith Lee wrote some strange dark fantasies, otherworldly or contemporary. Her characters were archetypes made human and I found her writing language lyrical and dazzling. The Silver Metal Lover was the first SF book I ever read. Her Secret Books of Paradise were disturbing. The Flat Earth series was mesmerizing. And her retellings of classical tales—Sung in Shadow (Romeo and Juliet) and Red as Blood (fairy tales) made me want more.

Nancy Springer’s Books of the Isles blended elves and an almost Arthurian romance mythology with brutality and grim reality. (Also, one of the characters on the cover of The Silver Sun resembled Matt Dillon, whom I had a raging crush on at the time.)

Judith Tarr. Once again, elves! Only the elves in The Hound and the Falcon existed in history, incorporated into the chaotic time of the Crusades. They were dangerous and beautiful and more human than some of the humans they dealt with. She also wrote a series called Avaryan Rising, about empires, young kings, and magic.

Jennifer Roberson’s unique Chronicles of the Cheysuli books were about a tribe of shapechangers inspired by Celtic and Native American culture.

Sheri S. Tepper’s whimsical and darkly original world of The True Game was the setting for her tales of young Peter the shapeshifter and Jinian Footseer.

P.C. Hodgell wrote one of the best trickster anti-heroines I’ve ever read in her Godstalk series, set in a fantastical, Dickensian land of dark magic, old gods, and warring clans.

Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint series was romantic and also very Dickensian, combining intrigue, swordfighting, and sexy, damaged characters.

Jane Yolen’s fairy-tale fantasies, like Briar Rose, some modern and some traditional, were classical and elegant.

Anne McCaffrey. Dragons! Bonding with dragons! Dragonriders! Sex! (Not with dragons.) But my favorite books were the YA DragonSong, DragonSinger, and DragonDrums.

Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni Chronicles novels were set in a world similar to England’s era of The War of the Roses, where magic is considered illegal and a magical race called Deryni must tread carefully. There were betrayals at every turn and a young man seeking to be a good king.

Barbara Hambly’s books about another world, beginning with The Time of the Dark and continuing with The Ladies of Mandrigyn and Dragonsbane, were medieval and amazingly detailed, filled with dangerous magic (I loved her scholarly outlaw wizards), horrifying creatures, and some awesome dragons. There was the added bonus of two people from our world being dragged into that fantastical realm.

Terri Windling’s classical fantasies. She also co-edited the Bordertown series about the Elflands returning to the modern world. It was brilliant, and is still being carried on nowadays. Faery and Elfland in our world was a popular theme in the ‘80’s, with Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks and Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock.

There was also Andre Norton, Louise Cooper, Patricia McKillip, Janny Wurtz, Joan D. Vinge and I’ve probably left out others.

I do wish more of these writers could be found in libraries and bookstores. They were the writers I spent my teen years with, lost in a variation of extraordinary worlds, with fascinating characters. They’ve been read again, and consulted, and skimmed through. They were the stories that made me want to create other worlds and the people who inhabited them. And they’ll always have a place on my bookshelf.


Katherine Harbour (author of Thorn Jack and Briar Queen)
www.katherineharbour.com