Tag Archives: scifi

Blu-Ray Review: Rampage

Rampage

Synopsis:
In 1993, a breakthrough new technology gave scientists a path to treat incurable diseases through genetic editing. In 2016, due to its potential for misuse, the U.S. Intelligence Community designated genetic editing a “Weapon of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.”

Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance but shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, incredibly rare albino silverback gorilla who has been in his care since he rescued the young orphan from poachers. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size.

To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created super creatures tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with discredited geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.

Review:
Davis (Dwayne Johnson) is great with animals, and has a special bond with the albino gorilla George. But when one of several containers carrying an experimental virus crashes to Earth, George is exposed and begins growing and showing unusual aggression. When the government hunts down George and the other infected animals, Davis scientist Kate (Naomie Harris) try to find another way to stop the animals before more lives are lost and Chicago is destroyed.

Rampage is based on a video game that I knew nothing about. But it had the feel of King Kong – if he had lived like Koko the gorilla before growing to his enormous size. There is quite a bit of humor and drama that lightened an otherwise violent, intense film. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays a surprising character that defied my expectations. This action-packed, fast-paced story was a lot of fun. The villains and several of the surprises and fight scenes were over-the-top and silly. But it’s a action film based on a game – and one that I really enjoyed.

Special Features:
“Rampage” 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-Ray, Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
• Not A Game Anymore – From arcade sensation to movie monster epic, we explore how the Midway video game inspired the filmmakers to create the ultimate disaster film.
• Gag Reel – Hilarious outtakes and mishaps captured during production.
• Deleted Scenes – Deleted scenes that barely missed the final theatrical cut.
• Rampage – Actors in Action: Strap in for a wild ride as Dwayne Johnson, Joe Manganiello and the cast prepare for the film’s demanding stunts and explosive set pieces.
• Trio of Destruction – Follow the innovative design team and the artists at Weta Digital as they bring to life the biggest and baddest monsters for the film’s climactic battle royal.
• Attack on Chicago – Director Brad Peyton reveals the challenges of filming on-location in Chicago and turning digital destruction into a cinematic reality.
• Bringing George to Life – Discover the wonder of what it’s like to be a gorilla, as movement coordinator Terry Notary teaches actor Jason Liles how to move, behave and become “George.”

“Rampage” DVD contains:
• Not A Game Anymore – From arcade sensation to movie monster epic, we explore how the Midway video game inspired the filmmakers to create the ultimate disaster film.

Book Giveaway: The Darkest Legacy

Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, I have an extra finished copy of The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 3. I’ll draw a name on August 4, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: The Darkest Legacy

Fantasy Book Review: City of Bastards

City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Synopsis:
Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend, Zell, and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city’s prestigious University.

Then Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate-a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she’s suggesting is impossible . . . and treasonous.

But Tilla can’t-won’t-let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.

Review:
City of Bastards is the second installment in the Royal Bastards series. Tilla, Lyriana, and Zell are safe in Lightspire at the University. But Tilla doesn’t have many other friends other than her roommate, who is suddenly murdered – though no one seems to believe her. There is a conspiracy brewing, and Tilla is determined uncover the answers.

This sequel is a fast-paced mystery, with an impressive, complex plot. The characters are engaging; and Tilla is especially relatable. The story is full of suspense, drama, and romance. And I enjoyed this even more than the first in the series. I love the unique spin on the unlikely heroes as well ask the magic aspect. This is a surprising and exciting young adult, fantasy series that ends too soon. I’ll be impatiently waiting for the next installment.

Blu-Ray Review: A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

A QUIET PLACE debuts on Digital June 26, 2018 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD July 10.

Synopsis:
A QUIET PLACE is a taut and original thriller that follows a family who must navigate their lives in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. Knowing that even the slightest whisper or footstep can bring death, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski) are determined to find a way to protect their children at all costs while they desperately search for a way to fight back.

Review:
The story begins post-apocalypse. A mother and father do their best to protect their children, yet raise them to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves if need be. They live isolated and in complete silence in order to hide from deadly creatures that hunt by sound.

A Quiet Place is a unique and spectacularly intense film. Almost the entire film is silent, other than occasional intense music, and just a few lines of quiet dialog. There is a bit of sign language with subtitles. But for the most part, the story is told through the incredible acting from this small cast of talented actors. There is quiet a bit of slow pacing, that only seemed to add to the intense suspense – as viewers wonder when the next jump scare will come. As with many horror films, there are some plot holes. But this film does an amazing job of creating a feeling of terror, with very little blood. The monsters looked a lot like the demogorgon from Stranger Things season 1. And the story reminded me a bit of Signs, but much scarier as the aliens are faster and more deadly.

Special Features Include:
Blu-ray
• Feature film in high definition
• Bonus Content:
o Creating the Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A QUIET PLACE
o The Sound of Darkness – Editing Sound for A QUIET PLACE
o A Reason for Silence – The Visual Effects of A QUIET PLACE
DVD
• Feature film in standard definition

SciFi Book Review: Defy the Worlds

Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Synopsis:
An outcast from her home – Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people… if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate – On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them… or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

Review:
Noemi has returned to Genesis and tries getting back to her old life. But a deadly virus has begun to spread, and Noemi is entrusted to travel to Earth to negotiate for the cure. Meanwhile, Mansfield decides to capture Noemi in order to get Abel to trade himself for the woman he loves. With a whole planet in mortal danger, time is running out to save Genesis and Noemi without Abel losing himself.

Defy the Worlds is the direct sequel to Defy the Stars. Noemi and Abel are literally star-crossed lovers. They are from different worlds at war, and Abel isn’t human. This is an exciting and dramatic series for young adults and older. I enjoyed this installment even more than the previous. With more on the line, events build to an intense and suspenseful finale. Gray is a favorite author of mine with several series with strong characters and complex, dramatic stories. And I look forward to the next in this impressive series.

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Synopsis:
Scott Lang is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym, Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.

Review:
In the fallout of Civil War, Scott is now under house arrest, trying to keep a new business running, and catching up on lost time with his daughter. But his future freedom is threatened when Hope and Dr. Pym insist on Scott’s help to rescue Hope’s mother. But a mysterious young woman is after their research, as well as a ruthless villain with a seemingly endless supply of henchmen.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a very fun sequel. Full of even more humor than before, even suspenseful scenes were peppered with laughs. The stakes aren’t as high this time, as only Scott’s freedom from prison and Hope’s mother is at risk. So the suspense isn’t as intense. But the focus is more on family this time, and it’s much more dramatic. This is a feel-good, family film with a lot of heart and exciting action scenes. The Wasp finally gets to show off her abilities and proves to be the perfect partner for Ant-Man. I thoroughly enjoyed this film – the story, witty dialog, endearing characters, tech, and special effects (the de-aging of Pfeiffer and Douglas was fantastic). And like most Marvel movies, I’ll definitely go see it multiple times in the theater.

And as always, make sure to stay for at least the first, mid-credits scene. The final one made everyone in the theater upset we stuck around for it, as it wasn’t anything new.

FearlessWomen Tour: Book Excerpt: The Calculating Stars

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CALCULATING STARS Excerpt

In the East. At the euphemism, the saleslady’s eyes widened and her brows peaked with pity. “Oh— you poor dear.” And then curiosity followed, like a predator drawn to blood. “Where were you?”

“The Poconos.”

Mrs. Lindholm pulled out a navy blue dress from the rack and held it up. “She doesn’t have anything except the clothes on her back.”

A middle-aged white woman appeared from between the racks of clothing. “You were really there? You saw the meteor?”

“Meteorite. A meteor breaks up before impact.” As if anyone cared about scientific accuracy. I think this might have been the last time I corrected someone. “Meteorite,” for whatever quirk of the English language, sounded almost cute. “But no, we were three hundred miles away.”

THE CALCULATING STARS Summary:
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

About Mary Robinette Kowal:
Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of the historical fantasy novels Ghost Talkers and the five books in The Glamourist Histories series. She is also a multiple Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction has appeared in Uncanny, Tor.com, and Asimov’s. Mary, a professional puppeteer, lives in Chicago with her husband Robert and over a dozen manual typewriters.

About #FearlessWomen:
Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen will be a coordinated social media celebration encouraging fans to start a dialogue about women in publishing, their worlds, their voices, and their unique stories.

Tor Books’ handles across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@torbooks) will be using the hashtags #FearlessWomen (and #FearlessFantasy and #FearlessSF) to promote excerpts, exclusive content, quizzes and giveaways beginning in May. There will also be exclusive giveaways at BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. Follow Tor Books online, join the conversation – and get reading!

FearlessWomen Tour: Book Excerpt: City of Lies

fearless women banner

CITY OF LIES Excerpt –

It had come without warning. One minute the attackers seemed at ease, the next a wedge of them had charged out of the falling afternoon sun. The woman reporting this to me sweated in her ill-fitting armor and gulped mouthfuls of air between sentences. A week ago she’d probably never seen violence of any kind. I listened, shoving a pointed helmet on my own head while someone buckled a resin-hardened plate around my chest, unable to pretend I was any less scared than she.

The sun had been in our sentries’ eyes, and none had noticed the ladders until the army had rushed across most of the gap. They had simply emerged, rising from the ranks like magic.

CITY OF LIES Summary:
Poison. Treachery. Ancient spirits. Sieges. The Poison Wars begin now, with City of Lies, a fabulous epic fantasy debut by Sam Hawke

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.

About Sam Hawke:
A black belt in jujitsu, Sam Hawke lives with her husband and children in Australia. CITY OF LIES is her first novel.

About #FearlessWomen:
Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen will be a coordinated social media celebration encouraging fans to start a dialogue about women in publishing, their worlds, their voices, and their unique stories.

Tor Books’ handles across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@torbooks) will be using the hashtags #FearlessWomen (and #FearlessFantasy and #FearlessSF) to promote excerpts, exclusive content, quizzes and giveaways beginning in May. There will also be exclusive giveaways at BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. Follow Tor Books online, join the conversation – and get reading!