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Fantasy Book Review: Midnight Frost

Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

Synopsis:
Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities-until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead. As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast-otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins – and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there.

Review:
Gwen is still recovering from her last attack, by her boyfriend. But since Logan has left town with no clues to his whereabouts, Gwen has had little closure. While working at the library, Gwen stops another attacker – but her boss is poisoned instead. The only chance for a cure leads Gwen and her friends into a certain trap. But they don’t have a choice.

This is the 5th book in the Mythos Academy series. This is one series I can’t miss and devour within hours of opening. The characters are vivid. And the world of Mythos Academy is rich and fascinating. This latest adventure is another fast-paced, wild ride. Gwen learns more about her father’s side of the family and meets a family member she didn’t know existed – one she has a lot in common with. Estep never fails to deliver on an entertaining and exciting read. And Midnight Frost is another great installment.

SciFi Book Review: Terminated

Terminated by Rachel Caine

Synopsis:
Already addicted to the pharmaceutical drug that keeps her body from decomposing, Bryn has to stop a secretive group of rich and powerful investors from eliminating the existing Returné addicts altogether. To ensure their plan to launch a new, military-grade strain of nanotech, the investors’ undead assassin—who just happens to be the ex-wife of Bryn’s lover Patrick—is on the hunt for anyone that stands in their way.

And while Bryn’s allies aren’t about to go down without a fight, the secret she’s been keeping threatens to put those closest to her in even more danger. Poised to become a monster that her own side—and her own lover—will have to trap and kill, Bryn needs to find the cure to have any hope of preserving the lives of her friends, and her own dwindling humanity.

Review:
Rachel Caine concludes the Revivalist series with this third novel. And I was a bit disappointed to see it end. I love the characters and story. This final novel picks up with Bryn and her friends on the run from Patrick’s crazy ex. Meanwhile, Bryn has received the Returné upgrade and is a danger to everyone around her, as she craves meat – fighting against a zombie-like nature. In Terminated, the mystery, intrigue, and adventure ramps up with a few surprises along the way. Along with a betrayal I didn’t see coming. Extremely fast-paced and action-packed, the series ends with an exciting and satisfying finish.

Blu Ray Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darkness Combo

Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

Synopsis:
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS features an outstanding ensemble cast including John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller and Anton Yelchin.

Review (First few paragraphs previously posted for theater review):
Four years have passed since JJ Abrams’ last Star Trek film. And it was well worth the wait. Diehard Trek fans as well as new fans to the franchise will enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed adventure. Those familiar with the original series will, of course, catch more clues and references to the impending story and correlation to the alternate version. And this super-fan was not disappointed in the least. My one complaint is that Abrams could stand to tone down the lens flares during the bridge scenes.

Full of intense fight scenes, drama, suspense, intrigue, and plenty of humor, Star Trek Into Darkness is an excellent sequel. And while I loved the story, the strong point for the film is the characters. We had the backstory and groundwork set in the previous film, and here we see the characters grow and their relationships develop. The cast and acting is spot-on, once again. Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), and Simon Pegg (Scotty) have great, central roles in this film. I wish Karl Urban (Bones) had more screen time. I think he’s fantastic. And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant in his complex, villainous role.

While some of the big mystery reveals were a bit predictable, especially to fans who may have heard spoilers, I think it served as a respectable homage. I only hope we don’t have to wait another four years to see another installment. But with Abrams focusing on Star Wars next, Star Trek will need to pass on to another director for that to happen. A strong foundation has been laid here with this alternate crew with limitless possibilities for new stories and adventures, whether it be more films, tv, or novels. Don’t miss this exciting sequel.

The blu-ray edition contains some great behind the scenes featurettes on the making of the film’s various incredible scenes. And the last one is just an advertisement, though a good cause. I only wish there were some deleted scenes and/or outtakes.

Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition

• Creating the Red Planet – Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.

• Attack on Starfleet – Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.

• The Klingon Home World – Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.

• The Enemy of My Enemy – Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.

• Ship to Ship – An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.

• Brawl by the Bay – Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.

• Continuing the Mission – An inspiring look at the partnership between the film’s crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition

Star Trek Into Darkness comes to Blu-ray/DVD/On Demand Sept 10th, arrives on digital August 20th

TV Clips: Haven Preview Trailer

Haven premieres Friday, September 13 at 10/9c.

Real Troubles – Season Four Trailer
SUMMARY: Haven premieres Friday, September 13 at 10/9c.

Darkside Seekers, Exhibit 14x – Teaser
SUMMARY: We’re the Darkside Seekers – paranormal investigators. This video came from an anonymous source in Haven, Maine. Tweet #DiscoverHaven to tell us what you think.

Fantasy Book Reviews: Hollow Earth and Hollow Earth: Bone Quill

Hollow Earth and Hollow Earth: Bone Quill by John Barrowman & Carole E Barrowman

Synopsis:
Hollow Earth: Lots of twins have a special connection, but twelve-year-old Matt and Emily Calder can do way more than finish each other’s sentences. Together, they are able to bring art to life and enter paintings at will. Their extraordinary abilities are highly sought after, particularly by a secret group who want to access the terrors called Hollow Earth. All the demons, devils, and evil creatures ever imagined are trapped for eternity in the world of Hollow Earth—trapped unless special powers release them.

The twins flee from London to a remote island off the west coast of Scotland in hopes of escaping their pursuers and gaining the protection of their grandfather, who has powers of his own. But the villains will stop at nothing to find Hollow Earth and harness the powers within. With so much at stake, nowhere is safe—and survival might be a fantasy.

Bone Quill: In the Middle Ages, an old monk used his powers and a bone quill to ink a magical manuscript, The Book of Beasts. Over the centuries the Book, and the quill, were lost.

Twins Matt and Emily Calder are Animare—just like their ancestor, the monk. The things they draw can be brought to life, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Now Matt and Em are being watched—hunted—because only they can use The Book of Beasts and the bone quill to release the terrible demons and monsters their ancestor illustrated.

And someone is tracking down the lost Book of Beasts, page by page, and reassembling it. Matt and Emily have no choice: They must get to the bone quill first…before somebody gets to them.

Review:
Matt and Emily are precocious twins with amazing abilities. Emily is the more level-headed and mature of the two. And Matt would rather pull dangerous stunts and deliberately disregard authority. The first novel focuses on the secret society, as Matt and Emily learn more about their heritage. While opposing forces close in on them. In the sequel, we learn why we’re reading what’s happening in the past at the same time events in the present are unfolding. And Matt and Emily get to do a little time traveling to stop the theft of the Bone Quill.

This fantasy adventure series for middle readers is fast-paced and exciting. The blending of art and magic is unique and clever worldbuilding. With plenty of mystery, magic, supernatural creatures, and intrigue – fantasy fans of all ages should enjoy. And the sequel was even better than the first. Bone Quill leaves off with a fairly big cliffhanger that will leave readers itching for the next in the series.

SciFi Book Review: Fringe: The Burning Man

Fringe: The Burning Man by Christa Faust

SYNOPSIS:
As a child, Olivia Dunham is “Subject 13,” exposed to the experimental drug Cortexiphan. It has strange effects upon her—effects that manifest when her stepfather assaults her mother—with dire consequences.

All of her life, Olivia hides the strange things Cortexiphan has done to her. But the older she gets, the more difficult it becomes to suppress them. And when faced with a life-or-death situation, she can no longer deny her true nature. For if she does, someone close to her will die.

REVIEW:
This second novel in the Fringe series takes us back to Olivia’s teen years. Years ago, her ability caused an accident that left a man bent on revenge. Unfortunately for Olivia, she has no idea that he’s coming for her. There are a lot of discrepancies between this novel and the series. For those who are big fans of the show, this may be a problem if you’re nitpicky about details. One problem was that I believe her abilities from the Cortexiphan trials were blocked after childhood until her breakthrough as an adult during the TV series. Not sure that she would be causing electrical surges as a teen. And Olivia makes some decisions totally out of character that I had a problem with at the end. However, it is an exciting, dark story. Thrilling and full of intrigue, in spite of its problems I look forward to the next in this series.

Fantasy Book Review: Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

SYNOPSIS:
When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

REVIEW:
Gregor is a young boy forced to into maturity beyond his years as his aging grandmother can’t look after him and his little sister as they need. When his little sister falls through a grate in the laundry room, Gregor immediately follows, trying to get her back. They meet a strange group of humans living underground who seem convinced that Gregor will help them fight against the deadly giant rats threatening war. All Gregor wants to do is find his father and get back home.

From the author of The Hunger Games, Gregor the Overlander is a fun, exciting tale for middle readers. The first in a series, this adventure under the Earth with giant talking cockroaches, rats, bats, and spiders reminded me a bit of City of Ember (which I highly recommend as well). This is a fast-paced, light-hearted adventure with great characters. And I certainly look forward to Gregor’s next story.

Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2


Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Disc August 20 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before the events of Star Trek®: The Original Series. Set in the 22nd century, in a time when interstellar travel is still in its infancy, ENTERPRISE follows Captain Archer and his crew of brave explorers as they set out to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft and experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Review:
Picking up after the season 1 cliffhanger finale, “Shockwave, Part II” where Captain Archer is stuck hundreds of years in the future. My favorite stories from Enterprise involve time travel, the Temporal Cold War, and the beginnings of Section 31. And I was one of the theme song haters at first, but by this season I had come to appreciate “Where My Heart Will Take Me” as it just fit the theme of the show. It really had a great cast and great storylines, up until the arguable Xindi debacle. This season had some great episodes – first contact with alien races, “Carbon Creek”, and “Regeneration” (with the Borg). Unlike the other Star Trek series, this ship is full of inexperienced and optimistic crew members who are on the front lines of space exploration. Every experience is new and exciting for them. The addition of the featurettes makse this a must for any Enterprise fan. Brannon Braga hosts a fun, new cast reunion – “In Conversation: The First Crew” as the cast shares memories and stories from the set.

Disc One: Continue reading Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2