Book Review: Steel

Steel, by Carrie Vaughn

Sixteen-year-old Jill is devastated when she loses her fencing tournament. So instead of enjoying her family vacation in the Bahamas, Jill spends her time sulking. On a stroll down the beach, Jill discovers an old, rusted sword fragment. But the sword tip is magical and transports Jill back in time to pirate infested waters. Rescued by a pirate ship with a female captain, Jill is given a chance to join the crew. But the longer she’s there, the more Jill wants to find a way home.

When story begins, Jill is a moody girl, constantly feeling sorry for herself. But when she’s forced into a hard life on a pirate ship, Jill’s outlook changes dramatically. She’s a hard worker and compassionate. Vaughn’s pirates are not overly dramatized nor made into Hollywood-like heroes. Though at times Jill’s captain makes heroic choices. The pirates are still thieves and murderers, yet governed by a democracy of sorts, live by a code, and cherish their freedom.

Steel is a surprisingly fantastic adventure for teens and adults alike. A time-travel fantasy with swashbuckling pirates, danger, and suspense – this is a must read. This exciting voyage was well-paced and impossible to put down. This is a story I didn’t want to end. Full of swordplay, strong characters, and a bit of romance, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Steel releases from HarperTeen on March 15, 2011.

DVD Review: Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series

Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series

In 1947, an alien spaceship crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. The US Army recovered four alien bodies and has been keeping them a secret ever since. Almost twenty years later, young couple John Loengard and Kimberly Sayers move to Washington DC. And while investigating military budgets, John uncovers a terrifying secret. There are aliens among us. And they’re not peaceful. And the covert organization known as Majestic is keeping it a secret from the rest of the world.

This science fiction show from 1996 stars Eric Close as John Loengard and Megan Ward as Kimberly Sayers. The two have a fantastic chemistry that makes this show worthwhile. The series follows the two across the country in their search for answers and to protect humanity from the alien Hive. Taking place in the sixties, we are shown a history many historic events were influenced by the Hive and Majestic – from Kennedy’s assassination to the Beatles and the Civil Rights Movement. John and Kimberly’s mission and relationship are certainly the highlight of the show. And the few episodes near the end where Kimberly becomes replaced with Jeri Ryan’s character (Juliet), is where the series jumped the shark for me. While Juliet is passionate, there was no chemistry with John. Thankfully, the majority of the series revolved around John and Kimberly. J.T. Walsh also stars as Capt. Frank Bach, head of Majestic as a man with strong (though sometimes misplaced) convictions who will do anything to stop the Hive – as long as he doesn’t have to give up control.

The series has a distinct feel of X-Files meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The special effects are, of course, very out-of-date and comical at times. But the storylines, strong characters, and suspense are enough to make this series still completely enjoyable today. Creepy aliens, intrigue, danger, cleverly written alternative history, and plenty of heart – Dark Skies is a truly impressive series that I certainly recommend for any science fiction fan.

Bonus Features Include:
– International Pilot
– Signal to Noise: Uncovering Dark Skies – a look back at the series
– The Dark Skies Glossary
– Original Sales Presentation
– Electronic Press Kit
– Network Promos
– Never-before-seen proposal for Season 2

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