Book Giveaway: Down These Strange Streets

Courtesy of Ace Books, I have a copy of the anthology Down These Strange Streets edited by George R. R. Martin for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US and Canada only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 28. I’ll draw a name on October 29, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Down These Strange Streets

Blu-Ray Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

While the Autobots are out saving the world along side the US military on a daily basis, Sam Witwicky is unemployed. But on their latest assignment to Chernobyl, Optimus Prime discovers that the US government has been keeping a big secret. Back when man first stepped foot on the moon, they uncovered the wreckage of an alien ship that came from the Autobots home planet. And as Sam soon learns, the Decepticons are on the move.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is still the same loveable geek, but now has a new girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Apparently dumped by his former, Sam somehow got an even hotter girlfriend who lets his unemployed self live and mooch off of her. This seems more improbable than intelligent machines from another planet coming to Earth. Unsurprisingly, Michael bay introduces the eventual damsel-in-distress by an eye-rolling, long, spray-tanned butt shot. Several other characters return for this latest adventure: John Turturro, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson. John Turturro is again fantastic, and brings the laughs along with Alan Tudyk, who plays his assistant. I only wish the two of them had more scenes, as they made the film bearable in between the suspense and action sequences. And to show that Michael Bay isn’t a complete chauvinist, the boss in charge of the Autobots and military base is played by Frances McDormand, a tough-as-nails, female leader. And brief appearances by John Malkovich and Ken Jeong are silly and surprisingly fun. Throw in Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime with an all-too familiar Spock line, and this Star Trek fan was happy.

Thankfully, the story and action scenes more than make up for the second lackluster installment in the Transformers saga. My favorite scenes were of cleverly cut shots of the original lunar landing, with computerizes cameos of John F. Kennedy, and blending the top secret mission to the dark side of the moon. The story was pretty great and easy to follow, along with the action scenes being smoother. You can actually tell who’s who. It’s everything a summer blockbuster should be – action-packed, fun, with plenty of surprises. Its faults were easy enough to look over in favor of new characters, a strong story, and fantastic special effects.

Book Review: A Web of Air

A Web of Air, by Philip Reeve

For the past couple years Fever Crumb has been traveling with a theater troupe and her two young charges. In Mayda, Fever discovers a flying machine which leads her to an eccentric inventor obsessed with flying. And Fever is inspired to assist young Arlo Thursday. But there is an unknown enemy ready to put a stop to any advancement in flight technology. And just as dangerous, thieves that wish to steal the incredible invention.

Fever is a mature young adult who values rational thinking above all. The engineers in Reeve’s world are akin to Star Trek’s Vulcans who shun emotion in favor of logic. But Fever does have emotions, which make her struggle with her feelings versus her logical reasoning.

A Web of Air is second in the Fever Crumb trilogy for young adults. Set in a futuristic, mildly dystopian universe, the steampunk setting is imaginative and inspired. As before, the story is full of suspense, mystery and fantastic characters. While a bit predictable, Fever’s latest adventure is fast-paced and riveting. Ending with a bit of a cliffhanger, the final installment in the trilogy can’t come fast enough.

Book Review: The Fox Inheritance

The Fox Inheritance, by Mary E. Pearson

260 years after a fatal car accident, Lock and Kara awake to find they have new bodies and their minds finally free of their imprisoned digital boxes. Everyone they knew and loved has long since gone, except for Jenna Fox – the third friend who didn’t survive the car crash either. Jenna was given a new body 260 years ago, and has been living all these lifetimes without Lock and Kara. 260 inside of a cube has changed both Lock and Kara. And Lock wonders if what’s left is even human anymore.

A sequel to The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the story skips over 260 years to a very different future. Jenna’s personality has not really changed, but she’s less naïve. Lock still has the mentality of a teenager, loving and wanting to protect his two best friends despite Kara’s obvious neurosis. His gullibility is beyond frustrating at times. Dot, the taxicab bot, is actually my favorite character. She’s innocent and selfless, whose dreams of freedom are inspiring.

The Fox Inheritance has a very different feel than its predecessor. While both focus on what it means to be human, this story has much more adventure and suspense. There were various strange plot holes like why Jenna would wait over 250 years to have a child from her spouse who died almost 200 years ago and why Kara blames Jenna for something completely beyond her knowledge or control. But suspending disbelief and predictability, this is still an exciting, thought-provoking story with heart.

The copy I received was on CD, read by Matthew Brown who does a fantastic job with Locke, Dot, and several accents.

Book Review: Spider’s Revenge

Spider’s Revenge, by Jennifer Estep

Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, is a semi-former assassin. There’s just one more person left Gin needs to kill – Mab, the woman who murdered Gin’s mother and sister. After missing a prime change to kill Mab, Gin discovers that Mab has not only a bounty on her head but her sister Bria’s as well. Mab wants to use Bria as bait to lure the Spider and finish her once and for all.

For as high a body count as Gin has collected through the series, she’s also collected an eclectic group of friends and family. Estep’s characters are incredibly vivid and continue to develop. Gin and Owen still have great chemistry and their relationship continues to mature.

This latest pulse-pounding adventure with Gin and her crew finally has Gin’s big showdown with Mab. With a couple of twists along the way, fans will be excited about this climactic battle. And thankfully, despite a final showdown, the series will continue. This is a must-read for urban fantasy fans. Estep’s world of elementals, giants, dwarves, and vampires is truly inspired and always entertaining. Action-packed, with plenty of humor, magic, and heart, this latest installment is no exception.

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