SciFi Book Review: The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Synopsis:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Review:
Cassie has lost both of her parents. She doesn’t know if any other humans are alive. But she’s searching for her little brother – the one thing that helps her keep going. We follow along with Cassie’s story of what has happened since the 1st Wave of the aliens’ arrival as it catches up to the “present,” following the 4th Wave. Then, the narrative jumps around to a few other characters, but it’s easy to follow as the jumps are divided by section breaks.

The characters are young, for the YA market, but adults will also enjoy this dark and exciting post-apocalyptic story. Though it’s an alien invasion story, the focus is more on the characters and their difficult, dramatic journeys. With rich characters, mystery, suspense, and intrigue – The 5th Wave is a fast-paced, pulse-pounding thriller.

The Planet Thieves Blog Tour: Dan Krokos Interview and Giveaway!

About the Author:
After pumping gas for nine years to put himself through college, DAN KROKOS, now twenty-six, writes full-time. He enjoys watching TV, playing MMORPGs, and drinking coffee. His YA novel, False Memory, debuted from Hyperion in Fall 2012. Currently, he’s hard at work on the next book in the Planet Thieves series. Find him online at dankrokos.com

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Can you tell us a bit about The Planet Thieves in your own words?

It’s a story about a kid named Mason Stark who doesn’t like the world he’s living in, and decides to do something about it. He’s a cadet, a child soldier basically. He and his friends are forced into an incredibly adult situation when their spaceship is boarded by their sworn enemies, and this story is how they deal with it.

There are also space wizards.

Who are the Tremist? What can you tell us about this alien race?

I can’t say much without giving things away, but I can tell you what humans think the Tremist are like.

Tremist wear this high tech armor that looks close to what knights used to wear back in the middle ages. No one has seen what a Tremist looks like. They are assumed to be blood drinking vampyres or possibly shape shifting werewolves. Or it’s possible their suits are man-shaped, but just filled with ectoplasmic energy.

We’ve been at war with them for sixty years, mainly because the Tremist are just like humans—hostile toward things they don’t understand.

How does Mason assume leadership of rest of the cadets during the crisis?

Mason is a natural leader, so they kind of follow him to start with. But after most of the crew is either captured or killed, he’s given command by a gravely wounded officer. Mason officially becomes the youngest captain the Earth Space Command has ever seen.

Is this the start of a new series or a standalone novel?

Right now it’s two books. But there is definitely more story after the second book, so I hope I have the opportunity to share that. I’d love to follow Mason through his teen years.

What’s next for you, after the release of The Planet Thieves? Are there any other stories that you’re working on currently?

This year I have The Planet Thieves and False Sight, which is the sequel to my first book False Memory. Next year is the final False Memory book, and the Planet Thieves sequel. Just working on finishing all those up at the moment, then it’s on to the next thing!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

I hated English and writing during my teen years. It wasn’t until I turned twenty-one that I decided to try it. And that was after reading a ton of fantasy novels and falling in love with reading again. Before that, I didn’t have much skill at all, and it was a slow process. I wrote four books before I decided to try querying agents. It wasn’t until the fifth book that I got one.

I wrote a lot of adult stuff, and was worried I’d be one of those writers who would write the same kind of books for the rest of their lives. So I decided to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself by writing from a female POV. The Hunger Games had just come out around this time, and it was a huge inspiration. I can’t remember reading a book that tense. I wanted to write that kind of book.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

My favorite author is actually an adult writer named Josh Bazell. I love his book Beat the Reaper. I love Hunger Games, naturally. A Song of Ice and Fire is one of my favorite series of all time.

What do you do for fun, when you’re not writing?

I play World of Warcraft with my friends, who currently live in Cleveland and LA (we’re all originally from Cleveland, but I’m in New York now). We all got webcams so we can Skype while we play and it’s ALMOST like hanging out in the same room.

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About The Planet Thieves:
Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter. But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.

With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever. Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.

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Courtesy of Starscape, I have a copy of THE PLANET THIEVES for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 14. I’ll draw a name on June 15, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreThe Planet Thieves Blog Tour: Dan Krokos Interview and Giveaway!

Fantasy Book Review: Aunt Dimity & the Lost Prince

Aunt Dimity & the Lost Prince by Nancy Atherton

Synopsis:
It’s a cold, dreary February in the sleepy village of Finch and Lori Shepherd has two stir-crazy seven-year-old boys on her hands. So when her good friend Bree Pym suggests an outing to Skeaping Manor, the bizarre Jacobean-house-turned-museum, Lori leaps at the chance. There she meets Daisy Pickering, a sweet (if a little odd) nine-year-old dressed in a shabby pink parka who regales Lori with a wild tale about the Russian aristocrats who once owned the priceless silver pieces on display.

A few days later, when a finely wrought silver sleigh figurine turns up in the pocket of a shabby pink parka at her thrift shop Lori recognizes it instantly as the object that mesmerized Daisy at Skeaping Manor. Hoping to avoid any real commotion, Lori tracks down Daisy’s mother, only to find that the Pickering family has disappeared without a trace. Stranger still, it seems that one of Daisy’s imagined Russian princes may be very real—and in desperate need of help.

With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly guidance, Lori’s search for the sleigh’s true owner and the fate of the Pickering family begins to unravel a tangled web of secrets stretching from England’s finest country estates back to the blood-drenched soil of the Russian Revolution.

Review:
Lori Shepherd seems like a caring mother and a great friend. Their visit to the creepy Skeaping Manor is more for her boys and Bree. And the series is named after Lori’s deceased Aunt who communicates with Lori through a blank journal. This is the first I’ve read in the series and was actually expecting a bit more of the paranormal. But it’s a good standalone mystery novel. Fans of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple should enjoy.

The mystery of the Lost Prince takes Lori and Bree on a journey around various historic homes in the area. They’re searching for the truth behind little Daisy’s story about the prince and for more information on where Daisy and her mother went suddenly. Aunt Dimity & the Lost Prince is an unpredictable, quick read with colorful characters. It’s a fun and entertaining mystery that kept me guessing. I’ll most likely be checking out more episodes in this mystery series.

SciFi Book Review: Reboot

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Synopsis:
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes, she came back to life as a Reboot—stronger, faster, able to heal, but less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return, making Wren 178 the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas.

Callum 22, on the other hand, is practically still human. He’s the worst trainee Wren has ever had—his reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking pesky questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet he’s still her newbie. When Callum fails to measure up to Reboot standards, Wren is told to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before, but she’ll do whatever it takes to save Callum’s life. The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Review:
Wren (178) believes that she’s emotionless and more zombie-like than human. But as the readers see her interact with others, it’s obvious she’s caring and sympathetic to others. But Wren does ruthlessly follow orders until Callum (22) begins to have an effect on her conscience. Tintera’s future world of Reboots resulting from a virus are zombie-like in that they aren’t exactly human. And the longer it takes a human to “reboot” (wake-up after death) supposedly the fewer emotions they have, making them better soldiers.

I loved the fantastic world-buliding and interesting characters. With intense suspense and heart-pounding adventure, Reboot is an exceptional debut. It’s a smart and distinctive twist on the zombie genre that any scifi or dystopia fan will enjoy. This is another surprising debut that will make my list of favorites for the year. Harper Teen, a favorite publisher of mine, and its various imprints has had an incredible lineup of new releases lately. And this is another standout title that shouldn’t be missed.

Star Trek Into Darkness (Non-Spoiler) Movie Review

Star Trek Into Darkness

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.

Non-Spoiler 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, 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. I’ll certainly be going to see this one a few more times in the theater, especially on IMAX. The 3D screening was nice, but after the first hour I forgot about it. Beyond the first few scenes, I don’t think the 3D is necessary. Either way, don’t miss this exciting sequel.

Blu-Ray Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download 5/14

Synopsis:
From acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski, the powerful and inspiring epic drama “Cloud Atlas” explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future.

Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Review:
The film jumps around six different stories in six different time periods. In 1849, a dying lawyer discovers an escaped, stowaway slave in his cabin. In 1936, young composer gets the chance of a lifetime working with an aging, famous composer. In 1973, a journalist gets wrapped up in dangerous corporate espionage. In 2012, a publisher finds himself locked up in a nursing home against his will. In 2144 Korea, a clone restaurant server dreams of something more than her life as a slave. And in the far distant future, a tribesman deals with an inner demon while escorting a woman to the forbidden mountains. Eventually, the stories begin weaving together with the message that “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” And the point is further pushed as the same actors play a variety of roles across each time period’s story. Most are easy to point out, despite the makeup. And in the end credits, each actor is shown in each role they had.

I haven’t read the book, so the story was new to me – other than the reviews from friends of mine. I had low expectations, hearing it was an over-done artsy film. But I was surprised by the power and drama of each story – moving and poignant. The acting was phenomenal. The music was enchanting. And the cinematography and special effects were stunning. The movie does drag at times though, and at almost three hours runtime became tiresome. Quite a bit could have been cut out and still had the same effect. While it’s a visually striking film, it was also emotionally draining. I don’t think that I would watch it again without skipping through a lot. But I’m glad I finally watched this epic fantasy. Most reviewers used the word “ambitious” when describing Cloud Atlas. I agree.

Blu-ray and DVD Elements:
Cloud Atlas Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other
• Everything is Connected
• The Impossible Adaptation
• The Essence of Acting
• Spaceships, Slaves and Sextets
• The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas
• Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life, and Longing in Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other

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