SciFi Book Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster

Synopsis:
Months after the dramatic events seen in the 2009 blockbuster film Star Trek, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise—including Captain James T. Kirk, First Officer Spock, Doctor Leonard McCoy, Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, and Ensign Pavel Chekov—is called back home. But an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has declared all-out war on Starfleet and everything it stands for, leaving Earth in a state of crisis. Now with a personal score to settle as a result, Kirk must lead a covert manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction. As these valiant 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 Captain Kirk has left: his crew.

Review:
Having seen the film twice now, I was able to appreciate just how much this tie-in novel follows the original script. It’s mostly word for word with a few areas of more explanation, like why Dr. Carol has a British accent and her father doesn’t. I actually would have like even more of this, but I’m not sure how much leeway Foster had to expand on the characters and dialog.

Fans of the film will certainly appreciate this translation to novel as I did. I loved the story. And the author did a great job bringing all of the drama, suspense, and intrigue to the book. The actions scenes weren’t as long since reading it doesn’t have the same effect as seeing it. Whereas, with the novel we get to experience more of the character depth. As one who loves both movies and books, I appreciate both mediums. And Foster is certainly talented at translating film to novel.

Fantasy Book Review: Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom

Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland

Synopsis:
Deep in the rainforest, danger awaits . . .

The dragonets of destiny aren’t sure what to expect in the RainWing kingdom – Glory hopes to learn more about her family, and since the RainWings aren’t fighting in the war, all five dragonets think they might be able to hide safely for a while.

But something deadly is stalking the peaceful kingdom, and the dragonets soon discover that RainWings have been mysteriously disappearing from the forest. When the RainWing queen won’t do anything to find her missing tribe members, Glory and her friends set off on their own rescue mission – which leads them right back into enemy territory.

Review:
This is the third installment in the Wings of Fire series. Each novel seems to top the last in suspense and excitement. The RainWings are a bit of a disappointment to Glory, they are lackadaisical without much drive and seeming to live up to their lazy reputation. When missing RainWings don’t even spurn the interest of the Queen, Glory takes it on herself to investigate along with her fellow Dragonets of Destiny.

As before, there is plenty of suspense, mystery, drama, intrigue, and humor. And this latest installment even adds an element of romance, or at least hints to it with chemistry budding between Glory and a mysterious foe. The prologue introduces the “fake” dragonets meant to replace the true dragonets if need be, but there isn’t much mention of them beyond that. I expect they’ll come more into the story in the future. The events build to a thrilling finale, but leaves off with a cliffhanger that will leave readers impatient for the next installment. I can’t recommend this series enough for fantasy fans of all ages.

SciFi Book Review: Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox

Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox by Christa Faust

Synopsis:
In 1971 university students Walter Bishop and William Bell use an exotic chemical compound to link their subconscious minds. Unexpectedly, they open a rip in space through which comes a menace unlike any our world has ever seen – The Zodiac Killer. His singular goal is death, and it falls to Bishop, Bell and Nina Sharp to stop him.

Review:
The show may have ended, but I’m glad the world of Fringe continues on in this new series of books. This first novel takes us back to the late 60s/early 70s when the Fringe division is just getting off the ground. Walter, Bell and Nina are all young and inexperienced. They still have high ideals and morals that keep them grounded. Though there are hints to their future decisions.

This was a fast-paced, action-packed adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed. We get a look through the killer’s eyes that adds an element of suspense, as the narrative jumps back and forth between the killer experiences and Walter and Bell’s. With plenty of mystery, fringe science, and humor – this story is a solid installment in the Fringe franchise. I’m looking forward to future novels in this expanded universe with high expectations.

Fantasy Book Review: Towering

Towering by Alex Flinn

Synopsis:
When Rachel was taken to live in a tower by a woman she calls Mama, she was excited. She felt like a princess in a castle. But many years later, Rachel knows her palace is really a prison, and begins to plan her escape. She is encouraged by the speed that her golden hair has been growing. It’s gotten long enough to reach the ground. And she’s begun dreaming of a green-eyed man. Could he be out there in the world? Is he coming to save her? Or will she find a way to save herself?

Review:
Rachel is a severely sheltered girl with only books giving her an idea of the outside world. We don’t learn why she’s being locked up in a tower until the end of the book, adding to the big mystery surrounding her and the small town. Meanwhile, Wyatt has come to live with the mother of his mother’s best friend in order to cope with his friend’s death. His mother’s best friend went missing years ago, and Wyatt discovers she wasn’t the only one to go missing in this small town.

I really enjoyed the eerie mystery and creepy feeling of the town and its residents. But when Wyatt finally meets Rachel, the story derailed in my opinion. Unfortunately, the two teens suffer from insta-love, even going as far as saying they love each other on their SECOND meeting. I know they were supposed to feel a fairy tale connection, but it was beyond my suspension of disbelief. Then, the “big mystery” was a bit of a let-down as well. I won’t give away any spoilers, but all of the build-up and suspense again left me disappointed with the direction it all took. It was just too strange and seemed thrown together. I love modern day fairy tale retellings, especially Flinn’s Beastly. So maybe my expectations were too high with Rapunzel. I’m still eager to read more of Flinn’s novels, as she’s obviously gifted at building suspense and characters that readers care about. Towering just fell a bit flat.

Received in May

The following are the books, DVDs, and Blu-Rays I received in May for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Ray / DVD:
Cloud Atlas Blu Ray
Side Effects Blu ray
Wonder Woman
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze
Superboy The Complete Second Season
Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters Blu Ray
Ring of Fire
Mad Max Trilogy Blu Ray

Ace:
The City by Stella Gemmell
The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
Hellfire by Jean Johnson
Heaven’s Fall by David S. Goyer
Fiery Edge of Steel by Jill Archer

BBC Books:
Doctor Who: Who-ology by Cavan Scott
Doctor Who: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds

Bloomsbury:
Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

Daw:
Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey
Blood Price by Tanya Huff

Graywolf Press:
City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

Hodder & Stoughton:
Tomorrow, the Killing by Daniel Polansky

K Teen:
Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

Macmillan Teen / FSG / Feiwel and Friends:
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
Horde by Ann Aguirre

Orbit:
Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
Cold Steel by Kate Elliott

Penguin / Dutton:
Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Pocket Books:
Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep

Pyr:
Wrath-bearing Tree by James Enge
Kindred and Wings by Philippa Ballantine

Quirk:
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Random House Teen / Delacorte Press / Knopf:
The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
Centauriad #2: A Gathering of Wings by Kate Klimo
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Roc:
Clockwork Fairy Tales: A Collection of Steampunk Fairy Tales by Stephen L. Antczak
Terminated by Rachel Caine

Scholastic / Point:
Forevermore by Cindy Miles
Killer Species #1: Menace From the Deep by Michael P. Spradlin

Signet:
Darkness Unmasked by Keri Arthur

Simon & Schuster / Gallery Books:
Star Trek Cross-Stitch by John Lohman
The Star Trek Craft Book by Angie Pedersen
Star Trek Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster

Titan Books:
Joyland by Stephen King
Fringe – The Zodiac Paradox by Christa Faust
Flash Gordon: The Fall of Ming: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1941-46 by Alex Raymond
The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction by Joe Simon
Ecko Rising by Danie Ware

Tor:
Tarnished by Rhiannon Held
Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card

Tor Teen / Starscape:
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos

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