Fantasy Book Review: Archon

Archon

Archon by Lana Krumwiede

Synopsis:
Having used his unique connection with the Heart of the Earth to terminate the use of psi, or telekinesis, in the secluded city of Deliverance, twelve-year-old Taemon bears the burden of responsibility for the fate of its people. With society in disarray, his family missing, and tensions looming with the mysterious Republik, Taemon confronts the startling discovery that he alone can still use psi — and that it comes with a price. In an attempt to find his father and prevent war, Taemon and his friend Amma set out on a dangerous journey to the Republik. But what they find there is far from what they expected, and Taemon’s understanding of the world is challenged. Will his psi and his courage be enough to conquer the obstacles standing in the way of peace?

Review:
Taemon and Amma set out for the Republik to rescue Taemon’s father. They meet an unexpected friend, but must keep a secret from him. Taemon thought that taking away everyones’ psi would make his city a better place, but the people haven’t changed. And now a new danger looms.

Archon is the second book in the Psi Chronicles. There is a decidedly different feel to this book, maybe since so much of it is away from Deliverance and the journey to the Republik. Yet this is a well-paced adventure with plenty of suspense, intrigue, and drama. Fans of dystopic novels should definitely check these out. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to the next in this stirring series.

Blu-Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 and Unification

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 and Star Trek: The Next Generation “Unification” Blu-ray

Synopsis:
Set in the 24th century, the exploits of the U.S.S. Enterprise continue with STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE FIFTH SEASON. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE FIFTH SEASON BLU-RAY features all 26 episodes of the fifth season, remastered into stunning, crowd-pleasing high-definition.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – UNIFICATION BLU-RAY is a feature-length presentation of the fan-favorite, two-part epic adventure from the series’ fifth season. Over 25 million viewers tuned into the original airing of the episode, making it one of the most-watched of all seven seasons of the series. In the episode, Leonard Nimoy reprises his iconic role as Spock as both he and Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) venture on a heroic mission in an attempt to unify the Vulcans and the Romulans.

Along with audio commentary and an exclusive deleted scene, the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – UNIFICATION BLU-RAY includes the exclusive documentary, “From One Generation to the Next.” This newly produced special featurette takes fans behind the scenes at the making of the classic two-part episode and the introduction of Spock to the 24th century saga of the hit series.

Review:
Season 5 was another fantastic season with some of the most memorable episodes. “Darmok” – when Picard and an alien are trapped on a planet together without the ability to communicate (and Ashley Judd’s debut). “The Game” – (guest starring Judd again) when the crew all becomes addicted to a VR game. “Ensign Ro” – introduces new character Ro Laren, and giving us a deeper knowledge of the Bajorans. “I Borg” – a powerful episode where we see a Borg (Hugh) learn a sense of individuality, then is used to infiltrate the Borg at great risk to himself. “The Inner Light” – when Picard lives an entire lifetime on an alien world as a way to pass on the alien culture. And, of course, “Unification” Part 1 and 2 – Sarek passes away, and Picard learns that Spock is on Romulus teaching Vulcan philosophy to the Romulans. “Unification” as a standalone movie on blu-ray was a good choice. It’s easily one of the best episodes of the entire series. And the interesting packaging alone is worth the purchase for a collector like me.

Gene Roddenberry passed away during this season, and this season 5 blu ray set offers a documentary tribute that touches on the impact his death had on the show and the cast and crew’s memories of Roddenberry.

I’m very glad I waited to collect the seasons of TNG until they were available in high definition. These blu ray sets have been outstanding. And these latest releases are a must-have for any fan.

Special Features Include:
Episodic Promos
Audio Commentaries
Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel
In Conversation: The Music of TNG
REQUIEM: A Remembrance of TNG
Archival Mission Logs:
– Mission Overview Year
– Departmental Briefing Year 5: Production
– Departmental Briefing Year 5: Visual Effects
– Memorable Missions
– A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry
– Intergalactic Guest Stars
– Alien Speak

Fantasy Book Review: Firebrand

Firebrand

Firebrand by Antony John

Synopsis:
Thomas and his friends have rescued the Guardians and commandeered the pirates’ ship, but the pirates still hold fast to Roanoke Island. Using his newly discovered element, Thomas hears a radio message calling for refugees to head to Fort Sumter. They sail south, but quickly discover that their elements wane as they leave Roanoke behind. There is something sinister going on in the refugee colony too. From the perilous food-gathering squads, to the constant threat of rat infestation, to dangerous secrets, Thomas and his colonists begin to realize that this promising new world may be even more terrifying than the one they left behind.

Review:
Thomas has become the unwitting leader of their small group. The adults have been cowed for their deception. And when they arrive at Fort Sumter, the Chief takes Thomas under his wing and treats him as almost an equal. But it soon becomes apparent that he’s hiding something sinister.

Firebrand is the second installment in the Elementals series. Blending post-apocalyptic fiction and fantasy, this series is dark and unpredictable. There is plenty of mystery, suspense, danger, and intrigue – making this sequel just as exciting as the first. The characters and story are captivating. The novel was impossible to put down. And with another mild cliffhanger ending, I’m left eager for the next in the series.

SciFi Book Review: Enders

Enders

Enders by Lissa Price

Synopsis:
Someone is after Starters like Callie and Michael—teens with chips in their brains. They want to experiment on anyone left over from Prime Destinations—Starters who can be controlled and manipulated. With the body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save her life—but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too . . . and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?

No one is ever who they appear to be, not even the Old Man. Determined to find out who he really is and grasping at the hope of a normal life for herself and her younger brother, Callie is ready to fight for the truth. Even if it kills her

Review:
Callie still has the evil man behind the body swapping in her head – as well as someone claiming to be her father. Callie and a new friend team up to bring in the Metals (Starters who have the chip in their head) to keep them safe and hunt down the man responsible once and for all.

This conclusion to last year’s Starters is an exciting, fast-paced thriller. Enders is packed with mystery, danger, and excitement. The characters of Callie and Hyden are engaging. And there were several twists I didn’t see coming. Price certainly knows how to write suspense and a complex storyline. I highly recommend this riveting duology.

James Dashner Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Kill Order dashner

James Dashner joins SciFiChick.com today on his latest stop along his blog tour. I gave him some topic ideas, but instead of just talking about one, he gave short answers to all of them. So we have a bit of a Q&A instead!

What’s your vision of the future – Roddenberry-esque or apocalyptic?

I hope, sincerely hope, that it’s Roddenberry’s way of things. I like to think that at some point, before we reach a place where humans are about to destroy one another, we’ll finally learn our lessons and spiral the other direction. Clean up the Earth, stop the wars, venture into space, explore the universe. I certainly don’t think we’ll ever get rid of all our problems, never come close to a Utopia, but I also think it’s really stupid to just keep killing each other. I do, however, think that if we want to avoid an eventual apocalyptic scenario, we’ll have to figure out how to leave this planet eventually. Star Trek, here we come!

On writing for YA/children rather than adults

I often get asked how different my books would be if I wrote them for adults instead of teenagers. I honestly think they’d hardly be different at all. I never, ever think about the age of my audience as I write. I just want it to be a cool story with cool characters. To scare and surprise and thrill. To pull out some emotions. I guess I naturally fit in with the young adult audience because that’s when I truly fell in love with reading, the closest it’s ever been to true “magic.” When I write, I go back to that.

Worldbuilding for a scifi series

This is a really tough one for me. I try so hard to be patient, and make outlines, and develop my characters beforehand, and build my world, and all of that, before starting a draft. But it’s all in my head, and I get so excited that I can’t take it anymore and jump in. Writing a first draft is by far my favorite part of being an author. I have so much fun. And a lot of the worldbuilding comes organically as I move through the story. And a lot of it is also instinctual, whatever seems to make sense and jives with my vision. I rely on my brain to fill in a lot of the blanks that perhaps I should have thought out and written down at some earlier point. I don’t know. I do my best. Thankfully, I have a spectacular editor at Random House who helps me where I fail.

_______________________________________________________________

Courtesy of Random House, I have a paperback copy of The Kill Order and a hardback copy of The Eye of Minds by James Dashner 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 January 31. I’ll draw a name on February 1, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms

Star Trek The Fall Peaceable Kingdoms

Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward

Synopsis:
Following the resolution of the fertility crisis that nearly caused their extinction, the Andorian people now stand ready to rejoin the United Federation of Planets. The return of one of its founding member worlds is viewed by many as the first hopeful step beyond the uncertainty and tragedy that have overshadowed recent events in the Alpha Quadrant. But as the Federation looks to the future and the special election to name President Bacco’s permanent successor, time is running out to apprehend those responsible for the respected leader’s brutal assassination. Even as elements of the Typhon Pact are implicated for the murder, Admiral William Riker holds key knowledge of the true assassins— a revelation that could threaten the fragile Federation-Cardassian alliance.

Questions and concerns also continue to swell around Bacco’s interim successor, Ishan Anjar, who uses the recent bloodshed to further a belligerent, hawkish political agenda against the Typhon Pact. With the election looming, Riker dispatches his closest friend, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth. But as Picard and the Enterprise crew pursue the few remaining clues, Riker must act on growing suspicions that someone within Ishan’s inner circle has been in league with the assassins from the very beginning.

Review:
The Fall miniseries comes to a close in this riveting conclusion. The suspense builds with Doctor Crusher meeting up with an old colleague to hunt for clues to the truth behind Ishan Anjar’s past. Meanwhile, Captain Picard has to bide his time and try to keep others from learning what his wife is up to. But Ishan will stop at nothing to protect his secret and the truth behind President Bacco’s death. Since we all knew by now that Ishan held some treachery and had something to do with misleading the investigation into Bacco’s death, I wondered if there would be any startling revelations. Thankfully, Ward doesn’t disappoint. There’s still a big mystery yet to be uncovered.

I was very happy with how things wrapped up. Though, it’s strange that Will Riker is an admiral stuck on Earth now. My favorite scene was at the end when Picard is given his new mission. It brought a sense of wonder and excitement for the future again.

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