Blu-Ray Review: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond: The All-New Star Trek Adventure Takes Off on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and Blu-ray 3D™ Combo Packs November 1, 2016

Synopsis:
In STAR TREK BEYOND, the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Review:
In year 3 of their 5-year mission, the crew of the Enterprise takes a much-needed shore leave on the Starbase Yorktown. But their leave is cut short when a lone survivor of an attack needs the Enterprise to aid in a rescue mission. However, a seemingly unstoppable foe is waiting for them, and maroons the crew of the Enterprise on an alien planet. And an angry villain with a vendetta seeks an ancient weapon.

Watching this film is bittersweet, knowing it’s the last time the entire crew will be on screen together, as young Anton Yelchin passed away shortly before the theater release. And the legendary Leonard Nimoy passed away as well, who had a nice tribute in the film. Sofia Boutella starred as a fantastic new character, Jaylah, who is strong, talented, and snarky. She fit in extremely well with the Enterprise crew. I hope they bring her back for any future films. And Idris Elba is a talented actor who plays a great villain.

From incredible special effects to endearing characters – this action-packed film is full of mystery, adventure, and humor. It has a wonderful nostalgic feel, instead of the darker previous film. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and have watched it multiple times at the theater and on blu-ray. It’s definitely my favorite of the reboot series. Anytime the new theme song gets stuck in my head, it feels like a good time to watch it again.

Star Trek Beyond Blu-ray Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray
• Feature film in high definition
• Bonus Content:
o Deleted Scenes – Go Beyond the final cut of the movie with scenes you didn’t see in theaters.
o Beyond the Darkness – Meet visionary producer J.J. Abrams, director Justin Lin and co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung as they discuss the inspiration for the Star Trek Beyond storyline and how it came to life.
o Enterprise Takedown – Experience edge-of-your-seat action and see how a shocking attack destroys the USS Enterprise.
o Divided and Conquered – Learn how filmmakers pushed the boundaries in Star Trek Beyond by forcing the Enterprise crew into their most challenging situations yet.
o A Warped Sense of Revenge – Meet Star Trek’s newest villain, Krall, as actor Idris Elba reveals the backstory behind his character’s terrifying ambitions.
o Trekking in the Desert – Go on set to Dubai and discover how its futuristic architecture became the foundation for the most innovative Starbase yet.
o Exploring Strange New Worlds – Tour the incredible production sets of Star Trek Beyond with director Justin Lin.
o New Life, New Civilizations – See how special effects designers met the challenge to create an unprecedented 50 new alien species for the film to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary.
o To Live Long and Prosper – Journey through the past 50 years of Star Trek with J.J. Abrams and the cast as they reflect on the evolution of this iconic sci-fi series.
o For Leonard and Anton – Watch a touching tribute to the legendary Leonard Nimoy and beloved crew member Anton Yelchin.
o Gag Reel – Join in on the fun with this hilarious gag reel of on-set bloopers.
DVD
• Feature film in standard definition

SciFi Book Review: Arabella of Mars

Arabella of Mars by David D Levine

Synopsis:
Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Review:
Arabella is a smart and talented young woman, unfortunately trapped in a society that doesn’t appreciate women’s potential. When her brother’s life is in danger, Arabella risks everything to return to him – even masquerading as a boy to gain passage on a privateer ship.

Arabella of Mars was a pure joy to read. It’s one of those stories I hated to see end. This fascinating world is inspired, and I hope to read companion novels, at the very least, in the future. From the unique Martians to the swashbuckling adventure aboard the airships – this novel was incredibly fun. This fantastic adventure will be my new recommendation to all of my steampunk, fantasy, and/or alternate history-loving friends.

Fantasy Book Review: World of Warcraft: Traveler

World of Warcraft: Traveler by Greg Weisman

Synopsis:
It’s been years since twelve-year-old Aramar Thorne, a clever boy who is never without his precious sketch book, has seen his father. So when Captain Greydon Thorne comes ashore and asks his son to join him at sea, it feels as if someone has redrawn Aram’s entire world. At sea, Aram struggles to get along with the Wavestrider’s crew–especially second mate Makasa, a tough teenaged girl who has been reluctantly placed in charge of him. Just as Aram starts to get his head above water, a band of vicious pirates attack the Wavestrider, turning his world upside down once again. As Aram and Makasa try to find their way home, they encounter creatures both terrible and wondrous, and Aram will seek to understand Azeroth’s denizens as he draws them in his sketchbook, forming unlikely friendships along the way. But the journey is hindered by Greydon’s compass, which never points north. If the compass isn’t leading Aram and Makasa home–to safety–to what destiny is it leading?

Review:
I’m not a gamer, so I wasn’t very familiar with the series. But when the movie came out, I started reading the novels. The writing has been fantastic and the characters are incredibly fun.

Traveler is a children’s book with beautiful illustrations (supposedly from Aram’s sketchbook) of the different characters which he comes into contact. There are very diverse creatures and characters. And Aram’s adventure is fast-paced and highly enjoyable. Full of swashbuckling, pirates, suspense, and humor – I recommend this one for fantasy fans of all ages. And I look forward to the next in this exciting series.

Days of the Dead Blog Tour: Gail Z. Martin Guest Post: Paths to Publication

days-of-the-dead

Paths to Publication
by Gail Z. Martin

In today’s market, authors have more choices than ever before on how to bring their book to readers. Traditional big publishers, small press, self-publishing–what’s an author to do?

Each path to publication has pros and cons. There are a few considerations to factor in as you’re looking at options. What do you want out of publishing? If you have your heart set on becoming a New York Times bestseller, that’s more likely for a book put out by a big traditional publisher (and even then, it’s far from guaranteed). Likewise, if you’re hoping to pay all your bills with your advance check, a big publisher is the way to go. Large traditional publishers have national (and sometimes international) bookstore distribution, still a factor with today’s readers. You may also find more marketing resources with a big press, though that is debatable as staff cuts continue.

On the other hand, if you want someone else to handle the details of publication (editing, layout, cover design, some marketing) but you’re not worried about fame, bookstore placement or an advance, a reputable small press could be a good fit. Small presses can put out books of equivalent (or better) quality as large publishers, and tend to invest more editorial time in working with authors. Their marketing clout might not be as substantial, but marketing is an iffy proposition even for large publishers. Bookstore distribution and lack of an advance are the biggest drawbacks, but even big houses are paying smaller advances nowadays and bookstores are not as plentiful as they once were.

If you enjoy total control, self-publishing (also called indie) might be a good fit. Or, if you believe in a book and haven’t found a home for it, self-publishing with today’s online tools and Amazon can still make sure your book reaches the right readers. Self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it used to when the only choices were unscrupulous vanity publishers. A growing number of authors who have enthusiastic fan bases are finding it possible to make a living with self-published books (though it is still not guaranteed, even for established authors). The biggest caveat is that when you self-publish, you are both author and publisher. You write the book, hire the copy editor and proofreader, arrange for the cover art and the layout, handle the audio rights, set up the accounts with Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc. A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into bringing a book to life after the writing is done, and the type of work required is not everyone’s idea of ‘fun’. Succeeding with self-publishing takes a lot of effort and attention to detail, but it’s more possible now than ever before.

Most of us pursue ‘hybrid’ careers, meaning that we play in all three arenas. If you can snag a contract and an advance with a big publisher, grab it. If a small press wants to include you in an anthology or bring out a niche novel, do it. And if you want to bring out some series on your own or self-publish short stories/novellas tied in to your series with other publishers, go for it. Working with big publishers, small presses and some self-publishing makes you more resilient to fate, since you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. I’m seeing more and more authors going this route, and it’s the path I’ve personally chosen because it allows the greatest range and ‘security’ in a highly volatile business.

The greatest thing about your writing career is that you get to chart your own way, making the decisions that are best for you and your books. Know your options and then pick what works for you. And be sure to enjoy what you do every day!

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Read moreDays of the Dead Blog Tour: Gail Z. Martin Guest Post: Paths to Publication

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Ahsoka

Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK Johnston

Synopsis:
Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance.

Review:
Ahsoka is on the run and just wants to hide away like Obi Wan. But she isn’t willing to stand aside as her new friends become overrun by the Imperial troopers. She’s an intriguing character with a lot of talent. This standalone story follows Ahsoka as she tries to help defenseless farmers against the ruthless Empire and her path that eventually leads her to the Rebel Alliance.

This young adult novel is exciting and full of adventure, intrigue, and suspense. Events build to a strange pause when Ahsoka goes off-planet for a while and then returns, which made for some awkward pacing. But once the pacing picks back up, the climactic ending doesn’t disappoint. Young Star Wars fans will want to pick up this fun, new story with plenty of heart.

Box Review: TeeBlox – October 2016

TeeBlox

TeeBlox is a t-shirt subscription service that brings 100% authentic licensed geek and gamer shirts to your doorsteps every month. No hidden fees. Cancel anytime. Satisfaction Guaranteed.”

Get 1 shirt and 2 other items starting at $12.99/mo and use code: SCIFICHICK24 to get 24% off your first month!

Subscribers can pick from the following categories: SciFi, Marvel, DC Comics, Cartoons, Movies & TV, Games, Hot Meex, or Disney!

*SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

TeeBlox

Star Trek T-shirt – I LOVE this design. It’s a mashup of the different crews in their primary colored shirts, in the shape of the saucer section of a ship with a fade out for the tail end of the ship. I would have liked it even more (and gotten more use out of it) if it were gray instead of black.

TeeBlox

2000AD Presents #18 – This was a fun, retro comic.

Deadpool Air Freshener – I haven’t opened it to smell it yet. But the image of Deadpool doesn’t convey something smelling good to me. But it’s Deadpool, so it’s cool.

Summary: The shirt and comic combo is awesome. This Star Trek shirt is even better than the last. This is one of the more affordable mystery packs – and it’s one of my favorites.

Remember, use code: SCIFICHICK24 to get 24% off your first month!

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