Whispering Pines – Book Review

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Synopsis:
Rae’s father vanished without a trace—and Rae knows what happened to him. But no one believes her when she says that her father didn’t run off, that he was actually taken. Now, a year of therapy later, Rae’s mother decides they need a fresh start, and so they move to a new town in the hope that life can return to normal.

The problem is, there is nothing normal about the town of Whispering Pines.

No one knows this better than Caden. He’s lived in Whispering Pines his entire life, and he’s seen more than his fair share of weird—starting with his own family, as the town is the perfect home base for his mother’s ghost hunting business.

When several kids go missing and then show up like zombies with their eyes removed, many locals brush it off. Just another day in Whispering Pines. But Caden has a dark secret, one that may explain why someone is stealing eyes. And Rae, who knows how it feels to not be believed, may be just the person Caden needs to help him put things right.

Review:
This middle grade fantasy has been compared to Stranger Things, and I definitely see the similarities. An evil creature from another dimension has been abducting children from this small town. And to amp up the creepy factor, he steals their eyes. I enjoyed the characters of Rae and Cade – both kids have lost someone dear to them and will stop at nothing to find answers. The mystery kept me guessing till the very end. Though, this is the first in a series, so there is plenty left to answer. And the suspense definitely builds throughout to a heart-pounding finale. I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure.

Resident Alien Omnibus Volume 1 – Graphic Novel Review

Resident Alien Omnibus Volume 1 by Peter Hogan (Author), Steve Parkhouse (Illustrator)

Synopsis:
Living undercover as a semi-retired, small-town doctor, a stranded alien’s only hope is to stay off humanity’s radar until he can be rescued. When he’s pulled into a surprising murder mystery by the town’s desperate mayor and struggling police chief, “Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle” learns more about the human condition than he ever wanted to.
This omnibus collects Resident Alien Volumes 1 to 3.

Review:
When I saw the trailers for Resident Alien starring Alan Tudyk, I got really excited for the series. Then, I heard it was based on a graphic novel series, and immediately bought the first omnibus. A murder mystery with an alien? Sounds like it was made for me! Of course, some minor things are changed for television. The comic version of Harry isn’t as odd. And the characters seem more exaggerated on tv. But I’m already obsessed with these graphic novels.

Harry is a sweet man with a penchant for mysteries. He just happens to be an alien. While his arrival on Earth didn’t go unnoticed, they have yet to track him down. He appears as a mild-mannered, small-town doctor. Though it seems children can see his true form. Throughout the series, we see bits of dialog from his life before he came to Earth. But as of this first set of volumes (1-3), we still don’t know why he came here, other than he shipwrecked a few years ago. Each volume is a standalone story, but digs deeper into the character of Harry and those around him.

The artwork is fantastic, and adds to the noir feel. And the look of Harry is the quintessential alien – large, dark eyes, elongated ears, and gray skin. I loved everything about this set of stories – from the mysteries to the interpersonal relationships. With plenty of suspense, humor, intrigue, and heart – this series should appeal to mystery and scifi fans alike. I read quite a few comics, but this is now one of my all-time favorite series. I mean, it’s Diagnosis Murder, if Dick Van Dyke’s character was an alien-in-hiding – what’s not to love?

Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil – Book Giveaway!

Courtesy of Gallery Books, I have a copy of Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 22. I’ll draw a name on January 23, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read more

Received in December

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Bu-Ray/DVDs:
Jiu Jistu DVD
Love and Monsters 4K Ultra HD

Ad Astra / Head of Zeus:
The Children of D’Hara by Terry Goodkind

Amazon / Thomas & Mercer:
Spin by Patricia Cornwell

Ballantine Books:
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Del Rey:
Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

Disney/Hyperion:
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Be More Chill: The Graphic Novel by Ned Vizzini
Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow

Harper Collins Children’s / Balzer + Bray:
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Planet Scum:
Planet Scum: A Bloody Pulp

Random House:
Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Simon & Schuster Kids / McElderry:
Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Subterranean Press:
The Dispatcher: Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi

Tor / Tor.com:
A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

Love and Monsters – Movie Review

Love and Monsters (UHD + Blu-ray + Digital)
Own it on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, & DVD January 5, 2021! Available now with on-demand streaming.

Synopsis:
Dylan O’Brien stars in this thrilling adventure delivering epic action and laughs. After monsters take over the world, Joel (O’Brien, The Maze Runner) and the rest of humanity are forced to live underground. Believing he’s lost everyone he has ever loved, Joel finds his high school sweetheart Aimee (Jessica Henwick, “Game of Thrones”) living just 80 miles away. Facing unknown dangers that stand in his way, Joel must discover his inner hero as he makes the impossible journey across a monster-infested land to be with the girl of his dreams. Also starring Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Ariana Greenblatt (Avengers: Infinity War).

Review:
Joel is a young man with a good heart. But he freezes when he sees a monster, making him less than ideal in fighting them. But when he discovers his former girlfriend is still alive, 80 miles away, Joel doesn’t think twice and embarks on a journey across a post-apocalyptic Earth swarming with killer monsters.

I loved Dylan O’Brien in the Teen Wolf tv show, as well as the Maze Runner films. He has a sweet, innocent quality that makes him perfect for this role as well. He’s naive but determined. And his drive to reach Aimee outweighs his own self-preservation. Though, of course he grows a lot throughout the film, becoming braver and wiser.

It’s an incredibly suspenseful, often funny, and sometimes poignant coming-of-age film. The duo of Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt are a highlight of the movie. And I thoroughly enjoyed Joel’s journey – both physical and personal. If you enjoyed Warm Bodies, I think you’d like this as well as it has a similar feel with it’s suspenseful, dark humor and a bit of romance. It’s even heartwarming and inspirational. There aren’t many movies with mutated, killer monsters that can say that. I loved this movie. And I wasn’t expecting it.

Star Trek: The Unsettling Stars – Book Review

Star Trek: The Unsettling Stars by Alan Dean Foster

Synopsis:
Taking place in an alternate timeline created when the Starship Kelvin was destroyed by a Romulan invader from the future, this bold new novel follows Captain James T. Kirk and an inexperienced crew commandeering a repaired U.S.S. Enterprise out of spacedock for a simple shakedown cruise. When a distress call comes in, the Enterprise must aid a large colony ship of alien refugees known as the Perenorean, who are under siege by an unknown enemy. But Kirk and his crew will find that the situation with the peaceful Perenorean is far more complicated than they bargained for, and the answers as to why they were attacked in the first place unfold in the most insidious of ways…

Review:
This is another quick, fast-paced Star Trek novel set in the Kelvin timeline. This has the feel of a fun episode of the Original series, yet in the alternate timeline. The Enterprise aids a group of aliens who are about to be wiped out. They’re peaceful and bright, so it’s hard to believe that their pursuers hate them so much. As the mystery behind the Perenorean unfolds, it seems to be an unsolvable dilemma. I got a bit frustrated with how naïve Kirk seems at times, but this is set when he’s still young and fairly new to the Captain’s chair. Readers will be suspicious at once. But each time the Enterprise crew meets a new species, they try to keep open minds. Full of mystery, drama, and humor – I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating read.

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