Blog Tour: Crossline by Russ Colchamiro [Review & Giveaway]

Crossline Blog Tour

CROSSLINE
By: Russ Colchamiro

crossline

First published: March 2013
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

“A high-flying adventure of a novel, filled with ambitious ideas and a breathtaking conclusion.” — The Leighgendarium

In the SciFi/Fantasy spirit of Firefly, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Stargate, and Escape from New York…

Hotdog pilot Marcus Powell has been selected to test Taurus Enterprises’ Crossline prototype craft and its newly developed warp thrusters, which, if successful, will revolutionize space travel as we know it.

But during his jaunt across the stars, Powell is forced into a parallel universe — including a parallel Earth — where he finds himself at the center of an epic battle he may have been destined for all along.

Meanwhile, back home, reclusive oil tycoon and Taurus CEO Buddy Rheams Jr. — who sent Powell on that very mission — has a mysterious past and a secret agenda, one that could prevent Powell from ever making it back to his wife and little girl.

From author Russ Colchamiro, Crossline is a psychedelic, action-packed romp across time, space, and dimension that asks the question: once you cross the line, can you ever really go back?

ADD TO GOODREADS

REVIEW

After a slow-paced beginning to set up the scenario to the lift-off of Marcus Powell, Crossline takes a nice increase in pace throughout until its finale. As time goes by, slow beginnings in novels have begun the normal pattern nowadays because it needs the time to give its characters and story some foundation. One of the well-done parts of Crossline is how its executed. There is a structure that I enjoyed. It took its story into parts, describing its current and how it lead to this situation between Marcus Powell in the current situation and where his space expedition had ambitiously taken him while Part 2 took the step to introduce the character of Buddy Rheams Jr. who plays a key part to the story and unravels some of the mysteries left off from Part 1 in the Marcus Powell bit. As it enters the final act, it blends the two situation and the two locations together as it guides its story to the big finale. Because of this structure, Crossline ends up becoming fairly action-driven by its final part and that makes for a page-turning experience that perhaps the first few chapters didn’t do as well.

Taking a look at the characters, there is the obvious two here with Marcus Powell and Buddy Rheams Jr. While Marcus Powell doesn’t have as much of a backstory, he has a bit more of a mystery behind him because he does some actions in the start that create the situation that he’s in while also have the human aspects of family and connections. While Buddy Rheams Jr., we soon learn of his identity and his motives for this expedition, while at the same time, he has more of a past that creates his back story making his mystery the missing pieces of “What next?”. These two main characters are created very well. At the same time, there is also a contained group of supporting characters for both Powell’s side of the story on Aretha while Buddy Rheams Jr. and the Earth side of things also has its own crew which start off with some very odd characters who also get their purpose. Its always nice to have characters that serve their purpose. One of two of them are fairly underused but then, there’s no clear way how to add them more to the story but they aren’t exactly disposable either. At least, the author remembers to address all these characters by the time we reach the ending and that is a always nice to see that the characters mentioned are treated with care.

Overall, Crossline is a fun read. It starts off slow as it builds the foundation but quickly finds its footing and gradually paces the action fast and faster making it more and more of a page turner reading experience. The story’s two locations and two character focus ties into each other very effectively. There are some little issues here and there where at some points there are a bit too many characters that pop in on the Aretha situation (particularly in the final act) and it gets slightly confusing but then, most of it does a good job of creating a decent structure to make it work.

Goodreads: 4/5

Purchase links

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

RUSS COLCHAMIRO

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.

He is now working on the first novel in a new series featuring his hardboiled private eye Angela Hardwicke, and the first of three collaborative novella projects.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Details: For your chance to win a print copy of this high-flying adventure in either print or digital, AND a $15 Amazon Gift Card, be sure to click the link HERE!

Blog Tour Schedule

May 27th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://readsandreels.com
She Marie (Excerpt) https://shemarieblogs.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Tsarina Press (Excerpt) https://www.tsarinapress.com

May 28th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Ity Reads Books (Review) http://www.ityreadsbooks.home.blog
The Book Dragon (Review) thebookdragondotblog.wordpress.com
Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com

May 29th

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Audio Killed the Bookmark (Excerpt) http://audiokilledthebookmark.wordpress.com
Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

May 30th

That One Nerdy Girl (Review) http://thatonenerdygirlblog.wordpress.com
Triquetra Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.triquetrareviews.blogspot.com
Reviews by Nyx (Excerpt) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

May 31st

Every Book Counts (Review) https://everybookcountsblog.wordpress.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) http://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
The Consulting Writer (Excerpt) https://theconsultingwriter.wordpress.com

Blog Tour Organized by:

Fantasia Festival 2018: A Rough Draft (2018)

A Rough Draft (2018)

A Rough Draft

Director: Sergey Mokritskiy

Cast: Nikita Volkov, Severija Janusauskaite, Yuliya Peresild, Evgeny Tsiganov

A video game designer is stripped of his identity and recruited by a mysterious force to be the gatekeeper of a multi-dimensional portal. – IMDB

A Rough Draft is based on a Russian novel of the same name by Sergey Lukyanenko. Kirill (Nikita Volkov) is a genius video game designer whose new idea has set him apart but suddenly, he comes home to find it taken over by a mysterious woman (Severija Janusauskaite). In the following hours, his life as he knows it disappears as he soon realizes that he has been wiped from the memory of everyone that he knows. With no job, homeless and accused of murder, he soon gets a message to go to a location which turns out to be a customs office to other realms and he gets introduced to his new job as interdimensional guard. There are many rules to this job but he now has abilities and is immortal. On top of that, he also meets his ex-girlfriend Anna (Olga Borovskaya) who doesn’t remember him either and decides to try to reboot their relationship. Of course, things go array as this new job and the life he wants doesn’t align and when Anna is taken away, he goes off to find her through the realms.

A Rough Draft

There are a lot of imaginative and unique elements in A Rough Draft.  Looking at the world through Kirill’s point of view as he goes to the different realms crafts a great fantasy and sci-fi element. The world itself or the different realms is filmed so beautifully and meticulously to show its different environments and a different era in time. Each realm have their purpose. Similar to  District 13 of The Hunger Games, it also has the unknown mystery realm that has lots of rumors. The contrast of the brighter realms versus the more sombre ones  makes for some unique moments. One of the most outstanding parts of the imagination is watching the Matryoshka dolls turn into violent drones. Now, there’s some next level creativity of blending in their own culture.

A Rough Draft

The downside of A Rough Draft is in the story. Perhaps  because it is an adaptation that it needs a little more detail because of the complexity of the world and the realms and simply how everything works. The movie didn’t completely demonstrate the world-building enough to make how even the simplest things of why and how Kirill got his powers suddenly or how certain things somehow turned out well when previous situations proved otherwise. There is a lot of discrepancy here and it creates some disjointed and confusing moments that disconnects the story from the audience who hasn’t been exposed to the novel.

A Rough Draft is a creative world full of fanciful ideas. Visually, it is a beautiful film. However, the execution does leave something further to be desired in terms of world building context. For fans of the source material, the ending does hint that the movie will have a sequel.

Ice Planet Barbarians (Ice Planet Barbarians #1) by Ruby Dixon

Its hitting almost -40C today here in Montreal so it felt suitable to review a book set in an icy planet. Ice Planet Barbarians is the first book in a science fiction erotica series. Of course, I was two steps too slow and didn’t realize that barbarians would mean erotica so here we are.

Ice Planet Barbarians
by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet Barbarians

You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women – including me – on an ice planet.
And the only native inhabitant I’ve met? He’s big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me… – Goodreads

So…I’m feeling a little embarrassed after I just used the Goodreads synopsis. To be fair, Ice Planet Barbarians sounds so incredibly cheesy and still, there are quite a few redeeming points to it. You didn’t expect that, right? Ruby Dixon creates a very adequate and vivid image of where these 22 year old girls have landed from the description of the first group of alien to these ice planet barbarians. The land they tread and the monsters that roam in it are all very well described. With that said, the well-written description also expands into describing the characters and their feelings as they use two different voices of the main girl Georgie and the alien Vektal. There are some downfalls that I will touch on a little later. However, its easy to almost see who these characters look like especially the hulking alien here even if some of the description comes into somewhat of a suspense as we learn why they keep referring to “khui” and “resonance”. With that said, good on Ruby Dixon to also give us a pretty self-contained story here which helps that in her sequels, it focuses on other human and alien pairings with other characters as I had a chance to take a glance at snippets of the beginning of the other books in the series. Another good part here is that the erotic scenes here work very well. It is expected as she has a great way with her words and while some of it can get a little cringy (as these books do), there is a certain satisfaction to it still, call it a guilty pleasure if you will.

One of the main issues here is really the character themselves and how they actually talk. Yes, I know they are different species and its not to do with the fact that they lack proper communication via spoken language. The character, particularly Georgie is actually really annoying to read. She starts off like a pretty spoiled character and her inner monologue which is what we read as one of the voice is hers, is just grating to read. She does take leadership but its more like she has no other choice in the most self-indulged way and she doesn’t really do much. However, I do have to say that the redeeming part here is that she does acknowledge the whole Stockholm Syndrome deal here and tries to prevent herself from letting sex get in the way of her mission, at least there was an effort in it. On the other hand, Vektal is a pretty good character. Awkward and weird in his own alien ways which is all part of the learning curve of his species and their beliefs. My only issue with his part was the writing of making his understanding of Georgie in jumbled English so you had to decipher it whenever you read it even if he didn’t understand it. I get the purpose. At the same time, his side is somewhat repetitive. There’s a lot of terms like “mate” and “my resonance” and “khui” and repetitive writing over and over again which I’m not a huge fan of it. It got a bit irritating to read.

Overall, props on world building, good erotic scenes and character design however not a huge fan of the writing style and Georgie. It comes midway for myself. I’m not exactly sure thats enough for me to keep reading the series. We’ll see if ever it shows up on my radar.

Netflix A-Z: Attack the Block (2011)

We’re back for Round 2 of Netflix A-Z! Are you ready?

Some of you know that I’m part of The Random Chat Show and if you haven’t, well, I am.  You should go check it out over at That Moment In. I have two amazing co-hosts and while we didn’t go into an in-depth conversation about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I did retain one recommendation for a film John Boyega did and that is Attack the Block. And you know what? That is exactly what I’m choosing for the A selection. I need a good movie to start this off and I trust Melissa’s (aka The Creative Fox Den) recommendations.  Especially since it has been on my list for a while and I had wanted to start it up a few times but never got around to it.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Attack the Block (2011)

Attack the Block

Director and writer: Joe Cornish

Cast: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, Franz Drameh, Luke Treadaway, Nick Frost

A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.-IMDB

Its always hard to imagine a great recent alien movie nowadays.  You know, one that isn’t too serious but still packs in a lot of fun.  Attack the Block really does have it all.  Its fun and action-packed with great creature design and a nice motive behind the alien invasion.  The movie itself is packed with young actors and the only familiar faces you  might see is Nick Frost and Luke Treadaway.  We’ll take a look at the cast in just a bit.  Attack the Block is around one neighborhood or even just mostly one building.  It follows these young gangs who really aren’t all that dangerous.  They each have a snippet of their families and backgrounds and you can see their personality shine through with their own skills and abilities that makes this group well-rounded.  In between the pretty thrilling adventures packed with a mix of scares and British humor, it even manages to get us to think about the social situation going on.  Plus, the gang turns from a bunch of muggers into the hunted and before long you will start cheering for them, hoping that they’ll manage to get rid of this alien invasion or at least survive it.

Attack the Block

I have to say that I went into Attack the Block completely unsure about where and how this was going to go. Just to say, there’s a ton to love about this movie. I’m not big on groups of kids acting tough but these guys and their friendship was put together really well. Each of them have a pretty fun personality that defines who they are and to make me connect and care about them during the movie that I was worried about their survival was a true feat.  John Boyega is definitely a talent here.  He pulls off the leader of the group and you can feel a bit of his character.  The movie never dwells too much on their backgrounds but I think that is okay for its length.  It focuses on the issue on hand and that is the alien invasion.  It is random and came out nowhere.  There are enough questions as they get chased down and the key one is why their little South London block was the main target and why they were the focus and the final big one: how do they stop these raging creatures? If the kids don’t make you feel enough thrills and the occasional laugh, Nick Frost and Luke Treadaway’s characters dialogues will give you the bit of humor to break some of the crazy tension that some scenes do build. Since I’m on that point, Luke Treadaway NEEDS to do more movies.  I really like him a lot! (Have you seen him in Tonight You’re Mine!)

Attack the Block

One of the biggest positives of Attack the Block has to be the creatures.  This one proves that creatures don’t need to be complicated.  They go back to a very simple logic of why the creatures landed here.  Its a simple explanation of why they chose the block and its a simple solution (in concept and not so much execution for the characters). Who knew that a set of glowing teeth was all you needed to make a menacing alien, right? Fact is, that is all Attack the Block needed to make the convincing character.  The movement and features was like a few creatures that we know all  meshed together and they way they work turns out to be much more simple than even this group actually thought initially and yet, its super efficient in delivering the tension and the scares.

Attack the Block

Overall, Attack the Block is really great. I honestly don’t have much criticism for it.  I like the story, the characters, the length, the balance between the scares, thrills and humor and especially the creature design.  It works really well for me and its exactly how I’d like to start Netflix A-Z for the beginning of the year. Attack the Block deserves a view and I highly recommend it.

Have you seen Attack the Block? Did you like it? 

Any idea what the B selection will be? Hint: Asian Horror

Nemo’s World (Substrate Wars #2) by Jeb Kinnison

A HUGE thank you to Jeb Kinnison for sending me this novel, his second in  his series The Substrate Wars.  Due to some rather technical issues with e-readers, I hadn’t gotten much ebooks reading done. But, I managed to tough it out in the last month or two with my phone so here I am giving this book 2 and the sequel of Jeb Kinnison’s Red Queen called Nemo’s World.  Recently, he released Book#3 and in anticipation of reading that one, it motivated me to give this one a read (which shouldn’t even be a thing since I had planned to read it a lot earlier this year).

If you missed the review of Red Queen, you can check it out HERE!

Red Queen
By: Jeb Kinnison

Nemo's World

In this thrilling sequel to 2014’s Red Queen, the student rebels have escaped Earth, but the US and Chinese governments continue to try to copy their discovery of quantum gateways to find them and destroy the threat they represent to security interests. The rebels hold off Earth government attacks and continue to develop the new technology, which will change life for everyone and open a million habitable planets for colonization. – Goodreads

Nemo’s World is kind of a half and half deal plot-wise.  We have the first part where they are still settling up the remaining issues from the previous book, Red Queen and then when that is resolved, we start thinking about settling the whole colonization of Earth onto these places in the second part.  Our main characters, Samantha, Justin and Steve all become a key part to lead the story.  It also takes some time to let us get a little more personal with their life and characters. Every time, picking up the world of Substrate Wars series makes me dive into this unreal world.  The dystopian world is believable and the science while being very wordy and full of technical jargon does a decent job to make sure that its readers understand the functions to not hinder from better understanding the progress of the story.

Fact is, Nemo’s World becomes more about politics.  They are trying to iron out the kinks in the political world while ensuring that other countries buy into their idea that this will insure a better future for everyone. When discussing politics, we do start having some more moral issues into this.  Justin turns into the main leader here and in many cases, he does get caught in situations that seems to be a little over his head.  He now has groups together that first agreed to be in this but as would be expected, people and different agendas happen and he has to find a balance to make sure things work out and it won’t end up causing more problems.

The best part of Nemo’s World, aside from the intricate development of the technology and makes me wonder if its believable, because my lack of science knowledge makes me think it could work, is that its about the human nature and morals.  Its about the slippery slope and what to give up and what to not.  In the first book, the characters make a lot of decisions that I agree with.  it felt like we were fighting for the same cause to build a new world where socio-economic-political balance would be there. Nemo’s World is different because this time, I found myself questioning Justin’s logic behind his decisions. I started thinking about how far he would go became he turned exactly into a ruthless political leader.  Extreme measures are needed, threats may be used, even manipulation, perhaps white lies but when does everything start crashing down on you? Its like Jenga, right? He literally controls the most invincible technology in the world that allows teleportation, surveillance and item manipulation from a distance.  How do you manage this power? We come back to a little of the power equals responsibility factor in here. Maybe its because of that, I wonder if it was deliberate that at times, I felt Justin’s character to make some inconsistent decisions.  This colonization is making it hard for him to choose what tactic he wants to use to make sure that everything goes as planned but keeping a certain order and not stepping on too many tails.

Nemo’s World is a sequel well worthy of a read. Its become a rather thought-provoking situation that questions what approach you believe a world like this has and whether it really is all fine and dandy as it first promised or maybe its just really a cycle that will fall right back into what its world has become.  Maybe technology doesn’t change anything, and its the choices we make that have that impact. Because of that, I really think Nemo’s World might evoke different thoughts for other readers. If anything, it makes me wonder what the third book will offer.

Slippery Things by Lane Baker

I have a whole lot of catching up with the reading bit so expect to see a few reviews go up during December as I rush to finish the Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Next up for reading is an independent young adult sci-fi novel by Lane Baker.

*A huge thanks to Lane for reaching out to me and sending me a copy to review.*

Slippery Things
By: Lane Baker

Slippery Things

Jaded high school Junior and detention hall regular Larissa Locke has a recurring dream in which creatures sneak into her bedroom at night to perform experiments and extract her blood. Tiny scars on her arm suggest that perhaps she isn’t just dreaming. But wait! If she’s really the victim of blood-sucking alien intruders, then why is her bedroom window still locked each morning? –Goodreads

The best part about reading is discovering all these creative and unique worlds and creatures that authors have built just with their imagination.  Some of the best books I’ve read this year have been from independent authors. Slippery Things is about aliens.  Its also one of the categories that I read very little of.  I actually can’t remember the last time I’ve read one about aliens and invasion and the likes.  Maybe Ender’s Game? That doesn’t really count.  Regardless, Slippery Things is a very fun read and an absolute page-turner.  Its not a long novel but it successfully builds up its main character, Larissa Locke and also manages to decently determine the motive behind the aliens in a good pace.

Sometimes, its okay for a novel to be short and concise.  Slippery Things grasp that point very well.  It knows how to not drag out scenes unnecessarily.  At the same time, it works hard describe vividly the creatures and the situation that Larissa is in from how she feels to her reactions.  On that point, Larissa Locke is a good character. Sometimes the dialogue was a little clunky here and there in a few small spots but overall, her character was rather realistic.  It does focus around a teenage girl and has some high school drama that goes on in the background which is completely understandable.  What is good is that its controlled well enough to not let it affect the main story that is coming to light. Actually, the story builds Larissa into a very potential bad ass character in the last few scenes.

I’m falling into spoiler territory if I keep going.  I liked Slippery Things quite a bit.  If I had to criticize Slippery Things, its that sometimes there are some clunky dialogue (that I mentioned before) and the ending sequence has one little part that I felt was a little awkward.  It summarizes an overview of the outcomes of our characters. I’m always a little not sure about how to react to those.  That is only one or two paragraphs so its not exactly a huge impact.  I guess it is because the character development went mostly to Larissa and perhaps her family.  When it came to her high school friends, I didn’t really care too much about because their parts were not as significant.  However, I find it is forgiveable because of the short length of the novel.

Overall, Slippery Things is a quick page turner about aliens. Larissa Locke is a realistic teenage girl lead who I can picture making the same decisions in her shoes.  Despite its length and some awkward dialogue, it works very well in pacing the story and creating vivid description of the character and their setting. Plus, it also does a good job at revealing the aliens and their motives. Its definitely worth a read.

Review and Author Interview: Red Queen (Substrate Wars#1) by Jeb Kinnison

After taking two weeks off to start The Classics Adventure, I present to you the next book sent to me in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you very much for Shannon (the author of The Timely Death Trilogy and Take Me Tomorrow) collaborated with the author, Jeb Kinnison to send me a copy to check out his novel, Red Queen, the first book in the Substrate Wars series.

Jeb Kinnison was also awesome enough to answer a few of my questions.  Lets start with a little interview before we head into the review.

Author Interview

1. What made you want to become a writer?

I have been reading science fiction since I was 7, and writing fiction since I was 18. I’d never had an opportunity to do it full-time until recently. I see it as a way of giving back some of what I know to a younger generation who has yet to live long enough to be appropriately cynical.

2. Who is your target audience for Red Queen?

Intelligent young people of a scientific bent, though it’s apparently a good read for older people as well.

3. Where do you get your ideas for Red Queen?

I have been following the war in academia between free speech and politically-correct censorship, which while driven by idealism about treating everyone kindly, ends up being oppressive and contrary to the free inquiry science requires to operate. I extrapolated what it might look like if those trends continued, and added my experience as a computer science researcher. The thriller aspects come out of the daily news about NSA surveillance, mind control experiments, and Homeland Security.

4. Do you identify with the characters you had in Red Queen? If so, who?

Almost all my characters are self-motivating individuals who refuse to be pigeonholed by class or group affiliation. There’s a little of me in most of them, or you could say it is not a stretch for me to be them, even though they’re modeled on people I have known. When I’m feeling old, I am similar to Prof. Wilson, and the younger Justin resembles me when I was a college student, except he’s better-looking and less awkward! Even my villains are trying to accomplish something—avoiding loss of power, at least.

5. What are your writing habits?

When I am in mid-book, I write in three periods. An hour or two mid-morning, and hour or two after lunch, and an hour or two after dinner. I hole up in my home office and go to work.

6. Who is your favorite author?

Hard to say since I have favorites in many types of fiction. Neal Asher is one of the best in adult hard SF; the late Iain Banks was also great. In literary fiction, I love “Mr. Bridge” and Mrs. Bridge” by Evan Connell.

7. What are your plans for the future? Do you have a second book in the works?

I am about two-thirds of the way through the sequel to “Red Queen” — tentatively titled “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars,” where the fight continues. Our heroes manage to survive attacks and propaganda to subdue the Earth’s governments and stop them from waging war. Colonizing other planets and getting married are two aspects of the plot!

 There you go! Here’s to knowing Jeb, the author of Red Queen, a little better.  Its great to read about the concepts and ideas and understand a little more about the author before or after reading their novel. 🙂

RED QUEEN
(Substrate Wars #1)

By: Jeb Kinnison

red queen jeb kinnison

Set on a California college campus just a decade or two from now, the world of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and censored — governed like China today, but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people. In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time; only a few steps beyond where we are now. The students are cowed but not unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.

This is Book 1 of Substrate Wars, the series: A growing band of campus freedom-fighters discover a new technology that could either destroy the world, or save it. They take on the responsibility of using it for good. Homeland Security is one step behind them. Spies and traitors lurk. Shall it be repressive bureaucratic stagnation, or expansion to the stars? – extract from Red Queen synopsis, Goodreads

 Let me confess that I’m not a very science-y person.  I used to be until Physical Science split into Physics and Chemistry in high school and then some principle reassured me that science was the last place I wanted to study in. Plus, I’ve never heard of the Red Queen hypothesis either. With that said, Red Queen starts with a good bit of science that took me a little while to pick up on.  I remember seeing the word “quasiparticle: and then scratching my head in confusion.  However, it doesn’t take long before I did catch onto what this new technological invention was and thats when the real adventure begins!  Especially when Homeland Security gets on the tail of our main characters.  Which leads this into a political thriller of sorts.  Talk about a mixed genre (political sci-fi thriller) that truly escapes my knowledge, right? Let me assure you that Red Queen successfully reeled me into its plot.

Red Queen was a good read and the only reason that it lost a little bit of points was that it felt like it never had that massive peak moment where things boiled into something *really* intense (emphasis on really).  This book truly felt like the first book of a series where it was a set-up for a much bigger plot.  Except, as I thought about it, every step of the way, expecting and trying to predict whether something was going to happen next kept me turning those pages on my tablet.  And I lie when the little turnpoint that it had didn’t surprise me, because it did and opened up a million ways the story can lead to now.  Which is why, I have extremely high hopes for Book 2.

But wait, getting ahead of myself again.  Now that we’ve looked at what doesn’t work too well (in a way).  There are a ton of aspects that work very well.  For one, Red Queen as a good balance of characters.  We have the older Prof. Wilson, a young and brave Justin and a genius Steven, adding in a little romance with Samantha and then a bunch of supporting characters who give the story substance building the dynamic of Homeland Security motives, the rebellious Grey Tribe and the students who want a better future. Other than characters, this future world in Red Queen is worth a mention.  Its based on a world in complete equality but doesn’t function well because the new generation has no job demand while privacy don’t exactly exist because the government can make up false stories to cover the truth without any questions asked. I guess anything has a offsetting balance because there is no perfect world to be in, eh?

Overall, Red Queen is a intriguing read.  At first, it is because its a new world with new characters and understanding this new technology.  When this happens, its watching the characters make decisions that put themselves in danger or choosing who is trustworthy.  Although there was nothing that was extreme, the book sets up perfectly for the next one with more possibilities.  With that said, Red Queen is no doubt a political sci-fi thriller pageturner that I recommend for all of you.

Thank you again to Jeb and Shannon for sending me this lovely book! 🙂

Remember to check out more info for the author and his works right HERE.  This is also his blog so drop by and check out his posts and show him some support!

Europa Report (2013)

To some longer movie bloggers, you will probably remember Chris @ Film Hipster.  Sadly, he isn’t in our blogosphere anymore but before he left, I remember him being one of the first and few to review this movie, Europa Report and giving it a decent rating.  Now, I have a bad memory but that was why when I saw this on sale in Plattsburgh, I snatched it off the shelf.  A few weeks later, here I am, having watched this and pondered a little on what to write.

Lets check, shall we?

europa report posterDirector: Sebastian Cordero

Cast: Daniel Wu, Sharlton Copley, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyqvist, Anamaria Marinca, Embeth  Davidtz

William Xu (Daniel Wu), James Corrigan (Sharlton Copley), Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), Dr. Katya Petronova (Karolina Wydra), Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist) and Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca) are some of the best astronauts from around the world and they are all commissioned to complete a privately funded mission to explore Europa, one of the Jupiter’s moon.  Their assignment is to extract sample and document whether there is life form there as they documented the existence of a vast amount of water under the icy surface.

Europa Report

I’m just going to keep the synopsis brief because in the end, this is a sci-fi thriller in its rawest form.  Its shot to be something like a documentary on the space crews ventures there: what happened and what they found. If I told you more, it’d just be pure spoilers and that would ruin the fun.

With that said, Europa Report is my kind of thriller (maybe its yours also).  The slow-burning type.  In the nothing happening, I felt something happening or just something that could happen in the unknown causing the feeling of uneasiness. Europa is unknown territory and as much as I loved space when I was very young some time in elementary school, I’m not very knowledgeable about these things anymore.  The scientists use big words and the visuals look authentic to those you would see in space magazines.  Fact is, I watched a bit of the special features afterwards and they did extract pictures from actual satellite shots of that area.  In general, space is a captivating topic.  We can see that with the success of Gravity.  This is obviously not as visually stunning as that but it has its only type of beauty to watch.

europa report 4

A lot of how the movie is featured is with its various cameras set on the spaceship.  All these cameras give us a perspective of their down times in their living quarters to up to the cockpit.  Thats the admirable part of this because we can capture a good idea of the set up of every angle of the spaceship and how everything works within the beginning part.  Thats important when the issues (which you know they will have) occurs eventually and they have to move about.  They also use close-up shots when the crew is sitting near the camera working to capture their reactions.  I feel that gives it a kind of familiarity and bond with the crew as they try to not only get through this mission but maybe prove something amazing in the process. The cameras emphasize on the limited space they have and the unknown outside as they approach Europa and this adds on the tension.

Cam E

Most of the actors aren’t very known to me but there are two familiar faces I’d like to point out.  One is Michael Nyqvist who played in MI:Ghost Protocol as the bad guy or you may know him from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the journalist in the original Swedish one. As Andrei, he is a bit weird and is in his own territory where he just engineers and plays with this and that. The other actor is one of my faves in Hong Kong film industry is Daniel Wu.  To see him totally exercising that perfect English of his in an international movie makes me very proud, plus I have total faith in his acting.  Everyone has their part in the movie, even the supervisor (I think) of the mission sitting back on Earth played by Embeth Davidtz as she hears the updates from headquarters and recounts the events of this mission just like you would in a documentary.

europa report 2

There really isn’t much else to say.  Overall, Europa Report is a pretty awesome sci-fi thriller. It uses confined spaces in an spaceship and a mission into the unknown to search for possibility of lifeforms. Its six brave people who chose to face some problems and survive.  It may be slow but it builds up the tension very well.  The use of cameras observing the crew’s movement we experience the mission as if it actually happened. This one has just got a lot of style and I totally love it. And it has one of the best endings that I’ve ever seen. I don’t say that very often for a movie because most movies just mess up with a lazy ending but man, this one was a *GASP* moment.  If you are into this sort of movie, sci-fi/thriller/slow-burning, this might be a very good choice for you 🙂

Have you seen Europa Report? What did you think of it? Are you a fan of sci-fi/thriller?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge…into a Star Wars Identity!!

Fusion! The new fad for everything, especially food.  We want to MERGE concepts for eating, for living, for clothes, etc.  Companies merge to become more competitive or to absorb their competition.  We all love to merge to experience better and newer things, fresh ideas, attractive concepts and more.

This weekend, I visited an exhibition with friends, exactly merging a very popular movie saga with the idea of how we became who we are.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.  No? Well, I’m not sure if its touring, but it stops by wherever you are, I highly urge you to go check it out.  This exhibition at the Montreal Science Center is Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition.  It was a really fun experience.

At the beginning of the journey, we were given a bracelet and a headset.  On the wall we had to test our bracelet to make sure it was working.

“STRONG IS THE FORCE”

Our adventure starts by an intro video telling us about how the interactive experience works.  Its pretty much 10 stages that we need to go through to figure out how our Star Wars Identity will be made and shape its personality, career, etc.

The 10 stations! I won’t post up what happens at the stations since I’m not sure if anyone else will be visiting so to not ruin the experience.  I’m missing the 4th station though, to discover where we live and the lifestyle habits of the society.

So in the final panel, I decided to reject the offer by the emperor!

AND TO THE FINAL MERGE AND SENDING MY STAR WARS IDENTITY INTO SPACE BELOW!

What do you think? Nice merge, eh?

In a nutshell, you can see that I’m a female Twi’lek who lives in forest planet Kashyyyk.  I have 3 close friends and my mentor is Qui-Gon Jinn.  My career is a senator.  My past experiences include being a legend because I took down an enemy command station in one shot and after that opened a Rebel academy to train the younger generation.  I’m adventurous, curious, accomodating and I value self-direction, believe that freedom is the right to choose.

Thats my Star Wars identity and its in Star Wars history now!