Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Vitro

Vitro

Vitro by Jessica Khoury is a fast- paced, compelling story about an island with a terrible secret, and the young woman who discovers that secret. The story starts with Sophie Crue in an airport on Guam trying to find a flight to Skin Island. Her mother, a researcher on the island, has sent her an email asking her to come quickly, due to an emergency. Nobody wants to go there however, apparently the island has a bad reputation. After striking out with the local pilots, she runs into Jim Julien, a young pilot who she knows from her childhood days on Guam. Sophie grew up there but hasn't been to Guam in years, since her parents split up and she went to live in Boston with her dad. Her and Jim had been best friends once, but they're older now and have both changed in the intervening years. Jim reluctantly agrees to take Sophie to the island, and that's where the fun begins.

Things go bad quickly, and Sophie and Jim find themselves stranded on the island. Sophie soon discovers a horrifying truth- she has a sister on the island named Lux, but Lux is not just any sister. She has been developed from a test tube embryo by the company her mother works for, but she is not a regular human. And Lux may not be the only one... Sophie must unravel the mystery surrounding the Vitros, her mother and the company behind it all, while at the same time staying alive. No one wants her there, and she and Jim have to survive twists and turns and shocking betrayals

I liked Sophie a lot, she's determined and brave. We get hints of her background and learn just how hard it was for her to grow up not knowing the truth about her mom, and what she does on Skin Island. I liked Jim even more- he seemed like a real person, with real motivations and thoughts. Several times I thought that's exactly how someone might act in that situation. Both characters are very well drawn and believable. The story is told from their alternating perspectives, and this works very well here. It's probably not a spoiler to say there is a romance here- Sophie and Jim have known each other since childhood, and they spend most of the book trying to find each other again- both physically and figuratively- but it did seem like they developed feelings for each other a little fast. Certainly not insta- love, by any means, but they didn't exactly have much time for a courtship. I can accept it though just due to the sheer level of desperation they go through, and the shared history they have. It works.

I have to say something about the writing. The author does a great job evoking a sense of place -as I read I felt like I was in the tropics, with palm trees around, ocean breezes and the silvery moon overhead at night. Her descriptions are at times dripping with tropical heat, creaking bamboo and pounding surf. At the end I felt like I had been on an adventure in the Pacific! Remember that scene in Jurassic Park when they leave the island at the end and they're just exhausted from all the trauma they've been through? That's how this felt for me. That was a great feeling and is one of the reasons I recommend this book so highly. The story has a breakneck pace and I really enjoyed that it took place over just a couple of days. It never slows down and I couldn't stop reading.

We hear several times about a project going on in South America as well- apparently a reference to Jessica's other book. I have not read that but almost certainly will, as I enjoyed this so much. It's nice to have a world with a shadowy organization in the background as the common thread, even though the characters are different. I'm curious to see if she will continue to use this as a background for future novels.

Excerpt:

"Before she could get back on her feet, Nicholas was on her. She caught him in the stomach with her feet and threw him over her head, then rolled smoothly into a crouch. Nicholas landed heavily, howling at the pain in his arm.
"Whoa," said Sophie, her eyes wide.
"I know, right?" Jim's voice was hard." Talk about teenage mutant ninja blond. Lux, don't let him touch that detonator."

From Goodreads:

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. With the help of Jim Julien, a young charter pilot, she arrives--and discovers a terrifying secret she never imagined: she has a Vitro twin, Lux, who is the culmination of Corpus's dangerous research.

Now Sophie is torn between reuniting with the mother who betrayed her and protecting the genetically enhanced twin she never knew existed. But untangling the twisted strands of these relationships will have to wait, for Sophie and Jim are about to find out what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Tunes #3

Two of a Kind (1983) Poster

Twist of Fate by Olivia Newton- John is a great song from the Two of a Kind soundtrack. Two of a Kind is one of those movies... that is not very good. I like it though.  It's a guilty pleasure movie.

Zach is a failed inventor who owes money to the mob, and Debbie is a bank teller.When Zach tries to rob the bank to pay the mob, Debbie slips him deposit slips instead and keeps the money, cause she's broke. Yeah I know. Meanwhile 4 angels come to Earth to try and save it- God is angry but they propose that if one person can be redeemed, He will stay his hand. God agrees, and Zach is of course that guy. Of course he and Debbie fall in love.

The video is kinda lame and there used to be a much better version that was a cool montage of scenes from the film, but I can't find it on Youtube anymore. This song went to #4 in Australia, and #5 in the US.

It just occurred to me that this is the 3rd week in a row I've featured an Aussie artist. Totally didn't plan that.





What are you listening to?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sunday Post #29/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week was a little better on the reading front, I finished a book and made good progress on another. Lots of stuff going on in the personal life, too, including a possible job change and move. It may affect my blogging time, but I enjoy doing this and want the blog to grow, so I'll be sticking with it. Everything is early stages though so we'll see. 


LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Review: The Project Pegasus saga (graphic novel review)
Review: The Rule of Three  
Tuesday Tunes  

Sunday Post #28/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading? 

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG 


Tuesday               Tuesday Tunes
?                            Review: Mulled Murder 
?                            Review: Vitro (hopefully) 

CURRENTLY READING 

Vitro Mulled Murder



COMING SOON 

  No Safety in Numbers


No Safety In Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE

More Season 4 goodness for Game of Thrones 



Carrie Fisher says she, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford are due on the set of Star Wars soon.

Some cover reveals courtesy of YA Roundup at Tor.com.




Check out the trailer for the LEGO movie

Natalie Dormer shaves (part of) her head for Mockingjay.

Scarlet Johansson on the upcoming Avengers sequel.

How was your week? 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Project Pegasus Saga



The Thing: Project Pegasus is a hardcover collection of The Project Pegasus saga, a story that ran in the pages of Marvel Two-In-One. MTIO was a guest- star book- every issue featured Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, teamed up with another super hero (or villain). Most of the stories were pretty forgettable, however the Project Pegasus saga was one of the few diamonds in the rough.

The first part of the story is a two- parter featuring Ben and Captain America. Ben barges into Project Pegasus (a top secret energy research facility) looking for Wundarr, a starchild who he feels is being mistreated by SHIELD. Captain America is at the facility looking into security issues for Nick Fury, the director of SHIELD. Turns out SHIELD has acquired the Cosmic Cube, an object of great power capable of reshaping reality. They want to use Wundarr to help unlock its secrets. When the Cosmic Cube is stolen and Wundarr is injured, causing him to fall into a coma, Ben and Cap track the Cube to the Florida Everglades, where they do battle with a mysterious entropy cult. This is the weakest part of the book. The real saga kicks off right after, with Ben heading back to Project Pegasus several months later to check up on Wundarr. He feels guilty for not making it back sooner, and has managed to get himself assigned to the security detail. He meets Quasar, the new security chief, and after the obligatory misunderstanding  they begin to work together to improve security.



Ben soon discovers that Wundarr had his natural abilities enhanced by the Cube to the point where he dampens energy all around him- lights go out, machines stop working. He is however in a coma due to the overload of cosmic energy he received. Ben is not happy to hear this, and while wandering the corridors of the facility is ambushed by Deathlok, a cyborg from an alternate future who has stolen into the facility, both to eliminate Ben and to set up something called an Nth projector. Deathlok wounds Ben and things looks grim, but Quasar and security arrive just in time and Deathlok escapes.


As Ben gets medical attention, Quasar tracks Deathlok to the "Pit", a part of the facility where radioactive material is stored. Quasar has his hands full, but after Ben shows up with security Deathlok initiates an auto- destruct sequence and Quasar is forced to destroy him before he can trigger an explosion that would decimate the entire facility.

It turns out the shadowy organization that sent Deathlok has a man on the inside- a cosmic energy researcher named Dr. Lightner- and with Deathlok being out of the picture they launch another plan. Several super villains with energy- based powers have been detained at the Project for study, and Lightner is ordered to release one of them to sow chaos. Lightner releases Nuklo, a radioactive mutant with a childlike mind, and he begins to cause all kinds of problems while Lightner works on the true objective- assembling the Nth projector that Deathlok failed to finish.

The alarm sounds and Ben's poker game is interrupted. Seeing multiple alerts, Ben and Quasar split up, with Ben going after Nuklo and Quasar investigating a disturbance in the nuclear research module. Ben is joined by Dr. Bill Foster, also known as Giant- Man (yes, really). Together they manage to neutralize Nuklo after tracking him throughout the facility. Meanwhile, Quasar manages to defuse a reactor overload using his energy powers, and with Nuklo back under control the heroes get a breather. But not for long...

Ben is wandering the corridors after checking on Wundarr, and runs into Thundra of all people. Thundra, an old acquiantance from his Fantastic Four days- but what is she doing here? Welll... it turns out she and four other female operatives have snuck into Project Pegasus on a mission for the same group that sent Deathlok.  Ben tries to apprehend her, and of course a fight breaks out. Thundra, being seven feet tall and from Femizonia, a reality where women reign supreme, is more than a match for Ben and they have quite the knock-down drag-out battle.

Meanwhile, Quasar runs afoul of Thundra's compatriots and more battle ensues. At the end of the day Thundra and her group are taken and Ben is left wondering what is going on. Lightner, meanwhile, uses the chaos to his advantage and finishes assembling the Nth projector.  Ben tries to find out from Thundra what is going on, but she will not talk. Wundarr, meanwhile, wakes from his coma and and begins to wander the halls of Pegasus. Unfortunately his energy dampening powers neutralize the holding cell of a supervillain named Solarr. The villain promptly escapes and enlists the aid of another prisoner, Klaw. Together they try to break out. At the same time, Pegasus security finally discovers that Lightner is the mole inside the project. Too late, however. Lightner has activated the Nth projector- it's purpose is to open a portal to other dimensions. The plan is to teleport the entire facility into another dimension, thus destroying it, but Lightner first uses the device on himself, in order to restore the powers he once had as the supervillain Blacksun. This being comics, something goes horribly wrong, and Lightner is instead transformed into a living dimensional portal. Oh-oh.

Security alarms go off again, Solarr and Klaw seek to escape, and the heroes go after them. A battle breaks out in the project's Loop, a monorail- like transportation system that covers the entire complex, and the heroes are defeated. Klaw is about to kill Ben when Wundarr shows up.. but Wundarr has changed. After finding the Cosmic Cube, which seemed to be calling to him, Wundarr finds his energy dampening powers have been greatly increased. Furthermore, he no longer has the mind of a child. He now calls himself the Aquarian (named after his native star system) and wishes to use his powers to make the world a better place. Aww.  That's nice. Ben and Aquarian get an injured Quasar and Giant- Man to the infirmary, then they go after Lightner.

Lightner is beginning to destroy the facility with his dimensional abilities and Ben and Aquarian have their hands full. Aquarian tries to dampen Lightner's energy and is successful, but has to pull back when his power also causes life support functions to go out. Things aren't looking good when Quasar, Giant- Man and a newly- released Thundra show up to help. Hey it's old home week. Giant- Man sacrifices himself to stop Lightner- turns out he's dying anyway of radiation poisoning and figures he has nothing to lose, but it doesn't work. Aquarian then enters the towering space warp that used to be Lightner, and strengthened by the link to his friends, manages to save Giant- Man and stop Lightner by expanding his null powers inside him. Project Pegasus is saved! Yay, pass the champagne.

"Impressive. Such nobility from the weaker sex.". Thundra cracks me up.

The Project Pegasus saga is one of the better known storylines of the time period. It really is a great story- a top secret facility, super villains breaking loose, and an extradimensional threat. What's not to like? The real star of this story, for me, is the facility itself. A research facility with futuristic technology, holding cells for super villains, a monorail- like transport system- there's just a lot to like here. The story is studded with footnotes referencing other issues and stories that feed into this one- this is a prime example of a time when continuity was king in comics. It's very possible that the SHIELD facility that is featured in the beginning of the Avengers movie was inspired by Project Pegasus

Below is a schematic of the Project Pegasus complex.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters is the story about what happens after civilization breaks down. Adam is in school one day when the power goes out. Just a power outage, right? Well, no. It turns out that anything relying on computers is out of commission- cell phones, government services, even vehicles. The only cars than run are those without computers. It soon becomes clear that the power is not coming back on anytime soon- and the fight for survival begins.

This book made me think about what would truly happen if something like this were to occur. Is it likely? No, but something on a smaller but still catastrophic scale is certainly possible, and this makes the book so thought provoking. Anyone who has ever wondered what would happen if the power went out- and stayed out- will find this book fascinating. Would society break down? How long would it take? And what could be done to survive? Adam has two advantages- his mother is a police chief, and his next door neighbor is a retired spy. The two of them organize the neighborhood and begin to build defenses and gather resources.  The results are mostly believable and, again, thought provoking.

The neighborhood soon becomes a fortress of sorts, as they gather what they can and protect themselves from marauders. They face thorny questions, such as whether to admit other families who are in need, given that they only have finite resources- food, water, fuel. Where do you draw the line? This was the most interesting part of the book for me as it makes you what you would do in that situation.

There is a romance in the story. Lori lives on a nearby farm and Adam has had his eye on her for a while, but has been afraid to ask her out. They are brought together when Lori's family is brought into the neighborhood for their protection. The romance is cute and innocent, although I would have preferred to see Lori play a little more role in the story. The story itself kept my interest, although it did drag just a little in the middle. I kept waiting for the conflict that I knew was coming- but it never really arrived until the very end, and that was a bit disappointing. The bulk of the story is basically preparation, and while it was fairly realistic I could have used a little more action.

My biggest issue with the book is the abrupt ending. I mean, really abrupt. I waited until the very end for the action to really pick up- it does, but then there is no aftermath at all. Is there a sequel in the works? I don't know, I would be interested in reading it if there is one, but this could easily be a standalone too and that's fine. A better ending is needed though, in my opinion. Way too abrupt. Otherwise it's a fine read and it got me thinking. Solid but unspectacular.

From Goodreads:

One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Tuesday Tunes #2 - Under The Milky Way

 

Under The Milky Way by The Church- such a great song. Just very mellow-makes me think of a summer night, sitting on the hood of a car and staring up at the night sky with a special someone.

Enjoy!




What are you listening to?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sunday Post #28/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Last week flew by and again reading time was at a premium. I have a bunch of new reads but I'm reading several at once, plus real life keeps intruding, so it was another slow week review- wise. I did get a review up for Alliance (the next Paladin Prophecy book). I can't recommend this book enough, or the first one for that matter. If you like YA stories with boarding schools and eerie threats, you should check this out. My book haul is largely the same as last week, but I have a few new additions. 



LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Friday                 Review: Alliance (Paladin Prophecy #2)
Tuesday            Tuesday Tunes

Sunday              Sunday Post #27/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?  

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG 


Tuesday           Tuesday Tunes  
TBD                  Project Pegasus TPB review 
TBD                  Review- Mulled Murder or The Rule of Three  

CURRENTLY READING

 Mulled Murder The Rule of Three

Yes, I'm still reading Mulled Murder. Alliance took over and was awesome, I hope to finish MM this week. Unless The Rule of Three takes over. Seriously though, Mulled Murder is good and I'm looking forward to reviewing it, but the action-y stuff is sorta taking over. 

COMING DOWN THE PIKE


  Vitro


NEW THIS WEEK 

 No Safety in Numbers

No Safety In Numbers- chaos in a mall after a biological bomb is found. I've seen mixed reviews for this so don't know if it'll be good, but I'll give it a shot. 



AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE

For those who missed it- here is the Game of Thrones trailer for season 4. It looks pretty good. 





Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy #2)

Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy, #2)

Alliance by Mark Frost is the sequel to The Paladin Prophecy. The story opens several months after the events of the first book. Will and his friends are still on campus at the Center, recovering from the ordeal they went through last time around. Summer is approaching and Will has been training, learning how to use his newly discovered powers. The shadowy Knights of Charlemagne were defeated, but Will knows that was just the first engagement. The true struggle is just beginning. Will, Brooke, Ajay, Nick and Elise have been brought even closer together by their shared experiences, and the stakes are about to get higher. They're more confident now and ready to take the battle to their shadowy enemy. But will a shocking betrayal doom them all?

First off, I loved this book. I think the first one was a little better, and more happened in that one, but this is still a great sequel. We learn a lot more about the Knights of Charlemagne and their purpose, as well as the Paladin prophecy itself. We get to see some old allies return, and some new enemies as well. The five friends revisit the tunnels beneath the Center and discover a shocking secret there. I thought the foray underground was fun and suspenseful, although it took up a significant chunk of the book

Just as in the first book, the five friends are the best part of this story. They all play off each other so well, and have such distinct personalities. While I think Will, with his newly awakened abilities, might be a tad too powerful, I really like Elise. She may be more powerful even than Will, but it’s her attitude that makes her fun. I love her sonic power- reminds me a bit of Banshee from the X- Men, but a little more restrained. We saw her cut loose once in the first book, at a crucial time, but here she has been training over the intervening months and has a much better handle on her power now. She gets to use it several times, often to devastating effect. Way cool.

Will’s relationship with Brooke continues to develop in interesting ways, but this time we  see that Will and Elise share a bond as well. There were hints of this in the first book, of course. I found this refreshing – a love triangle of sorts, but not an obnoxious one. The nice thing is it’s not all angsty- they’re all friends, and while it’s acknowledged that Will and Brooke are kinda together, some things happen that may put a question mark on that. I liked this a lot- Brooke is a great character, and her newly emerging powers are neat, but the idea of Will and Elise together is fascinating to me.

This series has a lot going on. Five friends who may have been genetically tampered with, giving them strange powers, an interdimensional war with elder beings, and ruins of a prehuman civilization. We get a lot of information in this one about the Knights of Charlemagne and what they’re up to. As more of their plot is divulged, I was a little bit disappointed in the reasoning behind it. The genetic manipulation and interdimensional war are great, I like the idea of the prophecy and what it means, I just found the reasoning behind it all a little iffy. There are several big reveals at the end, a nasty twist and an enormous cliffhanger. I was sorry to see this book end, it flew by and is every bit as compelling as the first book. My only complaint is that it is shorter- the first one was over 500 pages, and this clocks in at a little over 300. I wanted more! It will be a long wait for the next one.

Excerpt:

Elise gripped his arms and got right in Will's face, her etched eyebrows arched high with excitement. "Listen. I will waitress at a Waffle House or sing happy- hour show tunes at a trailer park rest home, but I promise you I will figure out some way to bank staying here, because you knuckleheads are not going down there this time without me."
"I was hoping you'd say that," said Will with a grin.
"I've been waiting since Christmas for this," she said.


"Elise? Are you with me?"
"Why are you carrying me?" she asked.
"You were out on your feet."
"We could move a lot faster if you'd put me down."
"You think you can run now?"
"Faster than you're going," she said.
"Okay, I'll put you down".
"And, Will?"
"Yeah?"
"Whatever you do, don't look behind us."

From Goodreads:

Readers of I Am Number Four, The Maze Runner, and Legend will love this sophisticated adventure series by the cocreator of the groundbreaking television show Twin Peaks, with its unique combination of mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.

After exposing the sinister underground society of students known as the Knights of Charlemagne, Will West stays at the Center over the summer to explore his newly developing physical and mental abilities. Meanwhile, his roommates investigate the Knights' shadowy purpose and discover unsettling information about their own backgrounds. Will and his friends must quickly figure out what's going on and separate friend from foe as they prepare for the coming fight.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sunday Post #27/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

 It's been a quiet week on the blog after a busy beginning to January, but I have some good new stuff and I'm looking forward to reviewing some of it soon. 

I

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG


Sunday                    Sunday Post/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading? 

CURRENTLY READING

Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy, #2) Mulled Murder

Alliance (Paladin Prophecy #2) by Mark Frost
Mulled Murder by Kate Kingsbury

UPCOMING READS 

The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters



AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE 

San Diego Comic Con only selling single day passes in 2014.

The trailer for Season 4 of game of Thrones is coming on Sunday. Here's a sneak peek.

What is the best fantasy movie ever made? Lots of great choices here...

Which sci fi classic is best read before the age of 18? Some age better than others...


20 Questions to start your year off with over at Escape Adulthood. This is a great post, very thought-provoking. Awesome blog too.

Berls asks how do you keep up with your fave blogs over at Fantasy Is More Fun? Check it out!

So how was your week? 


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sunday Post/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I hope everyone had a fabulous New Year! We're into 2014 now and it's a time of new beginnings. Accordingly, I have a slew of new reads lined up and am looking forward to delving into them. Some fantasy, dystopians, and a bunch of other good stuff as well. Check out my new arrivals below. 


LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Saturday       Saturday Snapshot #3 - Christmas pics! 
Friday           Movie Review: Frozen - loved it. 
Thursday      Review: Avengers Annual #11 - classic comic review. 
Wednesday Review: GAME  -  a thrill ride 
Tuesday      Favorite Books of the Year - Top Ten goodness 
Sunday Post #25/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

CURRENTLY READING 

 
  

Alliance (The PAladin Prophecy #2). I'm very excited about this one- the Paladin Prophecy was one of my favorite books of last year and I'm looking forward to seeing where the sequel goes.  

UPCOMING READS 

The Rule of Three

Mulled Murder

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters 

Mulled Murder by Kate Kingsbury.

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE 

The true origin of Squeee? Probably not, but kinda funny.  

Triumph of the English Major- a neat essay over at the New York Times Sunday Review. Worth a read. 

Want a Hostess Fruit Pie? You might not after seeing this... 

Check out the Veronica Mars trailer here

So how was your week? 


Saturday Snapshot # 3

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy Reads.

To participate in Saturday Snapshot post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a link to your post at Melinda's site. Photos can be old or new, and be any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes. How much detail you give is in the captions is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 

I hope everyone had a great New Year. 






























Merry Christmas! 






Friday, January 3, 2014

Movie Review: Frozen

Frozen (2013) Poster

Frozen a great movie- easily the best movie I've seen in a while. I was expecting to be a bit bored, as I often am with movies like this. Um, no. It held my attention and was not only a great story, but beautiful to look at as well. Everything works- the voices, the art, the pacing, and yes the music.

For those who don't know the story, it's about two sisters Anna and Elsa who are princesses of the kingdom of Arundell. Elsa has the power to create ice at will and when she and Anna are playing as children, Anna gets injured. Her parents take Anna to the trolls for help, and they are able to save Anna- but they also remove her memory of the event and advise the king and queen to keep Elsa isolated. They do so, and Elsa grows up with very little contact with the outside world- or even Anna.

Fast forward to the present day, and Anna and Elsa are all grown up. It is time for Elsa's coronation as queen- but when something goes wrong and her ice powers spiral out of control, the kingdom is locked into an ice age and Elsa flees into the wilderness to be alone. Anna resolves to find her and bring her back, so that together they can lift the spell of ice. Along the way she runs into the mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer companion Sven, and together with the cute little snowman Olaf, they seek out Elsa and try to make things right.

As I said above, everything works here. There's a nice twist on the dashing prince theme, and I won't say much more except that it's refreshing that the princess has to rely on herself rather than a prince to come to the rescue. Kristoff is a great character, the trolls are a nice touch and Olaf... well, often these obligatory sidekicks are a little underwhelming, at least for me, but I have to say Olaf is hilarious. One of the best parts of the movie. I've been very disappointed at the movies lately, but for once I had fun Frozen is awesome!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Avengers Annual #11 Avengers vs. Defenders



I have not been reviewing very many comics lately on the blog, so I thought with a new year I would remedy that. So first up: Avengers Annual #11.

We start out with Nebulon, a previous Defenders villain, being imprisoned on Earth for his crimes of interference. Apparently his race is governed by a decree that they never interfere with other planets, and by doing so he has been exiled. He is given a choice of ending his life- the "honorable" choice- or living in exile on Earth with his power halved. He chooses Earth and is soon befriended by Thor. Sensing a kindred spirit of great power, and believing Nebulon's story that he wishes to live in peace, Thor takes Nebulon to the Avengers for help.

At the same time we have Supernalia, another member of Nebulon's race, appearing to the Defenders for assistance in apprehending Nebulon. She claims he is still bent on conquering Earth, and has brainwashed the Avengers into aiding him. The Defenders believe her, although it soon becomes clear she is utilizing some kind of mind control on them, and the Defenders soon confront the Avengers and Nebulon. Predictably, things degenerate into a pitched battle, and off we go.




We soon find out that both Nebulon and Supernalia have been manipulating events. As the battle winds down, they manage to shake the mind control and soon realize that Nebulon has been using an ennui machine to weaken his allies and siphon their power for his own ends- he clearly has not abandoned his ambitions after all. Cap saves the day with a well- placed shield throw, turning the device back on Nebulon, which will have fatal results for him. It turns out that Supernalia is Nebulon's wife, and still loves him even though he has been exiled and disgraced- nevertheless she came to earth to kill him and thereby remove the stain on their family's honor due to Nebulon's crimes. However Supernalia realizes that by orchestrating this conflict, she has also interfered with earthly affairs, and chooses the honorable way- death. She prevents the heroes from saving Nebulon, and instead joins him in oblivion.

This annual, written by J.M. DeMatteis, isn't bad. The Defenders lineup is pretty forgettable, with the exception of the Silver Surfer. The Valkyrie, the Beast and Gargoyle round out the Defenders present, and are matched (overmatched, I would say) by Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and the Wasp for the Avengers. I've always been a fan of the Surfer, and his power cosmic is well represented here.

The artwork here is disappointing, rendered by Al Milgrom and is strictly pedestrian. I'm not generally a fan of Milgrom's work, and it mars an otherwise fine story that would have been better served by some of the better Marvel artists of the time.

I read this issue as part of the recently released Avengers Absolute Vision trade paperback. It's a collection of Avengers issues #231-241, annuals 11 and 12, and various other related issues.   I wouldn't pay full price for it, but purchased at a discount from Amazon it was worth it.





Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Review: GAME

Game (HP Pettersson, #1)

Game by Anders de la Motte asks how far one is willing to go for approval and recognition- especially if you have nothing to lose. HP (Henrik Pettersson) is a slacker who finds a shiny new cell phone on the train one night, after a hard night of partying, and thinks finders keepers. The problem is, the phone keeps ringing- someone is calling and asking if he wants to play a game. Of course he doesn't want to play a game, but when the call starts referring to him by name it gets his attention! Thinking a friend is playing a prank, he decides to play along... and gets sucked into a game that starts out simple but becomes increasingly dangerous.

 As the game progresses the stakes get higher and higher, and HP finds himself crossing the line into illegal activity, with serious consequences. HP finds himself a pawn of forces he cannot control, and the game begins to take over his whole life. How far will the game ask him to go- and when the life of someone close to him is threatened, will HP be able to resist the lure of the game?

Game is told from the perspective of both HP and Rebecca, a security operative who is also HP's sister. Rebecca is much more likeable than HP but she too has deep seated issues that affect her life and career. As events spiral out of control, HP and Rebecca are drawn closer together and must discover who is behind the Game and what it really means. Secrets are revealed and they are left wondering who, if anyone, they can really trust.

Game has some great action sequences. There are several moments where the stories of HP and Rebecca converge and it really ratchets up the tension. There is a fair amount of profanity in this book, so if that offends you then you may want to consider that. I thought it was a bit much, but then again it reads just like someone might think- HP felt authentic to me exactly because of the raw language and attitude. Rebecca is a flawed character who is dealing with a huge amount of guilt in her past, and this affects every aspect of her life. Her path to self forgiveness and acceptance was one of the more compelling aspects of the story.

Game starts out strong and has a huge twist at the end, and is highly recommended for thriller fans or anyone who just wants something different. It's a thrilling ride and I'm looking forward to seeing where the Game goes next.