Sunday, April 21, 2013

TV REVIEW: DEFIANCE Premiere


Defiance is the much anticipated Sci-Fi series from the Syfy channel developed by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor. As well as a TV series there is also a cross platform MMO game tie-in. It premiered in the US on April 15 2013 and in a number of international markets later that week.


PLOT

The series is set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their solar system was destroyed. However, when they reached Earth, they discovered despite a prolonged negotiation with the government on Earth, they were not welcome. Rather than turn away, they began a war with the humans as they are determined to make Earth their new home. During the war, the Votans drop terraformers on the planet and transform the surface of the planet; scorching the earth, opening chasms in the ground and covering the surface of the planet in dust and debris. After decades of war, a ceasefire is declared when both sides realise they must focus on survival on this new almost alien planet. 

WHY I CHECKED THIS OUT

First off the hype for this show has been slowly gathering for more than a year so long in fact I thought it would be a series starting last year. I can remember way back when it was just that new show that starred Julie Benz now it is so much more, it is the new Hail Mary Sci-Fi programme hoping to actually get past its first season.

Then consider the cross platform game (which I have yet to play, not having managed to get into the beta) and you have a HUGE marketing plan which I sincerely hope doesn’t go pear-shaped on us in the first season.


WHAT I THOUGHT

Defiance had so much to live up to with the hype but after the 2 hour premiere well I can’t say it has delivered 2 episodes in but it certainly has not let itself down. The show instantly manages to convey that feeling of epic that this is a whole new world that we the viewers instantly want to know all we can about and the info dump at the beginning is just enough without going overboard.

I am not sure if I would say that the show has echoes of Firefly or not but it has the aesthetic of most Sci-Fi shows set in the near future after a disaster. From what I have seen of the lore (the background if you will) I see a richly detailed world including a language or two which sounds great. For the Sci-Fi fans we have cool weapons (look at those knives) lots of new slang terms and more than multiple alien races each with their own significantly different cultures by the look of things.



The storytelling itself is tight and interesting which it could well be argued is to be expected in a two hour premiere but I can point you to a few examples where Sci-Fi shows have tried to start big and failed. I get the feeling that the next few episodes will continue on at this high level and hopefully get even better after all a lot of the fun of true Sci-Fi shows it finding out about the people who inhabit this brave new world.

One of the reasons that I like Science Fiction is the central cast actually matters, look back at Babylon 5 and you know it isn’t just about Sheridan and Battlestar Galactica isn’t just about the Adamas. The same is true with Defiance being about the various factions who live in Defiance so you don’t have to be a fan of one or another or like me you might be a fan of them all.

If I have not peaked your interest yet in Defiance I don’t know what will. Defiance is a very ambitious project with its game tie-ins especially on a network that doesn’t have a great track record of standing by its more ambitious shows. Don’t me wrong the show is worth watching and striving to do something that real fans of Sci-Fi have been without for far too long, the question is whether or not the network is going to blink if ratings aren’t record breaking.

Friday, April 19, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday


Social Suicide is a 2012 YA/Mystery Book written by Gemma Halliday and is the second novel in the Deadly Cool series. The book was released on April 24, 2012 by HarperTeen and its ISBN is 0062003321. I imported this title from Amazon US as it seems to not have been released in the UK. I purchased this book.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST BOOK.


PLOT

Twittercide: the killing of one human being by another while the victim is in the act of tweeting.

Call me crazy, but I figured writing for the Herbert Hoover High Homepage would be a pretty sweet gig. Pad the resume for college applications, get a first look at the gossip column, spend some time ogling the paper's brooding bad-boy editor, Chase Erikson. But on my first big story, things went . . . a little south. What should have been a normal interview with Sydney Sanders turned into me discovering the homecoming queen-hopeful dead in her pool. Electrocuted while Tweeting. Now, in addition to developing a reputation as HHH's resident body finder, I'm stuck trying to prove that Sydney's death wasn't suicide.

I'm starting to long for the days when my biggest worry was whether the cafeteria was serving pizza sticks or Tuesday Tacos. . . .

WHY I BOUGHT THIS

I loved the first novel and was always going to look this up in fact I do believe that this was available or at least announced before I even took delivery of Deadly Cool. It manages to remand me of two decades ago (sheesh I’m old) when I was happily working my way through the 50 or so Hardy Boys books (wasn’t a Nancy Drew kind of guy). Deadly Cool also manages to stay current with believable characters (as believable as this many murders at one school can be) and stay funny and entertaining to. That left me with little doubt that this book would be more of the same.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Pretty much what I was expecting which is an extremely good thing. Hartley is actually more fun now that she has dropped that idiot boyfriend of hers and has stopped questioning herself about his choice to cheat. It is nice to read a female protagonist with a little self confidence.

Hartley or Death Magnet as I affectionately like to call her is on the case again and we slip easily into another one of her crazy cases. There has to be somewhat of a suspension of disbelief because well most of us would hope that there aren’t as many reasons as these for things at a high school to end in multiple murders but move past that and you get an engaging storyline with realistic characters.

One of the best aspects of Social Suicide and the Deadly Cool series is how realistic the high school community seems to me, it is a reasonably sized school so the protagonist doesn’t automatically know everyone in her year and there does seem to be a good mixture of social groups interacting though to be fair I am struggling to think of any prominent non-white characters but I might have missed one or two because of how fast I burned through this book.

Her will they, won’t they with the dark bad boy editor is reasonably interesting but I think it doesn’t quite work for me as I’m a guy and I just don’t see him being that passive unless he is either really shy or has some serious unrevealed issues. In the real world especially in high school guys just wouldn’t wait around that long but I digress because this is not the first time I have come up against a YA book that tends to portray boys/men in unrealistic ways.

I think that can be the first of only two issues I have with Social Suicide the second being that it is so short, it only took me three hours to get through it. That is pretty much a daily commute for me, or more likely for me an interview trip. I prefer bigger reads where possible.

The best aspect of this book is how Hartley pretty logically works through the suspects and after a little coaxing she really shows off her detective skills though some of her choices come across as a little ridiculous and only made to move the plot on “Why yes why wouldn’t I meet you alone at night on the wrong side of town and tell no one where I’m going”. I think that could be worked on for the next book but we will see.

In closing if you are looking for a modern Nancy Drew with a little romance thrown in Deadly Cool is a series worth adding to your TBR list in fact it should be first on there as I can’t think of another YA mystery series off the top of my head. If you have already picked up Deadly Cool then Social Suicide is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Sexy Evil Genius



Sexy Evil Genius is a 2013 Thriller directed by Shawn Piller and starring Katee Sackhoff, Seth Green and Michelle Trachtenburg. Shawn has previously worked on Haven and Greek.


WHY I CHECKED IT OUT
Michelle Trachtenburg, Seth Green and Katee Sackhoff what more reasons could someone need with cult favourite actors from Buffy and BSG. However it doesn’t stop there when you also throw in a nice intricate back story and a very unique thriller about a VERY unique young woman.

WHAT I THOUGHT
I found this to be a really exciting film. I really didn’t know what to expect from a video release which in the past always tended to be mean badly made and cheap looking. I think though in the last five years or so the quality of so called Video release films has gotten so much better.

Onto the film itself, I would call it a smart thriller something that goes in the middle of a range between Smokin’ Aces and Ordinary Suspects, skilfully combining comedy elements with a thriller that keeps you guessing.

The flashbacks are handled very well and this is coming from someone who despises them. You should have seen me suffer through Lost and the first season of Once Upon A Time but the flashbacks on Sexy Evil Genius are brief and to the point and actually support the plot instead of serving as so much pointless filler.

I am beginning to develop a real liking for these single scene films; it makes the films much more dependent on exploring the characters within. The characters are all very interesting and we spend perhaps the first half of the film learning about the ex partners of the Sexy Evil Genius and see how different they are.

There is not a lot more that I can tell you about what takes place without spoiling things for you and I definitely want to save the twists and turns for you to enjoy yourself. Sexy Evil Genius is a great film for a night in with enough to keep you thinking for awhile after which in the end is one of the few things you can ask for from a film.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April Update Time


So I have some strangely positive news, you know that whole ongoing back and forth with my Work Programme Provider which you can get an idea of here and here. Well the upshot of all this is that last week they finally caved and gave me back the travel expenses which was lucky because I just had an interview this week which I certainly would not have been able to attend without that money, and if you were wondering the company did not offer any form of reimbursement to interviewees.

It only took the best part of three months, two formal complaints to their head office and a letter and response from my MP to sort this out.

Moving on though as they have taken up enough of my time I had one interview this week and have another one set up for next week. The interview just past went well and I think I answered the questions fully and didn't feel that they showed up any aspects of the job that I wasn't capable of doing but we will have to wait and see.


In somewhat related news I have been getting through a few books recently and I am continuing to keep up with 2013 reading challenge. I recently finished the Mistborn Trilogy which I can highly recommend and as action packed and intricate fantasy story more than worth reading. I also read the second Deadly Cool novel which is great fun and reminded me of a female version of The Hardy Boys (teenage detectives not the wrestling tag team) so I can recommend both of those. You can check out my goodreads list on the right there it has its own widget.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ANIME REVIEW: Hyouka


Hyouka is a 22 episode anime based on the book series of the same name. 
This is a spoiler free review.


Plot

Hōtarō Oreki doesn't like to do things that he considers a waste of energy. However, things start to change when he enters high school because even though he does not want to join any non-compulsory school activities, his older sister requested that he join the deserted Classics Club so that it won't be disbanded. Unknown to him, another student Eru Chitanda already planned to join; but instead of being free from club obligations, Hōtarō eventually joined as he is strangely unable to refuse nor to escape from Eru's passionate gaze of curiosity. Together with his friends Satoshi and Mayaka, they began to discuss a variety of mysteries in school that only Hōtarō seems to be able to solve; including the mystery that lingered on from Eru's childhood memory.

Why I Chose It

I had heard a lot of things about Hyouka and read some reviews, eventually decided to take the plunge after wanting to learn more about the mystery solving nature of the show. I should also mention that the screenshots I saw showed artwork that was some of the best I had seen and that definitely helped tip me towards giving the show a chance.


What I thought

I really didn’t know what to expect with this series but I had heard so many good things about it and really wanted to take the plunge with a series after finishing up Accel World.

This couldn’t be more different from Accel World with the only common thread being that they are both set in and around high school. The theme of mystery solving and amateur detective work instantly got me hooked in making me watch multiple episodes at a time.

One major point going for this show is the protagonist, maybe it is just because I came to this from watching Accel World but it is so nice to have a lead with a strong sense of self even if he can get talked into all manner of things by a curious girl.

Going off topic for a second I find a problem with a lot of anime shows is protagonists that are almost blank slates with seemingly no thoughts of their own, you could never mistake Hotaro as someone without his own thoughts on life and while throughout the series his mind slowly changes you can see why he makes the choices he does.

I can’t talk about Hyouka without mentioning the mysteries that they gang solve, I found them interesting and engaging as well as very well laid out. You don’t get the TV murder mystery effect where we the detective announces some previously unknown fact that reveals the murderer in an instant, mysteries in Hyouka are solved by deduction which is impressive but believable.

High school politics Japanese style always keep me interested, the after school clubs that seem to mirror the traditional social groups of Goths, jocks et al in an American setting. I probably just wish that my high school was more like that (especially that whole co-ed thing but I digress) but I get that it is an idealised version of what most Japanese High Schools are nice but it serves as an interesting glimpse into a different culture.

In closing I can definitely recommend Hyouka but be prepared to spend a few hours watching those episodes in bulk. This anime showcases well that not every title is about energy attacks and intense action scenes sometimes it is just about friends coming together and helping each other out.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Finding Bliss in Books Blogoversary

So Finding Bliss in Blooks is having quite the giveaway for her Blogoversary.

8 Separate Giveaways which is pretty impressive, it is nice to see a Blogger giving back to their readers.

I am particularly interested by the Josin Mcquein day featuring a post all about Arclight which I would really like to get my hands on.

So get over there quickly and check it out.


No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

KINDLE FIRE GIVEAWAY APRIL 2013




Kindle Fire HD 7" Giveaway


The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

  Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)

  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)



Sponsoring Bloggers and Authors
  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
  2. Author Jennifer Laurens
  3. Author Lena Sledge
  4. Kelly's Lucky You
  5. Author Lori Verni-Fogarsi
  6. Phantasmic Reads
  7. Author Rebecca Talley
  8. Author Ednah Walter
  9. Author Heather Bixler
  10. Girls With Books
  11. My Life With Books
  12. Author Rae Z. Ryans
  13. All Fantasy Worlds
  14. Author Michael Young
  15. Book Angel Booktopia
  16. Lori's Reading Corner
  17. Books R Us
  18. Books 4 Tomorrow
  19. Author T. Lynne Tolles
  20. Good Choice Reading
  21. Curling Up With A Good Book
  22. Auggie-Talk
  23. A Bookish Escape
  24. Paranormal Book Club
  25. Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf
  26. Amethyst Daydreams
  27. Pink Fluffy Hearts
  28. Love. Without You
  29. Books, Books, the Magical Fruit
  30. Author Lisa Voison
  31. Tasty Book Tours
  32. Fae Books
  33. Author Cindy C. Bennett
  34. Author Emma Michaels
  35. Author Lia Fairchild
  36. Fade Into Fantasy
  37. Pieces of Whimsy
  38. Author Rachael Renee Anderson
  39. Feed Your Reader
  40. Lovely Reads

Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). Ends 4/30/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Prize value $199 US.

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