Review: Ultimate Star Wars ~ Ryder Windham, Adam Bray, Patricia Barr and Daniel Wallace

star warsISBN ~ 978-1465436016
Publisher ~ DK
No. Of Pages ~320 Pages
Links ~ Amazon, Dorling Kindersley, Barnes and Noble

Become an expert on the Star Wars galaxy!

Ultimate Star Wars® is an in-depth visual feast exploring the characters and storylines from the Star Wars galaxy. This is a beautifully illustrated guide that is structured chronologically and packed full of information about key characters and storylines from the Star Wars movie saga, The Clone Wars, and Rebels™Ultimate Star Wars will get new and old fans caught up and knowledgeable on all things Star Wars.

© & TM 2015 LUCASFILM LTD.

Let me start by explaining the reason behind my four thumbs review, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the movies, but I’m not a fangirl in the same sense or to the extremes others out there are.  Having said this, this art book really hit the spot with me, and went a long way to explaining some of the storylines and characters in the movies.

Dorling Kindersley have done their usual excellent work when publishing this book and, with the frenzy that is building with the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens in December of this year, they are sure to have a money-maker on their hands.

This book is sure to appeal to fans of any levels, and maybe capture the interest of those new to this Universe.  The book itself is divided into topics that cover things from characters to locations, and these are interspersed with ‘key event’ facts  and each includes a timeline  and a behind the scenes article.  Covering all six of the Star Wars films, it also touches on the animated TV series of Clone Wars and Rebels.

To say this book has detail would be an understatement, and do it a total injustice.  As I said earlier I am not a huge fan, but I found the character pages fascinating; each has a biography which includes some important events of which they were a part and other little pieces of information on their weapons etc.  The major characters, such as the R2-D2 unit are given a double page spread, as can be seen in the image below, while lesser character may, in some cases only get a portion of the page they are still included and this is part of what makes this a comprehensive guide to the Star Wars Universe.

r2 unit

Apart from the myriad of information that the reader will find within this books pages, they are also given a visual treat in the form of crisp images that are full of detail, from the most important of characters right down to the obscure.  I have to admit that my favourite part of this book, along with the foreword by Anthony Daniels, were the character and location sections, as after reading it I now feel I might just be able to hold my own in a conversation with a die-hard fan.

I would highly recommend this to all lovers of Star Wars and those, who like myself, enjoy the movies but feel their knowledge is lacking.

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Joël Champetier 1957 ~ 2015

220px-Joel_ChampetierCanadian author and editor Joël Champetier died on May 30. Champetier’s first story, “Le chemin des fleurs” appeared in Solaris in 1981 and his first novel, “La mer au fond du monde” appeared in 1990. In 1983, he helped organize the first Boréal Congress and was on the board of directors for several years. Beginning in 1990, he held various positions at Solaris and was managing editor at the time of his death.

His other works included  ” The Dragon’s Eye”, “La taupe et le dragon: Roman” and “La mémoire du lac”.

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The Unauthorized Guide to Trek ~ James Van Hise

DPS_Blogger-header-copyDigital Parchment Services Reprints
Unauthorized, Behind-the-Scenes Books
by Trek Chronicler James Van Hise

For Immediate Release:

Digital Parchment Services and well-known media journalist James Van Hise have signed an open-ended agreement to bring his now classic journalistic examinations of the Star Trek phenomenon back into print.

The first five books in the series will be published throughout 2015.

The entire series will appear under the title “The Unauthorized Guide to Trek”.

The new edition of Mr. Van Hise’s books will feature additional photographs taken by him personally during his three decades chronicling the shows, movies, and the cultural phenomenon Star Trek became.

Beginning in June, DPS will release the following books under the Unauthorized Guide to Trek series title:

Gene Roddenberry: The Man Who Created a Phenomenon

Leonard Nimoy: The Man Who Was Spock

The TOS Years (1966 – 1969)

The Movie Years (1979-1991)

The Complete TOS Crew Book: The Characters and the Actors

The first book issued, fittingly enough, features a look into the private life and public accomplishments of the man responsible for the vision that became Star Trek.

Readers will learn:

  • the childhood circumstances that led to Roddenberry’s passion for science fiction;
  • how his early days as a police officer gained him entry, later in his life as a writer, into the newly burgeoning field of television;
  • about the bitter behind-the-scenes battles to keep the Star Trektrue to Roddenberry’s vision of a diverse and pacifistic future where conflicts were solved more often with brains than weapons;
  • the reasons for the constant scene and plot changes in the movies as they were being shot;
  • which actors loved him—and which…not so much—and why;
  • how Roddenberry trained the next generation of Star Trektelevision producers to realize his vision after his death, and how that training influenced Star Trek: The Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager and beyond;
  • and much much more.

Look for more news about The Unauthorized Guide to Trek and Gene Roddenberry: The Man who Created a Phenomenon, coming soon from Digital Parchment Services.

James Van Hise is a well-known journalist specializing in film, television, and comic history. A long-time fan turned media historian, Van Hise’s credentials as both writer and editor are extensive. He was the editor of the pivotal comix zine Rocket Blast Comic Collector (1974-8) and the pioneering Enterprise Incidents: The Magazine for Star Trek Fans (1976-85). In the comic field he has written stories for Dread of Night, Green Hornet, Ray Bradbury Comics, and Real Ghostbusters, among others. As a journalist Van Hise has authored books on Batman, Dune, Conan, Star Wars, The Lone Ranger, Dick Tracy, Stephen King, and Star Trek.

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Review: Symbiosis: A Justice Keepers Novel (Justice Keepers Saga Book 1) ~ R.S. Penney

SymbiosisASIN ~ B00RKY0WJ8
Publisher ~
No. Of Pages ~ 330 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Kobo

Ten thousand years ago, a mysterious race that we only know as the Overseers took primitive humans and scattered them on dozens of worlds across the galaxy. Now, some of those people have found their way back to Earth. A young Justice Keeper named Anna Lenai has tracked a criminal through unexplored regions of space in the hopes of recovering a symbiont that grants its host the ability to bend space and time. Her search leads her to Earth, where she befriends a young man named Jack Hunter. Together, they will face enemies with advanced technology as they struggle to recover the symbiont before its power falls into the wrong hands.

5 Thumbs-UpThis is a debut novel from this Author and, if this first book is anything to go by the rest of the Justice Keepers Saga is going to be a spectacular read.

The characters in this book are extremely well written; they have a depth and feel to them that is rarely seen in a book in the YA genre.  The female protagonist is gutsy and strong-willed, but she also has a side to her that she tries to keep well hidden, and which rarely makes an appearance.  However, because of the way in which the Author develops her character it is obvious that there are hidden depths to her that will, hopefully be revealed as the Saga continues.  I liked this character immensely, she is a strong young woman who comes alive and off the page as events unfolds; true to life she is not wholly likeable but this only adds to her charm and makes her more alive and real.  The man she befriends is equally well written and, in giving both the male and female leads in this book the same careful treatment, the Author creates a novel that will appeal to both male and female readers.

World building is just as well done in this book as the character development; so well is it written that it brought to mind the descriptions of space that a reader will find in any of the books written by Peter F. Hamilton.  The descriptions of Earth make it seem familiar yet totally fresh and new at the same time, as I read through the book I wanted to travel to the locations contained within its pages and experience the adventures I found.

Thinking there is nothing new in the YA genre?  Then I highly recommend this book as it will change your mind.  Skilfully written and tightly edited it was a pleasure to read and I will definitely be reading more in this saga as it becomes available.  My only regret is that this is only available on eBook as I want to add a paper copy to my shelves.

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What to read next.

After finishing a good book in the early hours of the morning I often find myself with the problem of what to read next.  I usually go through my ‘to be read’ stack in the order of which books were added to it, but sometimes the book on the top of the pile doesn’t appeal to me at the very moment I need a new read.

This flowchart, found on Upworthy.com may help me, and others in the same predicament, head in the right direction and find something we are in the mood for.  Just because it says summer in the chart doesn’t mean you can’t use it anytime of the year, after all what better way is there to spend a rainy day than curled up in your favourite spot reading?

101_books_to_read

Review: Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) ~ Chris Wooding

retribution fallsFrey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn’t just a nuisance anymore – he’s public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don’t. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he’s going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It’s going to take all his criminal talents to prove he’s not the criminal they think he is …

4 Thumbs-UpIf you are a Browncoat who is lost in lamentations over the cancellation of Firefly, this is the book for you.  I’m not saying it will replace the crew of Serenity, but it will go a long way to fill the void and feed the need for a good pirate/cowboy steampunk western.

The individual crew members of the Ketty Jay are introduced to the reader one by one, with each revealing their story, apart from the Captain.  To say he was a work in progress would be an understatement as his character was developed and grew and the novel progressed.  Most of all the characters are loveable on the Ketty Jay, maybe not so much their motives and reasoning at some points, but they each have something about them that will have the reader wanting to learn more about them and join them on their adventures;  Id’ join them if we could leave the Captain behind as I just could not warm to him and thought him to be a bit of a spineless human being.  As in all the good adventure stories the villains, are well just that, villains.  From the description of these characters, right down to the personalities they each have there is nothing that could have the reader mistaking them for being anything else than what they are…baddies.

Although, in my opinion, the story takes a while to get underway this is not a bad thing, as in these ‘slow’ moments is where the set-up for the adventure begins and when it starts it definitely moves along at a cracking pace and does not disappoint at all.  Through great writing the Author is able to provide a perfect balance of sadness alongside humour and wraps it all up in the form of shenanigans.  There is magic, gun play, sword fights and daemons; so enough of everything to appeal to most reader.

I would highly recommend this novel to all Browncoats, steampunk fans and lovers of the type of adventure novels that are so hard to come by today.  I will definitely be reading the remaining ‘Tales of the Ketty Jay’ novels.

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Review: Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel #1) ~ Connie Willis

DoomsdayIn the year 2054, students research the past by living in it. So when Kivrin Engle, a history student at Oxford, enters Brasenose College’s time machine for transport back to 1320s England, no one anticipates any problems.

But her two-week project takes a frightening turn. A mutant virus has been spreading through Oxford, and Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. She is found and taken to a manor house, and when she recovers, she can no longer locate the time machine rendezvous point.

As Kivrin struggles to adjust to a past that’s not quite what she expected, a past where the Black Death is beginning to ravage a mystified, terrified population. With the only people who know where she’s gone seriously ill themselves, will Kivrin ever find her way back to the future? Or has she become a permanent exile in a deadly time?

4 Thumbs-UpWhat can I say about this book apart from the fact that it has something in it that almost every reader will enjoy, and that this is the book that started my love of this particular Author.  I had a copy of this lent to me whilst I was laid up with pneumonia, and a friend asked me if I had ever read anything written by the Author; little did they know then that by introducing me to them they would be creating a monster.

There are many characters in this novel, both futuristic and from the past, and the main protagonist is a gripping female student who time travels back to the 1300’s.  The way in which this character copes with a time so at odds to her own, with so many restrictions when it comes to women is what makes her a person I immediately could connect with.  Throw into the mix the issue of the Black Death and this makes her even more compelling.  Throughout the novel the reader can follow her progress as she comes to terms with the times she now finds herself in and can root for her every step of the way.  Her determination and courage shines through as the times degenerate into one of sickness and death.  The Author is equally generous when introducing their other characters in this book, although there were a few that I thought were rather superfluous to the plot itself; there is the concerned and overworked professor who I felt was the very picture of the stereotypical academic, and also the ‘mother hen’ type character who fussed over everyone and anyone.  I didn’t find any of the characters unlikable, and this rather surprised me as there is usually one that I would like to meet a miserable demise.

When it comes to location descriptions and really setting the mood for the 1300’s it is apparent that the Author did a great deal of research into the time period, and the effects the Black Death had on families and attitudes of that time.  Unfortunately the editing was not as tight as I would have expected in a novel as gripping and fast paced as this one, and this is the reason for the four thumbs rating.  Overall though this is a well written and entertaining book, that keeps the reader turning the pages to the very end.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great story and/or is interested in historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy.

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Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1) ~ Tom Angleberger

Origami YodaIT TAKES THE WISDOM OF YODA TO SURVIVE THE SIXTH GRADE

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him “Captain Dwight.” This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that’s when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It’s crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda’s advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy’s case file of his investigation into “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.

5 Thumbs-UpI love reading books aimed at children, well sometimes I do and others I just want to throw my hands up in the air and wonder about the wisdom of the Authors.  With this book this was not the case, this is a great read, and I don’t care that I’m old and crusty with grandchildren, this is a book series I will keep on my shelves and re-read as a pick me up.

If you are a reader that loves Star Wars, or even if you come from the other camp of Trekkers, this book will have you chuckling and making you wonder how you ever made it through 6th grade yourself without the wisdom of Yoda.  If you have no clue who any of the above are, read it just for the sheer enjoyment of being able to be a kid again.  This little piece of fun is also a great way to get middle school children invested in reading, as the whole series pulls on characters they most likely recognise from the movies, and what could be easier than that.

Like most children’s books there are no complex characters to wade through, no diabolical plot lines, this book is just kids being kids and brooding over the major concern of their time; does an origami Yoda really give sound advice that can be followed?  For example: “How do you get out of a potentially embarrassing situation when you’re in the bathroom and you spill water on your pants so that it looks like you peed yourself? Origami Yoda says: “All of pants, you must wet.”   Just based on this I must have an origami Yoda as my advice counselor.  But for all the fun stuff in this book,  the little drawings and side notes as different classmates weigh in on the Origami Yoda conundrum, this book discusses a serious topic in an easy to understand way for children; tolerance.  Just because one person thinks another is strange doesn’t mean we are all going to think that way, and this book is able to covey the wonderfulness of difference and tolerance in a world that is becoming more uniform and intolerant. Don’t over analyse this book (hence the short review) just enjoy it, and when you’re done with it use the diagram at the end to create your very own origami Yoda, I know I am going to make a whole army of them.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone really, and if you’re thinking of reading this in the dark don’t forget to have your trusty lightsaber on hand to help see the pages young Padawan.

“Much to learn you still have.” … “This is just the beginning!” ~Yoda

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

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Review: The Puppet Record ~ M.L. Candelario

The Puppet Record
In the distant future, humans have spread to multiple planets and have discovered a conscious alien race. Yawmkind and humankind exist peacefully under a joint government called the Bastion, but this unity is tested when groups of human children simultaneously vanish on every human settlement. Stowed away on the ship sent out to investigate the disappearances, Joey Omaha must battle his addictions or risk ruining the mission.

5 Thumbs-UpOnce in a while there comes a debut piece of fictional writing that has me wanting to tell anyone who will listen how good it is; this is one of those times.  From the very first page, I was sucked into this highly believable and well thought-out futuristic world and this made this a novella that was very hard to put down.

Despite it being only 199 pages in length, this Author manages to produce a well-rounded piece of writing that leaves the reader wanting more.  This is a book that is not to be taken at face value, with an intricate and intriguing plot line, including plenty of twists and turns that would keep even the most diehard of adventure readers hooked to the end.

The main protagonist is the character that really made me think.  At first I couldn’t bring myself to even remotely like him, but as the book progressed the Author developed him in such a way that he wormed his way into my affections.  He is a young man who is battling demons in the form of an addiction, whilst trying to do the right and moral thing concerning those he works with.  I have never suffered from an addiction, apart from reading, but the Author has apparently done a great deal of research into this area, and this shines through when they write about the trials and tribulations the main character goes through to hopefully triumph.  Using a mix of human and alien characters in this book, the Author is also able to convey through their writing, in a non-preaching way, that everyone is connected and similar in some way, whether it is through a way of thinking or a gesture.  This made one of the alien characters particularly likeable, and very much a person I would like to have as a family member, but as to which one that would be, you would just have to read the book.  Although I did not agree with some of the points of view put across by the characters, this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book; it just gave me food for thought and great enjoyment when pondering over the possibilities.

The world building in this novella is superbly executed, not just through the sheer imagination of the Author but also by the way in which they allow the technology and history of this world to be narrated to the reader by the books characters.  This adds a definite ‘human’ touch to the book which made me feel like the characters, and the Author, would perhaps like me to visit and stay awhile in their world.  Not content to stick to one particular world, the Author spreads the tale out across this unknown universe and, in doing so, is able to make the reader wonder if there could possibly be such a place outside of the scope of current space exploration.  Full of philosophical ideas and some religious perspectives, this little book will, if nothing else, make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about life and maybe even step outside your comfort zone to examine new ideas.

Not your usual run of the mill sci-fi book, the fast paced and riveting plot will keep you turning pages to the very end.  I would very highly recommend this novella to all who love a good sci-fi book, and also to those who enjoys adventure tales.  I will definitely be reading more from this Author.

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Review: Timelapse ~ Lorrie Farrelly

timelapseThe accidental death of his beloved wife sent Alex Morgan into a numbing world of suppressed grief and rage, eased only by a profound bond with his son. Suddenly his life is shattered again when a chance discovery propels him into a world gone horribly, terrifyingly wrong.

Piecing together clues in this new nightmare, Alex suspects a colleague of taking a few, meddling steps back in time, changing the course of history – destroying Alex’s family and his world. Desperately clinging to his sanity, he searches for any evidence his young son still exists.

Jessica O’Neil is fighting a nightmare of her own, captured and facing execution for freedom-fighting heroics in her grim, oppressive world. When Alex rescues the feisty young rebel, she resists her dangerous attraction to him – a man who’s clearly crazy, literally in a world of his own.

Bound together first by chance and desperation, then by growing purpose, respect, and emotion, Alex and Jessie must depend on each other to survive. More than that, they must find a way to prevent a terrible crime from taking place – a crime that plunged both their worlds into nightmare – over a hundred years before. To have a future, they will have to find their way to the past.

4 Thumbs-UpAfter having read the synopsis for this particular novel, you may be forgiven in thinking that I may have had too much sun this summer, as this book appears to be one of those dreaded romance novels that I avoid as if I may catch something nasty from them; and you would be right, not about the sun thing but about this being a romance novel… except it isn’t one in the true sense of the word.  From the very first page this book had me pulled in hook, line and sinker and, because I was expecting one of ‘those’ novels took me totally by surprise.

The male protagonist is written wonderfully and in such a manner that both male and female readers will develop a close connection with him.  He is vulnerable while at the same time having an inner strength that the reader can only wonder at, is devoted to his family but also feels that fate is not on his side as life continues to throw one, almost unbearable curve ball after another at him.  The female counterpart to his lead is a perfect foil for him, she is strong and capable in all the traits that he lacks, and is also able to retain her own individuality during the most trying of times and circumstances.  The Author wrote these, and all her characters in such a way that they came alive within the novels pages, and make the reader feel as if there might be a possibility they would run into them as they go about their daily lives.  These are three-dimensional, well fleshed out participants in a definitely not your run of the mill romance.

Now we move onto why this is not a romance book, it is primarily a science fiction novel which deals with time travel and just happens to include the story of a developing relationship between two of its characters.  The fact that the romance wasn’t overwhelming made this book even more enjoyable for me.  The plot line is excellent and contains plenty of fast paced action for those readers who like this kind of thing in their sci-fi/time travel reads and, although some of the scenes could have been written with a bit more punch for my liking, I attributed this to being the Author’s writing style more than anything wrong with the novel.  My one complaint and the reason for the four thumbs rating was I would have liked to have read more about the world in which our male lead finds himself in even though it was not necessary to the flow of the story, it would have added a little more depth.

I would highly recommend this to all readers of time travel and science fiction novels and to anyone who want an enjoyable read with a twist.

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