Where’s the riot?

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot by Pat Shand has our spacefaring heroes taking a shipment of medicine to a plant people planet (try saying that three times fast) who are suffering from a plague. Once the Guardians arrive at the star system, they find it to be blocked by a force field. They need to get permission to pass. After some creepy feelings and subtle threats, they are allowed to leave. Once on the plant planet, they soon find that the plague was not a plague but an invasion. The Guardians are soon on the run from an at least two planet strong army.

The use of having each chapter told by a different character is nothing new, but what I enjoyed is that they sounded like that character. The Star-Lord chapters sounded as if Star-Lord was speaking, that he’d written that chapter.

I found the Drax chapters a little harder to find his voice. The Drax chapters sounded more like the author speaking than Drax. But to be fair, Drax has a different short of character. He doesn’t really have the internal dialogue like the others and he’s more literal. I did notice that once Drax began to have a personal conflict, involving a crush on someone (and I mean a love-crush not a smash-crush like Drax thought “having a crush” meant), the Drax chapters did seem to change.

When I saw that each chapter would be “narrated” by a different Guardian, I hoped that there would be a Groot chapter. I wondered how Shand would do that. Would it be six pages of “I am Groot”? I was surprised to see that not only was there a Groot chapter but it delve into the mind of Groot. You get to see how he feels about not being able to communicate with anyone other than Rocket. You get to see a version of Groot that is quite smart. Some stories show Groot as being stupid or naïve; this Groot is wiser and observant.

I also enjoyed how the individual chapters allowed the reader to see more of the characters’ motives and backgrounds. You learn a lot about why the characters act the way they do.

Shand’s description of the Thandrid was excellent. I got a clear image of what they looked like. Maybe too clear. I kept getting an image of a insect that looked similar to a xenomorph from the Alien movies. But this might’ve been on purpose because of how the Thandrid invade. Much like the xenomorphs, the Thandrid burst out from their host’s body (except it’s the head instead of the chest).

I was surprised and not surprised when the first head-bursting happened. Since I had the xenomorph image in my head (no pun intended), I was not surprised to see it happen. In other words, the clues had been there since the beginning. I didn’t feel like this was some cheap scare that came out of nowhere. Nonetheless, it still shocked me because I wasn’t waiting for it, and the description of the baby Thandrid crawling around creeped me out. It wasn’t like a mystery book where you solve the murder in the first chapter and then are waiting till the end to have your guess confirmed.

My main problem with the book is I kept asking, “Where’s the riot?” The book was called Space Riot and yet there was no riot. There was war and fighting and explosions, but not much of a riot. I guess you could call it a riot because the Incarnadinians, the other planet marked for invasion, and the Guardians rebelled against the Thandrid. Also, all the people of the system were held prisoner by the force field, so it was more like the rebel “prisoners” were rioting against the Thandrid “guards.” The war was very one sided. The Thandrid had the numbers and the technology, so it was more of a riot. But the riot idea really came into play when the Guardians and rebels crashed into the Thandrid prison allowing all the prisoners to escape. It then turned into a literal riot and they attacked the Thandrid.

I have to give Space Riot a 4.6 out of 5. The writing was excellent, the book was short enough that I could finish it in a timely manner but still long enough that I felt like I got my money’s worth, and the book kept making me want to continue. It wasn’t boring at all. It seemed like we were always moving forward. Sometimes the forward motion was a little slower but we were still moving forward. But, it didn’t have the same…silliness of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It seemed like these Guardians were ones that had more experience or were more mature. They still had the same characteristics, but just different.

Purchase my eBooks at:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

I am Groot Vol. 2

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Peter and gang return for more cosmic comedy in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

In this sequel, the Guardians discover who Peter’s father is while on the run from gold-skinned aliens.

I found the make-up and character designs to be better than the first. But in some close ups of Gamora, I could see places where they missed a spot. However, in the comics (and the Telltale Games Guardians series), Gamora is seen with flesh colored circles around her eyes, so I could give this a pass…though it got weird that in one scene the rings were there and in others they weren’t.

I did find the make-up work for the golden aliens to be amazing: gold skin, gold hair, and gold eyes. It didn’t look like they just slapped in some gold colored contact lens, even the whites of their eyes had a golden tint.

I found the swearing, crude humor, and sexual innuendos to be a big much for a comic book superhero movie. All the killing scenes were also a bit much: the bodies floating in space, people being sucked out airlocks, and bodies falling in slow motion. But, they weren’t out of place. It wasn’t like it was Batman going around killing people. It made sense to have villains shoving people into space or Yondu killing people with his arrow; he’d done it in the first movie so there was no big surprise.

Guardians still had plenty of sarcasm, jokes, and “they’re all idiots” moments. For instance, Yondu uses his arrow to lower himself to the ground. Peter tells him he looks like Mary Poppins. Yondu asks if she is cool and Peter replies, “Yes.” At this point, Yondu then boasts, “I’m Mary Poppins, yo!” Only Guardians characters could deliver a line like this seriously.

The delivery of the line showed the skill of the actors. The person playing Yondu knew who Mary Poppins was and understood the joke, but he delivered it as if he didn’t. It wasn’t done with a twinge of “I really know what’s going on because I’m an actor.” He sounded like he really believed it.

The cosmic craziness that is the Guardians of the Galaxy continues with a giant 8-bit Pac-Man appearing during the final battle. I won’t tell you how or why it happened (you’ll just have to watch the movie).

During the battle with the golden aliens, the Guardians discover that the ships coming after them are drones. The scene than shows the pilots controlling the drones while video arcade sound effects play; they even include the death sound effect.  Once a pilot was defeated, they would rage quit. At one point there is only one pilot left and the others have gathered around him cheering him on to get a high score. Who knew advanced alien races like video games?

I found the graphics to be great but for the most part the same as the original, except for Yondu’s arrow. The blur trail effect was much better. The coloring and glow made it stand out and added some flair to the movie. It seemed to match Yondu’s personality too. This effect made the arrow seem more high-tech and more like an object you’d see in a sci-fi or comic book movie instead of being completely realistic.

I enjoyed the character development moments. I enjoyed the fact that we got to see more of Rocket’s character. He wasn’t just an angry, greedy, thieving genetically modified raccoon. You could see that he had feelings and cared about other people. Also, it was awesome to watch Rocket take out squads of Ravagers on his own.

I missed Rocket’s orange outfit from the first movie. The outfit for this movie made him look like he was naked. It made him look more like a wild animal, but to be fair, he acted like one for most of the movie.

I had a problem with Nebula’s character change because in the last movie she was portrayed as this crazy, murdering, sadist (and she still was to a point), but then she’s like “I just want a sister.” It seemed like a strange switch, but her “mellowing” out doesn’t come till near the end of the movie. It wasn’t like one second she was a psychopath and the next doling out hugs. It was still believable that she could change. It was nice to see that she could be more than just stab, stab, kill and we got a peak into why she is the way she is.

The characters seemed to be more mature in this movie. They still made jokes and teased each other, like when Peter calls Rocket a “trash panda,” but it seems like their personalities were more flushed out. They had become more than just jokes, eye rolls, and sarcasm.

Like from Peter. I got the sense that he’s been the leader of the Guardians for awhile. He has grown into the role and is a bit more responsible. He even tells Rocket not to play music during a battle, while in the first movie Peter constantly played music whenever he did anything.

This maturity could be said about the rest of the Guardians. Though they continued to bicker, they still seemed to acknowledge Peter as the leader. They also seemed to function more as a team.

My biggest problem with the movie was Peter’s father being a Celestial. It seemed over the top or out of place. It made Peter seem too important. I felt like the movie would have the same theme and plot even if Peter was still the prince of Spartax instead of a god. It made it seem like Marvel was trying too hard to make the movie like other movies; they fell into a trope instead of breaking tropes.

What I mean by breaking tropes can be seen at the beginning of the movie. The Guardians are getting ready for a battle with a cosmic beast. This amazing and frightening monster alien shows up and you’re expecting to see this epic battle, but instead you watch Baby Groot dance while the Guardians battle in the background.

Another example of trope-breaking is during the final battle. The Guardians strike a pose and epic hero music plays as there are explosions and such behind them…and then one character gets hit in the head.

They also make fun of the “characters walking slowly towards the camera” trope.

But having Peter be the son of a god seemed like they were giving in or they thought, “We need some kind of twist that’s going to shock all the comic fans.”

But all in all, I still say Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s best series. Mainly because of the credits. Every now and then the credits read “I am Groot” and then switch to the English translation. Not to mention seeing the various character dance. And finally, the during and after credit scenes; you get multiple ones. You also get to see teenage Groot who stays in his room all day playing video games and leaves his vines all over the floor.

I have to give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 4 out of 5 Groots. I enjoyed it and most issues were forgettable annoyances. But it was the fact that they made Peter’s father a god when they really didn’t need to really lowered the score. Also, they should have had more Cosmo the Dog and Howard the Duck.

Purchase my eBooks at:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

 

Doctor Who—Geek History Lesson Tells You

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Hosts Jason Inman and Ashley V. Robinson do it again with another Geek History Lesson.

Each week Inman and Robinson take one construct from pop culture and clue you in.

Inman and Robinson are excellent at explaining, sometimes complex, issues in a clear manner; I don’t feel like I need a road map afterwards to understand what they just said.

This week (April 17) they focused on the Time Lords from Doctor Who.

I really liked the idea of them focusing in on the Time Lords.

First, it was creative. The obvious choice for a Whovian lesson would be The Doctor or a history of his traveling companions. Doing a lesson on the Time Lords seems like something near the middle of the list, like maybe below a lesson on the TARDIS.

Second, the Time Lords are kind of mysterious. There isn’t much said about them on an episodic basis. You get clues here and there, but quite frankly, I can’t remember snippets from one episode to the next. It was great to have the history all in one place.

This lesson followed the usual format with the Meet Cute, 10 Cent Origin, main history, and Recommended Reading…but the episode didn’t seem to have as many jokes, puns, or general silliness as other episodes, such as the Pride of Illegitimate Skunk-Bears from the Wolverine podcast. The episode was still funny and enjoyable but different.

I also missed Inman doing some kind of impression.

I also enjoyed that they got the “sponsored by” part done near the beginning. It was nice to “get it over with” and enjoy the rest of the podcast. Variety is also nice.

I did notice some audio glitches during the guest interview like voices sounding weird or cutting out. But, I’m glad that they were able to get a guest. It adds variety to the show and gives a sense of community.

This sense of community is another part of what makes these podcasts so interesting. It’s wonderful to know that there are other geeks out there. Growing up in my hometown, if you knew something about video games, comics, or other “geeky” things, you could expect a wedgie or a special “trip” down the hall, so geeks didn’t advertise.

Finally, the episode’s time of one hour…ish is great. It’s short enough that you aren’t getting bored or wondering how you are going to find the time to listen to it. But, it is also long enough to feel intellectually feed—things aren’t thrown at you at high speed and you are struggling to figure out what was just said.

In short, Inman and Robinson’s even, but not mono, vocal tones make the podcast great to listen to while working or doing chores…and sometimes while exercising. So, I’m thankful that they do these podcasts; otherwise, I would never do the dishes.

I have to give them a 4.5 out of 5.

You can find out more about Geek History Lesson (such as where to find it) at geekhistorylesson.com.

Purchase my eBooks at:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Thor will Ragnarok you

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Thor: Ragnarok from Marvel Studios is set to release Nov. 3. In the meantime, I got to watch the trailer, thanks to the iTunes Trailers app.

The trailer starts out with Thor chained in a pit or cave. This seems pretty standard for superhero trailers anymore: the hero is chained or tortured or is climbing out of some dungeon. But I have to say the graphics and set design were impressive. I really felt like I was in some other world.

Speaking of other worlds, it was nice to see a Thor movie (or even show) with Thor on a more high-tech planet. Usually the places you see Thor are very…Norse (obviously). It was nice to see futuristic vehicles and weapons instead of dwarves and elves. It really showed that in this movie Thor is out of his element; he isn’t just visiting the 9 realms where he can beat up anything in his way. It’s going to be a challenge.

I also enjoyed the look of the aliens and other creatures. They looked alien. The makeup and costume work was amazing. They looked like they were alien creatures and not just some person in a suit or CGI. Just like with the sets, I felt like I was in another place. I really felt like I was there and not just watching.

I did get a very Guardians of the Galaxy vibe to the trailer. The soundtrack, the 70s/80s psychedelic/rainbow title transition, and the pacing of jokes and shots seemed a lot like trailers for the Guardians movies. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it was a trailer for Guardians. But I can see why it was done like this. Thor: Ragnarok is a space adventure. It needs the craziness and wow of space. You should feel like it is this epic thing. And maybe this trailer format hints at the Guardians making a cameo or there is a reference to them.

My real big problem with the trailer was that when they showed the villain, it wasn’t clear who it was. I probably missed them saying her name, but I kind of felt like the trailer was saying, “If you were a true fan, you’d know who this was.” If they did mention Hela by name, I didn’t hear it over the loud music and action.

I have to admit that when Thor showed up in the gladiator ring with short hair, I did a double take. I liked that they cut his hair; it shows that he’s in trouble. He’s not a prince of Asgard—he’s a slave/gladiator. He’s also been there for a while, at least long enough for a haircut. This was no pit stop for Thor.

And of course, I loved the moment when Hulk arrives and Thor laughs and says that they’re friends from work.

This trailer made me want to see the movie. I was kind of iffy; I’m starting to get tired of all the superhero movies, and when I saw the opening with Thor in the cave, I thought, “Here we go again. It’s just like all the rest.” But by the end of the trailer, I was getting more and more interested. The ones who edited the trailer sure knew which scenes to stick at the end.

I have to say the trailer was well done. The movie, on the other hand…we’ll just have to wait till November.

Purchase my eBooks at:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Malicious leaves no malice in readers

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Malicious, a James Patterson Bookshots written by Patterson and James O. Born, is another book staring Mitchum, an ex-Navy SEAL turned private private investigator (aka unofficial) and paperboy. He is called in to help his brother, Natty, who has been arrested for murder.

It doesn’t look good for Natty as he is a known dope dealer—pardon me, drug dealer (a correction which become a recurring joke through the first part)—and he has a thing for the victim’s wife.

The 125 page story is a nice, quick read. Its size and weight make it perfect for reading while on the go; whether you are waiting at the doctors or on a long car ride. Or if you just want to relax in bed.

Overall the story was good with its knife fights, fist fights, and gun chases, but there were a few problems.

In the beginning, Mitchum and a “client” are waiting at the diner to meet his client’s estranged daughter. I was confused at first because I thought in the last Mitchum story this case was already closed. He mentioned it many times, so I thought this was a flashback or a prequel. I quickly realized he had only found the daughter in the last book; now they were meeting.

I first realized this was a present/sequel story when Mitchum mentioned the death of Mabel. It was an unsolved case in the last book and hinted at some bigger plot, but in this story it just gets a line and is never mentioned again. I kept waiting for something in this story to connect back to Mabel, but it never happened. It was disappointing but no big deal. This is pretty normal in serials.

I liked the fluid writing where each event flowed into another without awkward breaks. The book also had a nice pace-flow between fast action, slow action, and medium action. Mitchum stays in investigation mode throughout the story, but you get calmer moments where you see into Mitchum’s normal life, such as when Alicia asks him out.

Mitchum is also a well-developed character. Only from a few sentences you can see his moral code and how much he cares for family and community. The same can be said about the other characters. Within a few short sentences, you know who Natty, Mitchum’s mother, and the investigating police officer—Mike Tharpe—are.

The final item is both a positive and a negative: I figured out who the killer was pretty early. The bad part is that it made me want to jump to the end to see if I was right instead of reading the whole book. I don’t like it when I guess the end so quickly because I become impatient waiting for the end. But at least with these Bookshots stories, the end isn’t far away; I’m only waiting for a few hours or days till the end instead of months as I try to read a 400 page novel.

But this quick-solve shows how well written the story is. All the clues are right there. Once the reveal happens, you don’t feel cheated; you feel like everything that happened made sense. You don’t feel blindsided or that the authors threw in some shocking twist just to throw in some twist.

All in all, Malicious is a nice, quick read where you feel like the story is complete but still makes you want more Mitchum stories. I would give it a four out of five stars because there were a few issues but nothing distracting.

Check out my eBooks at:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

POV Challenge – Ace – Regrets

Point of View Challenge: Write in a different point of view than you normally do or write from the point of view of a different character.

For example: I write in first-person so I would change to third or second person. Or since I usually write from the point of view of Dogboy, Max, or Ace, I would write from the point of view of a secondary character or from the point of view of the villain. If you change characters you can keep your normal point of view or change it if you want.

Feel free to do your own POV Challenge.

So here we go…

Dave was falling. That much was clear. He might not have been an A student but the wind rushing around him was a pretty good clue. He could also hear a slight zzz-ip noise as he passed each floor.

After the first five floors, he’d resigned himself to his fate. There wasn’t much else to do than wait. Oh sure, he screamed like crazy for the first three floors but soon ran out of breath.

“Why hadn’t I listened to Mom?” he asked.

His mother had warned him that playing so close to the edge was dangerous, but he’d done it anyway.

Of course it wasn’t completely his fault. His older brother, Sam, had dared him. Sam always seemed to get him into trouble. The most recent dare, besides this one, was to free the science lab frogs and release them into the wilds of the school cafeteria. Dave got a week’s detention and Sam got off scot-free.

I bet he won’t this time, Dave thought. Mom’ll see to that.

“Mom,” Dave said then sighed. Dave had heard her scream as he began his fall. He imagined she was still screaming.

Well, one thing’s for sure. I’ll never fall for Sam’s dares again. That epiphany seemed a little pointless now, Dave realized.

It was all over. He’d never get to play in the upcoming eSports tournament. All those hours practicing wasted.

“Wow,” said Dave. “I play video games a lot. Maybe I should have done something more fulfilling with my time…like texting.”

Dave then dared to look down. Yup, the ground was much closer now. Just a few more floors. Dave vaguely wondered if he’d make the news. Surely, he would. Kids falling from buildings always made the news.

Dave sighed. “This is actually starting to get a little boring.”

He then thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. It looked like a young man dressed in white.

Seeing flying people dressed in white as you fall to your death can’t be a good thing, Dave thought.

Hopefully this meant he’d be going “upstairs.” Though the idea kind of surprised him. Dare or no dare, he had released the frogs, he had climbed that old tree on a dare resulting in medical bills for his mother, and he had drawn on Mack’s face while he slept through math class. Most important he’d disobeyed his mom.

Just as he was wondering if they’d let him have a guitar instead of a harp, Dave realized he was slowing. The wind around him was increasing…pushing at him. It felt like one of those indoor skydiving places.

Dave laughed softly as he realized he’d entered a new dare; he dared to believe he could survive.

Now no longer thinking of his impending doom, he pondered how to live. First he’d apologize to his mother. Second he’d tell off Sam. And third, he’d tell Susan he liked her.

And maybe play less video games. That was still negotiable.

Before Dave landed, he realized the wind was angling him towards the awning over the building’s entrance.

Dave hit the awning, bounced, and landed in the bushes. It wasn’t a soft or graceful landing, but he was alive, and he would probably talk Susan into signing his cast.

Dave let out a sigh of relief and opened his eyes. For a moment there he could have sworn he saw the same strange young man in white smiling at him. He then faded like some kind of ghost.

“David!” he heard his mother shout.

Mom, thought David and smiled.

Purchase eBooks:

Barnes & Noble

Dialogue Challenge – Hot, Hot, Hot

Dialogue Challenge: Story written in all dialgoue. There can be attribution such as “he said” or “she cried.” Internal dialogue is OK. Filler dialogue or pauses are OK such as … for someone not responsding. “Spoken” sounds like coughs, grunts, and such are also allowed. Feel free to try it yourself.

 “Man, it’s hot!” I said.

 “Of course it is, Dogboy,” said Brain via the comm-link, “the apartment building is on fire.”

 “WHOA!”

 “What? What just happened?”

 …

 “Dogboy? Joe? Joe! Report!”

 “I’m okay. Some of the rafters just collapsed.”

 “Satellite images show that the building is becoming more unstable. It is time to leave.”

 “No. My nose tells me that someone’s still here.”

 “The rescue workers are reporting that everyone is accounted for, thanks to you.”

 “There’s still someone else here. Check the records again.”

 “OK…there…click here…open…come on connect…ugh, buffering…”

 “Brain…this place is falling apart.”

 “I am doing the upmost I am capable of given the situation.”

 “Brain, this fire is getting hotter and soon even I won’t be able to stand it. Regular people surely won’t.”

 “I got it. Jim Sanders, who works for the water company, has two children: Jack and Jill.”

 “Got it. Jack! Jill! Where are–” 

 …

 “Joe! What happened? You’re vials spiked.”

 “Floor gave way. But I’m okay. I got to the leash grapple in time.”

 “I continue to strongly suggest you vacate the premises immediately.”

 “Not until I have those…Wait, I hear something.”

 “Joe?”

 “Just a minute…Yeah…I can hear them.”

 “Help!” a small female voice said. “Someone! Help!”

 “They’re in the next room,” I reported to Brain.

 “Please *cough* help us,” Jill said.

 “I can see them.”

 “Oh thank heavens,” said Brain.

 “Dogboy, please *cough* my brother. He hurt his head.”

 “It’s alright. I’ll have you out in two wags of a dog’s tail. I just need you to climb on my back and hold tight.”

 “What about my brother?”

 “He’s safe in my paws, uh, hands.”

 “Does the leash grapple have enough power to swing you all out?” Brain asked.

 “We’ll find out soon enough.”

 “Who are you talking to?” Jill asked.

 “Just a friend. I’m going to swing us out of here.”

 “What *cough* about the wall?” Jill asked.

 “Dramatically smashing through walls is the first thing we superheroes learn. Keep your head down and you’ll be fine…You ready?”

 “Hmm-hmm,” she said.

 “Brain, you contacted the rescue workers?”

 “They’re outside waiting.”

 “One, two, three. Here we go!”

 …

 …

 “Wheeee!” cried Jill.

 “There he is!” said the fire chief. “Move into position!”

 “There, safe and sound,” I said.

 “Can we go again?” Jill asked.

 “Dogboy,” said the fire chief, “is everyone alright?”

 “The boy needs medical attention.”

 “We’re on it,” said the chief. “Jeff. Sam. Get the EMTs.”

 “Jill!” came a voice from the crowd.

 “Papa!”

 “Oh my darling daughter. I feared the worst.”

 “I kept Jack safe,” she said with a hint of pride.

 “And she did a wonderful job,” I said. “Jack’ll be fine.”

 “Oh thank you, Dogboy,” he said. “Thank you so very much.”

Purchase eBooks:

Barnes & Noble