Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Crowned and Dangerous Winner

I just pulled the winner for Crowned and Dangerous.  And the winner is...


I just sent you an e-mail, so please look for it so I can pass your address on to the publisher.

TV on DVD Review: Legends of Tomorrow - Season 1

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun action and comedy with great characters
Cons: All cons lost to time
The Bottom Line:
A fun trip through time
Fighting immortal villain
Escapist delight

“To Quote Every Star Wars Ever Made, I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This.”

I’ve become so hooked on the DC Comics universe that has been unfolding on the CW that as soon as it was announced, I knew I’d be jumping on board with Legends of Tomorrow.  After all, they were culling supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash, and both shows spent so much time setting up this spin off early in the season.  I could hardly wait for season 1 to premier in January.  And my faith was rewarded.

The show begins as Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) appears in 2016.  He’s from the future, and he has a mission he needs help with.  In the future, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), an immortal, has taken over the world as a dictator.  The only hope is for him to assemble a team from the present day to fight Vandal across time.  This group of “heroes” include Ray Palmer and his Atom suit (Brandon Routh), both halves of Firestorm, Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh), Mick Rory and Leonard Snart better known as Heat Wave and Captain Cold (Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller), a resurrected Sarah Lance aka White Canary (Caity Lotz) and Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall also known as Hawkgirl and Hawkman (Ciara Renee and Carter Hall) who have had many run ins with Savage over the centuries.

However, it isn’t long before this ragtag group learns that this mission isn’t exactly sanctioned by the Time Lords that Rip Hunter claims to work for.  Furthermore, defeating Savage appears to be even harder than they first thought.  What other secrets is Rip hiding?  Will this team be able to come together to defeat Savage?

Actually, Rip Hunter is the only character that viewers of Arrow and The Flash hadn’t already met since much of the backstory for the series was set up in the annual crossover event that aired in November.  As a result, the two part season premier moved quickly since we could jump into the action once the team is assembled.

Since Rip has a time ship, we jump around in time quite a bit, which is a lot of fun.  A visit to small town Oregon in the 1950’s becomes a bit preachy, but other than that, we focus on the story and the complications our heroes face in each time while tracking Savage.  We spend time in Russia during the Cold War and even the Wild West.  There are actually several two parters, or at least two shows set in the same period, which gives us some interesting cliffhangers.  A few episodes stood on their own and even didn’t tie in directly to the quest to stop Savage, but they were always fun.

I was actually worried that with a cast this big, we wouldn’t get to know the characters that well.  On the contrary, we got some great development for all the characters over the course of the season.  Some episodes focused more on some characters than others, but everyone had something to do, and we had some nice arcs before the season was over.

Those looking for action will find plenty to enjoy here as well with several action scenes each episode; this is a comic book show after all.  I think this show has more action than the others in the TV DCverse, but it could just be that the scenes can be more epic with the larger cast of heros.

The acting is just a touch on the over the top side of the spectrum.  This is especially true from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell.  Actually, this adds a very fun campy feel to the whole show, and I loved it.  When the show called for a series moment, the actors always hit it out of the park.

And the writers give these characters some funny lines.  There are some classic one liners in the show, mostly coming from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell’s characters, but everyone gets their fair share of great lines.

While the show premiered in January, production started the previous fall, so we got 16 episodes in the first season.  Naturally, they are all in this set in wide screen and full surround.  In the way of extras, we get parts from the 2015 Comic Con panel about the show, a featurette on the time travel ship, a featurette on the old West episode, which included Jonah Hex, a third featurette, this time on the fact and fiction of the history our characters experience, and a gag reel.

So if you are looking for a fun trip through time fighting evil, Legends of Tomorrow is for you.  Season 1 is pure escapism, and you’ll love every second of it.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot, Part 1
2. Pilot, Part 2
3. Blood Ties
4. White Knights
5. Fail-Safe
6. Star City 2046
7. Marooned
8. Night of the Hawk
9. Left Behind
10. Progeny
11. The Magnificent Eight
12. Last Refuge
13. Leviathan
14. River of Time
15. Destiny
16. Legendary

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey (Sabrina Salter #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Well-drawn characters, good story
Cons: Starts off a tad slowly as pieces are introduced
The Bottom Line:
Murder of a guest
Sabrina’s past catches her
Engrossing debut

No Escaping the Past

Like everyone else, I pay attention to recommendations for new authors because it’s hard to keep up with everything coming out.  So when I heard from multiple people praising No Virgin Island, the debut from C. Michele Dorsey, I paid attention.  It took me until now to read the book, but I’m glad I did because I enjoyed it.

Sabrina Salter ran away from a past in Boston and settle on St. John in the US Virgin Islands.  There, with her friend Henry, she runs a service maintaining rental villas.  All is peaceful, and she hopes to put her past completely behind her.

Unfortunately, it all comes rushing back when she finds a dead body one morning.  Carter Johnson was due to check out of his villa today, but he checked out permanently thanks to a gunshot.  With the police and the media once again hounding her, Sabrina needs all the help she can get to survive the coming storm.  Will the real killer be caught, or will Sabrina be blamed for the crime?

This book has a bit of a somber atmosphere, contracting perfectly with the bright and sunny setting.  Sabrina, Henry, and Neil, Sabrina’s lawyer/love interest, all have pasts they hoped to escape by running to St. John, and that feeds into the tone of the book.  That tone helped captivate me and made me feel like I really knew the main characters.  The rest of the cast are sharp as well with pasts of their own that come out as the story unravels.  By the time the book was over, everyone really did feel like real people.

The story is actually told from multiple points of view with Sabrina getting the most page time.  We’re only in one person’s head at a time, so it’s always easy to follow.  It’s refreshing to get a book with a different narrative technique, and I enjoyed it.

It does mean that the mystery unravels a bit differently than in the books I would normally read.  That’s not a complaint, just an observation.  I actually figured a few twists out before they were officially revealed, but I didn’t mind because the drama I knew was coming made me want to keep reading.  And we get great climatic scenes, both for the mystery and the drama, that left my heart pounding.

I will admit that I felt like the book was starting off a little slowly.  It’s only as I got to know the characters that I appreciated all the ground work that was laid early on.  So this isn’t a barn burner right out of the gate, but it is well worth reading in the end.

Quite often when characters have pasts, we get data dumps to fill us in on this backstory, and if you haven’t noticed by now, I hate that.  By the time the backstory is presented here, we actually are curious about what happened to Sabrina, and we get bits and pieces for the others, but I have a feeling there is more to their story to learn as the series progresses.  I appreciated how this important aspect of the characters was handled.

No Virgin Island is a well done debut that promises more great books to come.  I will be hopping down to St. John as soon as I can for another visit with this great new cast of characters.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Review: Legacy of Secrets by Ridley Pearson (The Return #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Advances overall story; tons of magical fun
Cons: Characters still weak
The Bottom Line:
Story in two times
Advances mythology
And turns DisNerds green

Hunting for Walt’s Pen

As a DisNerd, I have always loved the idea behind the Kingdom Keepers novels.  Five teens who get to wander the Disney theme parks at night at holograms?  What’s not to love?  For The Return, the sequel trilogy, author Ridley Pearson upped his game, and I couldn’t stop wishing I were the Kingdom Keepers as I read Legacy of Secrets.

You see, as the last book ended, the Kingdom Keepers found themselves having traveled through time to Disneyland opening day in 1955.  (And after dealing with holograms fighting Disney villains, this isn’t much of a stretch at all.)  Yes, they are on a mission.  It seems that Walt Disney’s pen, a pen with magic in it, has disappeared and the five teens must find it and make sure it is preserved so when they need it in the future it is there for them.  Teaming up with a young Wayne, Finn and the rest have to follow clues left by Walt himself to uncover its hiding place.

Meanwhile, in the present, Amanda and Jess are uncovering secrets of their own.  While trying to find a way to help the Kingdom Keepers return when their mission is over, they stumble upon a buried piece of Disney history that could explain everything that has happened.  What does it all mean?

The book balances the two time lines perfectly.  Both are engaging, and both dovetail off each other nicely.  We learn some things that explain a lot about the characters and what has happened previously in the series here, things I didn’t know I cared about but was thrilled to learn.

Quite often, the middle part of a trilogy knows it is such and feels like a placeholder.  While we didn’t get the action and fights with the villains we would normally have in this series, the pace never slowed.  The trail the Kingdom Keepers were following in the past was interesting, and the secrets that we were learning in the present were just as page turning.  It’s a different kind of story for the series, but it absolutely works.

Of course, part of that may have been my jealousy coming through.  I couldn’t help but be green at times as I read about what the Kingdom Keepers were seeing and experiencing.  I would love to be able to go back to 1955 and see Disneyland as it was when it first opened.  Again, I’m jealous of these characters, and loved living vicariously through them.

The one flaw of the series continues here – the characters could be better.  They are strong enough to care about them, but they never feel completely real to me.  Of course, I have read about them for how many books now?  Obviously, it isn’t a huge issue for me.  Fortunately, the characters have few conflicts with each other here, something that could really annoy in earlier adventures.  Also, the young Wayne we get to know here loses his 50’s “Golly gee” type slang not too far into the book.  If it had continued the entire way through, that would have been very annoying.

While this book is the middle of a trilogy, this trilogy is a sequel series to a seven book series.  It does its best to introduce things, but to really follow and appreciate what we learn here, you need to back up and start from the beginning.

I’m anxious to find out what these new revelations (and the ending of this book) mean for the Kingdom Keepers, their friends, and the Disney legacy, so I will be waiting impatiently for the final book to come out this spring.  In the meantime, pick up Legacy of Secrets and be ready for another magical adventure.

If you need the history to fully understand this book, here are the rest of the Kingdom Keepers novels.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August 20th's Weekly TV Thoughts

I've been watching the Olympics.  Lots and lots of Olympics.  And that's just to watch the prime time stuff.  I wish they'd show more of the other events, especially diving.  I have managed to track down all the diving this week, but even so, they only show a very small fraction of it.  I will be glad when it is over so I have a little less to watch.

But here's what I watched that wasn't Olympics related.

Rush Hour – Interesting twist giving the villain a connection to Carter.  Really well done twists to the story, too.  Definitely felt like one of the better episodes overall.

Dead of Summer – I was one for two.  I noticed that Amy hid her hand, so I knew she was a demon.  But I thought putting the bones in the lake would actually be a bad things.  Looks like it was a very, very good thing after all.  I’m kind of wondering how they will fill two more episodes, however, because it looks like we are ready for the final battle right now.

Scream – I was worried they wouldn’t fit everything into the final hour in this one.  What a ride.  Nice call backs to the second Scream movie with the theater scene and the police car scene.  But seriously?  That’s the killer?  I’m so bummed!  Of course, this season does answer the questions left over from the previous season and the killer makes sense logically, so I’m happy with both now.  And that ending?  I’d love to see a third season to find out what that is all about.

Suits – No wonder Kevin doesn’t want to talk about anything.  Ouch!  He’s in a true no win situation.  Meanwhile, this subplot with Rachel has taken a much more serious turn with her having a deadline.  And Louis’s confession turned out to be much better received than I thought it would be, but how he can be so focused on that with the firm in such bad shape is beyond me.

Girl Meets World – Best line of the night goes to Cory.  “I’ve been meeting the world most of my life.”  Love it!  The episode didn’t quite go the way I thought it would, but I liked it.  It is very important to remember that the capacity for good and evil lives in both of us.  It is way too easy to sit back and judge what others do and not watch out for evil to hit you.  Of course, as a Christian, I do believe that the only good truly comes from God, but that’s a discussion for something outside a sitcom or a short paragraph written about one.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ornament Review: Teacup for Two - 2016 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Cute ornament sure to make you smile
Cons: All cons spun away
The Bottom Line:
Mickey and Minnie
Are ready for Tea Party
This DisNerd loves it!

A Great Ornament - And That's No Spin

One of the most iconic rides at the Disney theme parks is the Mad Tea Party, aka the teacups.  People either love it and love to spin them as fast as they can, or they hate them because of their motion sickness.  Hallmark has appealed to those who love the ride with Teacup for Two.

The ornament features Mickey and Minnie sitting in one of the teacups.  The teacup is gray and features purple flowers, accents, and designs just like the real teacups do.  Mickey and Minnie are sitting facing each other with their hands on the spinner in the middle, ready to start spinning as soon as the ride begins.  You can just bet that they will have a blast spinning all over the place by the smiles they have on their faces.

Of course, being an ornament, they don’t actually spin, but you can easily picture them being ready to spin in just a couple of minutes.  Mickey and Minnie, the teacup – everything just looks fantastic.  It’s hard not to smile when you look at it.

This is the part where I pull out my DisNerd hat for just a second.  It would have been super cool if they had put Alice and the Mad Hatter in the cup since the ride is based on the Alice in Wonderland movie.  However, this is a very, very, very, very minor issue.  I do love the thought of Mickey and Minnie enjoying the rides in the park, and as I said, this ornament makes me smile.

The base of the teacup is wide enough you can easily set this ornament out to be displayed year round.  Even better, the loop for hanging the ornament is on the spinner in the middle of the cup, so not as obvious as usual, which makes it easier to use this as a year round decoration.

The downside of the loop’s placement is that you need a large hook to get past Mickey and Minnie’s head to hang from a branch.  Again, that’s a very small issue.  When you do go to hang the ornament, you’ll discover that it tips back ever so slightly, but that’s easy enough to disguise with a tree branch.

Really, I can’t say enough good things about Teacup for Two.  It will rekindle warm memories of trips to Disney parks.  I hope Hallmark releases more ornaments like this in the future.

Original Price: $17.95

August 19th's Book Beginning and Friday 56

Time again for Book Beginning and Friday 56.

This week I'm going to feature No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey.

A mystery set in the US Virgin Islands?  Yes, please!

Here's how the book begins:

Sabrina Salter was a woman who didn't like surprises, even nice ones.

And jumping ahead to page 56, we find this exchange:

"And then?" Neil asked as he dipped a conch friter into green habanera hot sauce.
"And then he did it again."

I finished this book up over the weekend.  Look for my review coming up on Monday.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Winner of Clock and Dagger

I'm back on track, pulling the name of my next winner tonight.  The book was Clock and Dagger, and the winner is...

...Deb Forbes.

I just sent you an e-mail, Deb, so please be looking for it so I can make sure your prize is sent to you.

Book Review: Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper (Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun, wonderful mystery, great characters
Cons: One minor niggle
The Bottom Line:
Death of a bridesmaid
Complex and fun mystery
Fantastic debut

No Reason to be Terrified – This is a Fantastic Debut

Sometimes, when you try a new author, you know by the end of the first chapter you are going to love the book.  For me, that was the case with Terror in Taffeta, the debut mystery by Marla Cooper.  The smile I had on my face stayed with me for the rest of the book.

As the book opens, destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is working on getting her latest bride and bridesmaids down the aisle for a wedding.  The wedding is taking place in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the wedding party went out drinking the night before, so they are feeling a little hungover.  That’s why Kelsey is only annoyed when Victim, a last minute bridesmaid, collapses just as the ceremony is ending.  Kelsey quickly hurries everyone out of the chapel to the reception only to realize that Dana Poole isn’t suffering from a massive hangover – she’s dead.

The police quickly rule it a homicide and arrest the maid of honor, who also happens to be the sister of the bride, for the crime.  That’s when Mrs. Abernathy, the very demanding mother of the bride, demands that Kelsey find out what really happened.  Pointing out that playing detective is outside her skill set is beside the point, so Kelsey begins to investigate.  It turns out that Dana wasn’t a very nice person, and the list of potential suspects is rather long.  But can Kelsey figure out what really happened?

The reason I fell in love with this book so quickly was the humor.  Kelsey has a very fun way of narrating the book, and it provides plenty of smiles and laughs as things progress.  She’s been a wedding planner long enough that she’s seen everything, or at least she thinks she’s seen everything since this is the first time there’s been a murder at a wedding she planned.

And while she may not know what she is doing as a detective, she manages to uncover quite a few clues and red herrings over the course of this book.  There are some wonderful twists and surprises before we reach the logical climax.  I did think that one red herring wasn’t completely wrapped up, but maybe I’m just being extremely picky.  Either way, it is a very minor issue.

And the characters are great.  Kelsey is a charming and resourceful main character.  There are only a couple of characters who will be series regulars here, but I liked them as well.  And the rest of the cast?  Some edge toward over the top, but I loved them for it.  The rest are very realistic and keep things grounded.  My favorite, however, as the mother of the bride.  Mrs. Abernathy was definitely over the top, but she was fun.  I looked forward to seeing her pop up on the page.

San Miguel is a nice backdrop for this debut.  While the focus is the mystery, we still get some glimpses into this location, and that adds a nice touch to the book.

Humor, fun characters, a great mystery, and an exotic location.  What more could you want?  RSVP yes for Terror in Taffeta today.  Personally, I’ve already saved the date for the sequel.

NOTE: While I am reviewing this book as part of a blog tour, I bought the book for myself back in April.  My thoughts are, as always, completely my own.

Check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala Winner

I know, I know, I'm a day behind in picking the winner of The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala.  I had an ultimate Frisbee game last night and didn't get home until almost midnight.  But I'm home tonight and I have a winner.  That winner is...


I've sent you an e-mail, so please be looking for it so I can make sure you get your prize.