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Review TV

TV Review – Voltron: Legendary Defender Season Two

If there was one thing that drove people nuts (in a good way) with season one of Voltron: Legendary Defender, it was the HUGE cliffhanger ending.  Surprise allies!  The lions scattered!  Everything is happening!  Thankfully, a second season just recently dropped that wastes no time in cleaning up the dangling threads.

Season two, without spoiling too much, is fantastic.  We really get a feel that Voltron truly is a defender of the whole universe with new locations and alien friends.  Character development is mostly limited to Shiro, Keith and Allura which is annoying if you are invested in Pidge’s story or want to know more about Hunk, but the increased focus makes the stories more impactful.  Also, I’m fairly certain that Pidge’s family will play into season three if and when it comes.

I was literally on the edge of my seat during the finale battles, and though they couldn’t help themselves with a few more cliffhanger moments, there was a much more satisfying conclusion with season two.  I haven’t heard anything about a renewal, but if critical response is anything to judge by, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lock it up quick.

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Comics Review

Comic Book Reviews – Goldie Vance Volume 1, The Backstagers Volume 1

BOOM! Studios recently joined NetGalley, giving reviewers access to a selection of their comics and graphic novels, and I immediately requested the first volumes of Goldie Vance and The Backstagers.  Goldie Vance because of the art – Brittney Williams, who you may know from her work on Patsy Walker, a. k. a. Hellcat!, is the artist, and Sarah Stern is the colorist (currently working on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink).  Hope Larson is the writer, and you may know her work from DC’s Batgirl.

Goldie Vance lives at the Crossed Palms hotel, with her Dad, the manager.  She’s a valet, but really enjoys investigating the cases that the hotel detective, Charles, comes across (whether or not he wants the help).  Take Nancy Drew, make it more diverse, and add in some car racing, and you’re on the right trail.  Cute and fun!

The Backstagers (written by James Tynion IV, Detective Comics) is a YA story about a kid named Jory, who transfers to an all-boys school and has trouble fitting in.  He’s prodded into checking out the Drama club, and is shocked to learn there’s a whole supernatural world behind the curtains that only the stage crew is aware of.  Rian Sygh handles the art, with colors from Walter Baiamont.  Again, cute and fun, if not exactly shaking the foundations of sequential art.

 

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Books Review

Book Review – Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond

Now that Amazon has a selection of books available to read for free for Prime members, I’ve been going through the categories that interest me to find new material.  Obviously, a book about Lois Lane would do that.  In this case, Fallout is about a teenage Lois in high school, though her nosy reporter skills are in full effect.  She’s attended several schools, thanks both to her military father moving around, and her own knack for finding trouble and being disruptive, but now she’s just trying to keep her head down.  But when a group of kids obsessed with a strange VR war game start bullying and harassing other students both in and out of the game, Lois just can’t resist investigating the just why the principal seems to let it all slide.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this.  The characters are just what you’d expect from a younger Lois and her family.  General Lane sounds exactly like the military dads I know, and the bullying feels real.  It’s fun to see Lois get her start at the Daily Planet and Perry White. It IS a bit eye-rolling that she’s also internet friends with a certain “SmallvilleGuy”.

Fallout is a great gateway for comics-reading teens to a full-length prose novel, but would still be enjoyable even if the kid in question is only dimly aware of who the heck lives in Smallville.

 

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Books Review

Book Review – The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes (writer for Bioware on both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises) is a somewhat shallow but action-packed novel set in a magical fantasy world.  Loch and Kail are former Scouts for the Republic who are planning to steal a priceless Elven manuscript back from the man who framed them…which would be easier if they weren’t in the jail that hangs from the bottom of a floating city.  Thankfully that’s only a minor problem for Loch, and she quickly escapes and starts to gather your usual motley team to steal the thing.

The plot tumbles forward headlong from there, introducing the various players, including a unicorn, a Death priestess, an intelligent warhammer, a shifty illusionist, a farmboy, a martial artist from the enemy Empire, and more.  There’s a lot of characters and Weekes isn’t too interested in going deep with all of them, but the book is genuinely funny and deals with some of the typical fantasy tropes in a unique way, so I’m good with it.  The Ocean’s Eleven comparison you see a lot are apt – you’re just expected to roll with the characters after their little introductions.  If that’s something that would bother you, just be aware.

The Palace Job is a fun adventure starring an eclectic cast of characters.  It’s not more than that, but it *is* entertaining.  You can read it for free via Prime Reading if you are an Amazon Prime member, or it’s $3.99 to buy.

 

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Books Review

Book Review – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I got my latest read, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as a gift, and had a great time reading it.  The first novel from Becky Chambers, it follows a young woman named Rosemary as she joins the crew of a tunneling ship (basically they make shortcuts through space) as they get a big contract that could very well set them up for bigger and better things in the future.  But with that comes danger, especially in a universe where humanity is NOT at the forefront of the great intergalactic governing body, but a minor cog.

The cast of characters are adorably quirky, with the long-suffering Captain Ashby putting up with all sorts of shenanigans that would feel at home on Farscape or Firefly.  I also love the care that was taken to make the aliens truly alien.  Cold-blooded aliens, aliens with differing numbers of limbs, aliens that are symbiotic with a weird virus, the works.  The story of the tunnel the ship needs to make is the overall driving force of the story, but most of the book is a series of what feels like episodes, with each crewmember having an adventure or getting some backstory in.

If you’ve been overwhelmed by Dark and Gritty™ sci-fi or are in the middle of a 74-book high fantasy slog and need a break, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet works great.  It manages to be light and fun and still have a lot to say about gender, relationships and artificial intelligence.