Saturday, August 26, 2017

James Review -- Starcraft: Evolution

This week I decided to review Starcraft: Evolution by Timothy Zahn. 

The story begins six years after the end of Starcraft 2. There is an uneasy truce between the three largest powers in the Koprulu Sector. The Terran Dominion led by Emperor Valerian Mengsk, The Protoss led by Hierarch Artanis, and the Zerg led by Overqueen Zagara. 

Zagara sends a message to Mengsk requesting his aid to defend the Zerg presence on Gystt, a planet that was the site of a Terran colony destroyed by the Protoss in the early stages of their anti-Zerg campaign which led to the events of the original Starcraft game. Mengsk decides to investigate personally and when he arrives at Gystt, Zagara invites him and Artanis to a meeting on the planet.
There she tells them that the Zerg wish to atone for their past actions. Using the Adostra, a new form of Zerg created using a limited supply of Xel’Naga essence, they can heal worlds devastated during the recent wars. 

But a Terran team en route to examine the Adostra in one of their three breeding grounds find themselves assaulted by Pryolisks, a new form of Zerg. Artanis believes this is proof that Zagara has lied to them and prepares to wipe out the Adostra. 

However, in the aftermath of the attack on a second breeding ground, the Terran team, accompanied by an exiled Protoss, comes to believe that the Pryolisks are deliberately trying to get the Terrans and Protoss to exterminate the Adostra. Megnsk launches a desperate effort to discover his people’s true enemies while struggling to convince Artanis not to launch an offensive that will reignite the war between the three powers.

I give this book 9 out of 10. I liked the battle sequences a lot and enjoyed the new characters. However there were a couple of early scenes that I feel should have been integrated into the main plot better and some of the periods between battle scenes were rather dull to me. Also, I feel the story is a little too self-contained. I wish the story had some better hooks for possible sequels because I would love to see these characters again.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kindle Spotlight -- Kissed by Literature

Jordan Elizabeth is back with a new book, this one a little different from her previous novels. It is Kissed by Literature: A Collection of Short Stories. Is it worth your time? Let's find out.

As the title tells you, it's a collection of short stories, though many of them are actually flash fiction clocking in at only a few pages. The stories are mostly supernatural in nature, featuring ghosts and other spirits, though there are others which feature either science fiction or the mundane such as a girl meeting her favorite author. Many of the stories feature an M. Night. Shyamalan twist at the end.

There are some good ideas and a few good stories in this collection, but the book suffers from too many stories. The problem with a short story collection is you have to get re-invested in each new story, and with the sheer amount of stories on offer here, it drags on for too long. Jordan should have stuck to just a small handful of stories rather than the more than dozen here. It also doesn't help that she gives us a parade of young female protagonists that blend together. I honestly can't remember most of them which is why this review is shorter than most of the ones I write.

In addition, she should have done more research. In one story, a girl becomes incapacitated from unknowingly drinking snake venom. But venom is generally harmless unless injected into the bloodstream (

I will, however, say I like the one story that ties into Jordan's previous book Escape from Witchwood Hollow.

This isn't necessarily a bad offering from Jordan Elizabeth, but it's not for me.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

James Review -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volume Three

This week I decided to review Mighty Morphin Power Rangers volume three written by Kyle Higgens.

The story begins shortly after the end of volume two. Rita Repulsa has seized control of the Power Ranger command center with the aid of the Black Dragon. Billy Cranston, The Blue Ranger, has been captured and the other four original rangers have been forced to tap into the Green Ranger Tommy Oliver’s unique link to the Morphing Grid after being cut off from their usual powers.

The rangers manage to halt Repulsa’s attack on major cities using their Zords Cranston is imprisoned with Goldar. who controls the dimension they are trapped in but refuses to leave without the permission of his Empress. Cranston convinces Goldar, who hates the Black Dragon, to free him so he can help the other rangers defeat the Black Dragon thus possibly convincing Repulsa to restore Goldar to his place at her side. The rangers soon realize that the Black Dragon is a Zord that can alter its size. While most of the rangers launch an attack to force the Black Dragon to become the size of a typical Zord so Cranston and Oliver can infiltrate it via its access hatch.

The two manage to ruin the Black Dragon but find themselves in the future of an alternate timeline where the world was overrun by Repulsa’s army and Earth is now ruled by Lord Drakkon. The pair sets out in hopes of finding allies and a way home while reeling from what they have learned about the nature of this Earth’s ruler…

There is a flashback sequence focusing on Cranston as he begins to doubt whether he can truly become a hero. The chapter covers the battle that shook his resolve and his efforts to try and discover what makes a hero.

The volume also contains a short section of The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk and Skull by Steve Orlando. In this adventure the namesake duo find themselves recruited by Rita Repulsa to pilot Finster’s latest monster and hilarity ensues.

I give this volume 9 out of 10. The main story was interesting but there were a few parts I feel should have been explained in more detail and it could have used more combat. The flashback was fun but I think it would have fit in better if it had occurred earlier in the volume. The Bulk and Skull section was a nice counter to the grim tone of  the latter sections of the main story and I found it much more amusing then any of the attempted comedy sections focused on the duo in the original TV series.