Category Archives: Book Reviews

Graphic Novel Review: Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

Synopsis:
Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone―carried into another realm by an ogre.

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters―as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.

But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

Review:
Jack and Lilly enter a land of goblins and ogres to rescue Maddy. But these scary looking creatures are not all what they seem.

This middle-grade graphic novel is a fantastic conclusion to this different take on Jack and the Beanstalk. The artwork is quirky and fun. The adventure is full of danger, suspense, and humor. And Lilly is a strong female lead that young girls will love. Hatke’s stories are always entertaining. And the story ends with a cute twist that fans will appreciate.

SciFi Book Review: Miles Morales

Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds

Synopsis:
Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical “benefits” of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

It’s time for Miles to suit up.

Review:
I haven’t read many comics with Miles Morales yet, other than some team ups. So, I didn’t really know his background or origin story. And while this isn’t an origin story, those of us who are new to the character get enough backstory – yet not too many details for those already familiar. Miles is a good kid with loving parents who don’t have much – yet who are still giving and hospitable. Miles is an easy young man to connect with. He wants to do the right thing, yet he still has peer pressures, a pretty girl he’s crushing on, and the responsibility of being Spider-Man.

This standalone novel focuses on Miles, his daily struggles, and a creepy conspiracy that super hero fans of all ages will enjoy. The camaraderie with his best friend and roommate, Ganke, is one of the highlights for me. The plot is well-paced, mixing teen drama with suspense and mystery. I’ve always been a fan of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, and I’m happy to say I enjoy Miles Morales just as much. He’s down-to-earth and relevant and has plenty of heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Fantasy Book Review: The Squirrel on the Train

The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

Synopsis:
Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself. The police, hampered by human senses of smell and a decided lack of canine intuition, obviously can’t handle this alone. Not with Atticus likely in danger. Oberon knows it’s time to investigate once more—for justice! For gravy! And possibly greasy tacos!

Review:
When Oberon and his crew arrive in Portland, the dogs are on the look out for evil squirrels. But instead they find a murder victim who looks exactly like Atticus. They investigate to find out who the man was and to see if the murderer was actually after Atticus.

The Squirrel on the Train is a novella set in the fantasy series The Iron Druid Chronicles. This installment is told from Irish Wolfhound Oberon’s point of view – which means there is plenty of humor and mentions of sausage. The mystery is fast-paced and engaging. The characters are fun and colorful. And the finale has a surprising twist that doesn’t disappoint.

Graphic Novel Review: Assassin’s Creed: Homecoming

Assassin’s Creed: Volume 3 Homecoming

Synopsis:
The Brotherhood of the Assassins is in trouble. Their long feud with the Templar Order has depleted their resources and they are struggling to regain their footing in a world where the goalposts are constantly shifting. Could joining forces with a mysterious collective help, or are their aims too different to make an alliance an option? Join Charlotte de la Cruz and Galina Voronina as they try and navigate a clear path for the Assassins through turbulent waters!

Review:
Volume 3 starts off with a rush, as the Templars have the Assassins in hiding. Charlotte now has to deal with her overbearing grandmother as they search for answers in the past. As usual, my favorite scenes are set in the past. But her ancestor’s memories seem muddled and lead to a surprising result. Meanwhile, as the Assassins try to forge an alliance, a familiar face returns for another fun twist. This latest installment is fast-paced and action-packed. I thoroughly this series of graphic novels – tying into such an exciting world of science fiction and history.

Fantasy Book Review: The Adventurer’s Guild

The Adventurer’s Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos

Synopsis:
In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone’s only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly handsome son of merchants, is confident he’ll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild.

But just as it seems the boys’ dreams have come true, their lives take a startling turn . . . and they find themselves members of the perilous Adventurers Guild.

Led by the fearsome Alabasel Frond, the guild acts as the last line of defense against the Dangers-hungry, unnatural beasts from otherworldly planes. And when the boys uncover a conspiracy that threatens all of Freestone, Zed, Brock, and their new allies-Liza, a fierce noble, and Jett, a brave dwarf-must prove their worth once and for all.

Review:
Zed and Brock are hoping to get into their favorite guilds. But when Zed is picked for the dangerous Adventurers Guild, Brock volunteers as well. Though, he has a secret reason he’s infiltrating the guild. Zed and Brock make a great team and are likable despite their flaws. The Adventurers are the only guild to brave outside the city walls, so the new recruits must prove themselves. And the boys soon discover there’s a traitor in the city.

This is the first installment in a new children’s fantasy series. The Adventurer’s Guild is packed with engaging characters, exciting intrigue, dangerous creatures, and magic. This is a fun and fast-paced story that builds to a surprising finale. The rich, fantasy world is familiar – with the feel of a role playing game. I look forward to the next in this promising new series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden

Synopsis:
After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. But not for long. In retaliation, the elite Imperial soldiers of Inferno Squad have been called in for the crucial mission of infiltrating and eliminating the Partisans—the rebel faction once led by notorious Republic freedom fighter Saw Gerrera.

Following the death of their leader, the Partisans have carried on his extremist legacy, determined to thwart the Empire—no matter the cost. Now Inferno Squad must prove its status as the best of the best and take down the Partisans from within. But the growing threat of being discovered in their enemy’s midst turns an already dangerous operation into a do-or-die acid test they dare not fail. To protect and preserve the Empire, to what lengths will Inferno Squad go . . . and how far beyond them?

Review:
Iden Versio survived the destruction of the Death Star and is assigned to the elite Inferno Squad running Special Ops for the Empire. They often have to let their morals slide to further their goals. But when they’re asked to infiltrate a Partisan group who have taken up Saw Gerrara’s cause, each individual of the Inferno Squad will be tested.

This latest Star Wars novel is a new favorite. Christie Golden is a master at tie-in novels. And this Inferno Squad is a great example of her fantastic character development and fleshing out a well-established universe. Iden Versio is a wonderfully complex character. I love that this story is written from the point of view of characters who follow the Empire and believe in what it stands for. Yet, readers will sympathize at times. This original story is full of suspense, drama, and exciting intrigue. And the climactic, surprising ending does not disappoint. I would love to read further adventures of the Inferno Squad.

Fantasy Book Review: Besieged

Besieged by Kevin Hearne

Synopsis:
In ancient Egypt, Atticus agrees to raid a secret chamber underneath the library of Alexandria, dodging deadly traps, only to learn that on-site security includes two members of the Egyptian pantheon.

At a Kansas carnival, fun and games turns to murder and mayhem, thanks to soul-snatching demons and flesh-craving ghouls luring visitors into an all-too-real house of horrors.

Verily, in olde England, striking up a friendship with William Shakespeare lands both Atticus and the Bard in boiling hot water with a trio of infamous witches.

During the Gold Rush, the avatar of greed himself turns the streets of San Francisco red with blood and upsets the elemental Sequoia. Atticus may have to fight fire with fire if he’s going to restore balance.

Review:
I’m not usually one to read a lot of short stories. But I’ve read this entire series, so I decided to indulge and let this collection tide me over until the next full novel installment. There is a great variety of stories from several character’s point of views. Each story is very short, and we’re given a short description where each story falls in the timeline and the character it involves. I really liked the majority of these, the first set of stories in particular – ancient Egypt, the Gold Rush, Shakespeare, and the carnival (all mentioned above) set a fantastic tone. However, a strange story involving BDSM felt really out of place. And a couple, I ended up skimming as the plots didn’t engage me. But with nine short stories, this was a mostly-solid set of fun and exciting stories with some fantastic characters that fans of the series should enjoy. The final story has a nice lead-in to the next novel involving Loki and Ragnarok.

Graphic Novel Review: The Lost Boys Vol. 1

The Lost Boys Vol. 1 by Tim Seeley

Synopsis:
Welcome to scenic Santa Carla, California. Great beaches. Colorful characters. Killer nightlife. And, of course, all the damn vampires.

The Emerson brothers (Sam and Michael) and the Frog brothers (Edgar and Alan) learned that last part the hard way—these underage slayers took on the vampire master Max and his pack of punked-out minions, and drove a stake right through their plans to suck Santa Carla dry. After scraping the undead goo off their shoes, they figured everything was back to normal.

But now there are new vamps in town.

A coven of female undead called the Blood Belles has moved in, and they’ve targeted Sam, Michael, the Frog Brothers, and every other vampire hunter in Santa Carla for bloody vengeance.

It’ll take every trick in the brothers’ monster-killing book to stop these bloodsuckers from unleashing an entire army of the damned. And they’ll need help from an unexpected source—a certain shirtless sax-playing savior known only as the Believer!

Review:
This story pics up not long after the ’87 film ends. Sam Emerson is working at video store and his brother Michael at a nursing home. The Frog brothers continue to try to hone their skills as vampire hunters.

When the Emerson’s grandfather is involved in an accident, the boys know that vampires are involved. And it’s time hunt the vicious undead once again. This new story feels a lot like the original movie, with plenty of humor and suspense. The artwork looked great, with sharp lines and a dark mood. Though, it did bother me that none of the boys looked anything like the actors from the film, so it was really hard to tell who was who. These fantastic characters makes The Lost Boys standout among other vampire series. I hope to see these comics continue in the future, as Seeley did a fantastic job with the characters and developed an original, exciting story.