Category Archives: Fantasy

Fantasy Book Review: City of Bastards

City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Synopsis:
Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend, Zell, and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city’s prestigious University.

Then Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate-a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she’s suggesting is impossible . . . and treasonous.

But Tilla can’t-won’t-let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.

Review:
City of Bastards is the second installment in the Royal Bastards series. Tilla, Lyriana, and Zell are safe in Lightspire at the University. But Tilla doesn’t have many other friends other than her roommate, who is suddenly murdered – though no one seems to believe her. There is a conspiracy brewing, and Tilla is determined uncover the answers.

This sequel is a fast-paced mystery, with an impressive, complex plot. The characters are engaging; and Tilla is especially relatable. The story is full of suspense, drama, and romance. And I enjoyed this even more than the first in the series. I love the unique spin on the unlikely heroes as well ask the magic aspect. This is a surprising and exciting young adult, fantasy series that ends too soon. I’ll be impatiently waiting for the next installment.

FearlessWomen Tour: Book Excerpt: City of Lies

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CITY OF LIES Excerpt –

It had come without warning. One minute the attackers seemed at ease, the next a wedge of them had charged out of the falling afternoon sun. The woman reporting this to me sweated in her ill-fitting armor and gulped mouthfuls of air between sentences. A week ago she’d probably never seen violence of any kind. I listened, shoving a pointed helmet on my own head while someone buckled a resin-hardened plate around my chest, unable to pretend I was any less scared than she.

The sun had been in our sentries’ eyes, and none had noticed the ladders until the army had rushed across most of the gap. They had simply emerged, rising from the ranks like magic.

CITY OF LIES Summary:
Poison. Treachery. Ancient spirits. Sieges. The Poison Wars begin now, with City of Lies, a fabulous epic fantasy debut by Sam Hawke

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.

About Sam Hawke:
A black belt in jujitsu, Sam Hawke lives with her husband and children in Australia. CITY OF LIES is her first novel.

About #FearlessWomen:
Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen will be a coordinated social media celebration encouraging fans to start a dialogue about women in publishing, their worlds, their voices, and their unique stories.

Tor Books’ handles across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@torbooks) will be using the hashtags #FearlessWomen (and #FearlessFantasy and #FearlessSF) to promote excerpts, exclusive content, quizzes and giveaways beginning in May. There will also be exclusive giveaways at BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. Follow Tor Books online, join the conversation – and get reading!

Received in June

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Ray:
Tomb Raider 4k Blu-Ray
Escape Plan 2: Hades Blu-Ray
A Quiet Place 4K Blu-Ray

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox
Bam Box

Ace:
Marked by Benedict Jacka

BBC Books:
Doctor Who: Borrowed Time by Naomi Alderman
Doctor Who: The Triple Knife by Jenny T Colgan

Berkley:
Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Del Rey:
Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton
World of Warcraft: Before the Storm by Christie Golden

Disney Hyperion / Freeform:
Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty
The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
9 From the Nine Worlds by Rick Riordan
The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass
Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha
Incredibles 2: A Real Stretch: An Elastigirl Prequel Story by Carla Jablonski
Incredibles 2 Read-Along Storybook and CD by Disney Book Group

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow
HALO: Bad Blood by Matt Forbeck

Harper Collins / William Morrow:
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Harper Voyager:
Roar of Sky by Beth Cato
The Black Khan by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
The Rift Coda by Amy S. Foster

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers:
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Once a King by Erin Summerill

John Joseph Adams Books / Mariner:
The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn

Kensington / Rebel Base:
Android Chronicles: Reborn by Lance Erlick

Little, Brown:
Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Macmillan Teen / Feiwel and Friends / FSG:
The Tomb by S. A. Bodeen
Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll
What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra
Check, Please!: # Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Random House Books for Young Readers:
Babymouse Tales from the Locker: Miss Communication by Jennifer L. Holm

Pyr:
The Last Sun by K. D. Edwards

Scholastic:
Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 8: The Dragon’s Eye by Sarwat Chadda
Dragon Rider #2: The Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Wings of Fire, Book 11: The Lost Continent by Tui T. Sutherland
Cross Fire by Fonda Lee
Ozland by Wendy Spinale
Bright Burns the Night by Sara B. Larson

Subterranean Press:
Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

Tor:
Outcasts of Order by L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi
In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck
Drop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn
Low Chicago by George R. R. Martin
The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

Tor Teen / Starscape:
Max’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tale by W. Bruce Cameron

Vintage Crime:
The Sword of Justice by Leif G. W. Persson

Fantasy Book Review: The Mermaid

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

Synopsis:
Once there was a mermaid called Amelia who could never be content in the sea, a mermaid who longed to know all the world and all its wonders, and so she came to live on land.

Once there was a man called P. T. Barnum, a man who longed to make his fortune by selling the wondrous and miraculous, and there is nothing more miraculous than a real mermaid.

Amelia agrees to play the mermaid for Barnum and walk among men in their world, believing she can leave anytime she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he’s determined to hold on to his mermaid.

Review:
The Mermaid is a stunning, historical, fairy tale. Amelia is a mermaid with more humanity than the fictionalized PT Barnum. Henry doesn’t gloss over Barnum’s circus and exploitation of his exhibits. And despite working for Barnum, Amelia is a smart, and confident woman who doesn’t bow to his demands. This isn’t a retelling of the Little Mermaid, despite the feel of it at first. But this is a beautiful fairy tale with plenty of heart, suspense, and romance. Henry has created another impressive, strong, female character that readers will love. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced read that was over too soon.

Fantasy Review: The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze

The Trials of Apollo: Book Three: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:
The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor–and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles–somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon.

Review:
Apollo (currently in the mortal body of Lester) and Meg team up with more familiar characters in this third installment in the Trials of Apollo series. Apollo has to brave the Labyrinth and discovers the 3rd evil emperor – who happens to want to steal his godly powers as well.

This latest installment had plenty of humor, adventure, drama, and heart. The story dragged a bit in the middle – it felt like it was purposefully made to stretch to a certain book length. There’s something to be said that my favorite books were the original Percy Jackson stories that were half of this length with all of the action and adventure, but a tighter (and more memorable) story. That being said, I love this incarnation of Apollo. He’s become humble, but still a bit of a coward, expecting others to fight for him. I still love the mystery, adventure, suspense, heartbreak, and humor. I look forward to the next in this inspired series.

Fantasy Book Review: Potion Masters

Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole

Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Gordy Stitser is one of the few people who knows the truth about the secret society of potion masters, because not only is Gordy’s mom on the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide (B.R.E.W.), but she has also been training Gordy in the art of potion-making.

Gordy is a natural, and every day he sneaks down to the basement lab to invent new potions using exotic ingredients like fire ant eggs, porcupine quills, and Bosnian tickling juice.

One afternoon, Gordy receives a mysterious package containing an extremely rare potion known as ”The Eternity Elixir.” In the right hands, the Elixir continues to protect society. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Now, sinister potion masters are on the hunt to steal the Eternity Elixir. It’s up to Gordy, his parents, and his best friends, Max and Adeline, to prevent an all-out potion war.

Review:
Gordy is an apprentice of potion-making. He’s fascinated with his mother’s work. So, when he received a package meant for his mother when she’s out of town, Gordy decides to do his own experiments. But the Elixer is very dangerous. And his mother has been keeping secrets.

The Eternity Elixir is first in a new middle reader, fantasy series. The story is fast-paced and full of mystery, suspense, and humor. The characters are engaging and kept me guessing – from Gordy’s mother’s side of the family to his friends. And I loved the unique idea and clever use of magic through potions and the backstory of B.R.E.W. Events build to an exiting finale that doesn’t disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and look forward to the next installment.

Blu-Ray Review: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider 4K Blu-ray

Synopsis:
Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when she was scarcely a teen. Now a young woman of 21 without any real focus or purpose, Lara navigates the chaotic streets of trendy East London as a bike courier, barely making the rent. Determined to forge her own path, she refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire just as staunchly as she rejects the idea that he’s truly gone. Advised to face the facts and move forward after seven years without him, even Lara can’t understand what drives her to finally solve the puzzle of his mysterious death.

Review:
Alicia Vikander is the new Lara Croft – who was fantastic as an aimless young woman who becomes an archaeologist action hero. The research that her father was involved in is not very engaging – and pretty forgettable. This film was more of Lara’s journey and kind of a coming-of-age story. The actual archaeological spot and clues are fairly disappointing – there just isn’t much to it. But the suspense and thrills are spot on – as well as Vikander’s performance. Now that we have her backstory, I look forward to more interesting stories and actual tomb raiding. I certainly hope we get to see more of these films.

Own Tomb Raider on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on June 12, or Own It Now on Digital!

Box Review: Bam Box – May 2018

Bam Box

The Bam Box was founded in 2015 by Bloof, the same team of geeks, comic book lovers and pop culture collectors that started ComiconAuction.com. We love collecting. We love the thrill of it, the mystery of it and especially that feeling you get when you have a collectible in your hands that you are really excited about. So we set out to bring something different to everyone.

There are some great subscription boxes on the market, but we felt there was still something missing. We went to the drawing board with the goal of creating the box we would want to show up on our doorstep. After a lot of ideas and prototypes we arrived at the Bam Box. From the design of the box to the items inside to the instant winners we send out, we accomplished what we wanted to do: give you the subscription box we would be jealous of.”

Cost: 1 month plan starts at $24.99 plus $7.99 s/h

*SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

Bam Box

There’s a nice, full-color sheet with plenty of details about what’s in the box.

Bam Box

GI Joe Pin – Standard filler.

Bam Box

Fallout Platinum Chip Prop Replica – I don’t care for gaming, so I would have had no idea what this was.

Bam Box

Infinity War Art Print – This is the 3rd of 3 Avengers prints. It’s nice that they all have the a similar look. I’m very glad I didn’t get stuck with a black and white variant.

Bam Box

Stefan Kapicic (Colossus) Signed Print – I would’ve liked one of the other more realistic prints. But I definitely wont be keeping this cartoonish print.

Summary:
I enjoyed the Avengers art print again this time. This was another slim box, with only 2 prints, a small trinket, and a pin. But this still one of the least expensive boxes that wont bankrupt you.