Category Archives: SciFi

Book Review: The Skin Map

The Skin Map, by Stephen R. Lawhead

Kit Livingstone’s mundane life is completely changed the day he meets his long-lost great-grandfather and is transported back in time to alternate 17th century England. Meanwhile, Kit’s girlfriend, Wilhelmina, is accidentally thrown back in time to an alternate time period and ends up in Prague. Kit’s grandfather Cosimo is a trans-dimensional time traveler, part of a small group tasked with protecting the Skin Map, a map of the dimensional routes, from falling into the wrong hands. But while Kit and Cosimo try to rescue Wilhelmina, they are attacked by evil men intent on finding the Skin Map.

The narrative focuses on several characters and their stories. Kit learns more about his great-grandfather and traveling between worlds. Wilhelmina begins to make a life for herself in the time period she’s stuck in. And a certain explorer has tattoos of maps drawn on his torso so that they can’t be lost or stolen. Lawhead’s world of alternate realities and time travel is creative and impressive, yet easy enough for any science fiction fan to follow.

This is the first in a series, so not many answers are given. And each story line ends with a minor cliffhanger. This epic tale is vivid, engaging, and completely unpredictable. Wonderfully written, fast-paced, interesting characters, and surprising twists – this series begins with plenty of promise. The Skin Map is an exciting and captivating adventure across time that fantasy and science fiction fans are sure to enjoy.

Book Review: Starfleet Academy: The Edge

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy: The Edge, by Rudy Josephs

When James Kirk first arrives at Starfleet Academy, he is faced with an intense schedule, competitive adversaries, and an intriguing young woman to occupy his spare time. But when a classmate is found dead under mysterious circumstances, it soon becomes clear that some cadets are trying to get an edge in their training and studies by dangerous methods.

This latest installment in the new Starfleet Academy series is set immediately after Kirk arrives at Starfleet Academy as a first year cadet – in Abram’s latest Star Trek universe. Kirk hasn’t formed many friendships other than with Dr. McCoy, who also becomes involved in the investigation into the cadet’s death. This new Star Trek series geared towards young adults have both been murder mysteries so far. Both installments are stand-alone novels, so it’s not necessary to read them in order. In fact, this novel is set in an earlier timeframe than the last book. A mystery involving advanced technology, relevant subject matter, a bit of romance, and plenty of suspense make for another satisfying addition to the vast Star Trek universe. Star Trek fans of all ages should appreciate these short, fast-paced adventures.

Book Review: Sapphique

Sapphique, by Catherine Fisher is the sequel to Incarceron.

Finn has escaped the prison Incarceron, leaving behind his friends Attia and Keiro. Attia and Keiro still search for a way to escape, and are given hope in the form of a glove that supposedly belonged to the legendary Sapphique, the man who supposedly tricked the prison into letting him escape years ago. But Incarceron itself is tired of being trapped in his prison and is determined to form a body of his own and escape, using the glove. Meanwhile, Finn has not given up on his friends and, together with Claudia and Jared, is trying to find a way to bring people through to the Outside. But the Outside has its own share of troubles. The Queen sends Jared away, refuses to let Claudia be the next Warden as her father was, and will do anything to stop Finn from taking his rightful place as Prince Giles.

Fisher’s incredible world of a sentient prison and an Outside world where Protocol forbids more advanced technology is fascinating and riveting. The characters, whether likeable or not, are impossible to resist. I actually enjoyed this sequel even more than the first. The suspense and drama seemed to increase, with plenty of mystery and surprises. Though the ending leaves plenty to the imagination, I found the resolution completely satisfying. A fantastic, science fiction/steampunk novel for young adult and adults alike, this duology is not to be missed.

Book Review: Invasion: A CHAOS Novel

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Invasion: A CHAOS Novel, by Jon S. Lewis

Tested in secret one summer, Colt McAlister is introduced to a covert agency called CHAOS (Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural). But his memories are immediately wiped of the incident, before Colt leaves the training facility. Colt decides to live with his grandfather in Arizona, when his parents are suddenly killed in a car crash. Soon after arriving at his new school, Colt receives a mysterious text message telling him his parents were murdered. His mother was a journalist, about to publish a story about the powerful corporation Trident Industries. Colt’s own life is put in danger when he decides to investigate. An alien invasion is imminent, using Trident as a cover.
But the agents of CHAOS have plans for him, as Colt discovers a world that he only thought existed in comic books.

Colt is a brave and confident teen who runs head-first into trouble. His friends Oz and Danielle are extremely loyal and are able to lend their own gifts to the fight against Trident. Lewis has created a fantastic world of aliens, robots, mind control devices, and other advanced technology that feels like stepping into the pages of a comic book.

Invasion is the first installment to a promising series. Marketed towards young adults, this exciting debut will appeal to comic book and science fiction fans of all ages. Non-stop danger and suspense, exciting intrigue, wild aliens, and a bit of teenage angst round out this top notch scifi thriller. Pure fun from beginning to end, I highly recommend this extraordinary new release.

Book Review: Dreamnasium

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Dreamnasium, by Geoffrey Thorne

Dreamnasium is a collection of nine science fiction and fantasy short stories. From god-like beings and monsters to technology that can wipe someone from existence, Thorne has created a variety of engaging tales with depth and substance. Each story makes you pause and think, and are memorable long afterward. None of them are simple nor can be summed up in just a few words. Each tale required my full attention, and held me from the first story till the last. The final story is probably my favorite – chilling and tragic about a woman suffering from domestic abuse and how she overcomes. Thorne certainly is a talented and creative storyteller. I’m not usually a reader of short stories or anthologies, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Science fiction enthusiasts who enjoy thought-provoking and unique tales should enjoy as well.

SciFiChick.com’s Best of 2010

Having read 170 books this year, it was extremely hard to narrow down favorites – even with the many categories below. This was definitely the most I’ve ever read in a year, and many were fantastic new releases. Of my favorite books that I’ve read this year only those that were released in 2010 are listed below, including a couple releasing in 2011.

Top 10 Science Fiction Novels:

1. Afterlife, by Merrie Destefano
2. The Breach, by Patrick Lee (technically, December 29th 2009)
3. Terminator Salvation: Trial by Fire, by Timothy Zahn
4. Song of Scarabaeus, by Sara Creasy
5. The Osiris Ritual, by George Mann
6. Star Trek: Inception, by S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison
7. Instinct: A Chess Team Adventure, by Jeremy Robinson
8. Project U.L.F. Reacquisition, by Stuart Clark
9. State of Decay, by James Knapp
10. Star Wars: Crosscurrent, by Paul S. Kemp

Top 10 Fantasy and Urban Fantasy Novels:

1. Changes, by Jim Butcher
2. Cat’s Claw, by Amber Benson
3. Through Stone and Sea, by Barb and J.C. Hendee
4. Amazon Queen, by Lori Devoti
5. Mind Games, by Carolyn Crane
6. Web of Lies, by Jennifer Estep
7. Being Human: Bad Blood, by James Goss
8. The Mage in Black, by Jaye Wells
9. Blood of the Demon, by Diana Rowland
10. Red Hood’s Revenge, by Jim C. Hines

Top Ten Youth Science Fiction Novels:

1. Matched, by Ally Condie
2. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
3. Dark Life, by Kat Falls
4. TimeRiders, by Alex Scarrow
5. The Rise of Renegade X, by Chelsea M. Campbell
6. Starfleet Academy: The Delta Anomaly, by Rick Barba
7. The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner
8. Fever Crumb, by Philip Reeve
9. Black Hole Sun, by David Macinnis Gill
10. Hero, by Mike Lupica

Top Ten Youth Fantasy Novels:

1. The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan
2. Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull
3. Enchanted Ivy, by Sarah Beth Durst
4 and 5. Iron King and Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
6. Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising, by Jason Henderson
7. Monster Slayers, by Lukas Ritter
8. Pegasus, by Robin McKincley
9. Wereling, by Steve Feasey
10. The Invisible Order: Book One, by Paul Crilley

Graphic Novels:

1. Superman: Earth One, by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
2. Star Trek: Spock Reflections, by Scott Tipton
3. A-Team: War Stories, by Chuck Dixon and Erik Burnham
4. A-Team: Shotgun Wedding, by Tom Waltz

Mystery:

1. Thieves of Darkness, by Richard Doetsch
2. Thereby Hangs a Tail, by Spencer Quinn
3. Stolen, by “Jordan Gray”

Youth Mystery:

Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island, by Paul Adam

Favorites To Be Published in 2011 (Because they’re that good, they need mentioned):

1. Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
2. The False Princess, by Eilis O’Neal
3. Of Truth and Beasts, by Barb & JC Hendee

What were your favorites this year?


Book Review: Mad Skills

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Mad Skills, by Walter Greatshell

Maddy Grant awakens fourteen months after a near fatal accident to discover that scientists have performed a radical new experiment on her. Prior to surgery, Maddy’s brain had been damaged, leaving her in a vegetative state. Now, an implant in her brain has given her increased mental capacity. But her impressive mind, comes at the cost of her emotional stability. Maddy’s increasing frustration builds to a dangerous level. And the more she learns about Braintree and the other patients, the more she is convinced that they are using her. Maddy becomes convinced they are turning her into a killer.

Greatshell has created an impressive blend of science fiction, horror, and psychological thriller. Maddy is a complex character with more than her share of troubles that affect her emotionally and threaten her sanity. At times events are a bit confusing. It’s hard to tell what’s real, adding to the intense suspense and mystery. There is never a dull moment, with fast-paced excitement and drama. And by the end, the big reveal is encompasses much more than I thought, involving a major conspiracy. Mad Skills was constantly surprising, erratic, dark, and violent.


Mad Skills releases from Ace Bookson December 28, 2010.

Book Review: Ghost Country

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Ghost Country, by Patrick Lee

When Paige Campbell is attacked shortly after visiting the President, Travis Chase decides to once again align himself with the secret agency known as Tangent. Travis joins Paige’s colleague Bethany and the two find the latest artifact to come through the Breach. The object creates a portal to the future – a devastating and shocking future. Travis and Bethany must work together to find Paige, discover the cause of the apocalyptic future, and try to stop that future from ever happening.

This is a sequel to last year’s thrilling Breach, but works well as a standalone. Once again, the adventure and suspense are non-stop and fast-paced. This unique scifi thriller is pure excitement and reads like watching a blockbuster action film. Not much time is spent on character development, yet they never seem flat or lacking depth. All but impossible to put down, the unpredictable surprises and shocking reveals continue through until the very end. Breach was a fantastic debut, and this latest installment impressed me even more.

Ghost Country releases from Harper Books on December 28, 2010.