Fantasy Book Review: Summoner: The Novice

Summoner: The Novice by Taran Matharu

Synopsis:
He can summon demons. But can he win a war?

Fletcher is working as a blacksmith’s apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning.

Along with nobles and commoners, Fletcher endures grueling lessons that will prepare him to serve as a Battlemage in the Empire’s war against the savage Orcs. But sinister forces infect new friendships and rivalries grow. With no one but Ignatius by his side, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of the Empire is in his hands

Review:
Fletcher is an orphan with a rare gift. He’s a Summoner, able to summon a powerful creature on his first attempt, untrained. Though, most Summoners are nobility, and Fletcher is looked down upon from many fellow students.

The Novice is first book in The Summoner series. This fantasy debut was engaging from the start was nearly impossible to put down. It reminded me of a cross between The Golden Compass meets a Role Playing Game. The addition of mana (energy) levels is a nice take on a familiar fantasy genre with elves, dwarves, and orcs. Though, there is plenty of unique and fascinating worldbuilding. The story was well-paced with suspense, intrigue, drama, and (of course) plenty of magic. I look forward to the next in this impressive new series.

Science Fiction Book Review: The Trials

The Trials by Stacey Kade

Synopsis:
After being on the run, Ariane Tucker finds herself back where she started-under Dr. Jacobs’s cruel control. Now she must participate in the upcoming trials: a deadly competition pitting her against other alien hybrids, each representing a rival corporation.

But Ariane is no one’s weapon, and she is prepared to die if it means taking down those involved in Project Paper Doll. They destroyed all that she holds dear, including Zane Bradshaw, the one person she trusted and cared for the most. The person she was forced to leave behind, bleeding and alone.

As her plan takes shape, Ariane will need now more than ever to depend on the other side of her heritage-the cold, calculating instincts born from her alien DNA. With Zane gone, she has nothing left to lose.

Heart-pounding action and thrilling twists will lead Ariane down a dangerous path, where shocking truths and the chance for revenge await.

Review:
The Trials is the third installment in the Paper Dolls trilogy. Ariane must participate in “trials” against other hybrids to see which corporation will win the funding. But the trials themselves are a mystery. Meanwhile, Ariane doesn’t trust anyone, and rightly so. Every choice presented to her seems too good to be true. The pacing slowed down a bit in the middle, during the actual “trials” when Ariane tries to figure out which path to take. But their missions are stirring and dramatic. I wish the alien aspect of the story was explored more, it felt like just an afterthought, but it’s half of what Ariane is. Events lead to a big finale. With several twists along the way, this fast-paced, thrilling finale was satisfying and an exciting ride.

SciFi Book Review: Unexpected Rain

Unexpected Rain by Jason Lapier

Synopsis:
In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, a recently hired maintenance man named Kane has just committed murder. Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him. His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

Review:
A mass murder is unusual, especially in this city. And the police are quick to place blame on Jax. And Runstom seems to be the only one who thinks the investigation was rushed and botched. When Runstom is visiting Jax in a remote prison, they are attacked and the two have the opportunity to escape and track the real killer.

Unexpected Rain is an unexpectedly unique, science fiction, mystery novel. Techies will enjoy the attention to detail in the science and technology described. And mystery buffs like me will enjoy the intrigue and fun, plot twists. There is strong character development in this solid debut novel. And the engaging plot kept me pulled in to the very end.

Book Giveaway: The Darkling Child: The Defenders of Shannara

Courtesy of Del Rey, I have a copy of The Darkling Child: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 10. I’ll draw a name on July 11, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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Book Giveaway: Dawn of the Dead

Courtesy of Gallery Books, I have a copy of Dawn of the Dead by George A. Romero for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 10. I’ll draw a name on July 11, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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SciFi Book Review: Snatched

Snatched by David Saperstein

Synopsis:
Six single, semi-retired, “older” women are inseparable friends. But their lives start to go haywire when mischievous Rosie submits her friends’ names to an ad soliciting “Mail Order Brides for Farmers & Miners—Distant Locations.” A few weeks later, as the six women are driving along a lonely beach road, their vehicle suddenly begins to shake, the sky grows dark, an eerie light envelops the van, and ZAP—it’s gone!

Exactly three years later, the van reappears on the same road. But this time, the women appear to be thirty years younger—and they’re all pregnant!

Review:
Fans of Cocoon will definitely want to pick up this latest science fiction novel by the same author. The six residents of a retirement community are all unique, engaging characters that are incredibly fun and vivacious. The tone is very similar to Cocoon, which is definitely a good thing.

Snatched is a fun, light-hearted alien abduction story with a twist. Once the ladies return from their interstellar adventure, their stories are a bit silly seemingly out of a science fiction romance novel. But it fits the mood – full of whimsy, adventure, humor, and a bit of suspense. The story builds to the births of the alien babies, though it’s not explained why three women are giving birth at the same time. But it’s easy to suspend disbelief for this heart-warming and amusing story.

Book Giveaway: Pathfinder Tales: Firesoul

Courtesy of Paizo, I have a copy of Pathfinder Tales: Firesoul by Gary Kloster for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 10. I’ll draw a name on July 11, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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Blu-Ray Review: Project Almanac

Project Almanac Blu-ray Edition

SYNOPSIS:
PROJECT ALMANAC follows a brilliant high school student (Jonny Weston) and his friends who discover blueprints for a machine that can send them back in time. They soon rewrite history to win the lottery, ace exams, and party like there’s no tomorrow. But by changing the past, they have threatened the future of our world. Can they undo the damage they have unleashed before it’s too late?

REVIEW:
David is a brilliant young man who gets accepted to MIT. But the scholarship money isn’t enough, so David looks through his father’s old things to see if he can use something to impress MIT. He discovers a time machine that he believes can fix everything. Instead, things go horribly wrong.

I’m not a fan of the way this was shot, seemingly from one of David’s friends or sister the entire time. Thankfully, it’s not a shaky camera – so it’s not bad. And at the end, there’s a clever way that the camera ties into the story. The story itself is a teenage and not-so-dark version of The Butterfly Effect. There were times the pacing lagged, specifically when the kids were working on the machine and testing it. Though, they suddenly jump to testing it on themselves after it has proven unsafe, so this shows how these are just kids and they aren’t thinking things through. They have several fun, time travel adventures to improve grades, win a lottery, and witness a concert. It’s a cute, light-hearted, science fiction adventure that younger viewers may enjoy. As a fan of time travel stories, I guess I was expecting more science and suspense and not so much teen angst. It does build up to an exciting and (somewhat) satisfying conclusion. Though, several questions are left unanswered which were bothersome as well.

Blu-ray Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray
• Feature film in high definition
• Alternate Opening
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Endings
DVD
• Feature film in standard definition

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