Graphic Novel Giveaway: Last Man: The Chase

Courtesy of First Second Books, I have a copy of Last Man: The Chase by Bastien Vivès 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 September 11. I’ll draw a name on September 12, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Graphic Novel Giveaway: Last Man: The Chase

Fantasy Book Review: Kitty Saves the World

Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn

Synopsis:
It’s all come down to this, following the discoveries made by Cormac in Low Midnight, Kitty and her allies are ready to strike. But, when their assassination attempt on the evil vampire Dux Bellorum fails, Kitty finds herself running out of time. The elusive vampire lord has begun his apocalyptic end game, and Kitty still doesn’t know where he will strike.

Meanwhile, pressure mounts in Denver as Kitty and her pack begin to experience the true reach of Dux Bellorum’s cult. Outnumbered and outgunned at every turn, the stakes have never been higher for Kitty. She will have to call on allies both old and new in order to save not just her family and friends, but the rest of the world as well.

Review:
Kitty Saves the World is the fourteenth(!) and final installment in the Kitty Norville series. Kitty and her friends decide to take down Roman once and for all. Knowing that if they don’t, he’ll bring down hell on earth. This final installment is full of fast-paced action and suspense. The characters are so well-developed, that you can jump in at any point and still enjoy the story. I haven’t read them all in order, and have no problem. But after reading about what I missed, I can’t wait to go back and catch up. The conclusion of this long-running series is bittersweet. This is urban fantasy at it’s finest. But Vaughn has done an amazing job of creating interesting characters and keeping ideas fresh and fun to read. I’ll miss this series, but look forward to what else the author has coming.

New SF/F Shows Coming This Fall 2015/16

CBS:


Supergirl Premieres Monday, October 26 at 8:30/7:30c
Supergirl is an action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El, Superman’s (Kal-El) cousin who, after 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth, decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be. Twelve-year-old Kara escaped the doomed planet Krypton with her parents’ help at the same time as the infant Kal-El. Protected and raised on Earth by her foster family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to conceal the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin in order to keep her identity a secret. Years later at 24, Kara lives in National City assisting media mogul and fierce taskmaster Cat Grant. She works alongside her friend and IT technician Winn Schott and famous photographer James Olsen, who Grant just hired away from the Daily Planet to serve as her new art director. However, Kara’s days of keeping her talents a secret are over when Hank Henshaw, head of a super-secret agency where her sister also works, enlists her to help them protect the citizens of National City from sinister threats. Though Kara will need to find a way to manage her newfound empowerment with her very human relationships, her heart soars as she takes to the skies as Supergirl to fight crime.


Limitless Premieres Tuesday, September 22 at 10/9c
Limitless, based on the feature film, is a fast-paced drama about Brian Finch, who discovers the brain-boosting power of the mysterious drug NZT and is coerced by the FBI into using his extraordinary cognitive abilities to solve complex cases for them. Working closely with Brian in the major case squad in New York City is Special Agent Rebecca Harris, a formidable investigator with a dark past, and Special Agent Boyle, a former military officer and Rebecca’s confidante. They report to Special Agent in Charge Nasreen “Naz” Pouran, a canny manipulator of the reins of power. Unbeknownst to the FBI, Brian also has a clandestine relationship with Senator Edward Mora (Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, recurring), a presidential hopeful and regular user of NZT who has plans of his own for his new protégé. Fueled now with a steady supply of NZT that enables him to use 100% of his brain capacity, Brian is more effective than all of the FBI agents combined, making him a criminal’s worst nightmare and the greatest asset the Bureau has ever possessed.


Angel From Hell Premieres in November
She may be crazy. She may be inappropriate. But like an angel, she is always there for you…whether you like it or not. Emmy Award winner Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson star in the new comedy Angel From Hell. This Fall on CBS.

NBC:

Blindspot – Premieres Monday, September 21 at 10/9cA beautiful woman is found naked in Times Square, covered in fresh tattoos and with no idea who she is. So why is FBI Agent Kurt Weller’s name on her back?

Heroes Reborn – Premieres Thursday September 24 at 8/7c
From Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, who imagined NBC’s original critically acclaimed 2006 “Heroes” series, comes “Heroes Reborn,” an epic 13-episode event series that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities.
A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Coming soon to NBC (no premiere date yet):
Emerald City
Swept up into the eye of a tornado, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) is transported to another world – a mystical land in great peril, where an all-powerful wizard has forbidden magic and rules over many kingdoms. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen it before, where lethal warriors roam, wicked witches plot in the shadows and a young girl from Kansas becomes a headstrong heroine who holds the fate of their world in her hands.

You, Me, and the End of the World
In this bold, adrenaline-fueled new comedy drama, the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course with Earth sets in motion the most hilariously unexpected chain of events imaginable. Set against the backdrop of apocalyptic chaos and starring Rob Lowe (“Parks and Recreation”), Jenna Fischer (“The Office”), Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”) and Mathew Baynton (“Yonderland”), the story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways. And when we say “eclectic,” we mean a rebellious priest, an unhinged white supremacist, a mild-mannered bank manager, a germophobic cyber terrorist and an American five-star general. Some of these misfits are destined to make it to a bunker deep beneath the English suburb of Slough, and as a result will become the hugely unlikely (and totally unsuitable) future of mankind. Wouldn’t that be a disaster!

ABC:

The Muppets – Premieres Tuesday, September 22 at 8/7c
The Muppets return to primetime with a contemporary, documentary-style show. For the first time ever, a series will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, breakups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires.

Coming soon to ABC (no premiere date yet):
Of Kings & Prophets
An epic Biblical saga of faith, ambition and betrayal as told through the eyes of a battle-weary king, a powerful and resentful prophet and a resourceful young shepherd on a collision course with destiny.

FOX:

Minority Report – premieres Monday, September 21 at 9/8c
Based on the international blockbuster film by executive producer Steven Spielberg and the first of his films to be adapted for television, MINORITY REPORT follows the unlikely partnership between a man haunted by the future and a cop haunted by her past, as they race to stop the worst crimes of the year 2065 before they happen.

X-Files – premieres Sunday, January 24
Thirteen years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES will be a thrilling, six-episode event series helmed by creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson re-inhabiting their roles as iconic FBI Agents FOX MULDER and DANA SCULLY. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history.

Coming soon to FOX (no premiere date yet):
The Frankenstein Code
Welcome to THE FRANKENSTEIN CODE, a modern reimagining of the Mary Shelley classic, about a man brought back to life by two scientists playing god.

Lucifer
Based upon the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg for DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, LUCIFER is the story of the original fallen angel. Bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR (Tom Ellis, “Merlin”) has abandoned his throne and retired to L.A., where he owns Lux, an upscale nightclub.

CW:

Coming soon to the CW (no premiere date yet):
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Containment

Syfy:

The Expanse – Premieres December 14 at 10/9c
One missing girl will expose the greatest conspiracy in history.

Childhood’s End – Premieres December 14 at 8/7c
Utopia…but at what cost? Childhood’s End airs on Syfy, December 14 at 8/7c.

Coming soon to Syfy (no premiere date yet):
Hunters
Hunters is based on Whitley Strieber’s best selling novel, Alien Hunters. It tells the tale of the disappearance of the wife of decorated Baltimore FBI agent – the resulting search of which leads to a secret government unit dedicated to hunting terrorists. The terrorists, however, might not be of this world.

The Magicians
Based upon Lev Grossman’s best-selling books, The Magicians stars Jason Ralph (A Most Violent Year, Aquarius) as Quentin Coldwater, a brilliant grad student who enrolls in Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, a secret upstate New York university specializing in magic. He and his 20-something friends soon discover that the magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real— and poses grave danger to humanity. Stella Maeve (Chicago P.D.), Hale Appleman (Teeth), Arjun Gupta (Nurse Jackie), Olivia Taylor Dudley (Vatican Tapes, Paranormal Activity 5) and Summer Bishil (Towelhead, Lucky 7) also star in this one hour drama.

AMC:

Fear the Walking Dead – Premieres August 23 at 9/8c

FORBIDDEN Blog Tour: Cathy Clamp Guest Post and Giveaway!

Logic in Urban Fantasy – Making the Unreal seem Real
by Cathy Clamp

Urban fantasy has become such a popular subgenre of fantasy because it takes our real world and imposes fantasy elements into it—allowing heroes and/or heroines to use their humanity to solve otherworldly problems. It’s fun for readers to vicariously live through the characters, who have to deal with things like monthly rent, sucky jobs and annoying families. Plus, when the real world gets involved, so does the reality of legal red tape, smart cops who can also figure things out, and physics. Nothing can be more frustrating to a paranormal hero/ine than to be outsmarted at their own game. So they have to be smarter, quicker and more dangerous than those around them. Anything that keeps the characters on their toes makes it all the more fun for the reader. But it also keeps us authors on our toes, which isn’t as much fun.

See, it’s much easier to set a story in a paranormal reality because we don’t have to answer annoying questions, like “why” and “how” things happen. But in the Sazi shapeshifter reality, featured in both my new book FORBIDDEN, and the Tales of the Sazi series that preceded it, is stuck square in the middle of our current world, so I can’t escape asking . . . and answering, all the tough questions.

What sort of questions? Here are a few that were dealt with early on that have served the characters well:

How could a shapeshifter really exist today, when there are cameras everywhere, social media rules the world, and persistent people go out of their way searching for weird things?

Answer: Well, it’s tough to be Sazi. No question. When the full moon rises, a shifter has to shift and hunt. Fortunately, people are still people. They’re a tad self-absorbed and if given a little incentive, will avoid an area. What sort of incentive? Well placed growls coming from a darkened path certainly help send people the other way. And who hasn’t avoided an area when the hairs rise on the back of your neck for no apparent reason? Maybe there is a reason. A little well-timed aversion magic can change the route home.

How do shifters find other shifters when everyone stays hidden?

Answer: Scents, of course. Just like dogs and cats and wilder animals, shifters have uncanny noses. Every person has a personal scent, and a wolf can smell where another wolf has been. Or a cat, or a bird or a snake. The nose knows. Even emotions have scents to the Sazi. Fear is a jaw tightening scent that smells a lot like Worchestershire sauce. Open a bottle and take a deep whiff. Feel that sensation at the back of your jaw? Makes you want to bite down on something, doesn’t it? Happiness smells like bursts of citrus, and if you lie? Oh, they know from the smell of black pepper that seeps from your pores.

A human shifting into an animal would have density issues, or at least size ones. How could people not notice a bird or snake the equivalent size of a human?

Answer: Predators are BIG. Great cats dwarf standard size humans, weighing upwards of 200 pounds, birds can have wing spans of 8 feet, pythons have been found that eat humans for lunch, and even wolves can weigh around 125 pounds. And with a little misdirection, plus speed and shadows, a person wouldn’t think anything other than, “Damn! That was a big cougar!”

Wouldn’t people notice if one particular person was always missing on full moons? For years on end? The excuses would eventually run out and cause suspicion, right?

Answer: Sure. Absolutely. Without a really good reason, people would definitely notice. But what if the shifters worked for family businesses? Multi-generation owned businesses are the heartblood of commerce. And people in small towns in rural areas might all stay and live there for a very good reason.

Believability. That’s what it takes to make an urban fantasy story come alive to a reader. Ask the hard questions, and then answer them with sound logic, and the reader will come along for the ride. Dive into FORBIDDEN. Smell through the nose of a shifter, feel the snow on your fur and the tickle of dangerous magic in the air. Come along for the ride!


Courtesy of Tor Books, I have a copy of ForbiddenForbidden by Cathy Clamp 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 September 11. I’ll draw a name on September 12, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading FORBIDDEN Blog Tour: Cathy Clamp Guest Post and Giveaway!

Fantasy Book Review: The Isle of the Lost

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Synopsis:
Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost–a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world.

Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon’s Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the Dragon’s Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

Review:
The Isle of the Lost is a prelude to the recent Disney direct-to-tv release of Descendants. Before I saw the movie, I knew I wanted to read this book. The idea of a story involving the children of these infamous villains is not something I could miss. I’m a sucker for fairy tales, Disney or any other, as long as it’s a happy ending. And giving these kids a chance to be something other than their evil parents is inspired.

This is the story of four young teens, the children of Maleficent, Cruella De Vil , Jafar, and Snow White’s Evil Queen. The four are taught to be like their evil parents, just out for themselves and trust no one. But on a quest for Maleficent, the four find the value of teamwork and friendship. And beyond the Isle of Lost, back in Auradon, a young prince has dreams of becoming a good king and making changes for the better.

It’s an incredibly fun and heartwarming story – the perfect pairing to the Descendants film. These children are a bit more rough around the edges and jaded than the ones in the film, but still at heart, have a need to just please their parents. The author has captured these teens and created an exciting story that young Disney fans will enjoy.

SciFi Book Review: School for Sidekicks

School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough

Synopsis:
Evan Quick has spent his whole life dreaming of becoming a hero. Every morning he wakes up and runs through a checklist of test to see if he’s developed powers over night, and every day it is the same thing – nothing. No flying, no super strength, no heat rays or cold beams. No invulnerability – that always hurt to check – no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to light a light bulb without flipping a switch. And now, he’s finally ready to give up.

But then, the class field trip to the Mask Museum is interrupted by a super villain attack, and Evan somehow manages to survive a death ray. Even better, Evan’s favorite Mask, Captain Commanding, shows up to save them all — and when things go very wrong, it’s Evan who finds the strength to come to Captain Commanding’s rescue.

Yet the hero’s reception Evan is expecting never happens. Before he even gets the chance to say hello, Evan is bundled away to The Academy, an institution derisively called The School for Sidekicks by its students. Forced to take classes like Banter Basics and Combat with Dinnerware, while being assigned as an ‘apprentice’ to Foxman – a Mask widely considered a has-been — Evan starts to worry that he’ll never be able to save the day…

Review:
Evan Quick loves superheroes and hopes to be one so badly that he checks each morning to see if he has developed powers. I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I remember reading The Girl With the Silver Eyes as a young girl and occasionally checking to see if I could move things with my mind. No luck. But Evan suddenly receives powers and actually saves his hero’s life during an attack. But his hero isn’t everything he thought.

School for Sidekicks is a fun and fantastic book for young X-Men fans. There is plenty of humor, mystery, intrigue, fun characters, codenames, and action. I had a good laugh at one of Evan’s classmates nicknamed Speedslick, which of course reminded me Speedstick. And some not-so-scary heroes and villains named after fluffy creatures were pretty funny too. I’m hoping this release gets a series, but it works well as a standalone too. The excitement builds to a big finale that doesn’t disappoint.

ComicCon Box #4: August 2015 Review

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ComicCon Box is “a premium monthly box service that brings everything Comic Con to the doorsteps of fans.” The price is $29.99 plus shipping.

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The Fourth ComicCon Box arrived earlier than their website stated it would, so I was really excited about that. Most of the geeky boxes that I’ve looked at all ship at the end of the month. The theme of this box was Science.

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The box came with a nice card that describes most of the items in the box. I see how the shirt correlates to the theme, but everything else was a bit of a stretch. Hey, it’s all science fiction, so who cares? I loved this box.

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How to Make Your Alien t-shirt (Retail $10?) – I love this shirt, both funny and Alien-themed!

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Funko Pop! Colossus (Retail $8-11) – This was on my wishlist, so I was very happy to score this one.
Two Sets of UFS Cards (Retail $5? each) – Not a gamer, so I’ll be passing these along.
Portal 2 Keychain (Retail $10.91 on Amazon) – Cute, my nieces or nephew will enjoy this little gun.

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Daken Dark Wolverine: Vol 1 Empire Graphic Novel (Retail $19.99) – I love Marvel comics, so this was another win for me.
Live Long and Prosper Sticker Set (Retail $5?) – So awesome. I will definitely use these.
Rocket & Stitch Print (Price ?) – I don’t collect prints, but this one is pretty nice. I’m thinking my nephew or nieces may want it framed in their room.

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Gods & Titans Print (Price ?) – The artist is obviously talented, but this one isn’t my taste or style.
Civil War #1 Variant (Retail $4.99) – Since I just got a Variant edition in my Geek Fuel box, I’ll probably be getting rid of one of them.
SpeedRunners Game Download (Retail $14.99) – Windows only game, so useless for me. May run a giveaway for it, if a family member doesn’t want it.

All-in-all, this was a fantastic first box for me. Looks like I’ll be sticking with this one. The value was quite a bit over the price. And the shirt, Funko, and graphic novel alone just about came to the price of the box.

And just a heads up, the Box Five/September Box Theme is…

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Fantasy Book Review: Faces

Faces by EC Blake

Synopsis:
Mara Holdfast is a young woman gifted with the ability to see and use all the colors of magic. Two other people share this talent: the Autarch, who draws upon the very life-force of his subjects to fuel his existence and retain his control over the kingdom; and the legendary Lady of Pain and Fire, the only person who has ever truly challenged the Autarch’s despotic reign.

After a devastating battle that takes a dreadful toll on both the rebel unMasked Army and the forces of Prince Chell, their ally from across the sea, Mara and her fellow survivors have no one to turn to for help but the Lady of Pain and Fire.

As the Lady leads them to her haven beyond the mountain borders of the kingdom, Mara feels that she has found the one person who truly understands her, a mentor who can teach her to control and use her power for the greater good. Together, they may be able to at last free Agryma from the Autarch’s rule.

Living within the Lady’s castle, cut off from her friends in the village far below, Mara immerses herself in her training. Still, she can’t entirely escape from hearing dark hints about the Lady, rumors that the Lady may, in her own way, be as ruthless as the Autarch himself.

Yet it is not until they begin their campaign against the Autarch that Mara discovers where the real danger lies. Driven by the Lady’s thirst for revenge, will Mara and all her friends fall victim in a duel to the death between two masters of magic?

Review:
Faces is the third and final novel in the The Masks of Aygrima series. The majority of the story is about Mara learning everything she can from the Lady and how she begins to distance herself from her friends, and unknowingly becoming more like the Lady despite her refusal to become a villain. The pacing picks up later in the story as the resistance begins to attack the Watchers and mines. And Mara begins to learn who the Lady really is.

The conclusion of this fantastic trilogy does not disappoint. From Mara’s inner turmoil and relationships with those around her to the final battle – it’s suspenseful and full of surprises. Don’t miss this intriguing world of magic and masks. It’s a dark fantasy trilogy with incredible world-building, interesting characters, and a heroic story.

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