Tag Archives: sci-fi

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hearts and Minds

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hearts and Minds by Dayton Ward

Synopsis:
2031: United States Air Force fighter jets shoot down an unidentified spacecraft and take its crew into custody. Soon, it’s learned that the ship is one of several dispatched across space by an alien species, the Eizand, to search for a new home before their own world becomes uninhabitable. Fearing extraterrestrial invasion, government and military agencies which for more than eighty years have operated in secret swing into action, charged with protecting humanity no matter the cost…

2386: Continuing their exploration of the Odyssean Pass, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise discover what they at first believe is a previously uncharted world, with a civilization still recovering from the effects of global nuclear war. An astonishing priority message from Starfleet Command warns that there’s more to this planet than meets the eye, and Picard soon realizes that the mysteries of this world may well weave through centuries of undisclosed human history…

Review:
As soon as the Enterprise reaches it’s latest area of unexplored space, Picard discovers that crucial information has been withheld from him but disclosed to a member of his crew. This betrayal mars contact with these new beings. But hundreds of years ago, these aliens came to Earth, and humans may have damaged relations beyond repair.

Hearts and Minds is the latest voyage of the Starship Enterprise. Though, I do miss the original Next Gen crew, I thoroughly enjoy this new lineup of a mixture of original and new crew members. They are diverse and engaging. This latest story is told in two eras, side by side. The pacing flows well. And suspense builds to a surprising and satisfying finale. Ward’s Star Trek novels are always a must-read, and this unique story is another fun and exciting read.

Book Excerpt: Scourge: A Novel of Darkhurst

An Excerpt from Scourge: A Novel of Darkhurst
By Gail Z. Martin
Chapter One

A HEAVY IRON candleholder slammed against the wall, just missing Corran Valmonde’s head.

“Son of a bitch!”

“Try not to make her mad, Corran.”

Rigan Valmonde knelt on the worn floor, drawing a sigil in charcoal, moving as quickly as he dared. Not quickly enough; a piece of firewood spun from the hearth and flew across the room, slamming him in the shoulder hard enough to make him grunt in pain.

“Keep her off me!” he snapped, repairing the smudge in the soot line. Sloppy symbols meant sloppy magic, and that could get someone killed.

“I would if I could see her.” Corran stepped away from the wall, raising his iron sword, putting himself between the fireplace and his brother. His breath misted in the unnaturally cold room and moisture condensed on the wavy glass of the only window.

“Watch where you step.” Rigan worked on the second sigil, widdershins from the soot marking, this one daubed in ochre. “I don’t want to have to do this again.”

A small ceramic bowl careened from the mantle, and, for an instant, Rigan glimpsed a young woman in a blood-soaked dress, one hand clutching her heavily pregnant belly. The other hand slipped right through the bowl, even as the dish hurtled at Rigan’s head. Rigan dove to one side and the bowl smashed against the opposite wall. At the same time, Corran’s sword slashed down through the specter. A howl of rage filled the air as the ghost dissipated.

You have no right to be in my home. The dead woman’s voice echoed in Rigan’s mind.

Get out of my head.

You are a confessor. Hear me!

Not while you’re trying to kill my brother.

“You’d better hurry.” Corran slowly turned, watching for the ghost.

“I can’t rush the ritual.” Rigan tried to shut out the ghost’s voice, focusing on the complex chalk sigil. He reached into a pouch and drew a thin curved line of salt, aconite, and powdered amanita, connecting the first sigil to the second, and the second to the third and fourth, working his way to drawing a complete warded circle.

The ghost materialized without warning on the other side of the line, thrusting a thin arm toward Rigan, her long fingers crabbed into claws, old blood beneath her torn nails. She opened a gash on Rigan’s cheek as he stumbled backward, grabbed a handful of the salt mixture and threw it. The apparition vanished with a wail.

“Corran!” Rigan’s warning came a breath too late as the ghost appeared right behind his brother, and took a swipe with her sharp, filthy nails, clawing Corran’s left shoulder.

He wronged me. He let me die, let my baby die— The voice shrieked in Rigan’s mind.

Continue reading Book Excerpt: Scourge: A Novel of Darkhurst

Hawthorn Moon Guest Post with Gail Z. Martin

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

The Allure of the Outlaw
By Gail Z. Martin

What is it about bad boys, girls who break the rules, and outlaws that hooks us into stories over and over again?

Maybe part of it’s wish fulfillment–a chance to escape the confines of ‘appropriate’ behavior by proxy without fearing the consequences. Perhaps some of it is trying out our rebel wings before we fully commit to burning bridges. Often, it’s just sweet to see the outsider win, the outcast show everyone up, the misfit save the world.

Think about some of the outlaws we love the best: the crew of the Serenity, Captain Jack Harkness, Han Solo, the Winchester Brothers, Butch and Sundance, the Doctor, and even, eventually, the command team of Babylon 5 and many more. They do the right thing, even if it’s in the wrong way, even if their methods don’t fit with what society expects. We wish we had their courage, and sometimes, we do.

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle, we saw a couple of kinds of exiles. Prince Martris (Tris) Drayke became an exile along with his friends when Tris’s half-brother seized the crown and killed the king. Jonmarc Vahanian went on the run after raiders murdered his family and he double-crossed a vyash moru blood mage. Cam and Carina’s father threw them out of their home because of Carina’s magic and the bad luck thought to accompany twins.

The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga finds disgraced lord Blaine McFadden exiled to the Velant prison in the harsh arctic expanse of Edgeland for a murder he doesn’t regret. His circle of close friends–Kestel, Dawe, Piran and Verran–have been sent into exile for their own crimes. When they return to a devastated homeland where even magic no longer works, they find themselves strangers in a hostile land.

Scourge is the first book in my new Darkhurst series for Solaris Books (launching July 15). Undertaker brothers Corran, Rigan and Kell Valmonde become outlaws when they refuse to obey the laws forbidding them from killing the monsters that are murdering friends and neighbors, and that would kill or jail Rigan for his unsanctioned ability with magic. It’s medieval monster hunters in a corrupt and dangerous system. It’s Supernatural meets Game of Thrones.

One of the things I think we like the best about outlaws is that they take risks and defy the powers that be in ways we often wish we could in the real world. They actually tell off the bully, fight against the unfair system, and bring about a rough sort of justice. We cheer for their victories because those wins are so hard to make happen in real life. Watching them win gives us hope, and makes us believe there is a reason to continue resisting.

Sometimes, the heroes we read about inspire us to do the right thing even if society disapproves. Whether it’s standing up for something who is being harassed, voting against laws that unjustly target vulnerable groups, or refusing to go along with an institutionalized injustice, our fictional heroes give us courage to be our better selves. There’s a little bit of outlaw in all of us.

About the Author:
Continue reading Hawthorn Moon Guest Post with Gail Z. Martin

Book Giveaway: Amatka

Courtesy of Vintage Books, I have a copy of Amatka by Karin Tidbeck 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 14. I’ll draw a name on July 15, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Amatka

ThinkGeek: Firefly Jewelry Review

ThinkGeek has new officially-licensed Firefly jewelry for Browncoats! I was able to check out a stunning necklace and earring set.


Firefly Sterling & Citrine Serenity Charm Necklace by RockLove Jewelry

The amount of detail in this dainty, sterling silver ship is fantastic. And the stone in the Firefly drive is a nice touch. I love the amber color. The 20″ chain is a bit short for my taste. You can see where it falls on my image below. So, I may end up replacing the chain eventually.

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Firefly Sterling & Citrine Serenity Charm Earrings by RockLove Jewelry

These matching earrings are my favorite! They are the same size and detail of the necklace, with matching citrine stones. They drop at just the right length.

As a huge fan of Firefly, I absolutely love these. The attention to detail and the addition of the flattering stone make for some incredible, collectible accessories. The set is dainty enough that I can wear them just out and about with casual wear or at my next scifi convention.

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This jewelry was sent to me at no cost for review.

Graphic Novel Review: Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Blüdhaven (Rebirth)

Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Blüdhaven (Rebirth)

Synopsis:
Former Robin and retired superspy Dick Grayson has returned to Gotham and stepped back into his life as Nightwing–the blue-and-black clad vigilante known for going where others won’t. Fresh off a deep cover operation to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls, Nightwing must come to terms with secrets of his past that will forever change his destiny.

Review:
Dick is easing back into life in Blüdhaven and trying to get involved in the community as more than just Nightwing. But a support group turns out to be a shocking twist. And Dick finds a new love interest.

Volume 2 is better than the last installment. With a cast of colorful characters and a fun and exciting plot, this story arc was certainly memorable. Though, I’m not crazy about Dick’s new girlfriend (mostly because I want him either with Batgirl or Starfire), she is still an interesting character. There is plenty of humor as well as action, culminating in a surprising twist ending. I look forward to the next volume and hope to see most of these supporting characters return.

The Suffering Tree: Meet the Characters and Giveaway!

The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano

OFFICIAL DREAM CASTING FOR THE SUFFERING TREE

Nathaniel Bishop: Edvin Endre
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5481344/mediaviewer/rm214560768
Nathaniel is a seventeen-year old indentured servant, working on a tobacco plantation in Maryland 1706. He’s tall, with a lean, muscular build from years of physical labor, his back and body badly scarred from years of abuse. He wears his long brown hair tied loosely back from his face, out of the way of his fiddle. Once, he had brown eyes. But when he rises from the grave, Tori observes that his eyes take on a “shade of green common in nature, but completely unnatural in the context of a human face.”

Emmeline Belle: Odeya Rush
https://static.cinemagia.ro/img/db/actor/28/06/60/odeya-rush-646542l.jpg
Emmeline Belle came to Maryland on the same ship as Nathaniel when they were children. She has long, wavy black hair and startlingly light gray eyes. Though her beauty was undeniably rare, her fierce personality, shameless immodesty, and rebellious spirit angered some and terrified others. She was often suspected of being a witch.

Ruth: Amandla Stenberg
http://ell.h-cdn.co/assets/16/17/980×490/landscape-1461617059-gettyimages-507244236.jpg
Ruth was a slave to Archibald and Dorothy Slaughter in the early 1700s. Having grown up alongside Nathaniel and Emmeline, even though she was Emmeline’s best friend they had very different personalities. Ruth was reserved and quiet, fearful of drawing attention or challenging the rules. She had dark brown eyes, high cheek bones, and a delicate build. She wore her curly hair tucked inside a white cap, and often pulled it low to cover a missing ear, which was cut off by Archibald Slaughter as punishment for a failed runaway attempt when she was fifteen.

Tori Burns: Willow Shields
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3094377/mediaviewer/rm3895869184
Tori Burns looks nothing like the rest of her family, a fact that bugs her more than she likes to admit. She wears her black hair cropped close to her head, longer in the front so her bangs shadow her eyes, and layers of dark clothes covering most of her skin. She’s not “goth”, but whatever. Let people assume whatever they want about her. She doesn’t much care.

Jesse Slaughter: Lucas Till
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1395771/mediaviewer/rm439793920
Jesse is the blond-haired, blue-eyed boy next door. Literally. Tori’s family inherited a strange piece of land right in the middle of his parent’s farm, making Tori his new neighbor. The son of Dorothy and Alistair Slaughter, Jesse is the town golden-boy. Smart, popular, destined for a big inheritance and a bright future. . . until Tori’s family showed up and ruined everything.

Alistair Slaughter: Mark Wahlberg
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000242/mediaviewer/rm434810880
Jesse’s father is a pillar of the community, from a long line of farmers and philanthropists. The salt of the earth, everyone knows he’d give anyone from Chaptico the shirt off his back. . . that is, if their family had lived their long enough, and if he felt they deserved it. As far as he’s concerned, the Burnses haven’t earned anything that belongs to him. Strong, stern, and quick to pull the trigger on his temper, he doesn’t plan to make their stay in his family’s home a comfortable one. Or a long one.

Dorothy Slaughter: Liv Tyler
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000239/mediaviewer/rm913100032
Jesse’s mom, Dorothy (please, call her Dot) is proud of her home and family. It shows in the way she keeps everything in perfect order, from the tasteful décor in her living room to her modest hair and make-up to the pristine hem of her perfectly pressed skirt. Her family is highly respected in the community, a community that has centered around their generations-old farm since the founders of Chaptico first set foot in this county. And even if things aren’t going quite as she planned for her family since the Burnses came to town, she’ll do everything she can to keep up appearances and take care of her family.

Matilda Rice: Alfre Woodard
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005569/mediaviewer/rm2864366080
Matilda Rice has lived in Chaptico her whole life, just like the rest of her family have all the way back to Emmeline’s time. She should know. Hunched over her cane on her rickety front porch overlooking Slaughter Farm, she and Emmeline talk quite often. Truth be told, they talk a lot more than Matilda would like. Especially now that Nathaniel’s come back. Most people think she’s just old and senile, mumbling to herself and seeing things that aren’t there through her cataract-clouded eyes. As the bridge between the past and the present, Matilda sees a lot more than people realize. And definitely more than the Slaughters want her to know.

Archibald and Elizabeth Slaughter: Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0268199/mediaviewer/rm2649147136
Wealthy and powerful, the Slaughters lorded over Slaughter Plantation from the late 1600s until it burned in 1706. After the plantation was restored and the structures rebuilt, the land was passed down to Slaughter’s son.

Supporting Cast:

Sarah Burns: Wynona Ryder
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000213/mediaviewer/rm2612203520
Tori’s artistic, eccentric widowed mother.

Kyle Burns: Finn Wolfhard
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6016511/mediaviewer/rm2301953280
Tori’s younger brother.

Magda & Drew: Kiernan Shipka and Tequan Richmond
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2215143/mediaviewer/rm3648189184
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1343331/mediaviewer/rm735027712
Tori’s best friends from school.

Bobby Coode: Grayson Russell
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2124254/mediaviewer/rm3219328000
Jesse’s cousin and best friend.

About The Suffering Tree:
“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.

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Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, I have a copy of The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano (as well as other goodies!) 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 June 30. I’ll draw a name on July 1, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading The Suffering Tree: Meet the Characters and Giveaway!