Tag Archives: science fiction

Fantasy Book Review: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years: The Battle of Hackham Heath

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years: The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan

Synopsis:
When the former Baron Morgarath escaped to avoid punishment for treason, an uneasy peace fell on Araluen. But Morgarath, now in hiding, is already planning his next move, recruiting an army of savage, overpowering beasts known as Wargals. Newly crowned King Duncan knows he must assemble his troops for battle.

To find out the full extent of Morgarath’s plan of attack, Halt prepares for a seemingly impossible task–climbing the deadly cliffs of the Mountains of Rain and Night and venturing deep into enemy territory to spy. After all, the winner of this war could be determined by one wrong move.

At the Battle of Hackham Heath, the fate of a Kingdom will be decided. This origin story of how Halt came to be Araluen’s most famous Ranger – and how war will decide the future of the next generation – will thrill Ranger’s Apprentice fans and new readers alike.

Review:
While Halt ventures into enemy territory to scout, Crowley is tasked with getting the Queen to safety as she delivers her baby. Morgarath is amassing an army of Wargals that threaten the kingdom.

The Battle of Hackham Heath is the second installment in the Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years prequel series. The Ranger’s Apprentice series is an incredible, epic series that I’m happy to see continue in these prequels. Halt and the rest of these established characters are intriguing – and the stories are always engaging. This installment is well-paced with plenty of suspense and intrigue. Events build to the big battle as the name suggests. And the Rangers play a big role as the invading horde approaches. I can’t get enough of this series. This latest installment is another enjoyable story, and the next can’t come soon enough.

Book Giveaway: Heartstone

Courtesy of Harper Voyager, I have a copy of Heartstone by Elle Katharine White for two (2) lucky winners!

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

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Heartstone

Fantasy Book Review: Wings of Fire: Talons of Power

Wings of Fire: Talons of Power by Tui T. Sutherland

Synopsis:
FOR EVERY VILLAIN, THERE IS A HERO…
Turtle isn’t one of the heroes he reads about in stories. If he were, he’d use his animus powers to help Pyrrhia—instead of keeping his abilities a secret, even from his own sister. Now that Darkstalker, the sinister and impossibly old dragon from Pyrrhia’s most notorious legends, has returned, Turtle knows his own role is simple: hide. And stay hidden.

The other dragons at Jade Mountain Academy, on the other hand, think Darkstalker is fascinating. He charms everyone he meets, including Turtle’s most skeptical friends. They all seem convinced that the ancient dragon has changed.

Turtle isn’t so sure. The more he watches Darkstalker from the shadows, the more Turtle knows that someone needs to stop the powerful dragon. A real hero. But Turtle is running out of time to find one, which means…he might have to try to save the day himself.

Review:
Turtle is content to hide and not let anyone know about his powers. If someone else can take down Darkstalker, Turtle is willing to let them do it. But unfortunately, he may be the only one who can follow Darkstalker, stay unseen, and make sure his friends stay safe.

Talons of Power is the latest in the Wings of Fire fantasy series for young readers. Dragons are the main characters. And these characters are complex and compelling and just plain fun to read. This latest story picks up immediately after the last cliffhanger, as Darkstalker wakes up. With plenty of drama, suspense, and a bit of humor – Turtle’s adventures build to another climactic cliffhanger that left me wanting more. As always, I eagerly await the next in this exceptional series.

SciFiChick’s Best of 2016

I read a total of 132 books this year, much less than years past. However, I was also a lot busier.
Here’s the list of my favorite SciFi/Fantasy titles (published in 2016) that I read and reviewed.

Science Fiction:

Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot: To Preserve by Mickey Zucker Reichert
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/02/01/scifi-book-review-isaac-asimovs-i-robot-to-preserve/

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/09/13/scifi-book-review-the-last-one/

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/01/18/scifi-book-review-star-wars-the-force-awakens/

Star Trek: The Original Series: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/06/01/scifi-book-review-star-trek-the-original-series-elusive-salvation/

Quantum Night by Robert J Sawyer
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/04/28/scifi-book-review-quantum-night/

YA SciFi:

Starflight by Melissa Landers
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/02/04/scifi-book-review-starflight/

The Capture by Tom Isbell
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/03/03/scifi-book-review-the-capture/

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/03/10/scifi-book-review-calamity/

Alight by Scott Sigler
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/05/18/scifi-book-review-alight/

The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/12/12/scifi-book-review-the-diabolic/

Fantasy:

Arabella of Mars by David D Levine
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/10/28/scifi-book-review-arabella-of-mars/

Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/06/07/fantasy-book-review-warcraft-durotan/

To Kill A Kettle Witch by Barb Hendee
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/05/20/fantasy-book-review-to-kill-a-kettle-witch/

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/06/22/fantasy-book-review-the-invisible-library/

The Night Voice by Barb & JC Hendee
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/01/14/fantasy-book-review-the-night-voice/

YA Fantasy:

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/06/16/fantasy-book-review-the-trials-of-apollo-the-hidden-oracle/

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/02/15/fantasy-book-review-the-girl-from-everywhere/

Wings of Fire: Escaping Peril by Tui T Sutherland
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/07/11/fantasy-book-review-wings-of-fire-escaping-peril/

Ruined by Amy Tintera
Reviewed here: http://scifichick.com/2016/06/09/fantasy-book-review-ruined/

Wings of Fire: Talons of Power by Tui T. Sutherland
Reviewed forthcoming

What were some of your favorites this year?

Doctor Strange DVD/Blu-Ray Release Date

From Press Release:
From Marvel Studios comes Doctor Strange, the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident renders his hands useless. When traditional medicine fails him, he travels to the remote Kamar-Taj in search of a cure, but instead discovers the mystical arts and becomes a powerful sorcerer battling dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Bring Home The Mystifying, Mind-Bending Journey on Digital HD Feb. 14 and Blu-ray™ Feb. 28.
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On Feb. 14, “Doctor Strange” fans can bring home the critically acclaimed blockbuster early on Digital HD/3D and Disney Movies Anywhere, or on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray, Digital SD, DVD and On-Demand on Feb. 28. The Blu-ray and Digital releases come packaged with over 80 minutes of fascinating, never-before-seen bonus materials, including five behind-the-scenes featurettes, five deleted scenes, hilarious outtakes, part two of the comical mockumentary “Team Thor,” audio commentary, and an exclusive look at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film boasts an award-winning cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game,” “Black Mass”) as Dr. Stephen Strange, Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave,” “Triple 9”) as Mordo, Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight,” “Southpaw”) as Dr. Christine Palmer, Benedict Wong (“The Martian,” “Prometheus”) as Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg (“A Serious Man,” “Steve Jobs”) as Dr. Nicodemus West, Benjamin Bratt (“Traffic,” “Piñero”) as Jonathan Pangborn, and Scott Adkins (“El Gringo,” “The Expendables 2”) as Lucian/Strong Zealot, with Mads Mikkelsen (“The Hunt,” “Casino Royale”) as Kaecilius and Academy Award® winner Tilda Swinton (2007 Best Supporting Actress, “Michael Clayton”; “Julia”) as The Ancient One.

Bonus Features (Bonus features may vary by retailer. The DVD does not include any bonus materials.):
DIGITAL HD & BLU-RAY:
-Featurettes:
o A Strange Transformation – Open your eye to a new dimension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and see how the filmmakers brought one of comic books’ greatest characters to life.
o Strange Company – Find out what it’s like for the cast to work on a Marvel film, and how Director Scott Derrickson engineered one of the most ambitious, imaginative films ever.
o The Fabric of Reality – Take a closer look at the movie’s extraordinary sets, meticulously crafted costumes and amazingly detailed production elements.
o Across Time and Space – Explore the countless hours of dance and fight choreography the actors endured in preparation for their physically demanding roles.
o The Score-cerer Supreme – Join Composer Michael Giacchino and a full orchestra during live recording sessions, and experience the movie’s mind-bending music.
-Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look – Get an early peek at Marvel’s spectacular upcoming films, including Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
-Team Thor: Part 2 – See more of the hilarious partnership between Thor and his roommate Darryl in this satirical short.
-Deleted Scenes:
o Strange Meets Daniel Drumm
o Kaecilius Searches for Answers
o The Kamar-Taj Courtyard
o Making Contact
o Lost in Kathmandu
-Gag Reel
-Audio Commentary by Director Scott Derrickson

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE:
-Through the Keyhole: The Science of the MCU – Discover how Marvel grounds all its films in real science, and explore the connection between science, magic and imagination.

Star Wars Book Spotlight

Star Wars Rogue One Rebel Dossier

This is a nice hardback containing all full-color pages. Young Star Wars fans will enjoy this close look at major and minor characters in Rogue One, including information on the Empire.

Star Wars books

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Star Wars Galactic Maps: An Illustrated Atlas of the Star Wars Universe

This is a fantastic, oversized book on various planets in the Star Wars universe. It’s a great collector’s item with fun details – from a timeline and cast of characters to maps of world and battles.

Star Wars books
Star Wars books

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Art of Coloring Star Wars: Rogue One

I enjoy adult coloring books, so this was a must. I like the mixture of characters, ships, and patterns. The artwork is spot on with plenty of variety.

Star Wars books
Star Wars books
Star Wars books

Book Review: The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I loved the Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and this look at the new movie is just as fantastic. The sheer amount of characters, aliens, bots, worlds, and more explored here is very impressive.

Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One

From early concepts to various costume ideas – this is a fascinating look at most of the characters with details and notes.

Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One

Ships and aliens and stormtroopers.. oh my.

Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One

Breathtaking worlds and fun concept boards…

Art of Rogue One Art of Rogue One

But some of the coolest images are of Vader’s Castle and Bacta Tank.

I could literally spend hours looking at everything here in more detail. With stunning artwork, behind the scenes details, and in-dept notes, this is a fantastic collectible for fans of all ages.

Fantasy Book Review: The Bronze Key

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Synopsis:
Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back.

Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process. As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

Review:
When it’s clear that someone is trying to kill Call, another student is murdered to cover the trail. And Call, Aaron, and Tamara take it upon themselves to investigate, as they don’t quite trust their authority figures.

The Bronze Key third installment in the Magisterium series. It’s a unique fantasy series for youth. Though it’s easy to compare to the feel of other series such as Harry Potter, because it’s set at a magical school. However, there is plenty that sets this story apart, the major difference being that the main character thinks he may become evil. The characters are engaging and the story is exciting and builds in each installment. Full of suspense, drama, and humor – the story is a wild ride that builds to a shocking ending.