Tag Archives: sf

SciFi Book Review: Insignia

Insignia by SJ Kincaid

Tom Raines can’t seem to keep up with school while his dad gambles his life away, and keeps them constantly on the move. Tom excels at one thing – games. And after one particular VR game scenario, Tom is told that he has been watched. And is recruited by the government for their elite military academy. Tom is taken to the Pentagonal Spire where he will have the chance to possibly help his country fight in World War III. WWIII is a war fought entirely in space via virtual reality, where no lives are lost. But Tom will quickly learn there are many secrets in this political war.

Tom is a likeable and relatable teen. While he’s smart and strong-willed, he’s a more than a bit naïve when it comes to girls. Kincaid’s version of the future is a world controlled by companies that have a monopoly on the Earth’s food and water supplies. Countries (by extension of those companies) are at war in space for other world’s resources. But mostly the politics and relationship between the companies, the government, and the general public come into play in this remarkable debut.

From the start, the story had the feel of one of my favorite films The Last Starfighter or Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. But after Tom gets recruited, the similarities fade. Part scifi adventure, part YA coming-of-age story, part political thriller – this ambitious novel has a fantastic blend of suspense and drama. Fast-paced and full of mystery and adventure – Insignia is an enjoyable and riveting read for science fiction fans of all ages.

Insignia releases from Katherine Tegen (Harper Teen) Books on July 10, 2012.

Dark Days of Summer 2012 Blog Tour

As a part of the Dark Days of Summer 2012 Blog Tour, I’m hosting SJ Kincaid and her novel Insignia.

Today, Harper Teen has given me this question to answer:
Like all book lovers, you choose your vacation destination based on what you’re reading.
Lucky you— a magical genie is granting you and your copy of INSIGNIA a summer trip. If you could read INSIGNIA anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Well, if I was offered a free summer trip where I could read all day, I would automatically pick a warm, sunny, beach location. Maybe Hawaii. Nothing beats a breezy shore, sand, and a good book for relaxing.

But related to Insignia specifically, I think it narrows my choices down to Washington, DC or Las Vegas. DC would be ideal for the politics in the book – it would be an immersion in the setting. But Las Vegas for the gaming aspect. Tom Raines, the main character in Insignia, excels at games – specifically virtual reality games. It would certainly be an experience to get immersed in a virtual reality game in between occasional breaks in reading. I’m sure I wouldn’t be good enough to get noticed by the government. So there’s no chance I’d get recruited to any branch of military where they need my gaming skills. But that’s what books are for. A chance to escape everyday life for an exciting adventure where there are no limits!

Click here for a chapter excerpt from Insignia!

Be sure to check out Insignia, on sale July 10th.

Stay connected to all things Dark Days on the Pitch Dark Facebook page, including exclusive content features every Wednesday!

Leg 2 of the Dark Days of Summer 2012 Blog Tour Continues:
6/12 Aprilynne Pike at Books with Bite
6/14 Dan Wells at Hobbitsies
6/19 Veronica Roth at The Mod Pod Bookshelf
6/21 SJ Kincaid at SciFi Chick
6/26 Aprilynne Pike at Books with Bite
6/28 Dan Wells at Hobbitsies
7/3 Veronica Roth at The Mod Pod Bookshelf
7/5 SJ Kincaid at SciFi Chick


Fantasy Book Review: False Covenant

False Covenant by Ari Marmell

Widdershins has taken over running her late friend’s bar, but isn’t having much success. So, she still relies on her occupation as a thief with the Finders Guild. But even after destroying the evil demon plaguing the city, she still isn’t trusted within her own guild. When a strange creature with seemingly mystical power begins attacking innocent people throughout the city, Widdershins immediately wonders if it’s another demon. When it seems that everyone is against her again, Widdershins needs her patron god Olgun more than ever in order to face this horrific creature out of nightmares.

Already having setup Widdershins’s backstory in Thief’s Covenant, this story focuses on the present time, without having to jump around in time, which made for smoother reading. More character development with supporting characters and a fantastic new plot made this sequel enthralling. It’s easy to get caught up in Widdershins’s adventures. The mystery and suspense makes for an exciting read. With plenty of drama and a bit of humor and several surprises along the way, this dark fantasy series is decidedly charming.

False Covenant releases from Pyr Books on June 26, 2012.

SciFi Book Review: Redshirts

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Official Synopsis:
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers. Life couldn’t be better . . . until Andrew begins to realize that (1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and (3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs. Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is . . . and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Of course Star Trek fans immediately recognize the “Redshirts” reference, but this is not a spoof as some might think. If you want a spoof, it’s hard to beat Galaxy Quest anyway. Instead, Scalzi has created a similar universe to Star Trek (where the redshirts are seemingly expendable to the point of absurdity) with a metafiction twist. The flagship of Universal Union (or Dub U) is the Intrepid, a ship where all the crew members are terrified of away missions and mysterious and all-too-convenient technology that comes in handy in dire need. But the command crew seems oblivious to the extreme situations surrounding them on such a frequent basis.

Anyone who has watched Star Trek will appreciate the humor and reflection that follows. The science fiction stretches into fantasy-like alternate realities and takes a suspension of disbelief beyond just an exploration of space. I’m finding it hard not to give any spoilers! While not what I expected or was hoping for, the big twist was surprising and quite funny. This was certainly a switch from Scalzi’s other science fiction stories. Redshirts is full of continuous light-hearted humor, amusing (though not overly complex) characters, and a heartwarming drama. While it seems necessary to have at least watched several episodes of Star Trek to at least appreciate the humor and many references, readers do not need to be Trekkies to enjoy this latest inspired release from a talented writer.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Book Giveaway!

SciFiChick.com will be giving away a copy of the Director’s Cut: The Art of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter book from the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
(see below for details)

In Theaters Nationwide June 22, 2012.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Rated R) – Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov reinvent the time-honored genre and present the terrifying creatures of the night as they were meant to be experienced — as fierce, visceral, intense and bloodthirsty. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter brings to the screen the secret life of our nation’s favorite president . . . as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.

The film stars Benjamin Walker, Anthony Mackie, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Erin Wasson and is based off of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name.

From June 18-25, you can enter to win the Director’s Cut: The Art of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter book from the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter! Enter the giveaway NOW for your chance to win!

Follow Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter –
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/vampirehunter
TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/abethehunter
YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/user/VampireHunterMovie

Vampire Hunters Wanted!
Download the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter game for FREE on the App Store now!

Prizes:Director’s Cut: The Art of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Number of prizes: One (1) Copy of the book
Estimated Value: $25
Sweepstakes start date: June 18, 2011
Sweepstakes end date: June 25, 2011
Open to: US/Canada residents 18 & over

Continue reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Book Giveaway!

Book and Button Giveaway: Shadow of Night

On behalf of Viking Press, I have a copy of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, a set of 6 buttons and a temporary tattoo for one (1) lucky winner!


Contest is open to US residents only. Please, no PO Boxes. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 6. I’ll draw names on July 7, and notify winners via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Book and Button Giveaway: Shadow of Night

Fantasy Book Review: The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks

Found in a dingo pen at the wildlife park, Toby wakes up in a hospital with no memory of what happened. Nothing seems to be physically wrong with Toby, and the doctors have no explanation for the episode or than possible epilepsy. When a strange note left on Toby’s hospital bed says that a priest claims to know about Toby’s affliction, his mother thinks the priest is crazy. But when a young man named Reuben claims to have the same condition, Toby’s denial slowly turns around when meeting a group of Reuben’s odd friends. And when Toby is kidnapped by violent men, he realizes the truth too late – that he’s a werewolf.

Toby and his friends are rebellious teens with a penchant for home-made explosives and mischief. But when Toby is kidnapped and thrown in a cell, he gets serious and uses his cleverness to try to escape. Suddenly his life is changed, and with it, his priorities. My only complaint is that we never experience any werewolf actually transforming. There is no “wolfing out” in this story. It’s only referred to. But after Toby is kidnapped, there is no lack of excitement and suspense. This is a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group, but this is a separate story, and I didn’t find it confusing at all. Those that have read the first will just know several of the minor characters a bit better. With plenty of humor, mystery, and heart-pounding suspense – The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group is an entertaining read for fans of werewolf and vampire novels.

SciFi Book Review: Monument 14

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

After boarding their buses for school one morning, Dean and his younger brother Alex are suddenly caught in a violent hail storm. Fourteen children, from elementary students to high school, are forced to seek refuge in a nearby superstore. While their world falls apart around them as an incredible earthquake leads to an even more dangerous chemical spill.

Dean is an average teen, not popular but smart and well-read. He has the stereotypical crush on the most popular, pretty girl who, of course, is dating the popular jock. But the kid’s world in thrown upside down when forced to take on unbelievable responsibility in the face of an apocalyptic scenario. Laybourne’s story of survival during this horrific apocalypse is both frightening yet full of hope. Monument 14 is not nearly as dark and depressing as Lord of the Flies or Michael Grant’s Gone series. Her characters show a wide range of believable choices from bravery and selflessness to extreme fear and cowardice. As more terrible things keep happening around them, the suspense builds to a heat-pounding, cliffhanger ending. This debut is a fast-paced, exciting story with plenty of drama and adventure that both mature teens and adults will enjoy.