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Received in August

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in August for review and/or giveaways:

Movies/TV:
The Originals Season 2 Blu-ray
The Vampire Diaries Season 6 Blu-ray
Supernatural Season 10 Blu-ray

Subscription Box:
Comic Bento

Amazon Publishing / 47North:
Here & There by Joshua V. Scher

Berkley:
Undead and Unforgiven by MaryJanice Davidson

Clarion Books:
The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

Crown / Broadway:
The Martian by Andy Weir

First Second:
The Fall of the House of West by Paul Pope
Little Robot by Ben Hatke
Last Man: The Chase by Bastien Vivès

Gallery Books:
HALO: Last Light by Troy Denning

Harper Teen / Belzer + Bray / Katherine Tegen:
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
The White Rose by Amy Ewing
The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Endgame: Sky Key by James Frey
Balance Keepers 2: The Pillars of Ponderay by Lindsay Cummings
A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt
The Fate of Ten by Pittacus Lore

Paizo:
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures by Jason Bulmahn

Penguin / Vintage Crime:
The Reckoning by Carsten Stroud

Penguin Teen / Putnam / Speak:
Nightfall by Jake Halpern
Unfriended by Rachel Vail

Pyr:
The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats by Mark Hodder

Quercus / Jo Fletcher Books:
Marked by Sue Tingey

Random House Teens / Delacorte Press:
Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Roc:
Chapelwood: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest

Scholastic:
Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale
Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack
The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black

Subterranean Press:
Can & Can’tankerous by Harlan Ellison
A Fantasy Medley 3 by Kevin Hearne

Titan Books:
Gestapo Mars by Victor Gischler
Cracked by Barbra Leslie
Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea
Nod by Adrian Barnes
The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Tor:
Nightwise by R. S. Belcher
Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
Updraft by Fran Wilde
The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Rage by Ken Shufeldt

Fantasy Book Review: Mechanica

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Synopsis:
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.

Review:
Nicolette (or Mechanica) is a brilliant mechanic like her mother was. But after her parents died, Nicolette is forced to be a servant for her stepmother and stepsisters. However, she still has her little machines – and dreams of the future.

Mechanica is a fun and intriguing twist on the Cinderella story. Nicolette does fall for a young man, but this isn’t a Disney fairy tale. She has a good head on her shoulders and thinks with her head more than her heart. Full of fantastic inventions, magic, and suspense – this story is captivating. YA fantasy meets steampunk in this inspired tale with plenty of heart.

SciFi Book Review: Devil’s Pocket

Devil’s Pocket by John Dixon

Synopsis:
With a chip in his head and hundreds more throughout his body, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman was turned from an orphan with impulse control issues into a super-soldier. Forced into the mercenary Phoenix Force group, he begins to fear he’ll never escape. Sent to a volcanic island to fight for them, he’ll compete in a combat tournament that awards teens with survival for merciless brutality. But just when all looks lost, he spies a friendly face…and possibly a way out.

Review:
Carl and a team from Phoenix Island is sent to a compete in a brutal contest – where many die. But there is more going on behind the scenes that Carl will have to face if he wants to get out alive.

Devil’s Pocket is the sequel to Phoenix Island. This science fiction thriller is fast-paced and full of intrigue and suspense. The characters are well-developed and engaging – even the unlikeable ones. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and only wish we had gotten to see more of Carl’s enhanced abilities outside of the fighting ring. The television show based on the first novel was cancelled. But the novels are much better than the show, as to be expected.

Book Giveaway: Voyagers

Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale 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 25. I’ll draw a name on September 26, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Voyagers

Fantasy Book Review: The Nightmare Charade

The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett

Synopsis:
16-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she’ll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends.

Review:
Dusty and her friends have a new mystery to solve – keeping her mother from being convicted of murder by finding the real killer. To complicate matters, Paul shows up again but claims he can help. Meanwhile, Dusty and her boyfriend are still trying to be with each other despite being told they’ll be cursed for their decision.

The Nightmare Charade is the third and final installment in the Arkwell Academy series. While each book has it’s own mystery, the overlying arc is finally tied up – and doesn’t disappoint. This story is well-paced and full of suspense, intrigue, strong characters, and fun twists. Don’t miss this unique YA fantasy trilogy. I only wish the series would continue, as I’ll miss these characters and fantastic worldbuilding.

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: 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.