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Fantasy Book Review: Endure

Endure by Sara B Larson

Synopsis:
At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Review:
Alexa has lost almost everyone she has ever loved. So when she receives a letter threatening Rylan’s life if she doesn’t come alone, Alexa decides to try a foolhardy rescue. Meanwhile, war is brewing as an evil monarch seeks more power.

Endure is the final installment in the Defy trilogy. With an inspired story and interesting characters, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series. The worldbuilding of these magical kingdoms has been intriguing and slowly unfolded in each novel. Full of adventure, drama, magic, and a bit of romance – this finale doesn’t disappoint.

SciFi Book Review: Starflight

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Synopsis:
Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but
it’s not like the law has ever been on her side.

Still, off-world travel doesn’t come cheap; Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school.

The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for conspiracy on Earth, and Solara cons him into playing the role of her servant on board the Banshee, a ship manned by an eccentric crew with their own secrets. Given the price on both Doran and Solara’s heads, it may just be the safest place in the universe.

Review:
Solara is a smart and capable young woman who just needs help getting started out. But her plans go awry when her past is revealed. So, she resorts to kidnapping her former “master,” making him think he’s the servant. But the ship they purchase passage on has it’s own share of problems.

Starflight is a fresh and fun, science fiction novel that reminded me a lot of the feel of the Firefly/Serenity crew. This exciting, standalone novel is fast-paced and thrilling. I loved the complex characters, especially Solara and Doran. Doran goes through an impressive amount of character development – from a spoiled brat to an actual sympathetic character. I loved every bit of this fantastic space adventure for young adults. And as much as I appreciate standalone novels, I’d really love to read more adventures from this crew.

Received in January

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

Mystery Box:
Supply Pod

Ace:
The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin

Daw:
Revisionary: Magic Ex Libris: Book Four by Jim C. Hines

Del Rey:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
Alive by Scott Sigler

Disney Hyperion:
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Zero Day by Jan Gangsei
Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
The Zodiac Legacy: The Dragon’s Return by Stan Lee

Harper Teen / Katherine Tegen:
Front Lines by Michael Grant
The Prey by Tom Isbell
The Capture by Tom Isbell
Dark Energy by Robison Wells
Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin
Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong

Harper Voyager:
The Vagrant by Peter Newman
Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe

Macmillan Teen / Feiwel and Friends / Henry Holt / FSG / Roaring Brook Press:
Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor
The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder
The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
Trapped by S. A. Bodeen
The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
Gifted by H. A. Swain
Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Dream On by Kerstin Gier

Penguin Teen / Kathy Dawson Books / Speak / Viking:
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse
Stolen by Melissa De la Cruz
Dove Exiled by Karen Bao

Pocket Books:
Star Trek: Voyager: A Pocket Full of Lies by Kirsten Beyer
Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Pyr:
Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

Roc:
Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot: To Preserve by Mickey Zucker Reichert

Scholastic / Chicken House:
Wings of Fire: Escaping Peril by Tui T. Sutherland
Endure by Sara B. Larson
TombQuest: The Stone Warriors by Michael Northrop
Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts: Broken Ground by Victoria Schwab
Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Secret Hero Society #1: Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs
Longbow Girl by Linda Davies

Simon & Schuster / Emily Bestler Books:
Dominion by John Connolly

Subterranean Press:
Freedom of the Mask by Robert McCammon
Down and Out In Purgatory by Tim Powers
The Days of Tao by Wesley Chu

Titan Books:
Quarry’s Deal by Max Allan Collins
Quarry’s Cut by Max Allan Collins
The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes by Michcael Kurland
Broken Hero by Jonathan Wood
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The White Worm by Sam Siciliano

Tor:
The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Pathfinder Tales: Pirate’s Prophecy by Chris A. Jackson

Book Giveaway: Alive

Courtesy of Del Rey, I have a copy of Alive by Scott Sigler 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 February 19. I’ll draw a name on February 20, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Alive

Book Giveaway: Zero Day

Courtesy of Hyperion Books, I have a copy of Zero Day by Jan Gangsei 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 February 19. I’ll draw a name on February 20, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Zero Day

A Truly Horrifying Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Teen-Frankenstein-Blog-Tour-Banner

Lori Goldstein joins SciFiChick.com today to share her High School Horror Story on this stop of Chandler Baker’s blog tour!

Lori Goldstein’s High School Horror Story

Here’s the thing about horror stories. Sometimes, it’s all about perspective.

What seems like a huge deal at the time might not be all that horrific in hindsight and vice versa, something that is entirely de rigueur might come back to bite you in your older keister.

My older keister has a big chunk missing. Because of this.

Lori Goldstein Photo 1

Permed, teased, curling ironed, I owe my high school horror story to a monster can of Aqua Net.

But it’s not really my fault. See, I grew up in New Jersey. And if you don’t know anything about New Jersey, think Jon Bon Jovi pre haircut.

Lori Goldstein Photo 2

I’m not looking so bad now, right?

Living in the shadow of New York City, we Jersey girls had to find ways to stand out. Or in this case, up. Way, way up.

Flipping through my high school albums proves it wasn’t just me. We were all doing it. That doesn’t make me want to whisper, “the horror, the horror” any less.

Though there was one benefit. For once in my life, I easily clocked in at five feet without heels.

Bio:
Born into an Italian-Irish family (hence the short temper and the freckles), Lori Goldstein grew up in a small town on the Jersey shore and now makes her home outside of Boston in a place close enough to the ocean that on the right day, she can smell the sea from her back deck, and yet it still takes an hour to get to the beach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before embracing her love of fictional people. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, out now; Circle of Jinn, May 17, 2016). When not writing or reading (preferably from a sandy local), Lori can be found chatting books and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter (@loriagoldstein). You can visit her online at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com, Tumblr and Instagram: lorigoldsteinbooks.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/LoriGoldsteinAuthor, and Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/LoriGoldstein


Courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing, I have a copy of Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker 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 February 5. I’ll draw a name on February 6, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading A Truly Horrifying Blog Tour and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Before the Awakening

Star Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka

Synopsis:
A companion piece to the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens character novels, Star Wars: Before the Awakening is an anthology book that focuses on the lives of Rey, Finn, and Poe before the events of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Review:
FN-2187 (who becomes Finn) is a young Stormtrooper in training. He’s a natural leader, but a bit too sympathetic for his fellow colleagues. Rey is a scavenger who comes across a ship that could bring her quite a bit of profit. But she’s not sure she can trust an offer of help. And the third short story follows Poe along the direction of his life to become the most skilled pilot in the Resistance.

Before the Awakening is a fun and fascinating look at each of the new main characters. Finn and Rey’s stories are short and predictable, since we know where they came from and what happens to them in the future. But Poe’s is much longer and gives more background into the New Republic, the need for a Resistance, and how Poe gets recruited. The characters are vivid and engaging. And the stories are fast-paced and exciting. Fans of the Force Awakens will definitely want to check out this set of short stories for middle grade readers on up. I can’t get enough of these characters.

SciFi Book Review: Winter

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend-the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Review:
Winter is the final installment in the Lunar Chronicles series. Each installment adds a new main character; and this one focuses mostly on Winter (if you couldn’t tell be the title). The large cast of characters, and wrapping up all of their interconnecting stories, led to an impressively large novel at 823 pages. While it took longer to read, the pacing never slowed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this big finale. Meyer did a great job of wrapping up everyone’s story. None can compare to the fantastic character of Cinder, the horribly-burned princess turned cyborg. But Winter is another wonderfully complex character – a beautiful stepdaughter who refuses to use her mind control gift to the detriment of her mental faculties. This story is full of intrigue, drama, suspense, and (since these are fairy tale re-imaginings) romance. I absolutely love these science fiction takes on Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.