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Book Review: Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure

Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

Review:
Kendra and Seth are back to a peaceful life, living at Fablehaven with both sets of grandparents. But then the siblings suddenly called away to help at Wyrmroost to stand against the rebellious dragons threatening the sanctuary. The two must use their cunning and skills to hunt for an artifact and stand up to dangerous foes.

Fablehaven is one of my top favorite children’s series. So, I was ecstatic to hear Brandon Mull was continuing the series and bringing back these beloved characters. Dragonwatch is the first in a new Fabehaven series. It has the same tone of adventure, suspense, and humor. While we’re introduced to many colorful new characters, the story still focuses on Kendra and Seth. The author excels at character development – each new creature that the siblings meet is an adventure in itself. The finale is big and exciting and will leave readers eager for the next in this fantastic fantasy series.

SciFi Book Review: The Release

The Release by Tom Isbell

Synopsis:
Two months have passed since Book, Cat, Hope, and the others rescued the remaining Less Thans from Liberty, but they aren’t safe yet, and soon they’ll have to risk everything in order to defeat their enemies.

The group must leave the camp for good and escape the wolves, the Brown Shirts, and the Hunters. Most important, they need to stop Chancellor Maddox before she executes her Final Solution and grows even more powerful.

While the others are seeking freedom, for Hope, the battle has become personal. She wants revenge, no matter what the cost—and she’s willing to sacrifice anything standing in her way. The group may still be weak, but they don’t have time to wait. They must overthrow the Chancellor, even if it means joining forces with those who once betrayed them.

Review:
The Release is the final installment in The Prey trilogy. This post-apocalyptic series has built to a pulse-pounding, climactic ending. Book is focused on the future, while Hope is focused on revenge. The two still struggle with their uneasy relationship. And the group faces seemingly insurmountable odds as their own government has turned a blind eye to atrocities against their own. This has been a fantastic trilogy with a roller coaster ride of emotions and suspense.

This finale has been bittersweet. I’m sad to say goodbye to these intriguing characters, but happy that we got a satisfying (if dramatic) ending. This is a series I recommend to fans of Hunger Games and Maze Runner.

Fantasy Book Review: The Dragon’s Price

The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Synopsis:
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.

Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.

As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .

If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?

There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

Review:
Sorrowlynn is a sad, sheltered girl. When the time comes to choose to marry a stranger or take her chances against a dragon – she chooses possible death. Golmarr sees her spirit and decides to follow her, to slay the dragon.

The Dragon’s Price is the first in an exciting fantasy trilogy for young adults. I’ve read other books by Wiggins, so I was excited to pick this one up. Once again, her characters are engaging and the story completely captivating. I hope to see Sorrowlynn grow to be more assertive and not rely so much on a man to save her in the upcoming novels. Her actions in the dragon’s cave made for the best scene in the story. The story is full of suspense, magic, and a bit of romance. And a dramatic twist leads to a mildly climactic ending that left me wanting more. The next in this trilogy can’t come soon enough.

Received in February

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

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox
Bam Box

Abrams:
Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book by The Topps Company

Ace:
Vanguard by Jack Campbell

Daw:
The Holver Alley Crew by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Del Rey:
Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig
Radiate by C. A. Higgins
Eagle and Empire by Alan Smale

Disney Hyperion / Marvel:
The Zodiac Legacy: Balance of Power by Stan Lee
Night Night, Groot by Brendan Deneen
Starfall by Melissa Landers
The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari

Harper Teen:
The Release by Tom Isbell

Harper Voyager:
The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst
Talon of God by Wesley Snipes
The Bones of the Earth by Rachel Dunne
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr
The Malice by Peter Newman
The Bones of the Earth by Rachel Dunne

HMH / Clarion Books:
Journey Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst
Fish Girl by David Wiesner

Little, Brown:
Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson

Macmillan Children’s / Feiwel and Friends:
Vanguard by Ann Aguirre

Penguin / Putnam:
The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

Pocket Books:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Long Mirage by David R. George Iii

Pyr:
Worldshaker by J. F. Lewis
Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak

Random House Books for Young Readers / Delacorte Press:
Disruptor by Arwen Elys Dayton
The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel

Scholastic / Chicken House:
Backstories: Batgirl: New Hero of the Night by Matthew Manning
Frogkisser! by Garth Nix
Time Shifters by Chris Grine
George Brown, Class Clown: Return to the Scene of the Burp #19 by Nancy Krulik

Subterranean Press:
The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
Mightier than the Sword by K. J. Parker
The Unorthodox Dr. Draper and Other Stories by William Browning Spencer

Titan Books:
The Blacklist: The Beekeeper No. 159 by Steven Piziks
Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen by Susan Griffith

Tor:
Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis
A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Tor Teen:
Night Magic by Jenna Black

Ubisoft:
Assassin’s Creed: The Official Movie Novelization by Christie Golden

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Digital HD March 24 and Blu-ray April 4!

Star Wars fans, rejoice!

From Press Release: “Announced today on The Star Wars Show and StarWars.com, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will be coming home on Digital HD on March 24th and Blu-ray on April 4th. This news comes on the heels of the start of production announcement of the untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story. “Rogue One” has established its place within the Star Warsuniverse and the hearts of moviegoers, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S.

Arriving early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on March 24, and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on April 4, the release includes never-before-seen “Rogue One” bonus material that will take fans behind the scenes with the movie’s diverse, dynamic cast and inspired team of filmmakers. An intimate collection of stories reveals how the film came to life, as well as hidden Easter Eggs and film facts that audiences may have missed in the theater.

Bonus features include*:
• A Rogue Idea – Hear how ILM’s John Knoll came up with the movie’s concept – and why it’s the right film to launch the Star Wars stand-alone films.
• Jyn: The Rebel – Get to know Rogue One’s defiant, resourceful survivor, and hear what it was like for Felicity Jones to bring her to life onscreen.
• Cassian: The Spy – Diego Luna shares insights into his complex, driven character, who becomes a hero through selflessness, perseverance and passion.
• K-2SO: The Droid – Explore the development of this reprogrammed Imperial droid, from initial pitch and character design through Alan Tudyk’s performance.
• Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills – Go deeper into the relationship between these two very different characters, with Chinese superstars Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.
• Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary – Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed reflect on Saw Gerrera, the broken Rebel leader, and Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects.
• The Empire – Meet a dangerous new Imperial adversary…and cross paths once more with the most iconic villain of all time.
• Visions of Hope: The Look of “Rogue One” – The filmmakers describe the challenges and thrills of developing a bold new look for the movie that can fit within the world of the original trilogy.
• The Princess & The Governor – See what it took to bring the vibrant young princess of “Star Wars: A New Hope” – as well as one of her most memorable foes– – back to the screen.
• Epilogue: The Story Continues – Filmmakers and cast celebrate Rogue One’s premiere and look forward into the future, to the Star Wars stories yet to be told.
• Rogue Connections – Uncover Easter eggs and film facts hidden throughout the movie that connect “Rogue One” to the Star Wars universe.
* Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer. ”

SciFi Book Review: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

Synopsis:
WHO RUNS THE WORLD? SQUIRRELS! Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green moved from sunny California to the suburbs of New Jersey. She must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of . . . a squirrel! After failing at several attempts to find her new BFF, Doreen feels lonely and trapped, liked a caged animal. Then one day Doreen uses her extraordinary powers to stop a group of troublemakers from causing mischief in the neighborhood, and her whole life changes. Everyone at school is talking about it! Doreen contemplates becoming a full-fledged Super Hero. And thus, Squirrel Girl is born! She saves cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean, and dissuades vandalism. All is well until a real-life Super Villain steps out of the shadows and declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy. Can Doreen balance being a teenager and a Super Hero? Or will she go . . . NUTS?

Review:
Doreen is a sweet and naive girl, just trying to make some new friends in her new school. But besides her different personality, she also hides a big secret – she has a big, bushy tail and can talk to squirrels. I’m a big fan of the comics, so I couldn’t wait to check out this novel.

Squirrel Meets World is a quirky and fun book, very similar to the comics – even including comments at the bottom of every page. The plot is very predictable, but it is written for a younger audience. And it only reinforces how sweet and innocent Squirrel Girl is. My favorite parts were when she messaged various Avengers as well as Rocket Raccoon for advice. The humor makes this series standout. Fans of all ages will enjoy this fun-filled adventure.

SciFi Book Review: Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants

Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants by Matthew J Kirby

Synopsis:
Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father’s name by letting him use an Animus-a device that lets users explore genetic memories buried within their own DNA. During a simulation, Owen comes uncovers the existence of a powerful relic long considered a legend-the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artifact-the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It becomes clear the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first.

Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers go into a memory they all share within their DNA: the 1863 Draft Riots in New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the violent streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present.

Review:
After his father is imprisoned, Owen and his mother moved in with his grandparents – who constantly remind him of his father’s failure. But Owen has always believed in his father innocence. So, when he has a chance to use an Animus, he jumps at the chance in order to find out the truth of the past.

Last Descendants is the first in a young adult series by Matthew J Kirby. I’m not a gamer, but I know the series from books and the movie. I’m also a fan of the author’s other novels, so I was excited to check out this novel. I really enjoyed the characters – the teens were diverse and engaging. And the sub-story during 1863 was even more exciting and action-packed. The climactic ending leaves of on a cliffhanger that makes me eager to pick up the next in the series. Teens and adult fans of Assassin’s Creed will enjoy this fun, new series from a talented writer.

SciFi Book Review: The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos

The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

Synopsis:
How did Fox Mulder become a believer?

In the spring of 1979, seventeen-year-old Fox Mulder has bigger problems than applying for college. Five years ago, his younger sister disappeared from their home and was never heard from again. Mulder blames himself, and his mother blames his father, who has retreated into his top-secret work for the State Department. In Fox’s senior year, his dad has moved him to Washington, DC―away from his friends on Martha’s Vineyard.

While Mulder doesn’t mind the fresh start and not being known as “that kid with the missing sister,” he’s still obsessed with finding Samantha. So when a local boy turns up dead and another child is abducted, Mulder can’t stop himself from getting involved. Could there be a link to his sister’s case? As he uncovers the truth, Mulder and his friends find themselves on the trail of a serial killer.

Sucked into a world where conspiracies, the occult, and madness overlap, Fox Mulder starts to believe.

Review:
Fox Mulder is haunted by the memory of his sister’s abduction – right in his presence. So, when he notices a small clue on a missing child, it puts him on a mission to find a child abductor.

Agent of Chaos is a fantastic murder mystery. The characters are vibrant and funny – and the story is suspenseful and exciting. The synopsis leads you to believe that events in this story are what makes Mulder a believer. But the events in this story don’t really lead him to becoming a believer – I feel like that happened back when his sister was abducted. Mulder is extremely observant and brilliant – which makes him a great detective. I enjoyed this Origin story even more than the Scully novel. I can’t get enough of the X-Files, and this early story is a great addition for fans.