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SciFi Book Review: Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants: Fate of the Gods

Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants: Fate of the Gods by Matthew J. Kirby

Synopsis:
Only one piece of the Trident of Eden remains – Isaiah, a rogue Templar agent, has discovered both the faith prong and the fear prong of this powerful relic. Should he possess the devotion prong, there is little that can stop him. For the time being, Owen and his fellow teens have established an uneasy alliance across Assassin and Templar lines in order to stop Isaiah while they still can.

Over a thousand years earlier, Styrbjorn the Strong, a Danish warrior, leads the Jomsvikings against the Danish king, Harald Bluetooth. It is on those Viking battlefields that the secrets of the devotion prong lie. It is there that the fate of the world, the truth behind the teens’ collective unconsciousness, and their ancestral links to one another lie. History has already been written. The rest is up to Owen, Javier, and the other members of their unlikely alliance. The actions they take will change the world of Assassin’s Creed forever.

Review:
Fate of the Gods is the final installment in the Last Descendants trilogy set in the Assassin’s Creed universe. This group of teens have been through several ancestors’ memories that have tested their mental resolve. And Owen decided to stay with the megalomaniac Isaiah – which puts Owen’s life at risk and Isaiah close to having all three pieces of a powerful artifact.

The final piece of the trident, has been traced to ancient Scandinavia. So the teens get to experience their ancestors as Vikings. The Viking ancestors are pitted against each other in a brutal battle that culminates to a surprising ending. This was my favorite book in the trilogy – full of action, intrigue, and drama – both in and out of the Animus. The story arc concludes in an exciting way. But I will certainly miss some of these characters.

Book Giveaway: Scythe and Thunderhead

Thunderhead-PlannerPrize_preview

Simon & Schuster is partnering with SciFiChick.com for a new giveaway!

Live As If You’ll Never Be Gleaned
Start the new year living life to the fullest! One (1) winner receives:
• Copies of Scythe and Thunderhead
• Plus a 2018 planner and colorful pen set to kick-start the new year!

Prizing and samples provided by Simon & Schuster.

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 19. I’ll draw a name on January 20, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Book #1 Synopsis: Scythe
Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

Book #2 Synopsis: Thunderhead
Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Will the Thunderhead intervene? Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

Author Bio:
Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including The Unwind Dystology, The Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his newest series Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. The father of four children, Neal lives in California. Visit him at Storyman.com and Facebook.com/NealShusterman.

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Scythe and Thunderhead

Book Review: Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great.

Review:
When Pity learns she is about to be sold off by her father, she decides to escape to the West. However, the place she flees to has it’s own set of rules. And earning her keep may destroy her soul. Pity is talented with her mother’s hand-me-down pistols. But she’s never had to kill a man.

Gunslinger Girl is set in an alternate world of a Wild West, after America had a second Civil War. The land is harsh, and still allows for backward and cruel treatment of women. I was hesitant with the first couple chapters, but the story picked up and wasn’t as dark as it initially felt. Pity and her love interest are sweet and relatable. The story is fast-paced and full of drama, intrigue, suspense, and a bit of romance. Events build to a surprising and action-packed finale. And this captivating debut leaves off in an interesting way that will leave readers eager for the next in the series.

SciFi Book Review: The Last Girl On Earth

The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier

Synopsis:
Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows–her family, her teachers, her friends–is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.

Review:
Li is a human, raised by an alien father. She has to hide what she is for fear of death. Even her best friend doesn’t know the truth. She has to work harder than anyone to earn a place as an officer. But when she meets Ryn, her heart trumps what her head tells her to do.

At just 256 pages, with fast pacing, The Last Girl on Earth almost felt like a short story. This YA science fiction story had an intriguing premise that pulled me in right away. However, it wasn’t too hard for Li to fit in as the only difference between the aliens and humans are gills – and physical activity and intelligence come easier for the aliens. Though a quick read, it a sweet and enjoyable read. Though, I would have liked more of a backstory or more depth to the aliens. This debut has plenty of suspense and romance that culminates with a surprising twist finale.

Book Review: Hunting Prince Dracula

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis:
Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

Review:
Audrey Rose Wadsworth is still grieving the traumatic loss of her brother when she arrives at a castle in Romania to study forensic medicine. But before Audrey Rose and her friend Thomas Cresswell even arrive, a murder happens on the train. And after another body is found drained of blood, they begin to wonder about the Dracula folklore.

Hunting Prince Dracula is the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper. This Gothic horror series for young adults is dark and romantic – paying homage to the classics. Full of suspense, drama, and creepy settings – this sequel is just as exciting as the last. Audrey Rose is a wonderful character – strong and smart – yet confined by the time period because of her sex. The murder mystery builds to a twisted and thrilling conclusion that left me wanting more. I look forward to the next in this exceptional series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Leia: Princess of Alderaan

(Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Synopsis:
A young adult novel, written by New York Times Best-selling author Claudia Gray, about sixteen-year-old Princess Leia, set before A New Hope.

Review:
When Leia turns sixteen, she notices that her parents aren’t as attentive as they used to be. And when she decides to fight some injustices from the Empire’s involvement, Leia discovers that her parents have a big secret. The dinner parties that they throw are actually rebel meetings.

Adult and Young Adult fans alike will enjoy this engaging coming-of-age story. We finally get a look at how Leia got involved in the rebellion and her parent’s reaction. She’s an amazing character that Gray did a fantastic job of showing us a young Leia who has yet to develop her leadership skills and confidence. This 16-year-old Leia is completely believable and endearing. The story is well-paced and full of suspense, intrigue, and a bit of romance. This was another great character-centric prequel that won’t disappoint.

Fantasy Book Review: Sorcery for Beginners

Sorcery for Beginners by Matt Harry (Author) and Juliane Crump (Illustrator)

Synopsis:
Five-hundred years ago, sorcery began to fade from the world. As technology prevailed, combustion engines and computers replaced enchanted plows and spell books. Real magicians were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten. That is … until now.

Sorcery for Beginners is no fantasy or fairy tale. Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), this book is a how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It’s also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long war when he uses sorcery to take on a school bully. Owen’s spell casting attracts the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, all of whom wish to use Sorcery for Beginners to alter the course of world history forever.

Review:
Owen is dealing with his parent’s divorce and his mother’s absence. He’d do anything to turn back time and fix things. So, when he is presented with Sorcery for Beginners, he sees it as a chance. But when a secret group finds Owen, they’ll stop at nothing to get the book from him.

Sorcery for Beginners is the first in a new fantasy series for young teens. There is plenty of danger, suspense, magic, and humor. I would like to see more character development with Owen’s friends in future installments. The strength of the story is definitely the pacing and intense suspense. And the accompanying illustrations add to the story, making it feel like you’re reading the book of magic along with the students. The engaging world-building will definitely keep me reading future installments.

Fantasy Book Review: Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Clagi Gallicano

Synopsis:
Haunted by a dream of a mythical gryphon, Sam London uncovers an ancient secret that will change the way he sees the world forever. Recruited by Dr. Vance Vantana, an eccentric zoologist and park ranger sent by the government, Sam is whisked away on an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the globe. Along this journey, Sam learns an incredible truth: mythical creatures are real and living among us in our national parks. A special department in the U.S. government ensures that their existence remains hidden.

But Sam’s dream is an omen that the secret may now be in danger. Someone seeks the power to expose these creatures and overthrow humankind—and that power can only be found in a magical talisman known as the gryphon’s claw.

Review:
Sam has vivid dreams. And his latest has him obsessed with finding more answers about the mythical gryphon he keeps seeing. When he hunts down the place from his dreams, Sam’s life will never be the same.

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw is the first in an exciting fantasy series for middle grade readers. Sam is an average boy who doesn’t feel exceptional at anything. But he has a gift that sets him on a course for adventure. There are loads of fun and vibrant characters and mythological creatures. And the hunt for the powerful grypho’s claw builds to an exciting and surprising ending. I look forward to the next in this promising series.