Book Review: Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher

Synopsis:
Christmas, Hawkins, 1984. All Chief Jim Hopper wants is to enjoy a quiet first Christmas with Eleven, but his adopted daughter has other plans. Over Hopper’s protests, she pulls a cardboard box marked “New York” out of the basement—and the tough questions begin. Why did Hopper leave Hawkins all those years ago? What does “Vietnam” mean? And why has he never talked about New York?

Summer, New York City, 1977. Hopper is starting over after returning home from Vietnam. A young daughter, a caring wife, and a new beat as an NYPD detective make it easy to slip back into life as a civilian. But after shadowy federal agents suddenly show up and seize the files about a series of brutal, unsolved murders, Hopper takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to discover the truth.

Review:
Darkness on the Edge of Town is a standalone, original novel from Hopper’s past. The story is told by Hopper to Eleven, with bits of conversation between the two throughout the novel. As a new police detective in New York, Hopper is given a new partner just as cagey government agents seize the case they had just started working.

As young Hopper and his partner investigate ritualistic murders, they stumble upon something bigger. And Hopper has to infiltrate a cult undercover. This story is a mix of murder mystery and thriller. Loaded with suspense and intrigue, I read this one quickly. The excitement builds to a climactic ending that doesn’t disappoint. This novel was a great way to keep me eager for this new season.

Book Giveaway: The Hound of Justice

Courtesy of Harper Voyager, I have a copy of The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 26. I’ll draw a name on July 27, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: The Hound of Justice

Book Giveaway: Alpha and Omega

Courtesy of Del Rey, I have a copy of Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 26. I’ll draw a name on July 27, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Alpha and Omega

Graphic Novel Review: Before Houdini and After Houdini

Before Houdini by Jeremy Holt

Synopsis:
The exciting second volume of the After Houdini saga explores the origins of the elusive master of magic, the man who would become…Houdini.

London, 1888. A shadowy killer stalks the streets of London, his appetite for blood unleashed upon the city’s lower classes. To defeat him, MI6 turns to its most top-secret team: four teenage agents with extraordinary gifts—including a young American immigrant with a talent for illusion . . .

After Houdini began the story of Josef Houdini, son of the famous Harry Houdini—brillian illusionist, acclaimed escape artist, and top-secret covert operative. Now we turn back the clock and meet Ehrich Weiss, a young man whose skill at picking locks is about to land him the adventure of his dreams, and pull him into a war that will affect his life—and his son’s—for years to come. This is the story of Ehrich’s strange beginnings, from before he was a world-famous magician. Before he was a master of espionage. Before he was…Houdini.

After Houdini by Jeremy Holt

Synopsis:
Harry Houdini, master magician and covert spy for the United States, has been kidnapped. The only man who can save him is his estranged son Josef, who, like his father, knows the power of magic—and how it can be more than just an illusion.

Josef Houdini takes after his father: A gifted escape artist, there’s not a jam he can’t get himself out of. Then again, when your father is one of the greatest illusionists of all time, that comes as no surprise. What does come as a surprise is the fact that Harry Houdini is not only the world’s greatest magician, but also a top-secret operative for the US government during World War I. In rare form he finds himself trapped—stuck on a mission he is unable to escape from. That’s why the government needs his son to fill his shoes and complete the mission—but does Josef have the wherewithal to do it? Or is the possibility of success just an illusion?

Review:
I was able to read these graphic novels back-to-back with no prior knowledge of the series. And even though After Houdini was published first, I read Before Houdini first. The villain is the main connection between the two stories. Young Ehrich Weiss (Houdini) is recruited to a secret organization within MI6 that deals with the paranormal. Then, in After Houdini, his son is recruited. I actually enjoyed the prequel a bit more because of there were other fascinating characters with abilities. And the story was even more thrilling.

While the stories are different, they both have the same mix of mystery and horror. And the suspense builds to dark but satisfying finales. The artwork certainly adds to the nostalgic feel, hard and edgy. Though, I had a hard time telling a couple of the older gentlemen apart in After Houdini, which was a bit confusing at times. I also wish we learned something more about the monstrous villain. I hope there is a planned continuation of the story in Before Houdini, as there seems to be a lot left to explore.

Fantasy Book Review: The Chosen

The Chosen by Taran Matharu

Synopsis:
Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover why.

Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still―people. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by mysterious overlords.

Review:
Cade is a misunderstood kid with no friends. Then suddenly, he arrives in a strange land along with some of his classmates in what seems to be a brutal game. There are few answers, and Cade has to rely on his knowledge, as well as the kindness of others, just to stay alive.

The Chosen is the first in a new YA science fiction series. This first novel is action-packed, dramatic, and mysterious. We’re introduced to many characters from several time periods – as well as some strange and dangerous creatures. Cade is a smart and likable boy. And he’s painfully relatable when he makes a selfish decision that he regrets later. We finally get some answers at the end of the book. Though the big reveal is quite strange, I look forward to reading more. This dark and suspenseful story is fast-paced and over too quickly. I will be impatiently waiting for the next in this engaging series.

Received in June

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

DVD/Blu Rays:
Captain Marvel Blu-Ray

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox

Ace:
Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

Del Rey:
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge by Ethan Sacks
Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove
Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton
Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

Disney Hyperion / Freeform:
The Odd Sisters by Serena Valentino
#MurderFunding by Gretchen McNeil
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas by William Lashner
Sanity & Tallulah, Book 2: Field Trip by Molly Brooks
Star Wars Who’s Who in the Galaxy by Ella Patrick
Tales from the Haunted Mansion, Volume IV: Memento Mori by Amicus Arcane
The Fire Keeper by J. C. Cervantes
Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee
The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

Harper Voyager:
The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey
Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep
The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell

Insight Comics:
Before Houdini by Jeremy Holt
After Houdini by Jeremy Holt
The Invisible Empire: Madge Oberholtzer And The Unmasking Of The Ku Klux Klan by Micky Neilson

Jo Fletcher Books:
Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

Little, Brown:
Rise by Ellen Goodlett

Penguin Books:
The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

Scholastic:
Spark by Alice Broadway
Skyjacked by Paul Griffin

Subterranean Press:
The Best of Uncanny by Naomi Novik
A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi

Tor:
Spine of the Dragon by Kevin J. Anderson
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
Lent by Jo Walton
The Hive by Orson Scott Card
The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear

Box Review: Teeblox – June 2019

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Subscriptions start at $10/mo and use code: SCIFICHICK24 to get 24% off your first month!

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*SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

Continue reading Box Review: Teeblox – June 2019

Avengers: Endgame Releases on Digital July 30 and on Blu-Ray August 13!

From Press Release: BURBANK, Calif. (June 26, 2019) — Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame,” the climactic conclusion to an unprecedented, 11-year cinematic journey in which the Avengers take one final stand against Thanos, delivered the biggest opening weekend in history and is currently one of the highest-grossing films of all time. On July 30, Avengers fans around the world are invited to assemble once more for the in-home release of “Avengers: Endgame” on Digital in HD, 4K Ultra HD™ and Movies Anywhere, followed by a physical release on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand beginning Aug. 13.

Fans who bring home “Avengers: Endgame” will gain hours of additional screen time with their favorite cast members and filmmakers who have shaped the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Bonus features include a tribute to the great Stan Lee; the tale of Robert Downey Jr.’s casting as Iron Man; the evolution of Captain America; Black Widow’s dramatic story arc; directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s experience at the helm of both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”; the making of an epic battle scene with the women of the MCU; the creation of Bro Thor; deleted scenes; a gag reel and more.

The must-own, final chapter of the 22-film MCU series, “Avengers: Endgame,” will be packaged several ways to ensure fans get the most out of their in-home entertainment experience.Viewers can bring home the film two weeks early on Digital 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD and gain access to an exclusive extra highlighting the love story of Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Peggy Carter. A physical copy of “Avengers: Endgame” is available as a 4K Cinematic Universe Edition (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital Code), a Multi-Screen Edition (Blu-ray and Digital Code) and a single DVD. Fans who wish to revisit all four films in the Avengers franchise may opt for a Digital bundle, which includes “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

BONUS MATERIAL (may vary by retailer):
Digital Exclusive:
• Steve and Peggy: One Last Dance – Explore Captain America and Peggy Carter’s bond, forged in moments from previous films that lead to a momentous choice in “Avengers: Endgame.”
Blu-ray & Digital:
• Remembering Stan Lee – Filmmakers and cast honor the great Stan Lee in a fond look back at his MCU movie cameos.
• Setting The Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr. – Hear the tale of how Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark in the original “Iron Man” — and launched the MCU.
• A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America – Trace the evolution of Captain America with those who helped shape the look, feel and character of this compelling hero.
• Black Widow: Whatever It Takes – Follow Black Widow’s journey both within and outside the Avengers, including the challenges she faced and overcame along the way.
• The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame – See how Anthony and Joe Russo met the challenge of helming two of the biggest films in cinematic history … back-to-back!
• The Women of the MCU – MCU women share what it was like to join forces for the first time in an epic battle scene — and be part of such a historic ensemble.
• Bro Thor – His appearance has changed but his heroism remains! Go behind the scenes to see how Bro Thor was created.
• Six Deleted Scenes – “Goji Berries,” “Bombs on Board,” “Suckiest Army in the Galaxy,” “You Used to Frickin’ Live Here,” “Tony and Howard” and “Avengers Take a Knee.”
• Gag Reel – Laugh along with the cast in this epic collection of flubs, goofs and gaffes from set.
• Visionary Intro – Intro by directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
• Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

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