SciFi Book Review: The Pretender: Rebirth

The Pretender: Rebirth by Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W Van Sickle

Synopsis:
There are Pretenders among us, geniuses with the ability to become anyone they want to be. In 1983 a corporation known as The Centre isolated a young Pretender named Jarod and exploited his genius for their research. Then, one day, their Pretender ran away.

Review:
The Pretender: Rebirth is written by the creators of The Pretender television show which aired from 1996-2000. Rebirth is just that – a rebirth of the series in novel form, updated to the present day. Fans of the show will see mostly similarities but a few new characters as well.

In this first novel, Jarod Pretends to be a doctor to infiltrate some shading dealings. It reads a lot like the show, fast-paced and thrilling. The story is told from the point of view of the various characters – fleshing each out very well. As in the show, Ms. Parker is completely unlikeable right from the beginning in her villainous role. And Sydney has made some bad choices, but genuinely cares for Jarod. And Jarod is a wide-eyed innocent as he experiences life outside The Centre, with a hero complex.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel in the series. The mystery and suspense build to an exciting and dramatic cliffhanger ending that left me wanting more. Fans of the show will definitely want to check this one out. And I’ll certainly be following this fascinating series.

Fantasy Book Review: Wings of Fire: The Dark Secret

Wings of Fire: The Dark Secret by Tui T Sutherland

Synopsis:
Like all the dragonets of destiny, Starflight has always wanted to see his home — but he’s also been afraid of his fellow NightWings. Starflight doesn’t have mindreading powers like his tribe, and he doesn’t understand why they’re so secretive. No one has ever even seen the NightWing queen.

But now Starflight is the dragonets’ only hope — he must find a way to negotiate with his fellow NightWings to free the RainWing dragons they’ve captured, and perhaps end the war in Pyrrhia altogether. Starflight is the smartest of the dragonets… but is he brave enough to speak up? Or will he falter in his mission, and accidentally betray them all?

Review:
This is the fourth book in the Wings of Fire series. And it almost entirely focuses on Starflight, now that he’s been taken to the NightWing lair. They’re extremely secretive, and wholly unimpressive once Starflight begins to learn about them. All he can think about is getting back to save his friends. But Starflight doesn’t think of himself as a hero. He’s used to doing the thinking, and letting the others save the day.

I really enjoyed this focus on the dark and mysterious Nightwings. And Starflight is a great character, very smart but humble and loyal to his friends. This series just keeps getting better. Full of suspense, mystery, and humor – this is a fantastic story of dragons as the central characters. This inspired series is a must-read for fantasy fans of all ages.

Book Giveaway: The Grendel Affair

ABOUT THE GRENDEL AFFAIR:
We’re the Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI). We battle the very real monsters of myth and legend – and those who would unleash them. We take down the monsters and we cover up the truth. Because when it comes to monsters, the truth won’t set anyone free – it’ll incite a global panic attack.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendent of Grendel, shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.
___________________________

Courtesy of Ace, I have a copy of The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin 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 December 27. I’ll draw a name on December 28, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: The Grendel Affair

Author Interview: Gregg Rosenblum

Fugitive X rosenblum Author Gregg Rosenblum joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about his upcoming release Fugitive X!

For those who haven’t read Revolution 19 yet, can you give us a brief synopsis?

I’ll steal some “marketing” language, because it does a pretty good job:

In the year 2051, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on humanity. Though most humans were either killed or enslaved in the robot revolution, siblings Nick, Kevin, and Cass spent their entire lives in the wilderness, in a Freepost, hiding from the robots. But when the bots discover their community’s location, the three barely make it out alive as their home is destroyed and everyone they love captured or killed.

Now on a risky mission to infiltrate one of the robot’s cities and find their parents, the three come face-to-face with a perfectly monitored new order, where citizens are microchipped and “reeducated” under the robot regime. Anyone who doesn’t abide by their laws faces severe punishment, even death. But as the siblings move stealthily about the City, with the assistance of covert sympathizers, they soon realize they’re not just
fighting to free their loved ones anymore—another revolution is underway.

Where are we when Fugitive X begins? Has any time passed since the end of Revolution 19?

It picks up right where Revolution 19 left off.

Why do you think dystopic and apocalyptic films and books have become so popular recently?

To some degree, Hollywood is of course chasing the success of The Hunger Games. But I do think there’s something deeper going on. We’re in a real time of uncertainty, and change, in our world right now.

Dystopian/apocalyptic novels and films tap into this atmosphere, amplify it, focus it in a way that is cautionary but also thrilling and escapist, all at the same time. We recognize the faults in the real world in these fictional dystopias, and we think, are we headed down this path?, but it makes it palatable in a way that nonfiction could not.

Do you think the popularity will wear off after a while, or is it here to stay?

As long as we have pollution, war, repression, totalitarianism, poverty, etc., we’ll have dystopian and apocalyptic fiction and movies. They’ve been around for a long time—think Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four—and they’re here to stay. I do think, however, that popularity and Hollywood are fickle, and the degree to which this type of fiction is “hot” will wax and wane, like everything else.

What is it about science fiction that inspires you to write for this genre?

I grew up devouring science fiction and fantasy fiction. I couldn’t get enough. But when I began to focus seriously on being a writer, I avoided writing “genre” fiction. For a number of years, I worked on “literary” fiction, and it wasn’t bad, but it was mostly joyless. Finally I came to my senses and realized that I needed to tap into that sense of joy and excitement and wonder and danger and thrill that I had felt from good sci fi and fantasy. Science fiction and fantasy allow me to tackle serious stuff while still having fun.

Do your books reflect your vision of the future?

They’re a reflection on the relationship I see between humanity and technology, and a dramatization, and exaggeration, of where I think we could be headed. No, I’m not arguing that we’re literally headed for a robot revolution in 40 years, but I do think that our ever-evolving relationship with our tech is just as unsettling as it is exciting.

What’s next for you, besides your Revolution 19 trilogy? Any other stories on the horizon?

I’m working on Book 3 right now. Once I wrap that up…I’m not sure, but I want to start something a bit more on the fantasy side, I think. Maybe an urban fantasy, on the dark side, but with a sense of humor? I’ve got some ideas kicking around…

Gregg Rosenblum works at Harvard, where he wages epic battles against technology as an editor/webmaster/communications/quasi-IT guy. He graduated from UC San Diego and has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. He lives in Boston with his wife and daughter.

Haven Part 1 Season Finale

When the Bough Breaks (Part 1 of Two-Part Finale)– Preview
SUMMARY: To convince Audrey of the truth behind her origins, William unleashes a terrible new curse. Don’t miss an all-new episode this Friday at 10|9c on Syfy.

Inside Haven 411 – Behind the Scenes
SUMMARY: #DiscoverHaven

The Cast Talks: Nathan’s Growth – Interview Clip
SUMMARY: Lucas Bryant talks about how Nathan has grown during Season Four.

Shot in the Dark – Stephen King References
SUMMARY: Check out the Stephen King References in 411, ‘Shot in the Dark.’

Fantasy Book Review: The Misfortune Cookie

The Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick

Synopsis:
Esther Diamond’s year gets off to a rocky start when NYPD’s Detective Connor Lopez, who slept with her and then didn’t call, shuts down her current place of employment and gets her arrested. Once she’s out of handcuffs, and with no paying work on the frigid horizon, Esther takes a small role in a grad student’s film project in Chinatown—where her friend semi-retired hit man Lucky Battistuzzi, who escaped Lopez’s sweep at the Little Italy restaurant where Esther works between acting jobs, is hiding out in a Chinese-Italian mortuary.

Esther and Lucky soon realize that something strange is going on in Chinatown, where beautifully handcrafted fortune cookies are inflicting deadly mystical curses on the hapless victims who receive them as gifts—and before long, Esther learns that Detective Lopez is one of the recipients. As preparations for Chinese New Year heat up in the ice-covered neighborhood, when the streets will be filled with costumed lion dancers, firecrackers, and dense crowds, Esther and Lucky summon the help of their friend Max, a semi-immortal mage and semi-solvent bookseller, to help them save Chinatown and Lopez (with whom Esther is not on speaking terms) from a mystical murderer of maniacal menace.

Review:
Just when you think Esther and Lopez could have a happy ending, Esther finds herself hurt and betrayed. Just in time for New Year’s. And, as always, money is tight and she’s hungry. This time Chinese food is on the menu. And just as a warning, you will begin to crave Chinese food too. As Esther talked about the food, I began to crave it. And I’m not a huge fan to begin with. This alone proves Resnick’s writing skills.

As I’ve probably said before, the Esther Diamond novels are easily one of my top favorite urban fantasy series. Full of witty banter, mystery, clever characters, and a bit of magic and romance – I can’t get enough of these stories. And this latest adventure is no exception. The book starts out with a hilarious series of events that lands poor Esther behind bars. But she’s strong and independent and always lands on her feet. I’m crazy about these characters and get so wrapped up in the story that it’s over all too quickly. I also appreciate when it’s evident that the author has done a lot of research for an informative and accurate read. The Misfortune Cookie is the 6th book in the series, but each are fantastic standalone novels. My only complaint about the series is having to wait a year for the next new installment.

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