Fantasy Book Review: Shattered

Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Synopsis:
For nearly two thousand years, only one Druid has walked the Earth—Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword have kept him alive as he’s been pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.

Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.

And Owen has some catching up to do.

Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.

But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.

As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time, three’s a charm.

Review:
Shattered is the 7th book in the Iron Druid series. This is Hearne’s most ambitious novel of the series yet. Told from Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen’s points of view (switching each chapter) sounds like it could be hard to follow, but it wasn’t hard at all – especially when I saw that each chapter had the corresponding animal that matched the speaker. This made it easier to follow the complex story – Granuaile in India trying to save her father, Owen learning about modern-day life, and Atticus with entirely too much going on.

This latest installment is fast-paced and full of wild adventure, clever characters, and humor. This is a must-read series for urban fantasy fans – with every manner of mythology rolled up into one exceptional series. Though each is mostly a standalone story, I highly recommend starting at the beginning.

Book Giveaway: Soda Pop Soldier

Courtesy of Harper Voyager, I have a copy of Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole 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 July 25. I’ll draw a name on July 26, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Soda Pop Soldier

SciFi Book Review: Alienated

Alienated by Melissa Landers

Synopsis:
Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life-not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Review:
Cara doesn’t trust the aliens blindly like her parents, but she doesn’t hate them like her most of her peers. And when she meets Aelyx it’s not exactly love at first sight, but more of a meet-cute out of a romantic comedy. Aelyx reminded me a lot of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. He’s arrogant and often says offensive things but has a good heart and soon starts to change for the better when he gets to know Cara.

Alienated is first in an exciting new YA science fiction series. Fans of the shows Roswell and StarCrossed will enjoy this romantic, cross-species love story. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-paced drama that held plenty of mystery, suspense, and romance. The story ends with a fun twist that wasn’t quite a cliffhanger, but left me eager for the next in the series.

Blu-Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Sixth Season

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Sixth Season Blu-Ray

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE SIXTH SEASON BLU-RAY includes all 26 episodes, numerous commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, promos, gag reel, and the new three-part documentary “Beyond the Five Year Mission – The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation”

The sixth of seven seasons starts with the second part of one of my favorite episodes – “Time’s Arrow.” Featuring Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan in the 1800s, the crew of the Enterprise tries to rescue Data as a nosy Samuel Clemens gets in the way. James Doohan revisits the Enterprise in the classic episode “Relics.” Q returns in “True Q” to test a new Q. Worf and his son get stuck in the Old West in the holodeck in the humorous “A Fistful of Datas.” Picard gets captured and tortured by the Cardassians during a secret mission in “Chain of Command” Parts 1 and 2. And that’s just the first half of the season. This was easily one of the strongest seasons, with just about every episode being a solid story that I have watched numerous times.

This season is a must-buy for Next Generation fans. This remastered blu-ray edition was worth the wait with plenty of new deleted scenes and other extras.

Disc One:
Episodes:
• Time’s Arrow, Part II
• Realm of Fear
• Man of the People
• Relics
• Schisms
Special Features”
• Archival Mission Log: Mission Overview Year Six (SD)
• Audio Commentary with Ronald D. Moore and Mike & Denise Okuda on “Relics” – NEW
• Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW
– Time’s Arrow, Part II
– Relics
• Episodic Promos
– Promo #1 (SD)
– Promo #2 (SD)
– Promo #3 (SD)
– Promo #4 (SD)
– Promo #5 (SD)
Disc Two:
Episodes:
• True Q
• Rascals
• A Fistful of Datas
• The Quality of Life
Special Features:
• Archival Mission Log: Bold New Directions (SD)
• Archival Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Year Six: Production (SD)
• Archival Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Profile: Dan Curry (SD)
• Deleted Scene (HD) – NEW
– True Q
• Episodic Promos
– Promo #1 (SD)
– Promo #2 (SD)
– Promo #3 (SD)
– Promo #4 (SD)
Disc Three:
Episodes”
• Chain of Command, Part I
• Chain of Command, Part II
• Ship in a Bottle
• Aquiel
• Face of the Enemy
Special Features:
• Archival Mission Log: Special Crew Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Data (SD)
• Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW
– Ship in a Bottle
– Face of the Enemy
• Episodic Promos
– Promo #1 (SD)
– Promo #2 (SD)
– Promo #3 (SD)
– Promo #4 (SD)
– Promo #5 (SD)
Disc Four:
Episodes:
• Tapestry
• Birthright, Part I
• Birthright, Part II
• Starship Mine
• Lessons
Special Features:
• Archival Mission Log: Select Historical Data (SD)
• Audio Commentary with Ronald D. Moore and Mike & Denise Okuda on “Tapestry” – NEW
• Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW
– Tapestry
– Birthright, Part II
• Episodic Promos
– Promo #1 (SD)
– Promo #2 (SD)
– Promo #3 (SD)
– Promo #4 (SD)
– Promo #5 (SD)
Disc Five:
Episodes:
• The Chase
• Frame of Mind
• Suspicions
• Rightful Heir
• Second Chances
Special Features:
• Archival Mission Log: Inside Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props (SD)
• Audio Commentary with James L. Conway and Jonathan West on “Frame of Mind” – NEW
• Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW
– The Chase
– Rightful Heir
• Episodic Promos
– Promo #1 (SD)
– Promo #2 (SD)
– Promo #3 (SD)
– Promo #4 (SD)
– Promo #5 (SD)
Disc Six:
Episodes:
• Timescape
• Descent, Part I
Special Features:
• Beyond the Five Year Mission – The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation (HD) – NEW
– Part One: The Lithosphere
– Part Two: The Biosphere
– Part Three: The Noosphere
• Gag Reel (HD) – NEW
• Episodic Promos
– Promo #1 (SD)
– Promo #2 (SD)

Kevin J. Anderson Guest Post And Giveaway Winner!

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Seven Suns — My Love Letter to Science Fiction
by Kevin J. Anderson

I grew up with science fiction.

Even though I lived in a tiny farming town in Wisconsin that didn’t even have a library–just the book mobile once a month–I actually spent much of my youth on other planets, exploring the galaxy with the crew of the Enterprise or lost in the Galaxy on the Jupiter 2. I read comics. I read science fiction magazines. I watched Sci-Fi Cinema every Saturday afternoon on a staticky black-and-white TV that barely got the Chicago television station broadcasting old monster movies.

It got in my blood. It fired my imagination, and I had no doubt whatsoever that I wanted to be a science fiction writer.

I wrote a lot of bad SF short stories. Then I started to write slightly better ones. Eventually some were published.

Then, my first novel. Then, my first three-book contract, which eventually led to my work in the Star Wars universe, then in the Dune universe with Frank Herbert’s son, Brian.

Not only was I a fan of science fiction, I actively worked in science fiction. Every day I commuted to my job on an alien planet in my imagination.

I continued to write original novels even as I worked in all of those shared universes. Throughout it all, though, a much bigger story was brewing in my mind, something of my own—a universe that was the biggest thing I had ever developed.

The Saga of Seven Suns. dark between the stars

I envisioned a spectacular opening scene: a gigantic industrial city floating in the clouds of a gas giant planet; a crew of workers harvesting chemicals out of the planet’s atmosphere. Then an enormous alien vessel, like the mothership from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” rises from the high-pressure depths and destroys the facility. In a sprawling galactic empire with several cooperative alien races, this was a new threat: an exotic species that lived deep in the cores of gas giants. And they had just risen up to declare war on the rest of the galaxy.

I developed all the characters who would drive my story—the star-crossed lovers, the alien emperor, the head of the human trade confederation, the military commanders, the scam artists, the archeologists, the spies, the explorers, the artists. I developed each culture, each planet, each monster, each type of starship. The Saga of Seven Suns grew and grew, spiraling out like a galactic “War and Peace.”

With so many plot threads going at once, the story itself became the main character, the driving force with hundreds of characters moving the story along. And I poured everything into it.

The Saga of Seven Suns was my love letter to science fiction, with exotic planets, alien races, killer robots, abandoned and mysterious cities, characters that ranged from the highest leader of a civilization, down to the lowest gutter-scum. The original series encompassed seven volumes, beginning with HIDDEN EMPIRE. Each massive book coming out on time, year after year. (Yes, I know–unheard of in science fiction and fantasy, right?).

I did a graphic novel prequel, VEILED ALLIANCES, and then novelized that and published it through my own WordFire Press. In addition to the comic rights, I sold audio rights, UK rights, French, German, Bulgarian, Czech. The series took off world-wide, building with each volume. One year, the top-selling science fiction and fantasy books in the UK included seven Terry Pratchett books and three of my Seven Suns books.

I wrapped up that great saga in 2009 with THE ASHES OF WORLDS, and then I wrote other things for five years. The Seven Suns universe was my masterpiece. It contains everything I love about science fiction.

I wrapped up the story, but I had planted seeds throughout, always planning to come back for a new trilogy, a “next generation” saga—The Saga of Shadows.

But, if the Saga of Seven Suns was my masterpiece, how could I follow it up? By trying to do even better, of course, making a bigger story with an even more dire threat. With THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS, the first book in The Saga of Shadows, I returned to that universe that is so dear to me with a whole new story and a new cast of characters, as well as some old favorites.

Two decades have passed since the end of THE ASHES OF WORLDS, leaving the Spiral Arm in a completely different situation. I wanted to start fresh, so I wrote THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS so that it starts anew and stands alone, introducing readers who haven’t experienced The Saga of Seven Suns, while delivering exactly what fans of the original series are looking for.

It was both exhausting and exhilarating to stretch those mental muscles again. The first novel just came out, and I’m well over halfway finished writing the second, BLOOD OF THE COSMOS, and it will be out on time next year. I promise.

I am very much enjoying this return to familiar strange places and characters who have become old friends, or even family. If you like good, old-fashioned space opera, and if you love science fiction as much as I do, I hope you’ll sample it.

__________________________________________

And The Dark Between the Stars giveaway winner is: Irene M. from Toms River, NJ!
Congrats! Your book will be shipping shortly.

Keri Arthur Blog Tour: Interview and Giveaway!

Author Keri Arthur joins SciFiChick.com today for her first stop along her latest blog tour, promoting her new release FIREBORN!

Can you tell us a bit about FIREBORN in your own words?

Fireborn is the story of Emberly, a phoenix blessed (or cursed) with foresight. When she sees the death of the man she once loved, she steps into alter fate–and in the process becomes involved in not only the investigation of her boss’s murder, but the efforts to recover his stolen research before it falls into the wrong hands–and changes the world forever.

Tell us about Emberly Pearson. A phoenix as a main character sounds like something new.

It’s certainly new for me! But after spending 16 books in the Riley Jenson world, writing about vamps and weres, I really felt the need to write something totally different. So I began researching all sorts of mythical creatures, and it was the phoenix–with it’s ability to be reborn time and again out of the ashes of its death–that snagged my muse’s interest, mainly because of the potential such an ability offered story-wise. So Emberly–and the world of phoenixes–was born

Does this mean she’s immortal?

She’s immortal in the sense that on death, she’s reborn. But it’s not automatic; there are restrictions and if they’re not met, she dies permanently.

Is there anything else unique about this urban fantasy series?

There’s a different take on vampires in this one, and there’s certainly some supernaturals that haven’t featured in any of my books before–dark elves, for instance.

How many books do you have planned for the Souls of Fire series?

Read moreKeri Arthur Blog Tour: Interview and Giveaway!

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