SciFi Book Review: The Eighth Guardian

The Eighth Guardian by Meredith McCardle

Synopsis:
Amanda Obermann. Code name Iris.

It’s Testing Day. The day that comes without warning, the day when all juniors and seniors at The Peel Academy undergo a series of intense physical and psychological tests to see if they’re ready to graduate and become government operatives. Amanda and her boyfriend Abe are top students, and they’ve just endured thirty-six hours of testing. But they’re juniors and don’t expect to graduate. That’ll happen next year, when they plan to join the CIA—together.

But when the graduates are announced, the results are shocking. Amanda has been chosen—the first junior in decades. And she receives the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a secret government organization called the Annum Guard and travel through time to change the course of history. But in order to become the Eighth Guardian in this exclusive group, Amanda must say good-bye to everything—her name, her family, and even Abe—forever.

Who is really behind the Annum Guard? And can she trust them with her life?

Review:
Amanda is recruited to a top secret, time traveling agency as a junior, instead of spending her senior year in school and heading off to the CIA as she and her boyfriend planned. But the Annum Guard is frustratingly secretive. And Amanda must prove herself or else she will be sent somewhere to keep her from being able to tell people about the Guard.

The Eighth Guardian is first in an exciting, scifi series for young adults. This intro to the Annum Guard is wrought with suspense, intrigue, and surprising twists. While I love time travel stories, I had reservations about a story where the government sanctions changes to the timeline. But it’s very well-written and somewhat believable that the government (those in charge) would use time travel to gain more money. This fast-paced and thrilling debut is engaging and hard to put down. I’ll definitely be following this series in the future.

Fantasy Book Review: Embers & Ash

Embers & Ash by TM Goeglein

Synopsis:
Sara Jane Rispoli is on the wrong side of the Russian mob, but closer to finding her family than ever. And she’s willing to do whatever it takes to finally end this terrible journey even if the price is her own life.

The very cold fury that has seen her through the worst of her troubles is now killing her; she knows the cure, but she can’t sacrifice the deadly electricity until she’s rescued her family. But when she finally does rescue them, it’s not the happy reunion she pictured. And the torment doesn’t stop there, not even when she finally discovers Ultimate Power. Only destroying the Outfit completely can end this terrible nightmare.

Old enemies return to seek vengeance, double-crosses abound, and even more mysteries are uncovered as we rocket toward an end no one saw coming.

Review:
Sara Jane and her best friend Doug are in the home stretch of decoding her family’s code for the “ultimate power” and learning who has her family. Meanwhile, Sara Jane’s regular life of school and relationship drama continues.

Embers & Ash is the third and final installment of the Cold Fury Trilogy. Packed with mystery, drama, suspense, and places from historic Chicago – this conclusion does not disappoint. This thrilling conclusion is fast-paced and full of surprises. Blending fantasy, Chicago history, and Italian mafia – this is a unique, fun, and exciting young adult series.

Fantasy Book Review: A Plunder of Souls

A Plunder of Souls by DB Jackson

Synopsis:
Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villains and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.

A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille’s minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related…but how?

When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster’s terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave.

Review:
Ethan faces a familiar foe in this third standalone installment in the Thieftaker series. But this time, Ethan and his conjuring associates may be outmatched when their abilities become unreliable. And Ethan’s relationships develop in interesting ways throughout the story, leaving me looking forward to how it will affect him in the future.

A Plunder of Souls is an impressive mixture of the macabre, historic fiction, and fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced and exciting adventure. Once again, this dark and magical mystery kept me on the edge of my seat with its intriguing characters and intense story. As one of my favorite fantasy series, I can’t recommend it enough.

SciFi Book Review: Dualed

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Synopsis:
Two of you exist. Only one will survive.

West Grayer is ready. She’s trained for years to confront her Alternate, a twin raised by another family. Survival means a good job, marriage—life.

But then a tragic misstep leaves West questioning: Is she the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future?

If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from herself, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Review:
Exact duplicate clones are placed with separate families and when they near adulthood are forced to kill each other so that only one survives – the one worthy of living. It’s a bizarre dystopian civilization where the authorities are still secretive in this first novel. Just the rules are laid out. And the story focuses on West’s family and the choices she makes.

Dualed is first in an action-packed, scifi duology for young adults. Packed with intense suspense, drama, and adventure – this was a hard novel to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced, impressive debut.

Book Giveaway: Doctor Who: Engines of War

Courtesy of BBC Books, I have a copy of Doctor Who: Engines of War 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 August 15. I’ll draw a name on August 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Doctor Who: Engines of War

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Synopsis:
An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly and enigmatic Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Review:
Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) is a wise-cracking thief and philanderer, with a penchant for Earth music from the 70s. Gamora is a conflicted assassin and the adopted daughter of the supervillain Thanos. Rocket is a talking raccoon and bounty hunter – a former medical experiment who now has genius level mechanical abilities. Groot is a tree-like creature who acts as Rocket’s bodyguard and who can only speak three words “I am Groot.” And Drax is a tortured man (who takes everything literally) driven by revenge for the death of his family. These five unique characters unite to form the unlikeliest of superhero teams.

The casting was spot on. Chris Pratt was born for his role as Peter Quill. And I’m convinced no one could do it better. And John C. Reilly and Glenn Close shine as their respective Nova Corps characters. As a fan of the comics, I couldn’t be happier. Director James Gunn and Marvel really pushed the envelope when introducing a film with a talking raccoon and sentient tree as central characters. And succeeded in creating a brilliant movie without equal.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an action-packed, intergalactic adventure with a lot of laugh-out-loud comedy. In fact, the audience was laughing so much that it was easy to miss dialog. I had high expectations after seeing the fantastic trailers set to great songs (“Hooked on a Feeling” and “Spirit in the Sky”) – a genius marketing strategy. I was just hoping the film could live up to all the hype. And amazingly enough, it did. Adding classic 70s pop songs as an integral part of the film was smart and took the whole experience to another level. It’s emotional, riveting, gritty, and hilarious. This will be yet another Marvel movie that I’ll be watching multiple times in the theatre.

I thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier would be hard to top, but Guardians of the Galaxy is now my favorite movie of 2014.

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