All posts by SciFiChick


Book Giveaway: Markswoman and Mahimata!

Courtesy of Harper Voyager, I have a copy of Markswoman and Mahimataby Rati Mehrotra 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 April 5. I’ll draw a name on April 6, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

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Guest Post: Author Amber Royer

Author Amber Royer joins today to talk about researching for her Chocoverse books. Her latest novel, Pure Chocolate, book 2 in The Chocoverse series, is available now!

“Research and Empathy”

At a recent science fiction convention, someone asked me what was the craziest thing I’d done in the name of research for my Chocoverse books.

A few images popped into my head.

One was me with a hairdryer and an extension cord attempting to winnow cacao beans on my apartment patio. (Cacao has a papery hull that must be removed if you want to achieve a smooth texture when you process it into chocolate.). But many a would-be craft chocolate maker has done the same thing. Because commercially-purchased chocolate processing equipment is expensive.

The second was me in the passenger seat of a jeep, trying to take pictures of the many cows tethered along the side of a road. While we were moving at speed. I wound up with a ton of pictures of blurry foliage — and of cow butts. We had visited Samana, Dominican Republic, to take a tour of a cacao plantation, and someone gave us a whole pod, directly off a tree. Everyone we were traveling with seemed to think we were crazy for eating raw fruit in a foreign country. But we didn’t care as we were sucking tart-pineapple flavored pulp off the cacao beans. And we suffered no ill effects, so that wasn’t really crazy either.

Third, there was me watching the World Cup, trying to get into it the way a true fan would. Which probably doesn’t sound crazy at all, until you realize that prior to designing Brill (my story’s male lead) and Bo’s brother Mario (who is a HUGE soccer fan) I’d never really watched sports. What IS crazy is that I lied about this fact back when I was in high school to get a job as a sports intern for the local paper.

I learned fast and hard that you can’t fake fandom, of any sort. The first time you go looking for Arnold Palmer in the football photos file, everyone is going to know you have no idea what you’re doing.

There are a ton of geek references in the Chocoverse books, and I come by them honestly, from a lifetime of consuming science fiction films and books, starting with The Flight of the Navigator and Space Camp when I was a kid. So I didn’t have to actively research that at all.

The soccer thing isn’t huge to the plot, and I still couldn’t tell you the names of all the real-world players, but I learned enough to understand the rules of the game and WHY my characters enjoy watching it. I understand them better now. (And I enjoy watching soccer sometimes now too.)

Different aspects of a book are going to require different levels of research, depending on how much of the plot centers around them, and how detailed you will need to be in your explanations, and how much you already know. (Even if you think you know facts, though, you should probably still look them up to verify you remember things correctly.

There’s a lot more detail in the series about chocolate production and botany, so I needed to do more hands-on work to get it right, so that the reader would feel like they’d actually traveled with Bo inside that rainforest to obtain a forbidden cacao pod. This book also involved a lot of YouTube time, from trying to get a feel of what an arial approach to Rio would look like from inside a helicopter to seeing how it really looks when a corgi tries to sit with those impossibly short legs. (The answer is they don’t— they just sort of sploot backwards from standing to lying down in one motion — and sploot is an actual term corgi lovers use, so better get it right. And yes, now I want a corgi, but no, I haven’t gotten one. Yet.)

I once heard writing described as a sustained act of empathy, and several people have permitted the advice to write what you know to instead writings what you would like to know. Put those two ideas together and you can begin to understand how much each project changes a writer, if you let yourself be true to the details.

SciFi Book Review: Captain Marvel: Liberation Run

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe

Carol Danvers–Captain Marvel–narrowly stops a spacecraft from crashing. Its pilot Rhi is a young Inhuman woman from a group who left for a life among the stars. Instead they were imprisoned on a planet where an enslaved Inhuman brings her owner great power and influence. Horrified by the account, Carol gathers a team–including Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho–and they set out to free Rhi’s people.

Carol helps a young woman as she crashes to Earth. Rhi is a refugee Inhuman who has been living as a slave on a distant family. She fled only to get help to free her friends and family. So, Captain Marvel gathers a small team of Mantis, Ant-Man, and Brawn and forms a plan to free Rhi’s friends. Unfortunately, the power inhibitor on the planet affects most of Captain Marvel’s team – and they need a new plan.

Liberation Run is a standalone adventure set in the recent Marvel comic universe. The story is dramatic and poignant. Yet when Captain Marvel and friends arrive, the danger doesn’t seem as intense – even without some of their powers. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-developed story with plenty of colorful characters and humor to round out the grim situation. I love comics, but prose novels like this can cover more ground and have a bit more depth sometimes. Sure, it’s a bit predictable (superheroes have to win, right?) but it’s a lot of fun and was another great story to get my Captain Marvel fix.

Blu Ray Review: Krypton Season 1

Krypton: The Complete First Season

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.”

What if Superman never existed? Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton follows a young Seg-El, the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, who is faced with a life and death conflict –save his home planet or let it be destroyed in order to restore the fate of his future grandson. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray and the House of El ostracized, Seg fights alongside Earthly time-traveler Adam Strange to redeem his family’s honor and protect the ones he loves while saving the future of his legacy from DC Super-Villain Brainiac.

Seg-El is visited by time-traveling Adam Strange who claims to be from the future. He has returned to help Seg-El stop Brainiac – who has returned to end Superman by changing the past. Seg-El resembles his future grandson, though is more flawed and conflicted. He’s certainly more relatable than Kal-El.

This first season of Krypton is only 10 episodes. But there is a lot of story that unfolds. Krypton’s politics and deep-rooted mythology is a fascinating background, but very different from what we’ve seen in previous portrayals of a Utopia. Then, adding Brainiac’s infiltration adds another layer of chaos. This is a dark and suspenseful season with plenty of mystery and intriguing characters. And the season finale ends with a big cliffhanger that leaves fans impatient for more.

•Krypton: 2017 Comic-Con Panel
•Krypton: Bringing the Home World to Life
•A Lost Kingdom: Life on Krypton
•Gag reel
•Deleted Scenes

Captain Marvel Movie Spoiler-Free Review

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from Nick Fury, Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls.

When “Vers”crashes to Earth (in the mid-’90s), she begins searching for answers to her strange flashes of memories of a life she doesn’t remember. But the Skrull are also on earth and can appear as anyone. Vers teams up with a young Nick Fury to find a piece of technology before the Skrull can steal it.

As a huge Captain Marvel fan, I had very high hopes for this movie. I’m usually disappointed when the whole movie is given away in the trailers. And I try to stay away from spoilers (not fan theories though). Thankfully, they still had a few surprises for me. Some a little predictable, but still fun. But there was a big twist I didn’t see coming. Some comic fans may not like one of the bigger changes made to Captain Marvel lore, but I enjoyed it.

The cast was fantastic. Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Samuel L Jackson have great chemistry. And Ben Mendelsohn and Annette Bening were exceptional in their roles. I only wish Agent Coulson had more screen time! The story was an origin story and a prequel. But the story was layered with a good plot and fun easter eggs. It’s definitely action-packed as well and loaded with humor and feel-good moments.

Captain Marvel is an inspiring woman. She has had to work harder to get to where she’s at – and never gives up. She has a sense of humor and can still be vulnerable – even though she’s one of the most powerful superheroes in the MCU. It’s no wonder she has become one of my all-time favorites.
There’s a lot packed into this powerful and inspiring movie. And I look forward to seeing it again.

Box Review: Teeblox – February 2019


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* received a box for review purposes.

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Fantasy Book Review: An Easy Death

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.

As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.

Lizbeth is a Gunnie – an armed-guard escort. Her latest hire are two Russion magicians who are deadly in their own right. The Russians are searching for a descendant of the tsar’s, so the relative can offer up blood donations to save his life. But it’s soon clear that Gunnie and her charges are being targeted – in hopes they are not successful.

An Easy Death is the first in the new, Gunnie Rose series. The setting is an alternate reality of a modern day Old West where the US has been broken into several territories run by different countries. It’s a fun mix of a Western and fantasy. I am grateful that there isn’t a data dump explanation of this alternate world, as it isn’t needed. Lizbeth is a likable and relatable character. She’s strong but knows her limits. This first installment is a well-paced adventure with plenty of action, mystery, and a bit of romance. And I look forward to the next in this intriguing new series.