Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Star Wars: Scum and Villainy

Star Wars: Scum and Villainy: Case Files on the Galaxy’s Most Notorious by Pablo Hidalgo

Synopsis:
Crime in the galaxy is a constant—whether it’s seedy deals made on the lower levels of Coruscant or organized crime syndicates in the outer rim—but how galactic law enforcement has defined those crimes has shifted with each change of power.

Star Wars: Scum and Villainy profiles the misdeeds of infamous smugglers, pirates, gamblers, bounty hunters, and thieves throughout galactic history. Page through the case files of three generations of galactic law-enforcers and explore their case reports, surveillance images, warrants, artifacts, and much more in this lavishly illustrated and in-world narrated book that is showcased in a slipcase.

This stunning, over-sized book is a cross between a coffee table art book and a story book – with a really nice slip cover.

The images and character span the timeline of Star Wars.

From new characters.

To very familiar ones – the character profiles are diverse and thorough.

This book has an impressive amount of information and dossiers.

The artwork is fantastic. And the case reports are well-written and presented in a creative way. Star Wars fans will enjoy this fun collection of various characters – from rebels to the seedier elements.

Fantasy Book Review: The Golden Tower

Magisterium 5: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Synopsis:
Callum Hunt has been a hero and an outcast, a force of good and a portent of evil. While the doors of the Magisterium have been open to him, he has never felt entirely welcome. If anything, he has felt others’ resentment . . . and fear.

Now, as he begins his final year at the magical school, his place is less certain than ever. With one unique exception, he is estranged from most of his friends. A furtive darkness still hounds him. And the greatest challenge he will ever face is right around the corner.

Review:
Callum has a big secret as he starts his final year at the Magesterium. Meanwhile, a great evil still looms and a clever plan is formed. The Golden Tower is the final installment in this fantastic middle grade fantasy series. Reading this was bittersweet. I love this series – the engaging characters and the inspired story. And this final book is fast-paced and full of drama, suspense, and magic. With several surprises along the way – both good and heartbreaking, the excitement builds to a climactic ending that doesn’t disappoint. Don’t miss this series.

Fantasy Book Review: Grim Lovelies

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

Review:
Anouk is a loyal servant to the witch Mada Vittora. But when Mada is murdered, Anouk and her fellow beasties are told they only have three days to find a new master and renew the spell that keeps them human. Otherwise, they may turn back into their original forms – various animals. Meanwhile, they are searching for the killer as well – to clear Anouk’s name.

Grim Lovelies is first in a YA fantasy series. This is a dark spin on a fairy tale. The worldbuilding is clever and intriguing. Shepherd is a pro at creating a creepy, Gothic atmosphere. The story is full of mystery, magic, and drama. And the pacing and suspense made it hard to put down. There are several fun twists along the way and a climactic, satisfying ending. I look forward to more set in this unique world.

Book Review: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Haunting of Torre Abbey

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Haunting of Torre Abbey by Carole Bugge

Synopsis:
Sherlock Holmes receives a request for aid from Lord Cary, whose family home, Torre Abbey, is seemingly haunted. While skeptical, Holmes believes that the Carys are in danger, a belief that proves horrifyingly accurate when a household member dies mysteriously. As strange sightings and threatening apparitions become almost commonplace, Holmes and Watson must uncover the secrets of the abbey if they are to have any hope of protecting the living and avenging the dead.

Review:
The Haunting of Torre Abbey is a fun and suspenseful mystery with everyone’s favorite detective. This has the feel of the original The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes makes astute observations and always seems miles ahead of everyone else. Though Watson is brilliant as well, as we get his point of view. When I thought I had the mystery figured out, I was only partially right. There are several surprises and overall an intriguing mystery that I won’t soon forget. I can’t get enough of Sherlock, so I’m grateful for this Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series.

SciFi Book Review: The Echo Room

The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse

Synopsis:
The only thing worse than being locked in is facing what you locked out.

Rett Ward knows how to hide. He’s had six years of practice at Walling Home, the state-run boarding school where he learned how to keep his head down to survive.

But when Rett wakes up locked in a small depot with no memory of how he got there, he can’t hide. Not from the stranger in the next room. Or from the fact that there’s someone else’s blood on his jumpsuit.

Worse, every time he tries to escape, he wakes up right back where he started. Same day, same stranger, same bloodstained jumpsuit.

As memories start to surface, Rett realizes that the logo on the walls is familiar, the stranger isn’t a stranger, and the blood on his jumpsuit belongs to someone―or something―banging on the door to get in.

Review:
Rett keeps waking up in the same place, with no memory of his current situation nor the young woman in the bunker with him. Dangers lurk all around. Each time Rett wakes up, something different happens, and the mystery slowly unfolds.

The Echo Room is a science fiction, thriller geared toward young adults. Fans of the Maze Runner will definitely want to check this one out. With intense suspense and an engrossing mystery, this story is best read in one sitting. Because it’s very hard to put down. While it may seem a bit like Groundhog Day at first, individuals make different choices which lead to different outcomes and the reader, at least, can begin to fit the pieces together. This post-apocalyptic read is very unique and unpredictable. And the exciting finale does not disappoint. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

SciFi Book Review: Light Years

Light Years by Kass Morgan

Synopsis:
Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.

Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain–but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy–even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong–he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret–she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.

These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team if they want to defend their world from a cunning enemy–and they might even fall in love in the process.

Review:
Vesper, Cormack, Arran, and Orelia are all very different young adults that are put on a team together at the Quatra Fleet Academy. Each have different reasons or motivations for being there. But when they can work together as a team, they’ll be able to prove themselves. And when the enemy arrives, this team may be the best to stop them.

Light Years is the first in a new Young Adult scifi series from the author of The 100. This is a character-driven story with plenty of drama, suspense, and romance. Orelia’s background is fascinating and full of mystery that I can’t wait to see unfold in future installments. It’s thrilling with plenty of surprises along the way. The story builds to an exciting, climactic ending with a cliffhanger that left me wanting more.

Fantasy Book Review: The Coincidence Makers

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Synopsis:
What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers―Guy, Emily, and Eric―three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets―scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

When an assignment of the highest level is slipped under Guy’s door one night, he knows it will be the most difficult and dangerous coincidence he’s ever had to fulfill. But not even a coincidence maker can see how this assignment is about to change all their lives and teach them the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

Review:
Guy, Emily, and Eric are a group of new Coincidence Makers. They organize chance meetings and help inspire artists. Guy is given a new assignment that he may not be able to fulfill. Meanwhile, Emily tries to orchestrate her own coincidence, taking charge of her own life.

The Coincidence Makers is a unique and inspired story, unlike any story I have read before. While it jumps around a bit in time, it’s never hard to follow. In fact, it’s completely engrossing and hard to put down. With steady pacing and a story full of drama, suspense, and love – this fantasy will appeal to a wide audience. It’s a sweet and intricate tale. And there are several big twists that I didn’t see coming. This will definitely make my list of favorite books of the year.

Fantasy Book Review: Grump

Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff

Synopsis:
Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed “Grump”) has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind.

At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .

When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He’s bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He’ll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that’s enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.

Review:
Borlen is a dwarf who doesn’t quite fit in. He gets sick anytime he goes too deep underground, and dreams of going to the surface. While he gets the nickname “Grump,” he really isn’t. He’s just misunderstood. Borlen is has a good heart and wants to do the right thing. But the queen is conniving. And while he tries to protect the spoiled Snow White, magic pulls him in different directions.

Grump is another fantastic, standalone installment in Shurtliff’s inspired, fairy tale series. The characters are vibrant and engaging. And the story is full of humor, magic, and heart. I love this series, and this latest installment is no exception. The world of the dwarves is unique and well-developed. And I enjoyed the familiar story told from one of the dwarf’s perspective. This sweet and funny story is great for all ages.