Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Reviews: Renegades and Arch Enemies

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis:
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.

Arch Enemies by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis:
As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City. As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist – a group of of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them most. But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.

In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew – Ruby, Oscar, and Danna — are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice, but also the feelings they have for each other. The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their city – and the world – as they know it.

Review:

Nova is a member of the “villainous” Anarchists, but goes undercover as a Renegade superhero. She is determined to take down the Renegades from the inside. But the more she gets to know Adrian, the harder her mission becomes.

I read Renegades and Arch Enemies back-to-back. These first 2 books in the trilogy are fast-paced and full of action, suspense, and a bit of romance. The story is sometimes dark, yet lightened with some humor and heart. This story is great for fans of X-Men. And I love that it’s from the perspective of a “villain” (who’s more of an anti-hero than a bad person). And not all of the Renegades are heroic. The characters are engaging, with the intensity building to a dramatic cliffhanger. The final installment can’t come soon enough.

Book Review: Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King

Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
After a humiliating defeat at the hands of Kendra and Seth, Celebrant, King of Dragons, prepares to unleash his fury and take control of his native preserve. Two of the seven dragon sanctuaries have already fallen. Will Wyrmroost be next?

Armed with secret information from a new ally, Celebrant seeks a talisman that will guarantee victory in the war against the humans. With a cursed castle and traitorous creatures standing in the way, Kendra and Seth must attempt to foil Celebrant’s plan and beat him to his prize.

Will the two young caretakers rally enough support from the creatures of Wyrmroost to quell the uprising and protect the world from draconic dominion? One thing is certain—dragons are deadly foes, and one wrong move could bring swift defeat. It will take more than Kendra, Seth, and their current allies have ever given to endure the wrath of the Dragon King.

Review:
As caretakers of Wyrmroost, Kendra and Seth accept a dangerous invitation from Celebrant. Meanwhile, their cousins decide to follow them to Wyrmroost and find themselves in danger as well. It’s hard to know who to trust, as the siblings try to thwart Celebrants plan to take over.

Wrath of the Dragon King is the second installment in the Dragonwatch offshoot series of Fablehaven. These are must-read books for fantasy fans of all ages. With fascinating worldbuilding and engaging characters, it’s easy to get pulled into the story. And this latest installment is packed with adventure, colorful creatures, humor, and magic. This was unpredictable, fast-paced, and full of heart-pounding suspense. The next in this exciting series can’t come soon enough.

Book Review: Star Wars: Millennium Falcon Book and Mega Model

Star Wars: Millennium Falcon Book and Mega Model

This over-sized book is a fun, new book for kids – all about the Millennium Falcon.

There are detailed blueprints.

And character descriptions from familiar crew.

Stunning ports of call.

Games

And best of all, you can build a model ship that measures 12″ x 12″! I haven’t put it together yet, but it’s made of a sturdy, thick foam board. The information is fascinating, the games are intriguing for kids, and the artwork and photos are vibrant. This book will make for a great snow day activity for my nieces and nephew.

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.