Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: The Kingdom

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Synopsis:
Welcome to the Kingdom… where “Happily Ever After” isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom™ is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species—formerly extinct—roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty—and what it truly means to be human.

Review:
Ana is a bioengineered human, created to be a real Disney-like princess for The Kingdom. She is allowed certain privileges, but then begins to have thoughts and longings beyond her programming. But during a trial, lawyers will try to prove whether or not she is capable of murder.

The Kingdom is a Westworld version of Disneyland. People can visit for an escape into fantasy and see animals that might otherwise be extinct. The story is told from two separate points in time: the “present” as Ana and The Kingdom is on trial for murder and the past as Ana grows beyond her programming and even falls in love. I was captured from the start. The story is full of suspense, mystery, and drama. It’s inspired and beautifully written. I thoroughly enjoyed this surprising YA novel.

SciFi Book Review: This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Synopsis:
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Review:
Cat has been surviving in a harsh, plague-ridden world for years. And when a young soldier arrives, Cat doesn’t trust him at all, even when he says he knew her father. When she discovers that she is the key to unlocking the cure, Cat and Cole embark on a dangerous trek to her father’s lab in hopes of saving humanity.

This Mortal Coil is the first in a apocalyptic trilogy. The plague in this novel causes humans to turn feral and zombie-like and eventually explode, causing the infection to spread further. As a unique twist, a temporary cure for the plague is to cannibalize and infected person before they rupture. It’s disturbing, but the darkest part about the story. The danger and suspense is non-stop. With a bit of romance, and a lot of fun plot twists – this impressive debut is was very hard to put down. I will definitely read the next installment soon.

Fantasy Book Review: Spark

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Synopsis:
Storm beasts and their guardians create perfect weather every day, and Mina longs for a storm beast of her own. But when the gentle girl bonds with a lightning beast—a creature of fire and chaos—everyone’s certain it’s a mistake. Everyone but Mina and the beast himself, Pixit. Quickly enrolled in lightning school, Mina struggles to master a guardian’s skills, and she discovers that her country’s weather comes at a devastating cost—a cost powerful people wish to hide. Mina’s never been the type to speak out, but someone has to tell the truth, and, with Pixit’s help, she resolves to find a way to be heard.

Review:
Mina is a quiet and polite girl. So when she hatches a lightening beast, even her parent’s think it’s a mistake. But Mina has already formed a deep bond with Pixit, and is determined to succeed despite everyone’s doubts. But while training, Mina and Pixit learn a devastating secret. And despite her nature, Mina must speak out to make things right.

Spark is a heartwarming, standalone fantasy novel for all ages. I’ll read anything by Sarah Beth Durst, but this is definitely one of my favorites. The dragon-like “beasts” were like the dragons in the book Eragon, as they communicate telepathically with their bonded human. I’m sure several fantasy series have this take, but I don’t typically read quite as much fantasy involving dragons. The human characters are engaging and believable. And the story is exciting, suspenseful, and dramatic. I didn’t really grasp the idea behind the lightning beasts and how their humans worked in tandem, but it didn’t affect my reading experience. I highly recommend this sweet and inspiring, middle reader novel.

Fantasy Book Review: Stepsister

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Synopsis:
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe . . . which is now filling with her blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she’s turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she’s a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a bold girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Review:
Isabelle is a surprisingly likable and relatable young woman. She’s naive but has a good heart. She made some bad decisions when her heart was turned against Cinderella, but now she just wants to make amends. But Fate has other ideas.

Stepsister is an inspired take on one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. The story is a bit dark, with forces set against her happy ending. It’s full of suspense, drama, heartache, and a bit of romance. I absolutely loved this incredible story and the engaging characters. This standalone novel is a must-read for fairy tale fans from teens to adults.

SciFi Book Review: We Are Mayhem

We Are Mayhem by Michael Moreci

Synopsis:
Though the ragtag group of misfits known as the Black Star Renegades won a decisive battle by destroying Ga Halle’s War Hammer, the war is far from over. In response to losing the crown jewel of its fleet, the evil Praxis empire has vengefully reinforced its tyranny across the galaxy–but its rule won’t be had so easily. Led by hotshot pilot Kira Sen, a growing rebel force stands in the way of Praxis’s might. Not only do they possess the will to fight for galactic freedom, they also possess the ultimate ace in the hole: The mythical Rokura, the most powerful weapon ever known.

Too bad Cade Sura hasn’t figured out to use it.

As Kira wages an increasingly bloody war against Praxis, Cade is left with only once choice: With Ga Halle scouring every star system for the coveted weapon, Cade embarks on a dangerous mission into uncharted space to discover the Rokura’s origins. Only then can he learn how it can be wielded. Because if he doesn’t, all hope for the galaxy might be lost.

Review:
We Are Mayhem is the direct sequel to Black Star Renegades. Cade has an incredibly powerful weapon that he doesn’t know how to wield. And the ruthless Ga Halle will do anything to get her hands on it. Meanwhile, the rest of the Black Star Renegades fight against an evil empire and even Kira’s own father.

This sequel once again has the feel of “Guardians of the Galaxy” meets “Star Wars.” Cade, trying to learn how to use the Rokura, felt a lot like Luke going through his Jedi training. These are fallible characters with good hearts – they are likable and believable. And the story is a lot of fun – filled with suspense, drama, and intrigue. The excitement builds to a big showdown, and I found myself reading faster as the suspense built. This space opera is incredibly enjoyable and a great conclusion.

Graphic Novel Review: Mera: Tidebreaker

Mera: Tidebreaker

Synopsis:
Princess Mera is teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel, a penal colony ruled by the other no-so-lost land under the sea, Atlantis. Her father, his court and the entire kingdom are expecting her to marry and introduce a new king. But Mera is destined to wear a different crown.

When the Xebellian military plots to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its oppressive regime, Mera seizes the opportunity to take control over her own destiny by assassinating Arthur Curry–the long-lost prince and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis. But her mission gets sidetracked when Mera and Arthur unexpectedly fall in love. Will Arthur Curry be the king at Mera’s side, or will he die under her blade as she attempts to free her people from persecution?

Review:
Mera is a rebellious teen, with hopes of her kingdom breaking free of Atlantis, in this standalone graphic novel. This fresh, new story is exciting and inventive. This is a coming-of-age story for Mera, as she has to decide what’s right – choosing to follow her father’s orders or believing in this surprisingly kind young man who is to become the future leader of Atlantis. This is a teenage Arthur as well, before he becomes Aquaman. The story is dramatic and suspenseful. And the artwork and coloring is fun and different. Aquaman and Mera fans will want to check this one out.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Available Light

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Available Light by Dayton Ward

Synopsis:
Section 31, the covert organization which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to light. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal—including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president.

Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spent generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of its people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way….

Review:
This latest Next Generation novel combines political intrigue, exploration, suspense, and new alien cultures. Back on Earth, the Federation is dealing with the fallout of the take-down of Section 31. And the Enterprise discovers a seemingly abandoned ship with a culture of scavengers trying to stake claim. The story is complex and involved, yet easy enough to follow if you’ve been keeping up with the events in the most recent Next Generation novels. I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging read. A fascinating culture with advanced technology and time running out – the crew of the Enterprise do what they do best. As Picard tries to negotiate with a dangerous scavengers, Geordi and his team try to assist a mysterious people who have taken one of their own. The suspense builds to a thrilling finale that doesn’t disappoint. The long wait for this latest Star Trek release was well worth it.

Book Review: Captain Marvel The Official Movie Special

Captain Marvel The Official Movie Special

This movie special from Titan Books, has a lot of fun content from the recent film, all full-color pages. One of my favorites is the section on Kelly Sue DeConnick who was a consultant. As a fan, I was happy to see the inspiration for the movie coming from her line of comics.



There are 11 cast member spotlights that were engaging as well.

And a look behind the scenes! There are sections on production design, stunts, costumes, and Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios.

This is a fantastic wealth of content from the film. And this Captain Marvel fan has more to geek out on until the film comes to blu-ray.