Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster

Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer

Synopsis:
Carol Danvers kicks off her U.S. Air Force career with her first year at flight school, where she’ll be tested in ways she never thought possible-and make a lifelong friend, Maria Rambeau, in the process-in this atmospheric and exciting prelude to the upcoming Marvel Studios’ film, Captain Marvel!

Review:
Carol’s dream is to be a fighter pilot. When she meets Maria Rambeau, she finds a kindred spirit. But the two will have obstacles, not only from their peers, but from chauvinist superiors as well.

Higher, Further, Faster is the story of Carol’s time in Air Force training. It’s marketed for young adults, but it’s appropriate for all ages. Carol hasn’t received her powers yet; so it’s a pre-origin story. But I thoroughly enjoyed this look at her early life and struggles to make her dream come true. The story is more dramatic than adventurous; but it’s a nice intro to the characters of Carol and Maria. This was a fun, standalone novel to tide me over until the new movie release.

SciFi Book Review: Captain Marvel: Starforce on the Rise

Captain Marvel: Starforce on the Rise by Steve Behling

Synopsis:
Before Carol Danvers was Captain Marvel, she was Vers, a key member of the elite Kree Starforce warriors who wage their war against the equally formidable Skrull aliens. This middle-grade novel will focus on key adventure of Vers during her time with Starforce, setting up the perfect entry point for readers to Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, in spring 2019.

Review:
Vers (Carol Danvers) is a Kree Starforce warrior along with Minn-Erva. The two women have very different personalities, and Vers’ bold nature makes it hard for Minn-Erva to relate. But after several missions together, Minn-Erva begins to respect her colleague. And a dangerous mission to gather plans on a secret weapon will test everyone’s resolve.

Starforce on the Rise is a fast-paced middle grade novel that introduces the Kree Starforce to young Marvel fans. This exciting story is told mostly from Minn-Erva’s perspective, which is nice as we’ll see her in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie as well. The Starforce missions are exciting and suspenseful. I only wish the novel was a bit longer and involved more of the Starforce members. But this was a fun and engaging quick read for fans of all ages. This would make for a great series of Starforce adventures – getting to know the Skrull and more of the Nova Corp along the way.

Fantasy Book Review: The Beast of Nightfall Lodge

The Beast of Nightfall Lodge: The Institute for Singular Antiquities Book II by SA Sidor

Synopsis:
When Egyptologist Rom Hardy receives a strange letter from his old friend, the bounty-hunting sniper Rex McTroy, he finds himself drawn into a chilling mystery. In the mountains of New Mexico, a bloodthirsty creature is on the loose, leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. Now, a wealthy big game hunter has offered a staggering reward for its capture, and Rom’s patron – the headstrong and brilliant Evangeline Waterston – has signed the team up for the challenge. Awaiting them are blizzards, cold-blooded trappers, remorseless hunters, a mad doctor, wild animals and a monster so fearsome and terrifying, it must be a legend come to life.

Review:
Rom, Evangeline, McTroy, and Wu are back together again for a new adventure. This time a cannibalistic monster is roaming in the mountains next to a small town. Rom and his friends team up together to find and trap the monster in hopes of winning a priceless artifact. But everyone around them seems to be hiding a dangerous secret.

This is the second installment in The Institute for Singular Antiquities series. This fantasy story is dark and violent, with a mystery that kept me guessing to the end. I actually enjoyed this fast-paced story even more than the first. There was a lot going on, with several subplots and intriguing characters, but it was all easy to follow and kept up the heart-pounding suspense. There wasn’t as much of the archaeology/antiquities aspect in this story. But it was certainly engaging and exciting to the surprising finale. I look forward to the next in this fun series.

Fantasy Book Review: The Darkdeep

The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

Synopsis:
Everyone in Timbers knows Still Cove is off-limits, with its creepy Beast sightings and equally terrifying legends. But when a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over a cliff and into Still Cove’s icy waters, friends Tyler and Emma–and even Opal Walsh, who usually runs with the popular kids–rush to his rescue . . . and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below.

Though the island appears uninhabited, the kids can’t shake a feeling that something about it is definitely not right. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of curiosities: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to unknown places, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable. And in its lowest depths churns a dark, deep secret.

As the group delves deeper into this mysterious new clubhouse, their lives begin to intertwine in weird and dangerous ways. For something ancient has awakened . . . and it can detect not only their wishes and dreams, but also their darkest, most terrible imaginings. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy secrets lurking within their own hearts?

Review:
When his new drone crashes into the cove, Nico goes after it, despite the danger. His friends follow, and they stumble upon an abandon cabin on an island. Here, they find the Darkdeep that brings their darkest fears to life for a time. At first, it’s a novelty. But then, something begins to change.

The Darkdeep is a dark fantasy for middle readers. It’s narrated from alternating characters, which helps the reader feel what they feel. Nico feels bullied and betrayed. And Opal has a good heart, but is a bit naive when it comes to her friends. People have compared this to Stranger Things, and I can see it – the dark, creepy feel and group of kids who are in over their heads. But this is definitely not scary. It’s more silly, though still deals with drama, friendship, and bullying. There is plenty of suspense and mystery. And readers are left with more questions than answers by the end – hopefully to be resolved in a sequel before too long.

Fantasy Book Review: Adventurers Guild: Twilight of the Elves

Adventurers Guild: Twilight of the Elves by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos

Synopsis:
Zed, Brock, and their friends may have saved Freestone from destruction, but the fight against the Dangers is far from over. No one knows what to expect next from the dark power that forced the elves to abandon their city. And the influx of elf refugees in Freestone strains resources and brews resentment among the townspeople. Things have shifted between best friends Zed and Brock, as well, with their friendship crumbling under the weight of the secrets they’re keeping from each other.

When tensions reach an all-time high, Queen Me’Shala, leader of the elves, approaches the Adventurers Guild with a mission. She wants a small group of adventurers to go behind the king’s back on a covert mission to save her city, and Zed, Brock, Liza, Jett, Micah, and their elven friend Fel join the quest. To face a powerful form of magic thought to be extinct, the adventurers will have to learn how to rely on each other and fight harder than ever before.

Review:
Zed and Brock’s friendship becomes strained as they keep secrets from each other. Brock feels like a traitor. And Zed has a secret magic that he can’t explain. Meanwhile, they join a quest to help the elves reclaim their city, as they have been mistreated in Freestone.

Twilight of the Elves is the second installment in the Adventurers Guild trilogy. This fantasy for middle readers on up is inspired and fantastic. I really enjoy this magical world straight out of a RPG with colorful characters and intense suspense. This quest takes them on a journey of adventure, mystery, and magic. I didn’t want this one to end. I wish this series would last longer than just the 3 books planned, as there is so much potential here. There is plenty of heart and drama and humor with the friendship between Zed and Brock. And the vast fantasy world has plenty of stories to tell.

SciFi Book Review: Stars Uncharted

Stars Uncharted by SK Dunstall

Synopsis:
Captain Hammond Roystan is a simple cargo runner who has stumbled across the find of a lifetime: the Hassim, a disabled exploration ship–and its valuable record of unexplored worlds.

His junior engineer, Josune Arriola, said her last assignment was in the uncharted rim. But she is decked out in high-level bioware that belies her humble backstory.

A renowned body-modification artist, Nika Rik Terri has run afoul of clients who will not take no for an answer. She has to flee off-world, and she is dragging along a rookie modder, who seems all too experienced in weapons and war.

Together this mismatched crew will end up on one ship, hurtling through the lawless reaches of deep space with Roystan at the helm. Trailed by nefarious company men, they will race to find the most famous lost world of all–and riches beyond their wildest dreams.

Review:
When the ship Hassim arrives, Captain Roystan and his crew salvage what they can – most importantly the record of her route. But there are many who will stop at nothing to get that information. Meanwhile, Nika Rik Terri has to flee after being attacked by a powerful client. And everyone seems to have secrets in their past.

Stars Uncharted is an exceptional, science fiction novel. This space opera is full of colorful characters and heart-pounding suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed this inspired universe where body modifications have surpassed general surgery and companies control the galaxy. There is plenty of adventure and humor. And the intensity builds to a surprising finale. I heard that a sequel could be in the works, so I have my fingers crossed!

Fantasy Book Review: Let Sleeping Dragons Lie

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Synopsis:
Odo and Eleanor are excited to be knights. Only . . . nobody’s asking them to go on a quest. So they’re stuck at home, using their trusty and talkative swords to defend their village when there’s cause for defense. But mostly it’s just . . . waiting for something bigger to come along.

That “something bigger” comes to them in the form of an old man named Edga, a warrior named Hundred, and an ancient chant:
Dragon, dragon,
heed our call . . .
Come to aid us,
one and all.

Odo, Eleanor, and their swords, Biter and Runnel, are plunged into a quest that will take them (as all good quests must) to unfamiliar lands, where they will fight unseen enemies and unlock unbelievable secrets in order to prevent an unbearable impostor from taking the crown.

Also, they will need to keep an eye out for dragons.

Review:
Let Sleeping Dragons Lie is the second installment in the Have Sword, Will Travel series. Odo and Eleanor are young knights with talking swords. The children are eager for adventure, when a new quest finally sends them against magical beasts and an unfit king. As before, the characters are fantastic – especially the swords and their unique personalities. And this sequel is full of excitement, suspense, and humor. Though a bit predictable, it’s still a lot of fun. Fantasy fans of all ages should pick up this exceptional series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Discovery: The Way to the Stars

Star Trek: Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack

Synopsis:
Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance? The Way to the Stars recounts for fans everywhere the untold story of Tilly’s past.

It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects great things from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries, not to mention pressing her to attend one of the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly wants to achieve great things—even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime—an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars….

Review:
Tilly is a very friendly, if awkward, Starfleet officer. The Way to the Stars is a story of Tilly at sixteen, learning her place in the world and making decisions that will shape her future.

This is story of Tilly’s early life. She’s a character that’s easy to love, but with an ensemble cast on a new show with too-few episodes, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Tilly’s mother assumes that she’ll follow in her footsteps and become a diplomat. Tilly prefers math and science, but can’t seem to stand up to her mother’s forceful will. This was engrossing story of growth and self-discovery. It was hard to put down. And while not action-packed, this standalone novel was dramatic and heartfelt, with a bit of adventure. This was a great way to tide me over until the next episode of Discovery airs.