Received in March

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Amazon / 47 North:
Now, Then, and Everywhen by Rysa Walker

Del Rey:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition by Rae Carson
The Fall of Shannara: The Last Druid by Terry Brooks
The Last Human by Zack Jordan
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

Disney Hyperion:
Chasing Helicity Through the Storm by Ginger Zee
Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Brightly Woven: The Graphic Novel by Alexandra Bracken

Harper Teen:
Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

Harper Voyager:
The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

Little, Brown:
Sword in the Stars by Cori McCarthy
Hawk by James Patterson

Macmillan Children / Feiwel and Friends:
The Challenger: Contender Book 2 by Taran Matharu
True or False by Cindy L Otis

Norton Young Readers:
Brightstorm A Sky Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy

Saga:
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

Scholastic:
Wings of Fire: Legends: Dragonslayer by Tui T. Sutherland

Simon and Schuster Kids / Aladdin:
The Revenge of Magic: The Future King by James Riley

Subterranean Press:
Edited By by Ellen Datlow
Dispersion by Greg Egan
In the Shades of Men by Robert Jackson Bennett

Tor:
A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

Viking:
A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell

Titans: The Complete Second Season – Blu-Ray Review

Titans: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray + Digital)

Synopsis:
In season two, following the aftermath of their encounter with Trigon, Dick reforms the Titans. Under his supervision in their new home at Titans Tower, Rachel, Gar, and Jason Todd train together to hone their hero abilities and work together as a team. They are joined by Hank Hall and Dawn Granger aka Hawk and Dove and Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl. Although these original Titans attempt to transition into a regular life, when old enemies resurface, everyone must come together to take care of unfinished business. And as this family of old and new Titans – including Conner Kent and Rose Wilson – learn to co-exist, the arrival of Deathstroke brings to light the sins of the old Titans which threaten to tear this new Titans family apart once more.

Review:
Season 1 of Titans introduced all of the characters and gave us the main villain of Trigon. This season, the main villain is Deathstroke, the seemingly unkillable assassin. I enjoyed this season a lot more, and not just because the Deathstroke was more than just one-dimensional. There was a lot going on. It actually felt like more than 13 episodes. There was a lot of story told in the past, when we get to meet Aqualad, however briefly. And we learn about Dick’s sins of the past as they come back to haunt the current team of Titans. And we’re introduced to a couple of new Titans (who happen to be favorites of mine) – Rose and Conner, who both have some deep-seeded daddy issues.

The strength of this season is definitely the character development, as the story can be a little convoluted and hard to follow at times. There is definitely some adult content, though it could easily be cut out and not necessary to the story. As a team this new group of Titans have yet to really come together except for a couple scenes. I hope that season 3 will continue the strong character writing and give the team a foe that can handle them all teaming up. I’m enjoying the direction this team is going.

Book Giveaway: A Phoenix First Must Burn

Courtesy of Viking, I have a copy of A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell 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 10. I’ll draw a name on April 11, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: A Phoenix First Must Burn

Book Giveaway: The Last Human

Courtesy of Del Rey, I have a copy of The Last Human by Zack Jordan 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 10. I’ll draw a name on April 11, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: The Last Human

Our Child of the Stars – Book Review

Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox

Synopsis:
Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.

This is the year of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation.

Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town – and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.

And soon the whole world will be looking for him.

Review:
When Molly and Gene adopt a young alien boy, they have to live in constant fear of their secret getting out. The beginning may sound a lot like Superman’s origin story, but this little boy doesn’t look human and has unique abilities. And his existence is a hard secret to keep.

Our Child of the Stars is an exciting and emotional roller-coaster. The characters are engaging and the alien child is incredibly endearing. This is an impressive debut that surprised me. I didn’t want to put it down and actually finished in one day. The intensity builds as the government closes in on the Myers family. And some questions are finally answered about the aliens. I thoroughly enjoyed this charming and unassuming story.

J.T. Nicholas – Guest Post

Author J.T. Nicholas joins SciFiChick.com today as part of his blog tour to promote his latest release – Re-Coil!

Writing any book is a long, arduous, difficult process. To paraphrase Wesley from The Princess Bride, “Writing is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” Okay… that may be a bit too drastic… after all, most of us would write whether or not we were getting paid for it. Hell, most of us do write without ever getting paid for it. So, it can’t be all that bad. But there is a special kind of pain associated with science fiction (or speculative fiction if you prefer) that I thought I’d ramble on a bit about here.

In short, it’s bloody hard to keep up with the actual “science” when it comes to writing science fiction.

One of the “big ideas” in Re-Coil is asking the question of what it would mean to society if we were immortal. Seems far-fetched and totally science-fiction-y, right? As the one writing it, you have to come up with your reason why, the “science” behind how immortality works in your particular world. That sort of thing is important for internal consistency in the manuscript, helping with the reader’s suspension of disbelief and all that technical jazz. Of course, back in 2018 (like 2 years ago!) scientists in Germany discovered a particular protein chain that (to really simplify for brevity) controls aging. We can’t really do anything about it yet, but with that one discovery, one aspect of science fiction starts to lose the “fiction” part pretty darn quick. And once something like that makes it into the public consciousness, some of the ideas around how immortality might become reality (the flavor of your fictional world) seem much more far-fetched.

Another example. A common trope in cyberpunk is the idea of remotely controlling drones (or even people) from thousands of miles away. We’ve all heard about drone strikes ad nauseum, but that’s a brute force approach to the concept. But just last year, Chinese scientists performed literal brain surgery on a patient 2,000 miles / 3200 kilometers away using 5G wireless technology and robots. I’m not sure I could have imagined a world where a surgeon can cut open your brain from several countries away using the same tech that’s powering your cell phone, but here we are.

So, what’s a burgeoning writer of all things science fiction to do when the world of science outpaces the world of fiction?

Fortunately, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s always a good idea to do a little research on the key scientific bits in your sci-fi. You don’t have to be an expert but finding out what’s out there already can inform your story and even provide you with inspiration. Also, remember that the cutting edge of scientific thought takes a long, long time to become common knowledge in the public mind. So long as you’re not directly contradicting it, the easiest path is to just not worry too much about it. Some readers may roll their eyes at the “unrealistic” nature of your world, but hey, there’s also that whole “fiction” part of science fiction. Not everything hast to be totally realistic, and that’s a good thing. And finally, as with all good writing, the focus should be on the characters. All the sci-fi elements exist as a framework for the characters to begin with, and with a few very specific exceptions, the focus should always be on the characters themselves. Well-written, three dimensional characters will stand out and any mistakes you make on the science front will fade into the background.

If you want to see how well (or poorly) I lived up to my own advice, be sure to check out Re-Coil (releases March 3rd).

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