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COVID-19 Update: April 2020

Hello there, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to check out or follow my blog, read my reviews, purchase a bookmark or like, comment or share my posts. Every interaction is appreciated and keeps me motivated to continue writing these reviews. So once again thank you very much for your help and encouragement.

However, I’m sure you’ve all heard of this coronavirus or COVID-19, and in truth probably sick of hearing about it and look forward to the day when the lockdown is over and you can return to whatever now passes for normal. So I’ll skip the pre-amble and just jump straight to the point.

Due to recent circumstances it is no longer viable for me to continue a sales based business in crafting hand-made bookmarks. As these are luxuries and not essential items, I have made the difficult decision to close my online stores on Etsy and Ebay. As a result I’ll be heading back to a bookkeeping or accounts based day job, or at least hopefully I’ll be able to once the current chaos calms down a little.

I’ll still be posting book reviews here on the Sci-Fi Kingdom blog, as well as on a number of other platforms including: ​Goodreads, Amazon and sometimes over at OnlineBookClub.org. However, these posts may be a bit sporadic, depending on other commitments.

Once again, thank you for all the support and encouragement.

Take care, stay safe and best wishes,

Sarah

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Supernatural: Mythmaker by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)

Mythmaker is another Supernatural TV Tie-in novel from Tim Waggoner. It’s actually the fourteenth book in the series, but takes place before book 13, Cold Fire, chronologically. With the events occurring during season ten between episodes 8 (Hibbing 911) and 9 (The Things We Left Behind).

In Corinth, Illinois a young artist called Renee Mendez is unknowingly summoning a host of ancient Gods to her hometown. They manifest as she paints them onto canvas, seeking out allies for a coming war. Drawn to the strange occurrences, Sam and Dean Winchester head to Illinois posing as FBI Agents, in order to infiltrate and eliminate the god infestation.

…spoiler warning for those not familiar and up-to-date with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: Mythmaker by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)”

The Hunger Games: Book 0 – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Book Review)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel novel in the Hunger Games series from Suzanne Collins. The story takes place many years before the main trilogy, during the 10th Annual Hunger Games event and is told through the eyes of a young Coriolanus Snow.

Coriolanus is better known as President Snow in the later books – and portrayed on-screen by Donald Sutherland in the film trilogy. However, during Songbirds and Snakes Coriolanus is a young student seeking extra credit and a University Scholarship, by taking part in a new Mentorship scheme for the Hunger Games.

In order to make his dreams a reality, Coriolanus must mentor a winning tribute in the Annual Games. However, he’s paired with sixteen year old Lucy Gray Baird from District 12, a musical performer unlikely to survive the trials that lie ahead of her. But will the odds turn out to be in Lucy’s favour? 

I debated whether or not to write this review, as I wasn’t all that keen on the main trilogy. My major gripe that I had with those novels was the amount of time dedicated to the build-up of the Games, as opposed to the Hunger Games themselves. At first Songbirds and Snakes appears no different in composition, however what time we do have within the Games this time is much more detailed. We’re given descriptions of the death of each tribute, provided with a list of tribute’s names, as well as those of the Mentors assigned to them, and regular check-ins telling us which tributes are still in play within the arena. This makes it easier to keep track of events.

I wish Suzanne had chosen a different district to focus on in this story though, rather than just sticking with the overused district 12, as I’d have enjoyed learning more about the other districts and their ways of life, rather than a rehashing of familiar places.

Having spent some time deliberating why President Snow was chosen to feature in this prequel story, I realised that this was probably because Snow was the only character that made sense. There were no other major players – at least none that currently spring to mind – from the main trilogy, whose backstory would have even been remotely interesting to read. So choosing Snow was the logical choice. The obvious question being, how did he become President?

Despite having now learned more about Coriolanus Snow and his tough upbringing I’m still not sure I’m warming to this particular character. Still don’t like him, he’s not endearing enough or interesting enough to warrant such a long book. The story becomes extremely stretched out and unengaging as it crawls along towards the end, and as a result I can only rate The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes at 2 out of 5 stars.

It has a somewhat enjoyable start, which peters out into pointless drivel, dotted with the hints of the obligatory romance now common to most young adult novels these days. It still leaves a number of questions unanswered, and I suspect that that means there will be another book to come.

See also:

Book 1 – The Hunger Games

Book 2 – Catching Fire

Book 3 – Mockingjay

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

Harry Potter is coming of age, and the protective charms that Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, placed around him after the unfortunate death of his parent’s, Lily and James, will cease to exist. Coupled also by the unexpected loss of the Headmaster himself at the end of the previous school year, now puts the famous wizard in very grave danger. Harry is now vulnerable to an attack from his nemesis, the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Instead of returning to Hogwarts for their 7th and final year of education, Harry and his two closest friends: Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger are attempting to fulfil Dumbledore’s dying wish, to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes.

Horcruxes are magical artefacts that belong to Lord Voldemort, each object containing a small piece of the dark wizard’s soul. Two have already been destroyed, leaving the rest still unaccounted for. Harry must eliminate these powerful artefacts and weaken Voldemort’s powers, ensuring that the Dark Wizard can finally be defeated once and for all.

But, will they succeed?

 

 

The Deathly Hallows is the final novel in J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally successful Harry Potter series and while the majority of the story pales in comparison to its predecessors, at 4 out of 5 stars it provides a fitting conclusion to the 7 book set.

Harry and his friends have an important task to complete, which has been placed upon them alone due to the untimely death of Professor Albus Dumbledore, but armed with very little knowledge about the mission ahead, are the three youngsters capable of defeating the most powerful and dangerous wizard of all time?

The story is fraught with fear, deception and the death of all who get between Lord Voldemort and his enemy, but can love really conquer all as Dumbledore claims, or is there a better way to conquer the Dark Lord?  

Find out what happens to the famous young wizard in the concluding chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

See also:

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Ring Trilogy: Book 3 – Loop by Koji Suzuki (Book Review)

Loop is the third book of the original Ring trilogy from Koji Suzuki and those interested can read my review of book 1, Ring here, or book 2, Spiral via this link.

…Major Spoilers Warning…

Continue reading “Ring Trilogy: Book 3 – Loop by Koji Suzuki (Book Review)”

Ring Trilogy: Book 2 – Spiral by Koji Suzuki (Book Review)

Happy Friday 13th folks! 🙂

Spiral is the second book in the original Ring trilogy from Koji Suzuki.

 

…possible spoiler warning for those who haven’t read book 1, Ring

  Continue reading “Ring Trilogy: Book 2 – Spiral by Koji Suzuki (Book Review)”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

The famous young wizard, Harry Potter and his closest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, begin their 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with its increased security measures in light of the now public return of the Dark Wizard, Voldemort. 

Their fellow student, Draco Malfoy, high profile son of recently imprisoned Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, begins acting in a rather strange and un-Draco like manner, even before their return to Hogwarts, making Harry inclined to believe that Draco is treading in the footsteps of his father as a servant to the Dark Lord. However, Harry has trouble convincing those around him that Lord Voldemort would be in league with an untrained, sixteen year old wizard.

Meanwhile, Harry’s least favourite Professor, Severus Snape has finally achieved his dream of becoming the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, a position that seems to be jinxed, but which side is the ex-Death Eater loyal to these days: Dumbledore or Voldemort?

Can Harry discover what Draco Malfoy is up to and prevent him from causing trouble? Is his theory about Malfoy joining the dark Lord correct, or will Ron and Hermione prove Harry wrong?

 

The Half-Blood Prince is the first Harry Potter novel not to begin by discussing Harry’s present circumstances at the Dursley family home, instead setting the stage from the enemy’s perspective.

Despite being much shorter than its predecessor, the Half-Blood Prince is not really the most engrossing of stories and I feel that at 3.5 out of 5 stars it may be one of the weakest novels in the series. Most of the book is mundane and positively dull with all of the excitement appearing near the end.

Also the fact that House-Elf’s can ‘apparate’ inside Hogwarts really bothered me, and distracted me a little, as apparition shouldn’t be possible considering all of the additional enchantments that have been put in place to ensure the safety of the students. I know Elf magic is different to Wizard magic, but I feel that it is a tremendous flaw in the storyline which throws up a number of plot holes.

 

See also:

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Ring Trilogy: Book 1 – Ring by Koji Suzuki (Book Review)

I read this book many years ago, after the Americans released their more modern remake of the original Japanese horror movie, Ringu. Back then, this trilogy terrified me, especially since I could picture those horrifying dead faces from the movie in my head, sending chills and goose-pimples down my spine. So much so, that when I found these novels on my bookshelf and decided to re-read this trilogy for Halloween 2020, I found that I couldn’t quite bring myself to begin reading it late at night. Preferring to wait for the comfort of daylight instead.

 …possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Ring Trilogy: Book 1 – Ring by Koji Suzuki (Book Review)”

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (Book Review)

The Hellbound Heart is the short novella from Clive Barker which gave birth to the Hellraiser film franchise, starring Doug Bradley as head Cenobite, Pinhead.

…possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (Book Review)”

The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates (Book Review)

World’s Scariest Places: The Catacombs

The Catacombs is written in first-person narrative, mostly from the perspective of an American called Will, though includes some shorter chapters from the perspective of other characters. Will has relocated to Paris with the intention of starting over, after a boating disaster turned his life upside down, killing his younger sister and best friend, on the night before his wedding.

He befriends a local girl called Danièle, who shows him video footage of an Australian woman lost in the Catacombs beneath the city. She convinces him to join her on a night-time trip, deep into the caverns and tunnels on a hunt for this missing woman, along with her friends, Pascal and Rob. Although reluctant, Will later agrees to accompany them, after an unexpected conversation with his ex-fiance spurs him on.

 

Initially I was a little sceptical going into this book, I’d read the previous novel in the ‘World’s Scariest Places’ series last year and was a bit underwhelmed by the story. Suicide Forest didn’t live up to the creepy goose-pimply tale I’d been expecting, but I was hoping, considering the location, that The Catacombs would make for a much scarier story.

…possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates (Book Review)”

Revenger Series: Book 3 – Bone Silence (Book Review)

Bone Silence is the third of the 3 Revenger series books by Alastair Reynolds, and continues the story of Arafura and Adrana Ness, and their rag-tag crew aboard the Revenger.

…potential spoiler warning for those who haven’t read the preceding novels…

You can check out my reviews of book 1, Revenger here via this link, or book 2, Shadow Captain here.

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 3 – Bone Silence (Book Review)”