Featured

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

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th.

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro (Book Review)

The Usual Sacrifices is book fifteen in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by Yvonne Navarro. It takes place during season ten between episodes 10 (The Hunter Games) and 13 (Halt & Catch Fire).

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

Continue reading “Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro (Book Review)”

Caldera by David Hawk (Book Review)

David Hawk is the writer who created The Race Through Space series, science-fiction novels full of science and adventure for young adults. You can find my reviews of The Race Through Space series here via this link.

This time though instead of strange alien worlds, David remains on Earth for his latest adventure, taking us on a trip to Yellowstone National Park in the novel Caldera. I would expect that for most, the plot would be obvious, but for anyone uncertain; the word Caldera refers to a bowl shaped volcanic crater, and in this particular case we follow a super eruption which occurs at the site of the Yellowstone caldera, and its deadly after-effects. The story follows a father and son who take a trip to the park, unaware of the dangerous threat lurking beneath their feet.

I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and shaking my head at the naiveté of the characters in this novel, who were surprised that earthquakes happen regularly at Yellowstone, and weren’t worried about portentous signs like stampeding animals, all the birds taking flight, uptick in earthquakes and aftershocks etc. I know it’s just a story, but these things just appear so obvious to me, like common sense that Yellowstone is a seismic area on top of a volcano, and these signs suggest getting the heck out of the area pronto. It’s the same with most disaster books/movies though, there wouldn’t be a story if everyone had the good sense to flee.

There are also some inaccuracies and liberties in the science. Such as the Jet Stream that appears to flow North West instead of East, and the pace of the lava flows. Since lava normally flows at a slow crawl, more like that seen in Hawaii as opposed to the speedy fashion portrayed in movies like Volcano and San Andreas, or Pompeii, unless it’s travelling downhill. But then, it’s not exactly thrilling to read a story in which most people can outwalk a lava flow, is it?

There’s no mention of the deadly sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere though, released by the eruption, which would poison the air, soil and drinking water of the entire planet, following the trajectory of the ash cloud. Similar to the effects of the Laki eruption in Iceland back in 1783-84. This would lead to the poisoning of most animals and plants, especially crops, livestock and even people. As well as contributing to the potential for a mini ice-age, this is one of the most deadly consequences of major large-scale eruptions.

While some of the early scenes with Colton, the main character, come across as having been written by a horny teenage boy, they did make me giggle. I’m not sure if this was the writer’s intention, but it does provide some light refreshing entertainment, in comparison to the seriousness of the main story. With this in mind though, Caldera is a book probably more suited to older teens and adults, with these repeated references to sex and masturbation.

Unfortunately, despite both the writer and his publishers attempting to reduce the number of spelling and grammar errors contained within David’s books, Caldera still appears to have quite a lot of issues. Including Lucas’s age, which seems to change from thirteen at the beginning, to twelve later on.

For the most part I enjoyed this novel, it kept me entertained and engaged just as a story should, however there were a number of situations that I’m not sure would be entirely true to life, such as walking across an area recently hit by a pyroclastic flow. The ending was a bit too rushed, cobbled together by mere chance and characters having hunches. So a bit of a mixed review and average rating of 3 out of 5 stars for David Hawk’s Caldera. It’s always difficult to please those who enjoy science, when you need to skew the facts a little to allow a story to make sense. I wanted to love this book, but felt a bit let down in a few areas.

I received a complimentary copy of this book directly from the author, David Hawk and voluntarily chose to write this honest review.

See also:

The Race Through Space Trilogy: Books 1-3

The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 1

The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 2

Supernatural: Cold Fire by John Passarella (Book Review)

Cold Fire is book thirteen in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by John Passarella. It takes place during season ten between episodes 12 (About a Boy) and 13 (Halt & Catch Fire).

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

Continue reading “Supernatural: Cold Fire by John Passarella (Book Review)”

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)”