Alabaster Shadows by Matt Gardner #BookReview

Title: Alabaster Shadows | Series: Alabaster Shadows 1 | Author: Matt Gardner | Illustrator: Rashad Doucet | Publisher: Oni Press | Pub. Date: 2015-12-9 | Pages: 184 | Genre: Horror Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Comixology Unlimited


Alabaster Shadows

Carter Normandy knows there’s something weird about the neighborhood he and his family move into. Maybe it’s the physics-defying leak in the basement, or the way all the adults seem to look down on kids like they’re scum. With the help of his new friends, Carter discovers a whole other world alongside his seemingly normal community-a world filled with terrifying monsters. A world the adults of the community already know all about. Now it’s up to Carter and his friends to keep these monsters from crossing over into our world, or face the dire consequences! 

A gorgeously illustrated mystery perfect for fans of Gravity Falls with just a hint of Lovecraftian horror.

Book cover for Alabaster Shadows

Alabaster Shadows

Alabaster Shadows is one of the few kids’ comics on Comixology Unlimited.  It is perfectly suited for a middle grade audience, though even younger kids will probably get a kick out of looking at it. (They may just not understand the story line.)

I love the bright and warm color palate used in Alabaster Shadows.  It draws the eyes, and makes each panel into a pleasing visual experience. The illustrations are great as well. The illustrator does a great job of conveying the character’s emotions without a single word needing to be said.  Though when words are said, they do match up perfectly. I found myself grinning every time the character Polly was on the page, perhaps because she reminds me (in spirit) of my own daughter.

Alabaster Shadows features a diverse family in a non-diverse setting. The mother is African American, the father Asian. The houses in their neighborhood all look the same. The rest of the people all appear to be white. So, it isn’t really a surprise that the Normandy family is an obvious catalyst for change.

It does follow some typical middle-grade tropes, such as the parents not really being part of the story. (They are, at least, both present, though!) Its very much pesky kids against evil adults. The dialogue, pace, and action are perfect. I love that the kids use their heads consistently.

There are some positive reinforcements mentioned in Alabaster Shadows as well. As when one adult tells Polly early on that “…you don’t need to wait to grow up to be important.” And showing that stuff like ‘throws like a girl’ isn’t something that should be said by showing that a girl can really throw.

There is a Lovecraftian bent to the story, but nothing scary. At the most, all that the reader sees is some people staring off into space mumbling weird words. There are a few ‘monsters’ but considering how brightly colored they are, they’re not scary at all. Even Polly goes ballistic over how ‘cute’ something is.

Alabaster Shadows would be a great way to introduce middle-graders to the ‘weird fiction’ and horror of Lovecraft. It’s got a story line which will keep young (or older minds) engaged. The characters are likable ‘normal’ ones (no trace of super powers here!), and range from the scaredy-cat, to the confident and calm, to the ‘weird’ one, so some sort of character there for every one.

I love Alabaster Shadows. It’s a gorgeous book with a good storyline.  I would love to have a hard copy of this one. Definitely recommend this.

This is Horror, Issue 25: Nightmare on Elm Street, The Invasive, and The Ghost Club

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Horror post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Horror, Issue 25 is a sampling of Horror News, including book and movie releases, and more. A little bit of everything to make the horror hound in you feel all fuzzy and warm. Or tingle with anticipation. Whatever works for you.

This is Horror’s Weekly Quote

“I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge, or lustre, or name.” 
― H.P. LovecraftNemesis

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Horror Movies

Let’s face it, it’s the last two weeks of the year. Horror is squelched right now.  So, instead, I present four of my favorite scenes from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. These films are single-handedly responsible for most of my night terrors as a child. (And yes, I had actual night terrors, to the point they medicated me.)

Nightmare on Elm Street - Suspended by Veins
This one is perhaps the least scary – it never gave me any nightmares, but it just deeply disturbed me. The look on the guys face, the fact that its his – what – arteries? No thanks!
Nightmare on Elm Street - Claw in the Bathtub
Y’all, I still can’t keep my eyes closed for very long in the bath tub. Seriously.
Nightmare on Elm Street - Pushing Wall
The only reason this one doesn’t still creep me out is we no longer live in a place that has wallpaper. And yes, that’s the way my mind works. Freddy can push through wallpaper, but not actual walls.
Nightmare on Elm Street - Waterbed
After I watched this movie, I went to spend the night at a friend’s house, and she had a waterbed. It took every speck of bravery I had in me not to call my mom and ask for her to come pick me up.

Oh, in case you missed it, if you’re interested in how the Nightmare on Elm Street movies did, you can check it out in our handy little infographic.

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Horror Books

Featured New Release

Book cover for The Ghost club

The Ghost Club – William Meikle – December 9th, 2017

Writers never really die; their stories live on, to be found again, to be told again, to scare again.

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you’ll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.

Come, join us for dinner and a story:

Robert Louis Stevenson – Wee Davie Makes a Friend Rudyard Kipling – The High Bungalow Leo Tolstoy – The Immortal Memory Bram Stoker – The House of the Dead Mark Twain – Once a Jackass Herbert George Wells – Farside Margaret Oliphant – To the Manor Born Oscar Wilde – The Angry Ghost Henry Rider Haggard – The Black Ziggurat Helena P Blavatsky – Born of Ether Henry James – The Scrimshaw Set Anton Checkov – At the Molenzki Junction Jules Verne – To the Moon and Beyond Arthur Conan Doyle – The Curious Affair on the Embankment

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths

Gracie’s review.

_____________________

Goodreads Horror Giveaways

Book cover for The Invasive Book cover for Horror Everywhere Book cover for The Zee Brothers, Zombie Exterminators

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Horrorific Trivia

Going with Lilyn’s Nightmare on Elm Street scenes I was going to drop in my favorite ludicrous deaths. But then, I remembered that the eighties was the birth of tie-in merchandise and A Nightmare on Elm Street was not exempt from this madness for merch. So, my friends and fellow horror lovers, I present to you some of the weirdest, most ridiculous movie tie-ins for A Nightmare on Elm Street:

The Freddy Toaster: What better way to start your day than with a famed murderer! That’s right, you can now, literally, eat Freddy. I guess that serves him right for eating the People Pizza.

 

Call 1-900-Freddy: Feeling lonely? Wanna talk to someone you can really spill your guts to? Never fear, while you’re staying awake, chugging your coffee and No-Doz you can always call 1-900-909-FRED and for two dollars a minute you can have a pre-recorded heart to heart with Freddy himself.

Freddy Krueger’s Tales of Terror: A book tie-in to a movie isn’t so strange. In fact, I have a Freddy book myself. I feel like the concept for this series went a little something like this: “Let’s see, R.L. Stine is having a lot of success with his Fear Street series why don’t we do a series? We’ll aim it at teenagers and get the crappiest Fred Krueger make-up we can find and slap it on the cover. Gold!” Honestly, I don’t know if they’re good or not (and I’d love to find one to see) but the covers are so Nineties Neon I can’t help but giggle.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Nintendo Game: Freddy has been popping up here and there as a special guest in various horror games lately. However, once upon a time Freddy had his very own Nintendo game. It started out as you being able to play as Freddy but that was scrapped, presumably for fear of backlash. This was before Manhunt and GTA, after all. In concept it sounds at least somewhat close to how a real Freddy movie would play out. You play as a teen with up to three other players (using the NES Four Score). Your goal is to collect Freddy’s bones scattered around. It also had a Sleep Meter that would go down and when it ran out you would be warped to the Dream World where you could get killed by Freddy that much the quicker. Despite some…odd choices of enemies (like minotaurs) and weapons. Apparently shurikens became very popular in Springwood.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010): Why?? Just why?? I know, I know. It’s not a tie-in but, I ask again, why was this necessary?

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Horror on the Web

Check out this very interesting article on how horror movies can help anxiety and why on Broadly.

While we couldn’t score an interview with William Meikle on his new book The Ghost Club gingernutsofhorror.com did

Well, this sounds interesting…and terrifying. Insidious: The Last Key will be trying something a little more high-tech with it’s new movie. Check it out at Bloody Disgusting

Have a happy Ash-filled holiday (with or without chainsaw)

Artemis by Andy Weir #BookReview

Title: Artemis | Author: Andy Weir | Publisher: Crown Publishing Group | Pub. Date: 2017-11-14 | Pages: 305 | ISBN13: 9780553448122 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 (barely) | Source: Library


Artemis

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Book cover for Artemis

Artemis Review

When I first heard that Andy Weir was coming out with a new book, I cringed a little.  But wait  – I hear you say – you love The Martian!  This is true, I do love The Martian. It remains my go-to science fiction book when I need a laugh or a dose of sarcasm to brighten up my day. However, I have no faith in my fellow man. So, I thought to myself “What are the chances that Weir is going to try to repackage the Snarkonaut we all know and love, and put him in a new situation?”  Because this is what he knows works, and people do tend to go with a working formula…

Jazz Bashra is Mark Watney. With boobs.   Sarcastic, foul-mouthed, extremely intelligent, a bit rebellious, with a drive to survive.

That’s not the only similarity that exists, though. Artemis begins with the drama of a spacesuit being ruptured. Even some of the jokes from The Martian are recycled in Artemis.  Weir’s appealingly (at times) juvenile sense of humor means that boob jokes get trotted out as frequently as possible. And references to other bodily functions.

“Holes in EVA suits are bad.” – Yes, we learned this from The Martian.

“All that hydrogen had met the oxygen at a high temperature and they’d had a brief chat” – Yes, we learned hydrogen + oxygen + fire = big boom in The Martian.

“Rim Shot!” – Sensing a recyclable theme yet?

On the other hand he had some great lines in Artemis that were fresh (from him at least).

“It’s important to vary your profanities. If you use the same one too often it loses strength.” had me giggling.

“Attack of the Moon Woman Who Made Bad Life Decisions.” – Amen, sister

“Nope!” I said.  | I spun on my heel and stormed back into the hallway. “Nope, nope nope!” – This is me. This is me on such an epic level.

“I might have been on the run for my life, but I wasn’t willing to go without email.” 

So, given that Jazz is Watney (with boobs), it’s no real surprise that I liked Artemis, is it? However, in comparison to the attraction that The Martian had, Artemis doesn’t exactly measure up. It’s kind of like the first time you drink 2% milk after years of only drinking whole milk. Yes, it’s milk, but it’s not nearly as tasty as the real thing is.  But it’s not quite the horrible experience that your first drink of white-colored-water-that-is-called-skim-milk is. And eventually you get used to it, and even start to like it.

Yeah, I had trouble really getting into the book because once the first impression had been made… Well, you only get one first impression. However, by the halfway mark, I was properly enjoying it. A reveal made around the 60% point perked my interest up a good bit as well. I was giggling quite a bit from there on out.  Still, it was a solid ‘okay’ and that was it. Weir’s already proved he can make me laugh. Nothing new there.

What saved it (for me) was the relationship between Jazz and her father. Well, that relationship and a few others.  Weir is surprisingly adept at writing relationships that make me go gooey.  Jazz’s dad loves her. He doesn’t approve of her life decisions, but she is his daughter, and so help him, he’s the only one that can call her an asshole.  (As a parent, this is a sentiment I heartily agree with. I can call my kid a jerk. You do it and I’ll hunt you down and pull your underwear up so far you’ll have to gargle with bleach to rinse the racing stripes off your tighty-whiteys. Got me? )

Setting aside my issues with the recycled content, Artemis was an enjoyable read. It was fast-paced. The quips had me laughing. There was just enough danger in the air to make it nicely tense.  I’m not really one for ‘heist’ books, so it didn’t hit me right in my G(ood Reads) spot, but it came close enough to give me a mild-to-moderate happy.

I can’t say I’ll be eager to pick up the next book that Weir puts out because if he tries to pull the same tricks in another setting again, I won’t come even close to having a happy. Good, but not great.

I would suggest borrowing over buying.

Buy link: Amazon

 

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol 1 by Amy Reeder #BookReview

Title: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol 1 | Series: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur | Author: Amy Reeder | IllustratorsBrandon MontclareNatacha Bustos | Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain | Publisher: Marvel Comics | Pub. Date: 2016-7-15 | Pages: 160 | Genre: Science Fiction Graphic Novel | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Bookstore coffee read


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol 1

LUNELLA LAFAYETTE IS AN INHUMAN PRETEEN GENIUS WHO WANTS TO CHANGE THE WORLD! 

That job would be a lot easier if she wasn’t living in mortal fear of her latent Inhuman gene. There’s no telling what she’ll turn into – but Luna’s got a plan. All she needs is an Omni-Wave Projector. Easy, right? That is, until a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call…today! Together they’re the most Marvelous Team-Up of all – the Inhuman Moon Girl and time-tossed Devil Dinosaur! But will they be BFFs forever, or just until DD’s dinner time? And Lunella soon learns that there are other problems with a having a titanic T. Rex as a pet in the modern-day Marvel Universe. School, for one. Monster hunters are another – especially when they’re the Totally Awesome Hulk! Then there’s the fact that everyone’s favorite dino didn’t journey through time alone. Beware the prehistoric savages known as the Killer-Folk – New York City’s deadliest tourists! Can Lunella handle all this turmoil… and keep herself from transforming into an Inhuman monster? 

Collecting MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #1-6.

Book cover for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Review

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a graphic novel that I had on my list several months ago as one I wanted to read. Well, the day before Miss L had her heart catheterization and bronchoscopy, we were playing hooky from all responsibilities. We went to the local Barnes & Noble and snagged a few graphic novels to read while we had our ‘coffees’.  She had picked up the latest Supergirl comic, but within minutes of me starting Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, she was peering over my shoulder. And then she started grouching at me when we weren’t flipping pages at the right rate for her. So, safe to say she was a fan.

While I  did enjoy Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, it was more that I enjoyed the experience of sharing it with my child than the actual content itself. The illustrations were okay. Some of my favorite ones were where Devil Dinosaur was carrying Moon Girl around. Those made me laugh. I didn’t particularly care for Teenage Hulk’s presence in the story.  The colorist did a great job on Moon Girl and I liked the color choices in general.  The dialogue was middling though. While it was fun to make the indignant tones and growling noises of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, not a single line of the dialogue stands out in my mind even two hours later.

As for the story itself – well, there was something in there. I liked that Moon Girl was so determined to protect herself from the Terrigen mist. She wasn’t going to depend on anyone else to fix the problem. This isn’t some damsel in distress. But, through six issues, she never actually manages to accomplish anything in the way of saving herself. In fact, the volume ends with her in a serious “oh, crap!” position.  On the one hand, she’s only nine. On the other, she’s supposed to be some sort of super genius, so… I don’t know. All I know is a lot of the volume is her hijinks with trying to rescue or be rescued by the devil dinosaur, and that’s not really enough to motivate me to want to read more from the series.

And – this must be said – I only knew what the Terrigen mist (cloud?) was because I’d seen it when I was working my way through a Spanish-language Marvel sampler. I’m still not sure what role the ‘Inhumans’ play in the Marvel Universe. Are they different from superheroes? So if you’re not really familiar at all with the Marvel Universe outside the glut of superhero movies, you might have some problems.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but not a memorable one. I might check out the second volume next time I’m at Barnes & Noble, but that really depends on if there’s anything else more interesting looking available. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur may be a good pick for younger readers, though. 

 

Buy Link: Amazon

Under: Scourge of the Sewers #1 by Christopher Bec #BookReview

Title: Under: Scourge of the Sewers | Series: Under #1 | Writer: Christopher Bec | Illustrator: Stefano Raffaelo | Publisher: Titan Comics | Pub. Date: 2017-12-13 | Pages: 53 | Ages: 17+ | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Big honkin’ spiders, (potentially) dead baby | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration | Includes: 2 art preview pages!


Under: Scourge of the Sewers #1

Classic B-movie horror! Some people bury their secrets underground. In megalopolis, the filth flows into the sewers. Lt. Wilson Jericho, disgraced above ground and busted down to an officer in the Sewer Police, thinks he knows everything there is to know about what lies beneath. But scientist Sandra Yeatman is determined to discover the truth behind the urban legends – and prove that something monstrous will soon crawl out and rip the city apart!n“Great and wise entertainment! If the French nouvelle vague made a Troma movie, this would be it… except it is much more engrossing!” – Lloyd Kaufman, Troma Director

Under #1 Cover

Under: Scourge of the Sewers #1 Review

To put it plainly: I really liked this. I thought the art was great, I loved the way it felt like I could get lost in the characters’ eyes in certain panels. I felt like the colors complemented the illustrations perfectly. I have never read anything from Christopher Bec or Steffano Rafaello before, but Under: Scourge of the Sewers #1 put them both high on my list to check out again. The storyline itself isn’t anything new, but its interesting nonetheless. I love almost anything that dabbled in cryptozoology, and the classics like “Alligators in the sewers” beg to be written about in one form or another.  

The panels were easy to follow. Always a plus. The dialogue was solid. The gigantic sewer alligator (pictured below in the 2nd art page) made me obscenely happy. The action was well communicated. The characters that we are introduced to have the potential to be interesting. The main male character, Jericho, has a fairly typical pain-death-trauma in his background, so I didn’t care much about him. However, the female, Dr. Yeatman, I almost instantly liked. She’s curious, nerdy, and unafraid to get her hands dirty, but at the same time isn’t above squeaking and stomping something to death. It makes her fun to read about.

It was an enjoyable reading experience from beginning to end. Well, almost. I say ‘almost’ only because the last few panels were really disturbing. Part of me is curious where they’re going with it, and part of me really doesn’t want to know!

Overall, I think they have a good thing starting in Under. I think Under: Scourge of the Sewers #1 was a great beginning, and I already can’t wait for the next issue to come out. 

Under: Scourge of Sewer #1 is on sale today!

Buy Link: Amazon

 

Art from Under: Scourge of the Sewer #1 Art from Under: Scourge of the Sewer #1

The Best Indie Sci-Fi & Horror We Read In 2017

We’ve been waiting to roll this post out! While we’re going to be doing a “Best of 2017” in early January, we wanted to devote one list solely to small press and self-published authors that we’ve read this year. Now, unlike the Best of 2017 list, which has the qualification of must be published in 2017, because it is so much harder for self pubs and small press work to get attention, we relaxed that rule a bit. These are the best indie sci-fi and horror we read in 2017. Publication date does not matter.

The Best Indies Banner

Note: We’ve listed these in alphabetical order by title, not in order of preference. 

Best Indie Sci-Fi of 2017

Book cover for Chimera Catalyst

Chimera Catalyst by Susan Kuchinskas

Dark and Stars book cover

Dark & Stars by J.B. Rockwell

Book cover for Kings of This World

Kings of this World by Peter Bailey

The Killbug Eulogies

The Killbug Eulogies  by Will Madden

Book cover The Slant Six

The Slant Six by Christopher Cobb

Lilyn’s Notes: This was a hard list to settle on. I knew I had to stick to five, so naturally there was some weeding going on. These are the ones that stood out in the end, though. Chimera Catalyst had one of the most believable near-future settings I’ve seen. Dark & Stars had the rare distinction of being better than the first book (how often does that happen?) and I loved the first book!, Kings of This World was everything a post-apocalyptic novel should be but rarely is, and The Slant Six.. well, that was just downright funny, and it’s hard to make me laugh in a book. I won’t say more because the titles link to the reviews, and those say it best.

Best Indie Horror of 2017

Book cover for Crow Shine

Crow Shine by Alan Baxter

Book cover for The Darklights

The Darklights by MichaelBrent Collings

The Ghost Club by William Meikle

Book cover for Rites of Azathoth

Rites of Azathoth by Frank Cavallo

Book cover for Wicked Witches

Wicked Witches Anthology edited by Scott T. Goudsward, David Price and Daniel G. Keohane

GracieKat’s Notes: It’s probably pretty easy to tell from my list that I love short story collections and anthologies. Crow Shine impressed me because of its consistently good stories throughout. It’s true that a single author collection is much easier to sustain the goodness level than a multi-author one but really, Crow Shine had awesome stories throughout. The Darklights really surprised me because it seemed to be more science fiction but after reading a few chapters it really didn’t matter. I was hooked. And it is definitely horror. The Ghost Club was a late entry and I’m so glad it was. I knew William Meikle could write well in period language from his Carnacki books but I was still very surprised at how well he was able to write in the style of other, varied authors. To the Manor Born was certainly my favorite in that collection. Rites of Azathoth was a very good book. I can’t say I enjoyed the main character much, but the rest was great Lovecraftian gooey-ness. It’s also a testament to just how good the rest of the book was for me to overlook a few issues and put it in one of my top spots for the year. Remember what I said about multi-author anthologies? Wicked Witches was one of the few that I honestly can’t think of a story that didn’t blend well. And that’s no mean feat considering it was not only multiple authors but themed as well.

 

Interview with Katie Slivensky for the #17DABash

2017 Debut Authors Bash Banner

 

Author Katie Slivensky

Katie Slivensky is an educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does presentations with alligators and liquid nitrogen (not usually at the same time), and runs the rooftop observatory program. Katie lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Find her online at www.katieslivensky.com, and follow her on Twitter at @paleopaws.

 

 

 

 

Before we get to the interview, let me start by saying that I absolutely loved The Countdown Conspiracy. It was a fast-paced, interesting book with a great premise and enough action that I couldn’t look away from it! There are times when you read a MG book, and you just think “Yes, this is going to be big” and that’s the feeling I had about The Countdown Conspiracy. I highly recommend it to everyone reading this! And if you want to win a copy, look for the rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post!

Talking with Katie Slivensky

Sci-Fi & Scary: What do you love most about science fiction?

Katie Slivensky: I like that it gives people a chance to explore what could be possible. It takes where we’re at now in society and technology, and imagines where that could go—for good or for ill. And well done sci-fi remembers that people are at the heart of the story, no matter how exciting the setting or plot might be.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: What are your three most favorite science fiction books?

Katie Slivensky: This is such a difficult question! I think I have to include A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, since that book influenced me so much as an elementary school student. My other strong sci-fi influence as a kid was Star Wars, so for my 2nd choice I’ll pick the X-Wing series by Michael A. Stackpole, which I read over and over through middle school. And finally, I’ll pick one of my favorite sci-fi reads of 2017—Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski. Such an incredibly fun and imaginative read!

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: You’re a science educator at the Museum of Science. I can only imagine how neat that job is. What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Katie Slivensky: My favorite part of my job is getting people of all ages excited about something in science that they may have never encountered or considered before. I teach with things ranging from tiny adorable tree frogs to massive digital, fly-through models of the entire universe. And through all of that, I get to witness the spark of curiosity occur daily. I consider myself truly lucky.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: On your site, you have a weekly science video. How do you choose them?

Katie Slivensky: It’s completely by whim! It might be something featured in the news recently, like a new discovery about a planet, or it might be something that I’d been thinking about through the week, like how amazing superconductors are. Sometimes I get a little silly with it, like when I posted a video featuring nightjars because I got that animal as my Patronus on Pottermore. Lately, I’ve been featuring videos from a YouTube channel I adore: Science with Sophie (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOJz0IhQZOH07fNIdVqWx1Q). It’s science + comedy for kids, and it’s so clever and fun I wish everyone would watch it!

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: Your profile mentions that you got interested in astronomy when you started working in the museum. Do you remember what exactly it was that hooked you?

Katie Slivensky: I’ve always enjoyed looking up at the night sky. When I started at the Museum and had the opportunity to actually learn the science behind what I was seeing at night, I jumped at it. It was an entirely new realm of knowledge to learn, and I love learning so I soaked it all up like a sponge. I felt so empowered the first time I stepped outside and could point out the location of Jupiter and Mars to my friends. It feels like secret knowledge, but in reality is knowledge anyone can gain! I highly recommend getting into amateur astronomy.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: You mentioned in your research that you’ve got to meet a few people involved with NASA, as well as get to have a ‘blast-off’ experience. This all sounds amazing! I have to ask – would you jump at the chance to ride the Vomit Comet if you could?

Katie Slivensky: Absolutely! I’d probably vomit, but it’d be worth it.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: When did you first get the idea for The Countdown Conspiracy?

Katie Slivensky: It came from a group of kids who got incredibly excited during one of my astronomy lessons about the idea that their generation would likely be the generation to go to Mars. That got me thinking…could I write a story that captures that excitement?

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: How long did The Countdown Conspiracy take to write (from start to finish) one you got your first outline and/or draft done?

Katie Slivensky: First draft took just under a year to really come together. From start to finish, the entire process took about 4 years of work before I submitted the final manuscript in 2016. I think it was 12 or 13 full drafts to get to the final version!

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: How much of you is in The Countdown Conspiracy’s main character Miranda Regent?

Katie Slivensky: Miranda worries that she wasn’t meant to be in this special astronaut program. That she isn’t good enough. I was always pegged as a “smart” kid and put into advanced and honors classes growing up. However, my classmates all seemed to naturally “get it” when it came to our school work, while I didn’t. So I had to work super hard to keep up and constantly felt like I was an idiot and didn’t belong. But in the end, the fact that I was a hard worker is what has gotten me to where I am in life more than anything else, so I wanted to emphasize that with Miranda…and hopefully demonstrate it to other young overachievers.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: Where you connected with Curiosity, I fell in love with Spirit and Opportunity. I loved Ruby.  Ruby feels like an ode to all of them. I have to admit that her part in the story (I don’t want to say more in case people haven’t read the book!) made me tear up.  Did you know from early on that she was going to end up playing such an important role, or did her part take on a life of its own?

Katie Slivensky: To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say Spirit and Opportunity did indeed inspire a lot of Ruby’s story arc in addition to Curiosity. I love those rovers, too—seeing as I first got into astronomy in the 2009-2010 era, their influence is undeniable. 😉 However, when I first started writing this book in 2012, Miranda didn’t have a robot. Then, a couple weeks before Curiosity landed on Mars, I woke up one day and it all just hit me out of the blue: Miranda is a roboticist. She has a robot she built named Ruby. And I knew right then and there what role Ruby would play. So even though Ruby wasn’t originally in the story, the moment she was conceived her whole arc burst into existence with her.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: I have to ask – with the way The Countdown Conspiracy ended – are you planning on writing a follow-up to it at some point?

Katie Slivensky: Never say never! But at this moment, there are no plans for sequels. It’s all in the hands of my readers now to decide what happens next.

 

Sci-Fi & Scary: On Goodreads, there’s another book listed from you – The Seismic Seven  – with a release date of June 2018. The synopsis of it is up on your website, but not Goodreads yet. Will this be similar in general feel to The Countdown Conspiracy? (emphasis on teamwork, not giving up, etc)

Katie Slivensky: In many ways, yes! The themes of working together and not giving up despite facing incredible odds are strong throughout THE SEISMIC SEVEN, as is the purposeful weaving of factual science throughout the story. There are some differences in other parts, though. I think SEISMIC focuses more on taking responsibility and wrestling with faith in humanity to a higher degree than COUNTDOWN. It’s also, in general, more unapologetically an action-adventure movie in the form of a book. 🙂 After all, the tagline is: Seven kids. One supervolcano. One chance to save the world.         

Thank you so much for hosting me on Sci-Fi and Scary! I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

 


Books

Book cover for The Countdown ConspiracyTitle: THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s

Release date: August 1st, 2017

Blurb: Miranda Regent can’t believe she was just chosen as one of six kids from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But as soon as the official announcement is made, she begins receiving anonymous threatening messages…and when the training base is attacked, it looks like Miranda is the intended target. Now the entire mission—and everyone’s lives—are at risk. And Miranda may be the only one who can save them.

The Martian meets The Goonies in this out-of-this-world middle grade debut where the stakes couldn’t be higher.

****A Junior Library Guild Selection: Fall 2017****

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26102519-the-countdown-conspiracy

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780062462558

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Countdown-Conspiracy-Katie-Slivensky/dp/0062462555

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-countdown-conspiracy-katie-slivensky/1124860410

 

 

Book cover for Seismic SevenTitle: THE SEISMIC SEVEN

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s

Release date: June 5th, 2018

Blurb: Brianna Dobson didn’t plan to spend her summer saving the planet from total destruction. But what starts as an educational experience shadowing geologist Dr. Samantha Grier in Yellowstone National Park quickly becomes a race to stop a massive volcanic eruption the likes of which the humanity has never seen.

Seven kids. One supervolcano. One chance to save the world.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35230414-the-seismic-seven

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Seismic-Seven-Katie-Slivensky/dp/0062463187

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-seismic-seven-katie-slivensky/1126439901

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sci-Fi: A Passion for the Fantastic by Christopher F. Cobb

I met Chris when he submitted his book The Slant Six to the site for review consideration. The synopsis was interesting, the cover was eye-catching, but what really made me decide to give it a read was that it had been endorsed by one of my favorite authors. If Piers Anthony liked it, I thought, this has to be worth a shot. Well, as I said in my review “The Slant Six is outrageous, hilarious, dirty-minded, and entertaining from start to finish.”

And then, as it turns out, the author is also a rather nice, entertaining fellow! One who agreed to do a guest post for the site. So, let me happily present Christopher F. Cobb’s “Sci-Fi: A Passion for the Fantastic”.


Sci-Fi: A Passion for the Fantastic

by Christopher F. Cobb
(Author of “The Slant Six” and “A Moon Called Sun”)

What in the Mutara Nebula is Science Fiction anyway? Well, gee whiz Lieutenant Demanding Dan, if you must know then let me take a stab at it. I guess in its most literal sense, breathe, Science Fiction tackles the impact of imaginary innovations in science or technology, swallow, with made-up elements possible within scientifically postulated laws of nature, breathe. Science Fiction may involve technology, spaceships or aliens, swallow, and will often focus on exploration of the unknown. (Arbitrary sniffle…followed by the sound of a single chirping cricket.) Okay yeah, so that went over like a flatulent xenomorph in a decompression chamber. Enough Mr. Spock, the needs of the many outweigh the gas of the few. Let’s drop some syllables here and talk “Sci-fi” instead. Because, quite frankly, Sci-fi should never be described or quantified with the tedious terms associated with Science Fiction.

Sci-fi isn’t so much hardcover thesaurus as it is a soft-shelled, neon-encrusted stegosaurus. It’s more a degree of Zen master than it is a Master’s Degree. It’s a state of mind rather than a mindful state, a suspension of disbelief with a retention of a person’s inner child. Sci-fi is a magic carpet ride, man, it’s a 12-year-old inside a darkened cinema, biting his arm as he leans against the chair in front of him. Next to the boy sits his younger sister clutching a handful of popcorn as light dances in her eyes. In absolute rapture, pupils dilate, and their optical jellies grow as big as the Death Star itself. Two little hearts race as a massive Star Destroyer fills the screen, firing brilliant lines of laser at a tiny spaceship fleeing the angry giant. It’s like nothing these children have ever seen before and becomes a shared memory that they both cherish well into their adult lives.

As the 12-year-old boy in the scenario, my own personal view of the universe was forever altered on that afternoon – a prepubescent altered state so to speak. Not quite the William “murdering monkey boy” Hurt in Altered States, not yet anyway. That movie came later…although it changed me as well. I still pound on the walls in melodramatic fury, bouncing back and forth down the hallway as I imitate the agonizing morphing scene. You know, the one with Willy Hurt fighting against his biological devolution into a bloodthirsty primitive – the homicidal homunculus. I do this every so often, especially when I’m frustrated…or horny. It’s fun and makes a damn fine point. But I digress.

Okay, so maybe the first view is a bit Pollyanna but that’s all I needed to fuel my imagination when I was 12. It was more than enough for me. And perhaps the second example is a bit hardcore, but that’s what I crave as an adult. I still find myself wanting more. The beauty of Sci-fi is it that it can be all things to all phases of a person’s evolution. So, suck on that Young Adult Fiction! And yeah, you can suck it too Historical Fiction and, gulp, Self-Help! Put that in your steaming bowl of chicken soup and choke on it! Sci-fi transcends your emotional stages of angst and social acceptance. It blows away your plotlines based on facts, figures and real timelines. It’s a boy saving his father’s soul, it’s a girl in a golden bikini who eventually rules the universe or even a stubby little robot, more fire hydrant than humanoid, who’s actually more human than them all. It’s pure stricture to convention and reality. It’s a passion for the fantastic.

That’s not to say the other genres don’t have passion because they do. However, Sci-fi is entirely different. This kind of passion is more of a pre-existing condition – a happy defect in our DNA. Sci-fi is an acceptance that our universe, that our very perception of reality, extends far beyond what common sense tells us is allowable. Yeah, yeah, yeah, some “Know-It-All” Ned Nederlander will make the argument for genres like Comedy or Horror. I truly like them both but in the eternal words of those infamous Knights of Ni, I say “Ni! Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing!” And for this insult, I demand a shrubbery. One that looks nice. And not too expensive. Regardless, Horror and Comedy are always rooted in recognized mythos or logic. Even the most twisted or absurd has a germ of practical reality nestled into its core. Friday the 13th was nothing more than an Oedipus Complex with an ax. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, while the most beautifully existential comedic masterpiece ever filmed, came from actual history. Yes okay, Star Wars is based on myth too, sure, if you’re going to be a Nitpicking Nancy Drew about it. But turn that myth on its head and it becomes more than myth. It’s becomes canon. For those of us who chose to believe it, we embrace it as the new reality.

Sci-fi was, and still is, my ultimate escape, my magical realm of Xanth, my Pandora with a shitload of unobtanium to be mined. It’s Captain Kirk tagging some sexy green alien punnai and Quaid jump-starting the reactor on Mars. More than just a MacGuffin, it’s my Fifth Element. It is love. I love watching it. I love reading it. I love writing it. I love losing myself inside of it. I love becoming that 12-year over and over again, feeling my pulse race with that passion for the fantastic. I will continue to do so until the day I die. Of course, being a devotee of Sci-fi, I know death is never the end. It’s simply a journey to a new dimension – an eighth dimension where my best friend Buckaroo Bonzai waits for me. What wonderful adventures we will have! That’s my reality. My Serenity. Perhaps, I don’t make any sense. But then again, I write Sci-fi, therefore, I don’t have to. Case closed.

 



Book cover The Slant Six
The Slant Six

The year is 2252 and Loman Phin is in trouble. A washed-up channelship racer turned freelancer, he hits pay dirt with his latest mission: a fortune is on the line if he can transport forty-three kilograms of human skin to a remote villa on Pluto’s moon, Nix. Little does he know his very life is at stake when he gets caught up in an ancient feud, chased by a space vampire, and forced into a death-race by the king of Ceres. Meanwhile, danger is always hot on his heels in the form of a massive space freighter out for Loman’s blood. With just his wits, his friends, and his beat-up cruiser, the Slant Six, Loman sets out on the most dangerous adventure of his life.

Buy Link: Amazon

 

Shadow Weaver by Marcykate Connolly #BookReview

Title: Shadow Weaver | Series: Shadow Weaver #1 | Author: MarcyKate Connolly | Publisher:  Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | Pub. Date: 2018-1-1 | Pages: 320 | ISBN13: 9781492649953 | Genre: Middle-Grade Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration


Shadow Weaver

The shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

The first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology, MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale filled with shadows, danger, and magic that has the feel of a new classic.

Book cover for Shadow Weaver

Shadow Weaver Review

Shadow Weaver is an atmospheric, haunting story that immediately ensnares the reader. This may be written for a middle grade audience, but it begs for adult readership as well. MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale that keeps you trapped in her world until the very end.

Emmeline is a child that’s easy to like and want to protect. Also, like most children she’s also easy to manipulate and scare. Throughout the story I continually wanted to step into the pages and mother her. To whisper in her ear the truths that she needed to hear. To watch her story unfold, knowing that she had to discover things for herself, was almost painful. But her Shadow Weaver journey was exquisitely told.

Shadow Weaver is a book that will draw me back to it for more than one read. And when the second book comes out (for this is part one of a duology), I’ll be reading it as well. Emmeline and Lucas could be extremely powerful together and seeing these two kids take on the evil introduced in this first book will be well worth the wait.

One of the other things I liked about Shadow Weaver (not that there was anything I didn’t like) was the resolution with Dar. I’m not going to say what it was, but the author handled it very nicely. She could have went a few typical routes but she didn’t. And while I’m almost positive the solution will come back and bite them in the butt, I’m still happy things ended the way they did.

Well-written, with believable dialogue, nicely paced action, and fantasy kept on a level easy for middle-grade readers to understand, Shadow Weaver is an exquisite example of how to write darker fantasy for kids. MarcyKate Connolly did a phenomenal job, and I will be shocked if Shadow Weaver doesn’t make it onto the best seller lists for middle grade fiction. I loved it!

 

The Falls and Rises of Film Franchises – A Guest Infographic

 

Film Scores

Film Scores, courtesy of Totally Money

 

Amit from TotallyMoney.com recently reached out to me saying he had a neat post he thought the audience for Sci-Fi & Scary would enjoy. Now, with a website name like TotallyMoney, I was a bit nervous, but I decided to check it out, and I really liked what I saw. While it’s not right up our alley, it is one of those things that just feels worth sharing. (One of those things I’d love to learn to make up when I had the time and patience to do so!)

Lots of interesting information in there when you look at it for a few moments. I was surprised to find that the closest critics came to agreeing on any movies with the general public were the first Ice Age movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and, surprisingly, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and … Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master?? Okay, yes, I’ll give you that it shows a solid middling score for both audience and critics on The Dream Master, but I’m still shocked, regardless!

When you click on the infographic, you get taken to the full page, and then it really gets neat. Instead of looking through the full list, you can pick which film franchises you want to compare against each other. I did that a few different ways. Sorting just for horror made me laugh because you can’t help but ask “Why critics gotta hate on horror so much?” Sorting for science fiction made it clear to me that there’s been a lot more Star Trek movies than I thought!  That, and that I think I’m actually inclined to agree with the critics about the Transformers series.

Anyways, was there anything you found interesting about the infographic? Talk with me about it below, and again, thanks to Amit from TotallyMoney for a fascinating compilation of information.