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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Mar
10

Review & Giveaway: Being Amber by Sylvia Ryan

Review & Giveaway: Being Amber by Sylvia Ryan Being Amber Author: Sylvia Ryan Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Ohmygosh! Everything makes SO much more sense now! I read and reviewed Being Sapphire earlier in the year. The second title of the New Atlanta series was an excellent read. Now, everything makes so much more sense! If you’re able, start this series with book 1, Being Amber. If you can’t get your hands on it, don’t worry. You’ll catch up quickly, as I did, once you’re able to read the book that started it all. Fabulous world-building and phenomenal characters make Sylvia Ryan’s Being Amber a poignant yet sensual commentary of society and government. Relationship-building is of primary importance in the Amber Zone. Those that have grown up in this community are comfortable with the open sexuality and closeness of the inhabitants of Circle City. Those new – transplanted from one of the other zones because they failed an assessment of one sort or another – are unused to the physical contact and the ability to express their own ideas and sensuality in an unrestricted way. Jaci is one of those people. Relocated from the Sapphire Zone due to a genetic marker indicating she would potentially pass along a medical illness, she was sterilized and thrust into a whole new world (and not in the Jasmine/Aladdin way), without even a whisper of what was happening. No clue she would be whisked away from the family and friends she knew and loved. Relocated into Xander’s care. While Jaci had no clue what the whole deal was with Circle City, she did think she was falling for Xander – assigned to protect her on a task force to capture the person(s) murdering “fallows” – those sterilized when they come to Amber. In addition to being her roommate and built-in family for the rest of her life. I like the concept here. They’re plopped into a new setting with a built-in family. You don’t always like your family, but they’re there to love and protect you. No matter what. Everything blows up in Xander’s face. He meant to protect Jaci by not telling her about the surveillance. But she found out in a totally not cool way. I would have been furious, too. The way that Xander cares for Jaci is…breathtaking. I can relate it to certain aspects of my own life. It’s real, and it has the potential to resonate with readers. Jaci’s feelings in the story...
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Feb
14

Review: Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau

Review: Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau Deep Deception Author: Cathy Pegau Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Senior Colonial Mining Authority agent Natalia Hallowell prides herself on her relentless pursuit of justice and her strong work ethic. So when she finds out that she is accused of taking bribes and illegally collecting evidence, she is angry and hurt. In order to deal with her work frustrations, Natalia looks to a few drinks and a one-night stand to ease the pain. That is until she meets Gennie. An immediate attraction sends Natalia to Gennie’s hotel room, only to be knocked out and tied up – but not in a fun way! Gennie is desperate to get off world, and needs assistance. She pleads for Natalia’s help to bring down the Reyes family – a well-known mining corporation. Reluctantly, Natalia agrees to help Gennie, and in order to bring down the Reyes, Gennie and Natalia must go undercover in a small mining district to uncover some anomalies in their shipping manifests. Although a stand alone story, Deep Deception is loosely tied to two other books in an unnamed science fiction romance series. Natalia and Gennie both have roles in the previous book, Caught in Amber: Natalia is a confidant and sometimes partner to Nathan Sterling, CiA’s hero, and Gennie, aka Genevieve, was the assistant to Guy Christiansen, CiA’s antagonist. Deep Deception takes place about six months after the conclusion of Caught in Amber. One does not need to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. Deep Deception is aptly named, with layers of lies and treachery that unfold throughout the tale. Since the story is shared from both Gennie and Natalia’s point-of-views, the reader is privy to some of the half-truths and deceptions, but the hefty lies are unveiled only as the story climaxes. While I enjoyed the complexity of the storyline, I did get frustrated at Gennie’s reluctancy to open up and trust Natalia. And maybe it’s the mystery-solver in me, but I felt like there were setups for problems and conspiracies that never came to be. I was suspicious of everyone, and therefore, a little disappointed when side stories would just peter out. However, the mystery of what is happening in South Meridian is a bit nerve-wracking. I was a bit on edge whenever the women did their spying–convinced something terrible would happen. Gennie and Natalia enjoy a strong mutual attraction; however mistrust and reluctancy keep the pair from acting...
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Feb
6

Review: Falling Light by Thea Harrison

Review: Falling Light by Thea Harrison Falling Light Author: Thea Harrison  Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Falling Light is the follow up tale to Rising Darkness and the concluding story of the 2-book Game of Shadows series. Although I was confused and a bit bored with the first book, it effectively maps out the world and rules, which are crucial for understanding and enjoying the second story. With that said, I highly recommend you read Rising Darkness prior to picking up Falling Light. Also note, this review contains spoilers from the first book. Falling Light opens immediately after the closing of the first book when our hero and heroine survived a battle against the Deceiver and his minions. The author does an excellent job recapping the important highlights from the first book… There is Michael and Mary: two soulmate aliens who gave up their former lives to send their souls to Earth to help capture the evil being known as the Deceiver. The aliens’ souls are continually reborn on Earth, but their bodies are subject to the human frailty and life cycles. Their leader, and only other remaining alien, is Astra. She has not subjected her body to rebirth in a long time (if ever), and therefore, she retains the most memories and knowledge of their original lives. Now that Mary and Michael have reunited, their goal is to find Astra, and once reunited, bring down the Deceiver once and for all. This book is unlike the urban fantasy/science fiction stories that I typically enjoy. While there is quite a bit of conflict and some low-key romance, the story’s focus is more philosophical in nature rather than being driven by intense action. At times the story moves slowly and is filled with long moments of self-reflection or in-depth discussions. While that bothered me in the first book, this time around I was actually drawn in by the conversations and dialogue. Because the world was previously established in the first book, I am able to just sit back and take it all in this time around. One of the reoccurring discussions I most enjoyed revolves around the concept of preservation of the individual versus collateral damage for the greater good. I found that the arguments for both sides were well-written and fit smartly within the framework of the story. I never felt like I was being preached at or told to believe a certain way. I like Mary and Michael together. They...
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Feb
4

Review: Being Sapphire by Sylvia Ryan

Review: Being Sapphire by Sylvia Ryan Being Sapphire Author: Sylvia Ryan  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I’m a big fan of Sylvia Ryan. I read a novella by her several months ago, and I just adored her voice. I liked the way she was straight-forward about difficult subjects. Being Sapphire just solidifies my opinion of Ms. Ryan’s writing. As the second title in her New Atlanta series, it was my first venture into the series, and I felt as though there was enough detail to jump in where I was. Although, I did try to find the first title in the series to read prior to reading this book. Wasn’t available on my preferred e-tailer. 🙁 There was only one thing that bugged me with this story, and that is there are brothers sharing a woman in this title. I consider myself to be pretty open-minded, and if I’d read the synopsis more carefully, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read this title. I’ve no problem with m/f/m or any other combination of people, in whatever numbers and configurations rocks their world. I do, however, have a personal inner shudder every time there’s siblings involved. This probably bumped the rating (for me) down a smidge. Here’s the fabulousness that is Being Sapphire! First, I loved the world-building. Having not read the first title in the series (Being Amber) I was fascinated by the depth Ms. Ryan gave to world-building in the second title of the series. I understood all the precepts of the universe, and felt as though I had a solid grasp on any backstory that may have been delivered during the first book. The futuristic dystopian society that Ms. Ryan presented is a unique blend of Fahrenheit 451 and The Walking Dead, for me. Well, sans zombies and the gratuitous violence. Jordan, the strong and sassy heroine, is dealt a cruddy hand in life. With her history, and recent events, it’s no wonder that she’s got an ‘edge’ to her. Jordan’s journey during this title is HUGE. As a high-up in the Resistance, Jordan appears to keep herself isolated and in her role with everyone in which we’re introduced early on in the novel. Once she commits the first act in the Resistance’s plan to overthrow the Gov, things begin to snowball. In two directions. One, pelting Jordan with emotional fallout and the other into a world she never thought would exist for her. Meeting Patrick was probably the single-most...
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Jan
24

Review: Fighting Kat by PJ Schnyder

Review: Fighting Kat by PJ Schnyder Fighting Kat Author: PJ Schnyder Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Fighting Kat is the much-anticipated sequel to the first book in The Triton Experiment series, Hunting Kat.  Gikany and Una enjoyed the first book and were eager to see what transpired next for our panther shifter, Kat.  Ms. Schnyder did not disappoint us. The story begins a bit after Hunting Kat ended.  Rygard and Kat have continued their relationship, albeit, a long distance one (light-years of distance that is).  Long distance relationships are always difficult, and Ms. Schnyder does a really lovely job in showing how their relationship progresses, despite the physical separation.  We enjoyed watching them be together even when “together” meant a holo-projection. Through Fighting Kat we are able to better see Kat’s struggle to maintain a “human” front while battling her panther’s urges.  The relationship between Kat and her captain, Rishkillian and between her and Skuld give a very well-rounded sense of her character and personality.  Skuld is just pure awesomeness (along with her pet ferret) and their deep friendship is grounding.  The almost father/elder brother relationship she has with Rishkillian gives Kat a safety net and security.  The interactions between them are poignant and we very much enjoyed them. What really gripped us though was the journey that Rygard and Kat take in Fighting Kat.  Although Rygard has seen Kat’s panther form, he never truly interacted with her one-on-one before.  In this story, he not only interacts but also must learn to fight with her as a unit if they are to rescue his men alive.  We loved the honesty of the situation.  There is a moment when Kat is in panther form and moves close to Rygard.  He never once reaches out to pet her or touch her.  Rygard maintains a distance.  Though we are not privy to his thoughts, we are sure he is trying to process that this dangerous predator is his sweetheart.  There is no sudden acceptance; it is a journey they are on.  Ms. Schnyder doesn’t cheapen the relationship and we enjoyed the honesty of it. We’d be remiss to not mention the curious and mysterious Bharguest.  He is an unlikely ally who, throughout the novel, you keep waiting to stab everyone in the back.  He is like a train wreck – you know it is coming but you cannot look away.  You just keep your eyes peeled for that moment.  There is another, not...
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Jan
16

Review: Caught in Amber by Cathy Pegau

Review: Caught in Amber by Cathy Pegau Caught In Amber Author: Cathy Pegau Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Reading like an exciting suspense romance, Caught in Amber is a wonderful science fiction tale that follows the story of Sasha James and Nathan Sterling. Sasha is a recovering drug-addict parolee who, five years ago was the girlfriend of Guy Christiansen, a wealthy drug supplier, and she was living the high-life and getting messed up. When she left/he kicked her out, she turned to crime to pay for her addiction to the drug called Amber. Now she lives a simple life under the thumb of the corrections system, staying clean and working hard. Nathan Sterling is man of the law who needs and wants Sasha to lead him to the one person she can’t ever see again, her ex. Guy has employed Nathan’s little sister, Kylie, who is now wrapped up in the glamorous yet dangerous lifestyle. Although he doesn’t want to hurt Sasha, he will do anything, including using Sasha, to get close to Guy and get his sister out. Although Caught in Amber is a sci-fi story–taking place on an unknown, futuristic planet–the story itself is not. The plot is well-written and could take place anywhere on Earth, yet the futuristic setting gives the story some advantages, such as advanced technology to help addicts. So don’t shy away because of the “sci-fi” label – it’s a great story that happens to be on another world with a few futuristic gadgets. The emphasis of the tale is on the characters and plot with the sci-fi pieces as the setting and props. Nathan and Sasha have a slow brewing romance, but it is sexy, hot and passionate when they allow their true emotions to surface. At first, one may attribute their mutual attraction to the excitement of a dangerous situation, and I felt that Nathan was a little too emotional about and upset over his need to protect Sasha. I felt like the author hadn’t done enough work to establish a deep enough relationship to warrant the strength of his passion. However, as the story progressed, their lives become more intertwined and their mutual passion explodes. Although it is a slow-moving start to their relationship, by the time they do have sex, it is hot and explosive. The term “caught in Amber” refers to the state of being high and/or addicted to Amber, a powerful, narcotic drug. I appreciate that although drug abuse and...
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Jan
15

Review: River of Dreams by Lynn Kurland

Review: River of Dreams by Lynn Kurland River of Dreams Author: Lynn Kurland Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Sent on a quest against her will to save her country, Aisling of Bruadair just wants to accomplish her task begin a new life away from the cruelty and darkness she’s always known. With the scarred, but alluring, elven prince by her side, and a shape-shifting horse to carry them on their journey, she’s finally begun to think she’ll be successful on both counts. But, when the lies she’s always held as truth begin to crumble around her, and she learns more about herself than she ever wanted to know, Aisling discovers a reality more terrifying than her worst fears, along with new hope for a future that exceeds her fondest dreams. Prince Rùnach of Ceangail, stripped of his magic and nearly killed by his own father, would like nothing more than to disappear into the simple life of a lowly swordsman, far away from the memories of pain and loss that plague him. Yet, once he finds himself in the company of the fetching woman from a cursed land who refuses to give up her secrets, he begins to realize that he’d rather not be anywhere else. As their perilous quest takes them to places he’d like to forget, Rùnach is forced to accept certain truths about, not only his companion, but himself as well, and finds that the past is never very far behind. Although I liked Aisling in Dreamspinner, the previous novel in the Nine Kingdoms series, I thought she was an even better character in River of Dreams. She’s complicated, despite her protests to the contrary, making Rùnach’s fascination with her completely understandable, along with his frustrations, as well. Her increasing knowledge of the world outside Bruadair, in addition to certain revelations about her own abilities and her growing attachment to Rùnach, gives her a confidence I thought was missing in the previous story—the quickness of wit she brandishes so readily here being both welcome and refreshing. While I liked her more in general, there were a few of her quirks that pulled me out of the story just a bit, such as the fact that when she’s confronted with a truth she’s not prepared for, Aisling is prone to bouts of frantic and kinetic denial in the form of running, Rùnach being inevitably and tolerantly in pursuit. But, she’s grown as a character overall, and I found her easier to...
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Dec
19

Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews Clean Sweep Author: Ilona Andrews  Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The writing team know as Ilona Andrews decided to give their fans (and blog followers) a treat: they released a serial story on their website.  The story started with a girl and her broom and went from there.  Well, the genius that is Ilona Andrews took “a girl and her broom” and turned it into Clean Sweep, a delightful and fascinating tale of a girl, her broom, and a world we could only hope to dream of.  What took place over months, a chapter a week release, is now available as a full e-book.  I did not follow the serial… I waited until the story was complete and read it then. The story follows Dina Demille, a young woman with more to her than meets the eye.  She owns an inn within a quiet Texas community.  However, her inn is much more than just a quaint little bed and breakfast.  Dina doesn’t cater to human or earthly guest, but those from other planets and dimensions.  She has one permanent guest, but Dina wants to improve her inn and watch it flourish as her parents did before her. Clean Sweep begins in this small Texas community with Dina conversing with neighbors over the latest dog that was killed.  She knows a werewolf has moved into the neighborhood, claiming it as his territory.  So, in her suave way, she tries to get him to take care of this problem after she rules him out as the killer.  However, Sean seems to behave as if Dina has a screw loose and dismisses her.  Although Innkeepers are meant to stay neutral, Dina feels compelled to protect her neighbors from the creature that is stalking the neighborhood.  As she goes on to find and stop this evil, Dina stumbles into more than she bargained for. As the story unfolds, we are given two very different, but very alpha males in the werewolf Sean and the vampire Arland.  The subtle testosterone driven competition between them was a lovely combination of hotness and humor.  The mythology of both species was fascinating and new – something that truly enriched the storyline.  As the novel concluded – there is no resolution; however, there is the tease of more to come.  I honestly cannot be disappointed because it struck of note of realism.  This promise of more to come grounded the novel in urban fantasy. Suffice...
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Dec
6

Review: There All Along by Lauren Dane & Megan Hart

Review: There All Along by Lauren Dane & Megan Hart There All Along Author: Lauren Dane and Megan Hart Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: There All Along is a two-story anthology based on finding love that was “there all along.” Both stories are set in alternative/futuristic worlds; however the first tale, “Land’s End” by Lauren Dane, reads more like western frontier than science fiction. On the other hand, “By the Sea of Sand” by Megan Hart has a distinct sci-fi romance edge. Both stories are entertaining and enjoyable. I’ve never read either author, and this stand-alone anthology has whet my appetite for more from both writers. “Land’s End” by Lauren Dane The Land’s End Highway is a dangerous route riddled with vicious brigands, but it is the only way to travel from Garrison to Garrison. The only people on the road, other than the occasional private citizen, are the law men employed to keep the peace and help transport shipments and supplies from town to town. Loyal is one such law man. Verity is a widowed shop keeper in Silver Cliffs who has caught the eye of Loyal. When the story begins, the pair already share a mutual attraction, but nothing has ever happened because Loyal knows Verity is someone much more than a passing need and good time. I am a sucker for this type of story – mutual, yet unfulfilled attraction that builds until BAM, they give into their desires. The opening scenes, including one featuring Verity alone in the bathtub, exude incredible sexual tension. I absolutely  love how much they want each other, but don’t give in. Each scene progresses until the flame is smoldering and the passion between the pair ignites. I throughly enjoyed every scene this pair had together. I also admire that both characters are strong, but not pig-headed or stubborn. After Verity presses Loyal into their first kiss and he walks away, she’s not saddened or discouraged. Instead she knows it’s only the first step to winning over her man. At moments my heart did break for the both Verity and Loyal. Ms. Dane expertly wrote the characters so that the reader is able to experience both individual’s pain and frustration over their situation. Meanwhile, adding to the tension is the likeliness of danger from the brigands. The juxtaposition of the impending raid with Verity and Loyal’s mutual desire adds passion to the story. Knowing that their brief time together may be all they get, and that it...
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Nov
22

Review: Space Jockey Anthology

Review: Space Jockey Anthology Space Jockey (Science Fiction Short Stories) Edited by Tara Maya  Reviewer: Nima Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: The first science fiction book I remember reading was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  It whet my imagination for stories that were outside of my day to day world.  I could not just escape into a book, but leave the planet or enter an alternate dimension.  That was when I was ten. When I was twelve, I read my first adult science fiction book.  It happened to be a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury titled S is for Space.  When I saw the title of this anthology, Space Jockey, my mind went right back to the beginning of my science fiction addiction. I was especially pleased to see that Maya combined classic and current authors.  They include: Scott Whitmore Ethan Rodgers Algis Budrys Steve Brady Jonathan Von Post Adrian Tymes M. Pax Tara Maya Jack Skillingstead George Zhao Jillian Romanowski Philip K. Dick Andrew Vu Joself Vasice Philip K. Dick is known for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which would become the basis for the Harrison Ford movie Blade Runner.  The editor of this book Tara Maya, is also a contributing author.  Nearly fifty years after the publication of S is for Space, today’s technology savvy readers would not connect with Bradbury’s world of the future, but I think they would connect with Maya’s selections.  It’s a good collection to get your feet wet in the science fiction genre if you haven’t read much before. It’s also great for getting a quick fix. That was my approach to reading this anthology.  I’d go get my fix and put the book down again.  Sadly, I did not finish it before this posting deadline, but I will make my way through it—especially when I need an escape. DNF: Did Not Finish   About the Book: A science fiction anthology, featuring both classic science fiction and brand new science fiction short stories about that danger-filled career of the future… space pilot. A young pilot thinks he knows the cost of war. Until he opens a forbidden door… If you’re piloting a cargo of convicts on Titan, you’re already in trouble. Things can still get worse. After the war, humanity gave up dreaming of the stars. But not him. Can a fleet of ships run by citizens stop famine from being used as a weapon? Every time he traveled to...
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