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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Apr
28

Review: The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Review: The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher The Ophelia Prophecy Author: Sharon Lynn Fisher Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: 2013 RWA RITA Award Finalist author Sharon Lynn Fisher of Ghost Planet has done it again—new book, new idea, new science, same great romantic tension between unlikely characters with a lot to lose and a lot to prove.  In a very short space of prose and dialog with very few specifics, I was able to mentally view this future version of Earth in Technicolor detail—excellent world building.  Like Fisher’s last book, I had trouble putting it down. Fisher says that she was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I was weary to start The Ophelia Prophecy because I didn’t like Frankenstein.  In many ways it was a very incomplete story for me, despite its status as a classic.  Unlike Shelley’s book, while The Ophelia Prophecy is lacking in a few places, it has a tidy ending with a bow on it. My inner geek, and my age, is going to show here… when I started The Ophelia Prophecy, I thought immediately of the old Syfy channel series Farscape.  I loved that show and felt it was one of the more original pieces of science fiction I’d seen in a long time when came on the air in 1999.  Ben Browder’s blue eyes and great shoulders were admittedly an attraction as well, but I digress…  Like Farscape, one of the first four characters we meet in The Ophelia Prophecy is Banshee, a living ship, reminiscent of a scarab beetle, with adaptive artificial intelligence. Banshee learns and becomes key in several pivotal plot points, sometimes exhibiting what might be seen as a dry sense of humor. Asha is one of the few pure humans left on earth.  She works daily to preserve human history as an archivist.  I liked her.  She’s smart and isn’t quick to fall into cliché’d  heroine stereotypes.  Asha’s enemy are the Manti, a hybrid species of humans, the result of genetic manipulation in previous generations.  Bigger and stronger as a result of their mostly insect DNA, soon they are the dominate species on Earth.  Pax is Manti.  When Asha becomes Pax’s prisoner, the meeting begins a chain of events that will change life as both species knows it. The fourth main character is Pax’s sister.  While she’s not the focus, the story wouldn’t be the same without her.  She is significant to the story. Told in alternating points of view between Pax and...
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Apr
14

Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian The Wicked We Have Done Author: Sarah Harian Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: The Wicked We Have Done is the debut novel from Sarah Harian.  Gikany and Una loved this first taste of the Chaos Theory series and look forward to the next novel. The premise reads a little like The Running Man with a twist.  Categorized as New Adult, The Wicked We Have Done is an interesting mix of a futuristic science fiction world and a coming of age romance.  The underlying issue of the novel is how this future society handles the punishment of its criminals.  This is an arduous political topic, but one that is well illustrated in this story.  Evalyn, along with several others who were convicted of the crimes of rape or murder, has decided to take her chances on a new program called the Compass Room.  If she survives the room, she will be set free having proved her innocence.  If the Compass Room finds her guilty, she will be executed for her crimes. This futuristic look into our world is compelling.  The issue of crime and punishment is one that has been debated for decades, and has an interesting twist in this world.  We enjoyed the debate, the subtle questions of not if someone committed a crime, but what were the reasons behind it.  Are you guilty because you killed someone, or are you innocent because you killed to protect someone who was in danger?  What the Compass Room takes into account is the triggers, what caused someone to commit the acts they have been convicted of.  All these things monitored and evaluated by complex computers and scientists.  Yet, the fundamental question is: are these programs infallible? The novel follows the point of view of Evalyn, a convicted terrorist who was convicted of masterminding a campus shooting.  But is she guilty?  We slowly find out about her crimes through the well paced used of flashbacks as Evalyn tries to survive the Compass Room.  We liked Evalyn, her inner struggle with what she did to get to the Compass Room, and her fight to survive the Compass room.  The turmoil we experienced as we debated whether she is or isn’t guilty was well played through the novel.  This suspense was heightened by the rhythm of the flashbacks as we slowly learned her role in the terrorist act and why she feels she should die in the Compass Room. ...
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Apr
9

Review: Marked by Alex Hughes

Review: Marked by Alex Hughes Marked Author: Alex Hughes  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Marked is the third novel in the fascinating Mindspace Investigation series.  Gikany and Una continue to love both this gripping and interesting world, along with Adam West, the deeply flawed hero we cannot help but cheer for.  *Please note: this will be a somewhat vague review due to the fact that several wonderful elements in the novel cannot be adequately discussed without spoiling the ending.  We flatly refuse to spoil a novel so bear with us and understand that we thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering. The novel starts shortly after the conclusion of the previous novel, Sharp.  Adam is still recovering from the events of the last novel the best way he can: by spending time in the interview rooms and assisting Cherabino in her investigations.  However, after returning a call from his ex-fiancée, Kara, Adam finds himself in a tangled mess of trouble within the Guild.  This is the absolute last place he should be considering his disgrace and the scorn the Guild members heap on him. Gikany and Una love this futuristic world.  Ms. Hughes has masterfully captured a futuristic urban fantasy world in the Mindspace Investigations series.  It is easy to slip into this world that is still recovering from the Tech Wars.  The Tech Wars were caused by ever advancing technology and resolved by the incredible telepaths, which now equate to both telepaths and technology being distrusted by non-telepaths or normals.  In Marked we get the true sense of distrust that exists between these two groups.  We are not surprised that normals have no faith in the Guild – they are a bunch of pompous jerks.  However, we have witnessed the prejudice that Adam has endured as a telepath (and as a recovering addict) working among the normals.  Maybe it is because of this that Adam is able to navigate both groups (poorly at times, but he is our unlikely hero) – trusted by neither but wanted and used by both the Guild and normals.  As much as Adam is a pawn, he is also a key player. Next to the allure of the world, what draws us in is our protagonist, Adam.  He is an interesting choice for a hero.  Not only is Adam unlikely to be selected as a hero or most likely to succeed, but throughout the novel we wait for him to give up.  Adam is a...
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Mar
26

Review: At Star’s End by Anna Hackett

Review: At Star’s End by Anna Hackett At Star’s End Author: Anna Hackett Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Dr. Eos Rai is chasing after the mythical “Star’s End,” an unknown location where a human expedition supposedly sent many of Earth’s (Terra) artistic treasures as the humans destroyed the planet hundreds of years earlier. It was her mother’s life’s ambition to find Star’s End, and Eos has picked up the cause, much to the dismay of her colleagues at the Galactic Institute for Historical Preservation. Without much hope, Eos turns to the Phoenix Brothers, a trio of known treasure hunters, for help. The Phoenix Brothers enjoy their carefree life on Khan. They’ve made enemies in their line of work, but they feel their methods are justified since they sell the ancient Earth treasures they uncover to respectable collectors and institutions. Since Eos worked with Niklas Phoenix at the Institute, she trusts him and approaches the brothers with her plans. Yet it is Dathan, who is known for his uncanny ability to sniff out hidden treasures, that draws the attention of Eos. Author Anna Hackett has created an interesting futuristic society in At Star’s End. Almost one hundred percent of Earth’s records were destroyed in the nuclear devastation of the Great Terran War. Humans have moved on, populating hundreds of other planets. These days, there is a lucrative market for ancient Terran artifacts, creating an immense black market, complete with unsavory characters who will stop at nothing to find a treasure. As the story unfolds, Ms. Hackett allows the reader to experience her world via detailed action scenes such as a fight in a market place and blasting out of a slave auction. The story behind At Star’s End is enjoyable. Although the sentence structure and text is a bit more on the simplistic side, the story itself is compelling. The attraction between Eos and Dathan is palpable and sensual, but it did take some time for me to completely buy into their relationship. Each has skeletons in his/her past, which causes roadblocks along their journey. While this is to be expected, sometimes I wanted them to just open up about their issues, therefore allowing a deeper connection. The dynamic between Eos and Dathan is a good one. They start out with preconceived notions about how the other believes and acts. I find that the slow unveiling of who the other “really is” is well-played. I like that Eos has her concerns based on...
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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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