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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Jul
14

Review: Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert

Review: Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert Ashlynn’s Dreams Author: Julie C. Gilbert Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: DNF What We’re Talking About: Ashlynn’s Dreams is a young adult novel about a young girl who discovers she is special after being kidnapped.  This first book in what appears to be the Devya’s Children series held promise to Gikany and Una but ultimately was not our cup of tea. We found the premise interesting, the characters fascinating, and the plot intriguing.  However, it fell flat in the storytelling.  The story is told through letters from and journal entries by various characters.  Although this may appeal to some, it felt choppy and disjointed to us.  After reading through 25% of the novel, we found we were just not connecting to the story because of this method of narration.  It was impossible for us to immerse ourselves in the world.  Due to the shifting perspectives, we could not find a foundation for ourselves in the story. Although it was promising, ultimately Ashlynn’s Dreams did not appeal to us. However, it may appeal to many others, and we hope if it sounds interesting to you, you give it a shot. Our Rating:  DNF: Did Not Finish About the Book: Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she’s all that … and so much more. Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn’t understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person’s dreams. Jillian’s been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She’d better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn’t the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian’s full cooperation. Slowly, Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility. Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more. Release Date: February 28, 2013 Publisher: self-published Series: Devya’s Children #1 ISBN: #978-1450232845 Genre: Young Adult (Science Fiction) Format(s): Paperback (216 pages), e-book Book Source: Author Purchase Info: Ashlynn’s Dreams (Devya’s...
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Jun
24

Review: White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer

Review: White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer White Heart of Justice Author: Jill Archer Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: The Noon Onyx series just gets better and better.  The third book in the series, White Heart of Justice, takes Noon on a journey with a new set of trials as we learn more about this fascinating world and the people in it. Although we did receive this book for the purpose of an honest review as well as the first book in the series, Dark Light of Day, we purchased the second book, Fiery Edge of Steel to read.  This is a series in which each book builds upon the previous book.  To be able to really understand the intricacies of this alternate reality and connect fully with the characters, you must read it from the beginning.  Trust us, it is truly worth it as the world-building is engaging and fascinating, the characters are intriguing and seem to continually evolve, and the adventures are nail-biting.  We will attempt to not spoil the HUGE twist at the conclusion of Fiery Edge of Steel, but it may be unavoidable in this review.  Please take care if you choose to read this review without having read Fiery Edge of Steel. White Heart of Justice picks up about six months after the conclusion of Fiery Edge of Steel.  Noon is still trying to move on from the heart-breaking revelation we experienced.  Throwing herself into her training and schooling, Noon is now the Primoris for St. Luck’s.  The novel starts off in the final battle between Noon and her opponent in the New Babylon MIT (Maegester-in-Training) rank matches.  The top ranked MITs from each school at the conclusion of the matches are eligible to compete in the Laurel Crown Race.  Of course, Noon makes it and is given her assignment.  This assignment, if she completes it, would be recompense for her destruction of the statue of Justica in the Joshua School.  However, attempting to recover the White Heart of Justice – a sword of immense power, may just be a suicidal mission.  Teamed with her guardian from the previous book, Rafe, Noon will race to find the sword and return it.  However, nothing is as it seems.  Typically each assignment is given to only one Lauren Crown participant.  However, Noon and Rafe are competing against two bloodthirsty opponents, who not only seek to gain the sword, but destroy Noon in the process. Gikany and Una thoroughly...
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May
27

Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy The Mark of the Tala Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The Mark of the Tala is the premier novel in the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms.  Gikany and Una enjoy fantasy and this trilogy looked like it would be right up our alley.  We liked The Mark of the Tala and are intrigued by the world and the very diverse sisters.  Although it was a bit abrupt at the end, we eagerly look forward to the next novel. Our introduction to this world is through the middle of three sisters, Andromeda, nicknamed, Andi.  She is neither the most beautiful nor a great warrior.  She is, in fact, the overlooked middle sister, but Andi is happy with her role in the family.  Ursula is the eldest and the most like their father, the High King, Uorsine.  The youngest sister, Amelia, is the most beautiful and said to be the personification of the goddess Glorianna.  Andi is content to be the invisible supporting sister.  However, the price she pays is feeling as if she is a disappointment to her family …most notably to her father.  The one true pleasure for Andi is riding on her beloved horse, Fiona, in the countryside – her only true freedom.  She is content until one day she rides farther than she should and she typically dares only to end up confronting a man who knows more about her than she does. Rayfe is tall, dark and compelling.  He tries to abduct Andi but she narrowly escapes.  However, this one interaction sets off a chain reaction that leads to full on war.  Part of the problem is that by meeting Rayfe, he awakens something that was long dormant in Andi.  She feels herself changes and is afraid.  Her fear of the unknown is understandable.  The way she waffles a bit regarding Rayfe is also understandable.  We enjoyed watching Andi grow and attempt to unearth truths long kept secret from her.  It was suspenseful as we learned more about her mother, the people of Annfwn and her own abilities.  Her connection to Rayfe is compelling as well.  However, what is most enthralling about Rayfe is his trust in Andi – or more aptly, his faith in her.  As the walls of Annfwn’s defense slowly crumble, watching Andi and Rayfe together was enchanting.  It is not love at first sight, but a hit by the arrow of love that is...
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May
21

Review: Dragon Princess by S. Andrew Swann

Review: Dragon Princess by S. Andrew Swann Dragon Princess Author: S. Andrew Swann Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: NOTE: This review contains some discussion about the ending of the book that may be considered spoilerish. Dragon Princess appears to be a standalone novel by S. Andrew Swan.  It drew us in with its humor and irreverent situations; but left us confused by the final confrontation and the abrupt, and somewhat sad, ending.  Overall we liked it, but we hope there is more to come as we were left wanting. The premise of Dragon Princess is what drew us in.  We were fascinated by the humor implied by the strange situation that is depicted in the book description.  Frank, our very much reluctant hero, is a thief turned dragon slayer – or so he thought.  Frank is actually a pawn in a much larger game, and his only option was to agree and hope for the best.  The best being that he didn’t die.  Unfortunately for Frank, this left him trapped in the body of the princess he was supposed to save, lost in the countryside, captured by mercenaries and still trying to avoid the evil cultists that are after him. In many ways, Dragon Princess is the fantasy version of A Comedy of Errors.  Frank is a fish out of water as he adjusts to being in the petite and very feminine body of the Princess Lucille. Cleaning up and relieving myself.  These were things that needed to happen if I was going to be a conscientious tenant of someone else’s body, right?  I sighed and disrobed. And I don’t think it is possible for me to properly convey exactly how disturbing that whole process was. There are numerous funny and embarrassing moments, although one great opportunity we thought was missed: Frank was in the body of the Princess for over a month without experiencing the shock of a monthly feminine cycle.  Frank, despite being a thief and a liar, tries to do the right thing – no matter the price he has to pay.  As much as he bumbles around, he is pretty cunning and very crafty and always funny. Gikany and Una enjoyed the cavalry of supporting characters.  The irony of some of them was not lost on us (Sir Forsythe the Good most notably) and we enjoyed the picture they painted.  We enjoyed watching the Princess mature while in the body of the dragon, proving that it is...
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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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