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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Jun
29

Review: Hunter and Fox by Philippa Ballantine

Review: Hunter and Fox by Philippa Ballantine Hunter and Fox Author: Philippa Ballantine  Release Date: June 26, 2012 Publisher: Pyr Shifted World #1 ISBN: #978-1616146238 Genre: Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (340 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      In a world that is in constant shifting, where mountains can change to plains, and then to lakes, Talyn is the Hunter for the Caisah, and a wreck of a once-proud person. She has lost her people, the Vaerli, and her soul working for the man who destroyed her people. All unknowing, she carries within her a Kindred, a chaos creature from the center of the earth that wants to help bring the Vaerli back to power. However, she has lost the ability to communicate with it.      Little does the Hunter know that salvation is looking for her, and it wears the face of gentleness and strength. Finn is a teller of tales who carries his own dreadful secret. He sets out to find answers to his path but ends up in the city of Perilous and Fair where he meets Talyn. He knows the danger and is yet drawn to her. Their fates will be bound together.      Meanwhile, the Hunter’s lost brother Byre is searching for his own solution to the terrible curse placed on the Vaerli. He sets forth on a treacherous journey of his own, which will intersect in the most unlikely place with that of Talyn and Finn. The ramifications of this encounter will be felt by all the people in Conhaero, from the lost Vaerli to the Caisah on his throne. What I’m talking about:      Hunter and Fox is a true fantasy and with that comes a complex new world full of magic and inhabited by beings with an array of abilities. Key to the story are are: 1) the primary heroine, Talyn the Dark (think Xena).  She is Caisah’s bounty hunter. She is Vaerli, a once powerful race with seven magical gifts, to include the ability to “move and see” through time.  2) The bad guy, Caisah, ruler of Conhaero. His power is supreme and his sanity borders on madness. He has broken the once powerful Vaerli, stealing their powers and making Talyn his killer.  3) The understated hero, Finbarr (Finn) the Fox. He is a talespinner with a gift for storytelling. He follows Talyn with love in his heart, telling others the stories of the Vaerli, hoping to make a difference. 4) The...
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Jun
21

Review: Hunting Kat by PJ Schnyder

Review: Hunting Kat by PJ Schnyder Hunting Kat Author: PJ Schnyder  Release Date: July 4, 2011 Publisher: Carina Press The Triton Experiment #1 Genre: Sci-fi Romance, novella Format(s): E-book, Audible Audio Book Source: Author About the book:      As a mercenary, Kat Darah doesn’t have to pass for a normal human. On the edge of the solar system, she’s just another biped. Most of the time.      Nearing the end of his military tour, Lt. Christopher Rygard debates the idea of hanging up his uniform for good. Looking for answers at the bottom of a glass of scotch, he meets Kat. One shared night of mutual desire seems harmless. But when their tryst is interrupted by attackers hunting Rygard, Kat must reveal her other form, the predator beneath the human façade.       Together they embark on a dangerous mission—a race against time to meet the enemy’s demands, while trying to deny the passion between them. Rygard is faced with a terrible choice in the face of duty: Report the existence of a human turned shape-shifter. Or forget he ever met her.  What G & U are talking about:      Hunting Kat is a well written and exciting new world wrapped up in a novella.  Thankfully, there will be a book two, however, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.      Ms. Schnyder was gracious enough to offer this ebook for us to review.  We had read the premise and thought it sounded right up our alley.  Una did not realize it was a novella and you can image her shock when she reached the end.  While researching for this review, we discovered (well, Ms. Schnyder mentioned on Twitter) that there will be a second book.  Hunting Kat is an excellent introduction to this science-fiction world.  In this world, not all Shapeshifters are paranormal creatures; some are the result of a DNA virus from another alien species.      The pace of Hunting Kat is simple and exciting.  We felt it flowed nicely, and because of its fluidity, it was incredibly difficult to put down.  The passion and connection between Kat and Rygard is sizzling.  Even though there are several minor characters we were introduced to, it was easy to fall into the camaraderie they have.  It felt as if we were reuniting with old friends.      Gikany and Una look forward to the next book in this Triton Experiment series.  We encourage you to pick up Hunting Kat and enjoy...
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Jun
20

Review: Hunting the Shadows by Alexia Reed

Review: Hunting the Shadows by Alexia Reed Hunting the Shadows Author: Alexia Reed    Release Date: May 7, 2012 Publisher: Carina Press Shadow Ops #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance, Sci-Fi Format(s): E-book, Audible Audio Book Source: Author About the book: Amy has spent her entire life in isolation. Locked away in the Centre, a secret government facility where children with extraordinary abilities are raised as highly skilled fighters, she longs for a normal life. A life where being around people doesn’t overload her sensitive telepathic mind. A life where she can’t see through the eyes of a murderer as he hunts his next victim… J.C. Nikolaiev was a top researcher, but when his conscience got the better of him, he tried to destroy his work and free his subjects–and was imprisoned as a traitor. To save himself and prevent more people from dying, J.C. must catch the serial killer stalking the halls of the facility. But his only leads come from a woman whose thoughts have invaded his mind… Finally out of the psych ward, Amy joins forces with J.C. to find the killer before he closes in on them. Can their growing attraction withstand the truths they uncover? What G & U are talking about: Hunting the Shadows is the exciting debut novel in the Shadow Ops series.  Ms. Reed delivers a nail biting, rich and adventurous new world.  Gikany and Una cannot wait until the next novel in this series comes out. If you have ever liked or followed X-Men or other superhero type novels, this may be the series for you.  The world building is seamlessly woven into a whodunit plot.  A covert government agency has developed physically advanced assassins and uses them until they are no longer useful.  They develop these assassins by culling children and altering their DNA.  Then they put them through tests and trials to hone them into powerful weapons.  However, if they fail, well, let’s just say they do not get to return home or get a desk job.   JC is one of these assassins, raised to be a powerful weapon as well as a scientist who works to train more.  However, his conscience can no longer take the stress of the fate of those students who fail.  He tries to make a dramatic statement and free the children under him – and fails.  “Reprogrammed,” he is returned to duty to finish finding a killer that is a traitor to the ops.  It seems one of their own...
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May
31

Review: Never Gonna Let You Go by Jessica Subject

Review: Never Gonna Let You Go by Jessica Subject Never Gonna Let You Go Author: Jessica Subject  Release Date: Jan 28, 2012 Publisher: Decadent The Underground #1 Genre: Sci-fi Romance, m/f & f/f, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Caught in a tangle of lies, Calla Jacobs must sort through the truth to discover where she truly belongs. A biologist for Planet Core, she finds herself ensnared in a web of deceit. Sent to Airondelle, she must work with a team to prepare the newly discovered planet for colonists from Earth. But the mission does not go as she expected. Her former lover, Erik Edwards, shuns her, sending Calla into the arms of Melina Holloway, their commander, for the attention she craves and more. A confrontation among the trio leaves her with a broken heart, and fleeing from the two people she trusted most.       Attempting to break free from the lies that bind her, she discovers Planet Core has deceived everyone. And when she returns to Earth, Calla learns just how far Planet Core’s control reaches. What I’m talking about:       Calla, Eric and Melina all work for Planet Core, a powerful firm that is investigating another planet as a possible place for human habitation. On this remote planet, sex is strictly forbidden between co-workers with the exception of married partners, but that doesn’t stop our trio! Calla is miserable because she is still in love with team member Erik, the man who left her to suddenly and very briefly marry their supervisor, Melina.       Okay, I have to put this out there… I felt like this story opened like a soft porn flick. Girl lusts after ex. Ex is an ass. Girl’s female supervisor (and also ex of same guy) pulls her aside. Girl thinks she is in trouble, but instead of punishment supervisor shows a soft side and desires flare. I wanted to cue the “bow-chicka-wa-wa” music. However, the story moves past the “porn” stage pretty quickly.       When Melina shows compassion and interest in Calla, Calla becomes confused for she’d never been attracted to a female before. Calla carries this confusion with her as she heads to the field to study native animal life. While Calla’s confusion over her attraction is understandable, as is her need to analyze the situation, the constant inner monologue over these matters while she is working paints Calla in an immature light. She’s a respected scientist...
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May
23

Review: Blue Fall by BB Griffith

Review: Blue Fall by BB Griffith Blue Fall Author: B. B. Griffith Release Date: Sept. 1, 2011 Publisher: Griffith Publishing The Tournament #1 ISBN: #978-0982481748 Genre: Sci-fi/Thriller Format(s): Paperback (514 pgs.), e-book Book Source: Publisher/Author About the book: “There was a time…long ago, when whole nations, entire races of people, pinned their hopes and futures on individual warriors. Whole wars were won and lost on the outcome of a single battle between heroes. Entire countries were moved. Empires rose and fell…” In Blue Fall, that time has come again. A routine investigation throws a hapless insurance agent down the rabbit hole, into a world where the rich and powerful place wagers on the greatest game on earth. They call it the Tournament. It offers competition without limits. It is beholden to no man, and constrained by no law, and it is extremely dangerous. But where does the true power lie in this World Cup of warfare? With those who place the bets, or with the deadly players themselves? And can one man expose the secret before they find him? What Nima’s talking about: The over-arching premise of Blue Fall is an elementary one: competition.  There is inherent struggle and suspense in the pitting of one side against another.  This simple concept, however, is not an uncomplicated one in the pages of Blue Fall.  B.B. Griffith’s debut novel seeks to accomplish two goals.  The first is to provide an escape for those of us who love to flee reality into the pages of a good book.  The dedication reads, “If you’ve been known to open up a book simply to escape, then Blue Fall is dedicated to you.”  This explains its unapologetic length coming in at over 500 pages. In my opinion, better editing would have tightened the multitude of pieces and characters of this story into a more fluid read.  It doesn’t follow, however, that it wasn’t a good read. The second goal is where things get interesting.  Following the dedication, there is a quote from Joseph Heller’s famous character Milo Minderbender in Catch-22, “Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.”  Griffith takes this nugget of an idea and runs with it.  What would war look like between nations if it were pared down to teams of only three individuals each?  What kind of back-up structure and resources would they need?  How would you keep it secret from the public at large so they could...
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Dec
26

Nima’s Top Ten List of Authors You May Have Missed

Nima’s Top Ten List of Authors You May Have Missed When I escape my real life into the pages of a book, I like to really escape, like into another dimension.  As a female reader, however, even the most fascinating time traveler or brilliant spaceship captain better have a love interest to hold mine.  I have yet to figure out what the magic formula is that designates one book as “science fiction/fantasy” and another as “paranormal romance.”  The cross-over is so common these days that there is virtually no distinction to me except with marketing. It hasn’t shown up in bookstore banners yet, but I have recently begun to see a classification popping up called Science Fiction Romance or SFR.  I have found Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changling series under both banners, even within the same chain of booksellers.  Maybe it’s a simple matter of shelf space. Every year romances far out-sell sci/fi, and yet sci/fi readers adamantly refuse to cross the aisle. (Ever notice they’re always next to each other in bookstores?)  I have discovered that many romance readers too refuse to venture where they erroneously believe science will over-power the story of relationships and descriptions of technology will make their brains hurt.  They’re both wrong!  So for you die-hard romance readers, let me offer you my 2011 Top Ten List of Author’s You May Have Missed Because They Were in the Science Fiction Section: 1. N.K. JEMISIN (Inheritance Trilogy) Description: Gods and mortals. Power and love. Death and revenge. In the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods dwell among mortals and one powerful, corrupt family rules the earth. Three extraordinary people may be the key to humanity’s salvation. Thoughts:  Look for an in-depth review of this series in 2012!  Some might say that Jemisin’s series is reminiscent of Greek and Roman mythology.  Some will draw connections anywhere they can.  For me, Jemisin’s style is unlike anything else I’ve ever read.  Let me just say that I have no idea why this author and her Inheritance Trilogy have gone nearly completely under the radar, even for sci/fi readers.  She has remarkable world-building skills and all three books are completely relationship driven.  Perhaps she is too much of both genres to be classified as one or the other.  Jemisin’s descriptions are so complete and so creative that if I could, I would love to live inside her head for just a day to see the scope of what she’s imagined before it’s edited and distilled down to the story we have in print....
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Nov
2

Review: The Storm That is Sterling

Review: The Storm That is Sterling The Storm that is Sterling Author: Lisa Renee Jones  Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011 Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Zodius Series # 2 ISBN: #978-1402251597 Genre: Paranormal Romance Format(s): Paperback (339 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Sterling Jeter, Renegade Super Soldier, is fearless, powerful, and wildly unpredictable. His life-threatening mission is to save the beautiful, brilliant astrobiologist Rebecca Burns from ruthless villain Adam Rain. But their immutable mutual attraction threatens to put them in the path of death… or worse… What Gikany is talking about: The Storm that is Sterling is the second book in the Zodius Series.  It picks up shortly after the end of The Legend of Michael, and focuses on a secondary character from that novel, Sterling Jeter.  Sterling, like Michael, is a GTECH soldier and has allied himself with the Renegades.  His primary role in the Renegades is as an information officer stationed in Las Vegas.  Sterling becomes aware of a dangerous new street drug emerging in Las Vegas called “ICE” that is killing its addicts.  In his quest to determine the origin of ICE and how to combat it, Sterling seeks out Dr. Rebecca “Becca” Burns.   This novel focuses less on the divisions between the Renegade GTECH soldiers and the Zodius.  Because of this, the world building that should be continuing to take place as the Zodius Series progresses is somewhat flat.  There was no new information presented about the origins of the GTECH program and, primarily due to the peripheral role of Sterling to the Renegades, nothing was shared about the main ongoing battle between the two factions.   The romance part of The Storm that is Sterling was much better than that of The Legend of Michael.  Becca and Sterling’s developing relationship is one of the main plot lines of this novel and was well done.  As a Science Fiction fan, I would have liked to see more development of that aspect of this series.  On the whole, this was an enjoyable novel and hard to put down.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Gikany’s Rating: Liked it a lot – recommend (B+) Books in the Series: The Storm That Is SterlingThe Legend of...
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Sep
15

Review: Aftermath

Review: Aftermath Aftermath Author: Ann Aguirre  Release Date: August 30, 2011 Publisher: ACE Sirantha Jax #5 ISBN: #978-0441020782 Genre: Science Fiction Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       DEAD HEROES GET MONUMENTS. LIVE ONES GET TRIALS. Sirantha Jax has the right genes—ones that enable her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. But it’s also in her genetic makeup to go it alone. It’s a character trait that has gotten her into—and out of—hot water time and time again, but now she’s caused one of the most horrific events in military history…       During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, Sirantha went AWOL and shifted grimspace beacons to keep the enemy from invading humanity’s homeworld. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel—and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers.       Accused of dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, and high treason, Sirantha is on trial for her life. And only time will tell if she’s one of the Conglomerate’s greatest heroes—or most infamous criminals… What Nima’s talking about:       I finished Ann Aguirre’s Aftermath with a long sigh; a sigh that was contentment, a sigh that wished for more, a sigh that was a wish I had read the first four books in the series!  The aptly named book is all about “what happens next.”  Like Paul Harvey’s famed radio broadcast And Now For the Rest of the Story, Aftermath follows main character Sirantha Jax as she faces the consequences of choices she’s made throughout the series to this point.       As book five in Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series begins, Aguirre doesn’t waste time or space   retelling the first four books.  There is enough detail present to follow the action and catch on to the rules of her universe, but the reader has to work for it when coming in cold.  The author honors those who have kept up with series by making no apologies for diving straight into the “aftermath”.  It is possible to pick it up here as I did, but I would recommend starting with book one, Grimspace.       I like science fiction and read a fair amount of it.  It allows me the luxury of escaping to another world when I mentally leave the one to which I’m bound.  Aftermath is not casual science fiction.  In my opinion, this series is on par with Frank Herbert’s...
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Sep
13

Review: Basilisk

Review: Basilisk Basilisk Author: Rob Thurman  Release Date: August 2, 2011Publisher: RocChimera Novels #2ISBN: #978-0451464149Genre: Science FictionFormat(s): Paperback (339 pgs), e-bookBook Source: Publisher About the book: See no evil. Seek no evil… Survive no evil. Stefan Korsak and his genetically-altered brother have evaded the Institute for three years. When they learn the new location of the secret lab, they plan to break in and save the remaining children there. But one of the little ones doesn’t want to leave. She wants to kill… What G & U are talking about: Basilisk is the second book in the Chimera Novels.  Gikany and Una went ahead and read the previous book, Chimera.  To understand the depth of this book, we recommend you also read it first.  It is not entirely necessary, but you miss out on the development of Misha and a strong connection to the main characters: Stefan, Misha and Saul if you don’t. The first book was a gripping page-turner, and Ms. Thurman did not let us down in this one.  However, we felt the characters actually had better luck this time around.  The dedication says it all in Basilisk:  “To my characters – I am so damn sorry for the things I do to you. But what the hell?  I do have to pay the bills.” There are moments when we truly thought they have the absolute worst luck – especially in the first book.  (Which we highly recommend you read…it is amazing what those two brothers were able to live through!)  But it added to the richness of the novel and the suspense of the drama.  It is truly a fascinating world that Ms. Thurman has created and yet, is so realistic.  With all the genetic work and advancements that have been made in our currently lifetime…it is all too plausible a scenario.  This grounds the novel and helps to drawn the reader in. The voice of the first book was, appropriately, Stefan’s.  He is the older brother who sought his missing younger brother, found him, and rescued him.  However, this book is from Misha’s point of view and his was the perfect voice.  As Ms. Thurman points out on his website, we were able to see the changes that have occurred in Michael (also referred to as Misha) and his continuing development.  What was most enjoyable was that the ending was not given away…even though we were in Misha’s head the whole time.   This was an incredibly...
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Jul
11

Review: Spectyr

Review: Spectyr Spectyr Author: Philippa Ballantine  Release Date: June 28, 2011 Publisher: ACE Fantasy Book of the Order #2 ISBN: #978-0441020515 Genre: Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      Though one of the most powerful Deacons, Sorcha Faris has a tarnished reputation to overcome. She and her partner, Deacon Merrick Chambers, find themselves chasing down rumors of geists, but long for a return to real action. So they jump at the chance to escort a delegation sent to negotiate the terms of the Emperor’s engagement. Their destination: the exotic city of Orinthal.      But a string of murders has Orinthal on edge, and Sorcha and Merrick are asked to investigate. Meanwhile the Emperor’s sister has unwittingly released a cruel and vengeful goddess, one who it bent on destroying her enemies, including the geistlord who resides inside the shapeshifting rival to the throne—Sorcha’s lover…. What I’m talking about:      Wow – another great story in Ms. Ballantine’s richly-detailed, exotic world of Arkaym! Spectyr picks up shortly after the explosive conclusion of the first Book of the Order, Geist (my review HERE), with the return of key characters and the addition of a few new players. Deacons Sorcha Faris and Merrick Chambers are dealing with the blows of betrayal from within the Order, meanwhile, geist (paranormal) activity has been slow, leaving the pair with little to do. (In Ms. Ballantine’s world, intrusions by creatures from the “otherside” are commonplace and the Order’s Deacons are the “ghostbusters” of society.) Suddenly, strange events begin to occur, leading the Deacons, and a slew of other important players to the desert city of Orinthal.      Just like its predecessor, Spectyr, is full of amazing details, distinctive locals and unique lexicon. It is a beautifully crafted and involving story that requires a reader’s full attention.  The action is intense, and the plotlines are elaborately crafted. I will admit that I had forgotten several details from Geist, but Ms. Ballantine did a marvelous job “reminding me” of key events.      Once again, the three-way bond of Sorcha, Merrick and Raed, the ousted heir to the Empire and Sorcha’s lover, was a focal part of the story.  The bond penetrated the threesome’s actions and grew in sometimes unexpected ways. The emotional impact of their deep connection reverberated throughout the story, leaving me wanting more.      Ms. Ballantine used their bond as a starting point for this story and then...
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