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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
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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May
18

Review: The Stepsister Scheme

Review: The Stepsister Scheme The Stepsister Scheme Author: Jim C. Hines Release Date: January 6, 2009 Publisher: DAW Princess Novels Book #1 ISBN: #978-0756405328 Genre: Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (352 pages), e-book We bought this book because…well, Gikany bought this book because she liked the cover while shopping in the bookstore and she told Una to read it while handing it to her. From the author’s website: “You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures until you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily ever after….” Guess what? It’s not true.” Cinderella–whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas)–does marry Prince Armand. And if you can ignore the pigeon incident, their wedding is a dream come true. But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia–otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty–comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away. That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her own very secret service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy duty flirting. Can the three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains? What Gikany & Una are talking about: We decided to give you a review of this book simply because we feel it is our duty to ensure other genres are brought to your attention. We decided to stretch our wings because we believe strongly in variety and we know that so far TwiMom has focused on urban fantasy, romance and a few young adult novels. That being said, since our first post was Urban Fantasy, it wouldn’t be too far a stretch for you to be introduced to some pure fantasy. The Stepsister Scheme is what we consider pure fantasy. It is set in the world of fairy tales, where Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty all exist and are real people. However, “happily ever after” is still just the fairy tale. We begin this story shortly after Cinderella’s (or Danielle as she is really called) honeymoon. For her, she thought she thought all...
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May
13

Review: Ender’s Game

Review: Ender’s Game Ender’s Game Author: Orson Scott Card  Release Date: January 1985 Publisher: Tor Science Fiction Book #1 Ender series ISBN: #978-0812550702 Genre: Science Fiction Format(s): Paperback, e-book, audiobook Gikany found it on her parents’ shelf when she was a teenager. She bought the ebook a few months ago…because it is nice to have handy on her iPhone. From the author’s website: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast. But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails. Newsday said of this novel “Card has done strong work before, but this could be the book to break him out of the pack.” It was. Ender’s Game took the sf world by storm, sweeping the awards. It won both the Hugo and Nebula, and rose to the top of national bestseller lists. What Gikany & Una are talking about: Una has not read much science fiction (but has enjoyed many television shows and movies) while Gikany holds it close to her heart (she almost has the whole book memorized *Gikany mumbles, not entirely*). Through Gikany, Una finally read Ender’s Game...
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May
4

Review: The Legend of Michael

Review: The Legend of Michael The Legend of Michael Author: Lisa Renee Jones Release Date: May 1, 2011 Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Zodius Series Book # 1 ISBN: # 978-1402251566 Genre: Paranormal Romance Format(s): paperback (382 pgs), e-book I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website: HE IS A LETHAL WEAPON… One of an army of human soldiers injected with alien DNA, Michael is a legend within this new race, split between good and evil. Untamable, he has walked on the dark side and returned to the light. Feared and misunderstood, he leaves everything behind, including the one woman destined to be his mate. HE IS HER ENEMY…AND HER DESTINY… Fate leads Michael back to Cassandra Powell, for she holds the key to defending his comrades. With their loyalties divided between duty and the people they love, only together can Cassandra and Michael overcome insurmountable odds to save humanity from the wrath of a madman. But no ordinary woman can control a creature such as Michael, and only one thing is clear—the world will never be the same… What Gikany is talking about: Cassandra Powell is a psychologist brought into Area 51 to evaluate the soldiers created in the Project Zodius GTECH Super Soldier Program.  These soldiers have been created through the injection of alien DNA.  The more mundane changes seen in the GTECH soldiers are increased strength and speed and immunity to human diseases.  “Wind-walking”, the ability to travel quickly and invisibly using the wind, is one of the unexpected abilities seen in the GTECHs.  Cassandra’s job is to evaluate the GTECHs to determine why some of them have begun to exhibit strange behavioral changes, especially increased aggression, along with their new gifts.  One mutation in particular, X2, has been linked to increased aggression and unprovoked violence in animals.  When Cassandra learns that Michael Taylor, the GTECH soldier she loves, is X2 positive, she decides not to tell him. When General Powell, Cassandra’s father and the man responsible for creating the GTECHs, decides to cage all of the GTECH soldiers who test positive for the X2 mutation, the GTECH soldiers rebel.  The rebels quickly split into two factions: the Zodius and the Renegades.  The Zodius are the more radical of the two factions and are working toward world domination.  The Renegades seek to protect humans from the  Zodius but no longer trust them after General Powell’s betrayal.  Michael, stung by Cassandra’s...
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Dec
2

Review: Beneath the Thirteen Moons

Review: Beneath the Thirteen Moons Beneath the Thirteen Moons Author: Kathryne Kennedy  Release Date: Hardcover December 2003     re-release December 1, 2010 Publisher: Sourcebooks ISBN: #978-1402236518 Genre: Fantasy, Romance Format(s): paperback (384 pgs), e-book I received an ARC copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website: He’s a ruler in a divided world… In a magical watery world of the Sea Forest, the divide between the rulers and the people is an uncrossable chasm. Handsome, arrogant prince Korl Com’nder has lived a life of luxury that is nothing more than a fantasy to the people he rules. Until the day he is accidentally kidnapped by a beautiful outlaw smuggler and is forced to open his eyes to the world outside his palace walls.  She’s an outcast, but at least she has her independence… Mahri Zin would stop at nothing to save her village, and when they needed a healer she didn’t think twice about kidnapping one. But when she realizes that the healer she so impulsively stole is none other than the crown prince of Sea Forest, Mahri knows that she has a chance to change the fate of her people… What I’m talking about: The Sea Forest world is magical land that is completely covered in water, where massive trees grow up from the ocean floor to support an entire eco-system within their branches. There is no ground: only roots, branches, and channels.  Dwellings are carved into these magnificent trees. In this world there are two classes of humans: the Royals and the Water-rats.  The Royals control everything, including the sacred zabbaroot, which gives those with tolerance to its poison, special mental abilities.  Mahri is a Wilding, a non-Royal with an extremely high-tolerance of the zabbaroot, which gives her amazing Sight and abilities to control the movement of water and in some situations, human muscles.  Wildings are hunted by the Royals because they are viewed as a threat to their control over the planet. When Mahri’s village is threatened by a horrible disease, she kidnaps the first Healer she can locate, only to find out later that he is Korl, the crown prince of the Sea Forest.  Each feel a strong and undeniable connection from the start.  As the two make the long trip back to Mahri’s village, they learn more about each other and the culture in which they are trapped. Ms. Kennedy has created an amazing and original mythology. The...
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Oct
29

Review: Geist

Review: Geist Geist Author:Philippa Ballantine Release Date: October 26, 2010 Publisher: Ace Fantasy Book of the Order #1 ISBN: #978-0441019618 Genre: Fantasy Format(s): paperback (304 pgs), e-book I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of an honest review. From the back cover:      Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists…       Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.       But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows.  Even if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in the hell is she returning to? What I’m talking about:      Welcome to Arykham, where the presence of ghosts and spirits (geists) are unfortunately commonplace. But thankfully, the geists conform to a set of known parameters, and the Order protects the citizens from ultimate danger. The setting of the book, Arykaham, is historical in nature – no electricity, and horses, ships and dirigibles are the modes of transportation, etc. The society is run by an Emperor, with the Order acting as a quasi-religious group that protects the world from the geists.      The book opens with Sorcha and her husband fighting off a powerful geist attack on a crowd.  In this initial attack, Sorcha’s husband is brutally injured by the geist – something that goes against the “known rules” for the Otherside. With her husband (and partner) disabled, Sorcha is given a new partner and sent north to help the town of Ulrich.      Enter novice Merrick Chambers. He has a history with Sorcha, although she doesn’t know it. He is untested and a bit scared. But soon the pair discovers that all of the “known rules” for the Otherside are being tossed out the window, which forces them to rely on and trust...
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Sep
28

Review: "A Tangled Web" – Harvest Moon

Review: "A Tangled Web" – Harvest Moon “A Tangled Web” from the Harvest Moon anthology Author: Mercedes Lackey Release Date: September 28, 2010 Publisher: Luna (Harlequin) Five Hundred Kingdoms series ISBN: #978-0373803224 Genre: Fantasy Format(s): paperback, e-book I received an electronic galley copy of this book from the Net Galley for the purposes of an honest review. NOTE: I only read the first novella in this anthology. After reading the first (review below) and starting the second, I found the stories complex and difficult to follow. Due to time constraints, I did not finish the book. I am not classifying this book as a DNF because I did complete the first story and have a review.  If I find time to read the other stories, I will finish the review for the entire book (they do seem interesting!) From the author’s website: Kidnapping Persephone should have been an easy task. But in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, nothing’s ever simple and the wrong blonde goddess is stolen by mistake, leaving Prince Leopold without his new bride. At least until he braves the realm of the dead to get her back… What I’m talking about: This is an interesting and fun re-telling of the famous Persephone and Hades tale from Greek Mythology.  In this story, Persephone and Hades are in love and try to find a way to be together. Hades sends Thanatos, the god of Death, to “kidnap” Persephone and bring her to the underworld-reasoning that her mother, Demeter, could not take her away if “death” claimed her. Well, unfortunately, Thanatos claims the wrong goddess which causes plenty of grief for everyone. While the story was simple, cleaver and cute, it was tough to follow. I know a little Greek mythology and no Norse mythology – both of which are prominent in this story.  Names are tossed around and situations inferred as if I should have an understanding of it all.  I felt completely lost at times, especially at the beginning.   Although I never fully overcame some of the confusion, I still enjoyed the tale.  Ms. Lackey’s portrayal of the Greek gods is entertaining and refreshing… They are still self-involved, but more simple and oafish than their usual vindictive depictions. The Norse goddess Brunnhilde and her husband Prince Leopold are a welcome addition to the tale. They are logic and order to the chaos of Olympus when Persephone (and Brunnhilde) are taken to the underworld.  This is an enjoyable story. My Rating:  Liked it, there were...
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Aug
23

Why I love Fantasy (aka Paranormal Romance)

Why I love Fantasy (aka Paranormal Romance) I have always gravitated towards all things fantasy and sci-fi. I started watching the original Star Trek with my dad at a very young age. We also loved Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, and later Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stargate SG-1. I watched movies like The Last Starfighter, Tron, and Enemy Mine.  I saw the original Star Wars movie when I was 7. We saw it in the theater 3 times and that’s a lot for “back then.”  My reading tastes have also followed suit. Books that I love include Dune, Jurassic Park, and all stories by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.  My mom and most of my friends never understood how I could enjoy something that “isn’t real.” But I argue that life is too hard and “real” at times not to enjoy some reverie.  What I love about fantasy: Anything goes and it’s believable. Take a look at one of my all time favorite books, Dune.  There are giant worms that live on a desert planet. Their waste is the drug of choice in the entire known universe. It’s an absurd idea when I say it like that, but in the book, it’s so real and exciting.  Social issues can be addressed in sometimes sneaky ways. The science fiction film genre has long served as a useful vehicle for “safely” discussing controversial topical issues and often providing thoughtful social commentary on potential unforeseen future issues. Presentation of issues that are difficult or disturbing for an audience, can be made more acceptable when they are explored in a future setting or on a different, earth-like world. (taken from Wikipedia) Take a look at Pixar’s hit Wall-E… A seemingly simple futuristic cartoon for kids. But the adults all know what’s going on – it’s a commentary on obesity, laziness and pollution. There are even underlying themes of over-mechanization (and echo’s of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey).  Escapism.  Come on! There are so many great places you can go and don’t have to deal with real life. Science fiction and fantasy films can take us far away: Aliens, Star Trek(s), Avatar.  They can thrill us at home either now or in the future: Independence Day, The Fifth Element, Mad Max. They can be very serious: Children of Men, V for Vendetta, I am Legend. And they can make us laugh: Running Man, Galaxy Quest, Men in Black. So how does this translate into my love of Paranormal Romance...
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