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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
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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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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