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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Dec
7

Review: The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie

Review: The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie The Memory Thief Author: Sarina Dorie Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Memory Thief is a different type of steampunk series.  This Victorian era science-fiction novel is an interesting world.  Suffice to say, I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one. First, let me say that this was more mystery/adventure romance than science-fiction. Though it is science-fiction, the science and steampunk qualities are in the background. The plight of Felicity in recovering her memories is gripping. The planet and history of the Jomon people is rich and fascinating. I really loved the world I found myself in. The memory moss, the intriguing creatures, and the evolution that has obviously taken place are all quite intriguing.  I truly found myself lost in the world. The novel is told from Felicity’s viewpoint and utilizes flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks are consciously done when she is partaking in a memory swap. However, some chapters are started with a moment from the past. Though they are interesting and give background to the novel, I felt that they stunted the flow of the story a little, but not enough to inhibit my enjoyment. I enjoyed the courtship between Felicity and Nipa (the ruler of the Jomon tribe). Though some of the novel is fairly easy to figure out, I was still surprised by some of the past. Felicity’s strength of character is equal to her kindness to the indigenous people. I enjoyed her intelligence, especially when up against Nipa’s cunning. Nipa’s character was equally charming and ruthless.  I enjoyed trying to figure him out. Felicity’s intended, Merriweather, seems to be a filler character.  It is not surprising when the Jomon use him as a patsy.  However, he grew on me.  He seems very out of place in the world, and in the novel, especially in Felicity’s eyes.  He is very naïve and innocent.  More innocent than I would think an aristocratic male would be in Victorian England.  However, I think there is more to him and I hope to learn it in the next novel. I am reluctant to give anything away, but the emotions of the novel caught me off guard.  This book is about remembering and recovering from the past. The past is more than just events, but emotions as well. Once I finished the novel, I could see how the novel dances slowly to the truth. I really enjoyed the flow and the overall crafting of...
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Nov
23

Review: The Burning Isle by Will Panzo

Review: The Burning Isle by Will Panzo The Burning Isle Author: Will Panzo Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una were fascinated by this debut novel.  The Burning Isle is a compelling mixture of dark fantasy, adventure, mystery, and suspense.  We were mesmerized by this richly complex novel. Unfortunately there is not much we can say about this intriguing puzzle of a novel.  It is a well-woven mystery of who Cassius is, what his mission is, and why he is so dedicated to it.  Gikany and Una discussed the rich nuances of the story, but sharing that discussion could possibly spoil the plot line.  The novel is a slowly unweaving journey of discovery.  Each moment of conflict unveils another truth.  In deciphering these mysteries, Mr. Panzo expertly weaves in flashbacks that give hints about Cassius and his actions.  The overall picture is filled in section by section.  We were able to grasp pieces along the way, but until the final piece was clicked, the overall picture eluded us. Cassius’ character is complex and beguiling.  You are never sure what is truly going on.  This aspect kept us glued to the pages. Although it appears the overall plot is resolved at the end of the novel, questions still linger.  We had the urge to reread it to see what clues we may have missed, to reinvestigate different milestones, and to be able to see the novel with the clarity of knowing. The Burning Isle is a gripping and immensely intriguing fantasy novel.  We desperately hope there is more to come.  We found the mystery, the world, and most especially Cassius compelling and alluring.  If you enjoy dark fantasy full of politics, moral questions and action/mystery, you truly need to pick this one up! Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic… “A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.” Cassius is not lost… The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but...
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Nov
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: About a Dragon Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #2 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio Talaith lived the same dead-end life, day after day for sixteen years, with the town’s people afraid of her and a dimwitted husband who thinks she’s the devil. She’s been sent to this little town by her goddess, waiting for the day Talaith is called to perform an act of sacrifice on her behalf. But the day that Briec passes through her town, everything changes. Briec, a powerful and arrogant dragon, sees Talaith and demands she join him, even after she tells him she’s married. Right from the start he finds himself obsessed with her and wants his own human plaything. And when the town’s people decide to riot and kill Talaith, Briec gets his chance, saving her and stealing her away. About a Dragon picks up about three years after the first book, with Annwyl the Bloody as queen, and dragons and humans forming an alliance. However, none of this news reaches Talaith’s small town, and as the book unfolds, we learn how Talaith’s human goddess has manipulated events in Talaith’s life. Likewise, we learn more about the dragon deities, and the history of the dragons. This expansion of mythology is equally interesting and exciting. It gives the book weight and increases the fantasy appeal. Although still not one to rate in my top of lists, the Dragon Kin series, its characters, and even the narration have grown on me. I enjoy following the adventures of this crazy, unconventional family. Their rudeness and barbaric, bloody behaviors make it a unique and compelling listen. However, after three pairs of males and females who constantly argue, I really hope for something a bit different stories. As the book went on, I grew to like Talaith, especially as her motives were unveiled. She’s a strong woman, as are most in this series. I also like that Annwyl’s character didn’t grow softer, if anything, she’s more crazy as she leads the kingdom these days. Additionally, the introduction of Izzy brings promise of fun adventures in the future. The males of the series, including Briec, seem a bit rough around the edges, yet are mesmerized and perplexed by their chosen females. I enjoy that they succumb to their feelings and revel in being with strong females. The narration by Hollie Jackson still isn’t my favorite, but by...
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Nov
4

Review + Excerpt: Ruled by Elle Kennedy

Review + Excerpt: Ruled by Elle Kennedy Ruled Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: The Outlaws series by Elle Kennedy is my go-to dystopian read. I’m not even sure why. Oh, wait. I know. Ms. Kennedy has crafted a world in which I get lost. Each of the three titles has focused on people struggling with their every day conflicts—what it’s like to live in that kind of society. Ruled isn’t any different. And I adored this book. Here’s your warning, folks: if you’re not a fan of boy bits touching boy bits, this isn’t a read for you. And if ménage isn’t your thing? Consider giving this one a try—it’s… different and I loved it (even though I’m a big fan of a well-written ménage, this was still different!). We need to talk about Reese. She was introduced in the first Outlaws title. She’s portrayed as a cold-hearted witch, basically. But that isn’t the case. It was really awesome getting to know Reese. Getting inside her head. Watching her change. Sloane is Reese’s shadow. Her right-hand man. He’s been around for about five years, and has had Reese’s back for every single minute. We learn why, and I was sincerely floored. I’d had theories, but none of them panned out. Congrats to Ms. Kennedy for surprising me. Rylan. OMG. My gut wrenched for him during this book. The road to happily ever after is never easy, and everyone deserves one. Getting Reese to hers was a special brand of heartache for me. The poor woman, in charge of Foxworth, had so many skeletons in her closet it was like a haunted house at Halloween. The things that haunted her aren’t for the squeamish, and made me think. I could actually relate to Reese in a way I haven’t related to a character in a long time. The parallels I drew to myself were powerful and allowed me to take a step back and re-evaluate a few things in my own life. I highly recommend Elle Kennedy’s the Outlaws series for dystopian fans, as well as readers of romance who like things gritty and hard-hitting. I have a theory about the next couple, for the next book—but it’d be spoilery to talk about. It makes me extremely happy, though! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: In the latest novel in the series with the “sexiest, baddest, hottest”* outlaws around, one woman must choose between the two men who want...
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Nov
1

Review: The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy The Tides of Bára Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: This is going to be a pretty vague review as The Tides of Bara is in essence a transitional novel.  It follows Oria and Lonen as they flee Bara and attempt to reach the Destrye.  Although if felt like nothing really happened, Gikany and Una liked it. When we say that very little happened, we mean that none of the overarching plot lines are resolved.  There is a touch of action, quite of a bit travel, and a steamy interaction, but really, Oria and Lonen travel from Bara to Dru. What does happen is a tremendous amount of character development. The novel centers on Oria, Lonen, Oria’s Familiar Chuffta, and Lonen’s horse when they are stranded in the desert.  There is a lot of growth that occurs between all four of them as they learn to lean on each other.  This growth is critical to the novel and why we must be so vague.  This development is awesome and we found it gripping. Although it could be argued that nothing happens, this transitional novel is more than just getting from point A to point B.  The growth within the group is interesting as it is critical.  They need to learn to trust and depend on each other to survive their next challenge – seeing if the Destrye will accept Lonen’s sorceress wife. We continue to like the Sorcerous Moons series.  The latest installment, although transitional in nature, was a gripping and at times humorous read.  If you enjoy fantasy and intriguing worlds, you just need to check this one out! Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: A Narrow Escape With her secrets uncovered and her power-mad brother bent on her execution, Princess Oria has no sanctuary left. Her bid to make herself and her new barbarian husband rulers of walled Bára has failed. She and Lonen have no choice but to flee through the leagues of brutal desert between her home and his—certain death for a sorceress, and only a bit slower than the blade. A Race Against Time At the mercy of a husband barely more than a stranger, Oria must war with her fears and her desires. Wild desert magic buffets her; her husband’s touch allures and burns. Lonen is pushed to the brink, sure he’s doomed his proud bride and all too aware of the restless, ruthless...
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Oct
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Dragon Actually Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x & 2x Series: Dragon Kin #1 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio I have heard very good things about G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series, so when I saw it was being release on audio by Tantor media, I jumped at the chance to review the titles. Dragon Actually, the first story in this paranormal/fantasy romance series is actually two books in one. The primary story, Dragon Actually, creates the settings and develops a world full of waring humans and powerful dragons. The second, short story, Chains and Flames, shares the backstory of two dragon characters we meet in the primary tale. Dragon Actually shares the story of Annwyl the Bloody, the bastard sister of the current, malevolent king. She is the fearless and heralded leader of the rebellion, which is growing with each passing day. However, her brother, with the help of a powerful warlock, grows close to capturing Annwyl. Just as some of his troops are about to deliver the mortal blow to Annwyl, Fearghus the Destroyer, a powerful dragon, steps in to save her. Dragons are rarely seen these days, and many believe they are just a myth, something the solitary Fearghus thinks is just fine. However, after he feels compelled to save Annwyl, nursing her back to life and agreeing to assist in her battles against her brother, he finds he cannot stay away from her. Overall, Dragon Actually is a solid and entertaining paranormal/fantasy romance. I like the mythology and admire the strong female hero. Annwyl is her own person and doesn’t apologize for her attitude or behaviors. She is known as “the bloody” for a very good reason, cutting down her enemies without remorse as any male leader would. Fearghus is the only male who could be her equal and that makes them a good fit. I enjoyed their companionship and the times they let their guards down to talk. I did feel that there was a high “cheese-factor” in this story, both in the romance and in the interactions between several of the characters. I felt the story was dated in terms of tone, and my tastes in PNR have changed in the past 10 years. One thing I did not care for was the abruptness of the ending! Without giving spoilers, the ending felt incomplete. I would have liked...
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Oct
17

Review: Fish out of Water by Hailey Edwards

Review: Fish out of Water by Hailey Edwards Fish Out of Water Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: If you haven’t been following my reviews of Hailey Edwards’ Black Dog books, GO! GET ON THAT! Fish Out of Water is a plot resolution from the spinoff Gemini series, featuring Cam. It DEFINITELY needs to be read after Hell or High Water—seriously, don’t mess with the series order, folks. I had a lot of questions about Harlow at the conclusion of the third title in the Gemini series, and Fish Out of Water clears them all up for me. It was super nice to see Harlow again. I must admit, I really adore her. Her snark and personality are intact (eventually) and I liked being in her head. It was a great way to see what makes her tick. I will admit, I’ll never look at mirrored aviators the same way again. **swoons** It’s no secret that I’ve worked with a large mental health population in my real life. When we were introduced to the Edelweiss Mental Institution, the setting of the novella, in one of Cam’s stories, I was cool giving it a shot. After all, it’s a place for paranormals and isn’t going to parallel life at all, right? Well, because this is a spoiler-free zone, there’s a megaton of parallels to real life—with a paranormal twist…and that’s all I can say. If I’m looking for a great paranormal read, I know I can count on Ms. Edwards to deliver. With a host of paranormal baddies—and good guys, too—I actually adore the world-building. Harlow’s story here was no different. I though the plot picked up nicely where Harlow stepped out of the Gemini series—and the end of Hell or High Water—and led us to the ‘here and now’ well. You guys, I had a DEEP need to know what happened to Harlow. I feel like a kid in a candy store after reading this title. And…the first Lorimar Pack book, Promise the Moon, is slated for publication at the end of October. **grabby hands** YAY! More Dell!!! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: Harlow Bevans was a changeling mermaid working as a diving consultant for the Earthen Conclave. Then he came along. Charybdis. A serial killer who possessed her body and wrecked her mind. Now she’s an inmate—patient—at Edelweiss Mental Institution.  When a haunting song lures her to the scene of a brutal murder, the calm of the past...
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Oct
5

Review: Vick’s Vultures by Scott Warren

Review: Vick’s Vultures by Scott Warren Vick’s Vultures Author: Scott Warren Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I had some high expectations for Vick’s Vultures after reading the blurb.  It seemed like the scope promised was just too big for 223 pages.  I’m happy to report that relative newcomer Scott Warren rose to the hype.  This is a really good sci-fi read in a market flooded with the paranormal.  It embraces the traditional space opera, but brings fresh ideas to the future Warren has imagined. The writing is not only tight, it is consistent and approachable.  Warren assumes an intelligent reader, not bothering to identify common sci-fi nomenclature like FTL (faster than light) upfront, but writes in such a way that everything makes sense eventually.  He is good at showing us the story rather than telling it.  Blessedly, he stays away from information dumps and like flaws of other sci-fi writers.  Most significantly, it’s plausible—a desperately important factor if you’re going to make Earthlings your heroes. We love an underdog and Warren plays to that by making Earth the unlikely victors in a galaxy of far superior aliens with empires that span thousands of worlds. Those aliens have been in space for millennia and developed technology we can’t even dream about—which is why Captain Victoria Marin is trying to steal, or “salvage,” as much alien tech as she can and bring it back to Earth for reverse engineering. Even though Warren is a male author, he’s made his captain a woman.  Kudos.  She is also old enough to wear her authority well without playing into stereotypes of age.  Double kudos. Warren mixes races and genders in the seamless style of Star Trek.  It’s just not a thing.  Thank you for that.  All that authority and experience are called upon when Vick responds to a distress signal, hoping to salvage new tech.  She gets way more than she bargained for in the rescue of First Prince Tavram.  She’s now thrown in the political landscape of the “big three” alien races who consider the “lesser empires” to be beneath their notice.  Before the end of the book, at least one of these races will acknowledge the lesser human race. **Minor Spoiler Alert** With superior tech, the aliens have also forgotten basic hand to hand combat skills and ground warfare. Privateers like Captain Vick are backed by military personnel. Warren uses his own military background to give Vick’s crew authenticity.  Working to Earth’s advantage, the aliens...
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Sep
26

Q&A + Review: The Bloodsworn by Erin Lindsey

Q&A + Review: The Bloodsworn by Erin Lindsey The Bloodsworn Author: Erin Lindsey Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A-  What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have waited somewhat impatiently for the final book in this Bloodbound trilogy.  We were not disappointed.  The Bloodsworn is our favorite book of the series. What makes this series so captivating is the characters.  All three main characters (Alix, Liam, and Erik) developed over the course of the three novels.  Gikany and Una enjoyed discussing the changes that Alix, Liam and Erik each underwent as the series progressed.  We watched them grow in both confidence and decisiveness.  The heartache they felt after making tough choices grounded the novel.  Not only do the characters have depth, but their individual journeys also help connect the reader to the story. A theme that runs through the entire series is the necessity of choosing to be a good man or a good king.  Sometimes the choice a king faces means deciding between doing what his conscience dictates and what is best for his kingdom.  At first glance it seems they would be the same thing, but this series explores how it is not always so.  It was fascinating to watch as Alix and Liam not only supported Erik as he faced these decisions, but as they faced them as well. We enjoyed the multifaceted mythologies, politics, and cultures of Alden and the surrounding kingdoms.  It was gripping to watch as Alix navigated another kingdom and its culture as she tried to save her king and kingdom.  The suspense of her adventure behind enemy lines was nail biting. The Bloodsworn is an engrossing and captivating final novel.  We were on the edge of our seats while our heroes fought against formidable odds to save Erik and the kingdom.  Their loyalty and courage were awe-inspiring.  If you enjoy suspenseful fantasy with politics and war, you should read the Bloodbound series.  We look forward to more from this author. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot Our Series Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot / B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: The bonds of family, love and loyalty are pushed to their limits in this thrilling conclusion to the epic saga started in The Bloodbound… As the war between Alden and Oridia draws to its conclusion, the fates of both kingdoms rest on the actions of a select group of individuals—and, of course, the unbreakable bonds of blood.. Unbeknownst to most of Alden, King Erik, in thrall to...
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Sep
21

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black Ninth City Burning Author: J. Patrick Black Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: C  What We’re Talking About: Ninth City Burning is the debut novel of J. Patrick Black.  This science fiction story was fascinating and easily visualized, if only Gikany and Una enjoyed reading it. Truly, we loved the overall premise – a science fiction story about a post-apocalyptic Earth battling back an alien species in order to avoid extinction.  The discovery of a new resource, Thelemity which most of us would describe as magic, is critical in the battle between these two factions.  It is utterly engrossing.  The novel begins with the assumption that we are winning, when in fact we discover, the hard way, we may be about to lose.  We watch as Earth makes a desperate move in order to survive the approaching alien horde.  Does this sound riveting? It was in a sense. Gikany and Una really enjoyed the overall world and the premise.  We just didn’t like reading it. An on-going preference of ours is that we prefer multiple points-of-view novels written in third person.  (We apologize if this will sound awfully academic).  In third person, it is easy to move from character to character, place to place while allowing the story to flow.  However, this is a novel from seven different character’s perspectives, all written in first person.  The story suffers from a lot of “stop and go.”  Each chapter is title with the character that will be narrating.  Now some consecutive chapters are from the same viewpoint, but not always.  The story doesn’t flow well regardless of how gripping the premise.  It was difficult in the beginning to orient to the world as we were in four different perspectives of the “current” world.  There is no background or prequel summary, we just start in the middle of each of the character’s lives.  It wasn’t until about 25% where several narrators encountered each other that we were able to fully comprehend the “what” and “where” of the story, including chronology.  Though each character was unique and fascinating, we feel that not all of the points of views were necessary. The mythology was completely fascinating and intriguing.  The science involved with Thelemity – an element that we would think similar to magic — is utilized in technically advanced engineering.  There is a pivotal moment near the end that questions the war.  With the politics we encounter, it makes us wonder if it is true...
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