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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Jan
25

Review: Graveyard by William C. Dietz

Review: Graveyard by William C. Dietz Graveyard Author: William C. Dietz Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’m a little sad to say that Graveyard is the final book in the Mutant Files trilogy.  The plight of Detective Lee stopping the Bonebreaker (before he captures her) reaches its climax and resolution along with a few other elements along the way.  I really enjoyed this final novel in the trilogy though I am going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to this world. *****Please note this is the final book in a trilogy and therefore would be spoilerish.  I recommend starting with the first book, Deadeye so you can truly enjoy the overall series.****** At the conclusion of the previous novel, Redzone, I was beginning to think this series might continue, even through the beginning of Graveyard I thought it was a possibility.  However with the overall story arc of the Bonebreaker being resolved, the trilogy concludes nicely.  Though action is a strong element in this trilogy, this final novel was jammed packed.  Graveyard starts sedately enough only to have war break out and Detective Lee getting pulled in to help defend LA.  I really enjoyed how each seemly separate plot line overlapped with others to create a deeply fascinating detective thriller.  The war between the norms and mutants, the Bonebreaker, the political drama of the Mayor, and (of course) Lee’s personal life are all well-paced and balanced through the course of the story.  The way each was resolved was gripping and came to logical conclusions.  This novel truly was a brilliant capstone to the series. As a sideline plot, I really enjoyed the personal growth of Lee.  Through this novel, we see the maturity she’s gained from the experiences we witnessed in the previous novels.  She is working smarter and harder, which pays off for her.  The self-discovery she had begun in the previous novel, Redzone, is completed in this novel.  I really enjoyed watching Lee realize happiness and strive to make it work.  The comradery between her and her fellow detectives and supervisors helped to illustrate how far she had come.  Though a loose cannon, she proves that she can be a maverick, but a valuable and dependable part of the team (when used effectively). If you enjoy some science fiction with your detective drama, especially one in a post-apocalyptic world, you really should pick up The Mutant Files.  This action packed, fascinating world will keep you on the edge of your seat...
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Jan
15

Review: Redzone by William C. Dietz

Review: Redzone by William C. Dietz Redzone Author: William C. Dietz Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Redzone is the second novel in the futuristic detective series: The Mutant Files.  Detective Lee’s quest to capture the Bonebreaker is further complicated along with a bit of tough self-discovery and her knack for making new enemies. I liked this sequel more so than the previous novel, Deadeye. Part of my increased enjoyment was that there were less points of view than the previous novel.  We were able to be in Lee’s head for longer periods, along with the Bonebreaker, with less side-point of views.  Though, the additional POVs were necessary and fascinating. However, maybe it was the nature of the digital ARC copy, but there were no clues as to when we changed POVs. One example was when I was in Lee’s head and the following paragraph transitioned to the Bonebreaker’s head, and it took me several paragraphs (and some confusion) to realize the viewpoint had changed. The overarching plot of Lee’s quest to find and apprehend (or end) the Bonebreaker continued to intensify.  It was enthralling and fascinating to watch how the investigation progresses.  There was an interesting twist that I didn’t expect in this novel.  This led us to learn more about the Bonebreaker and his mission. I liked how this was entwined with Lee’s self-discovery and the adventure that accompanied it.  Though it was a bit of a dead-end, I liked how it allowed Lee to grow and mature.  I also liked the side story of Lee and Lawrence. I really liked this latest installment of the Mutant Files.  Redzone was a great balance between action, drama, and suspense. If you enjoy a good detective novel, especially one set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic future, then you might want to pick up this series.  I eagerly look forward to Graveyard, the next novel in the series. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: The year is 2065, almost thirty years since a bioterrorist attack decimated the population. The world has been divided, and new nations have formed. Those mutated from exposure inhabit the red zones, while “norms” live in the green zones. In the nation of Pacifica, Los Angeles detective Cassandra Lee is in charge of investigating a disturbing case, tracking a cop killer dubbed the Bonebreaker. But strange new murders have occurred, falling outside the normal pattern and leaving Lee and her team wondering if the serial killer has become...
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Jan
13

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur City of Light Author: Keri Arthur Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: City of Light kicks of a new, futuristic fantasy series from Keri Arthur. In this unique world, there was a five-year race war between humans and shifters over a hundred years ago. The weapons used by the shifters ripped open portals to another dimension, allowing all sorts of dangerous “Others,” such as wraiths and vampires, into the world, making it extremely dangerous to live outside the walled cities of light. The story is shared in first person POV of Tiger, the lone déchet who survived the devastating race war. Déchets were human-created beings with the combined DNA of humans, shifters, and vampires. She lives in an old, underground military bunker that manufactured déchets and was destroyed by shifters during the war. She lives an isolated life, out of necessity for she would be killed if discovered, with only the ghosts of the deceased déchets for companionship. But when Tiger helps rescue a young shifter named Penny from a vampire attack, she inadvertently becomes involved in a massive conspiracy that threatens the lives of children. Now she must decide who she can trust while trying to stop any more children from being taken. Being the first book in a fantasy series, I expected a fair amount of world-building. Luckily, the author effectively uses narration and intense action scenes to help shape her new world quickly. She clearly defined what was good and bad and who the key players were. However, after I hit the 40% mark of the book, I felt that the world-building began to dominate the tale, without the development of a clear and engaging story. I found the unique world fascinating, but in the end, I was underwhelmed and confused by the overall plot. As the main character, Tiger held her own throughout the story. She’s caring and kind, while equally fierce and strong. She protects those she claims as hers, which include the ghosts and children. I loved learning all of her different abilities and how she applied them to figure out what was going on. While I enjoyed Tiger and her fresh and almost juvenile view of the world, I didn’t connect with her sexuality. Programmed to be a spy, she used seduction as her means of infiltration. So when she found a lost lover and they engaged in extra curricular activities, I was actually turned off my her ability...
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Nov
10

Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews Sweep in Peace Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Innkeeper Chronicles is just one of those solid urban fantasy/science fiction series that I enjoy. Sweep in Peace was a nail-biting and intriguingly fascinating mystery/action/drama.  This series is on my reread list, and it should be on yours. Note: This story was originally released as a serial on the author’s website.  Once completed, it was taken down, edited and prepped for release.  I did read it as the serial and now as an ARC.  There may have been typographical type changes but, in my opinion, the overall story remained unchanged. This series centers on our main character, Dina, who is a down to earth and relatable person.  I respected her need to find her family, her determination to make her inn thrive, and her loyalty to not just her duty, but to those she considers hers.  She has a deep sense of right and wrong and it leads her to do risky things because it is the right thing to do — even when it hurts.   But she isn’t perfect, and it is those flaws that make her shine even brighter.  In this edition, we watch her struggle with trying to achieve the impossible – brokering peace on a planet that has three groups hell-bent on their own destruction (even if the price they will pay is too high). The world of the Innkeeper Chronicles continues to evolve, and I just love the mythology.  It is loosely woven, providing enough rigidity for a sturdy foundation, yet flexible enough to allow the world to expand.  I love that the authors are able to weave in characters from previous series. It’s great to revisit beloved characters and see how they are faring in the future.  For example, the cleverness of the arbitrator was fascinating, but if you know who he is from reading The Edge series, you will totally not be surprised and will thoroughly enjoy this inclusion. Another great aspect of the Innkeeper Chronicles is the supporting characters.  In this edition, we got to know Her Grace, Dina’s permanent resident of the inn, much better.  We learned more about the Merchants and the Holy Anocracy (the space vampires) as well as being introduced to new characters liked the Soul-Crushing Horde and Orro.  I especially loved Orro.  The different personalities add so much to the overall feel of the novel.  Though there is suspense, horror...
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Oct
24

Review: Heart Fire by Robin D. Owens

Review: Heart Fire by Robin D. Owens Heart Fire Author: Robin D. Owens Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Psst. I missed a Celta’s Heartmates book last year because my reading schedule was full. Well, before the next title releases, Heart Legacy, on November 3, 2015, I HAD to read Heart Fire. Because, one does not simply skip a book in a series. One of the things I love most about the Celta’s Heartmates series is that the main couple spend the bulk of the book kinda-sorta knowing they should be together, but battling their inner demons and working through stuff so they’re actually ABLE to be together in a stable, healthy, relationship. I also really like the Fams—‘familiars’ that are companions of the humanoids. They’re cats, predominantly. What’s not to like? I also geek out when couples from past books reappear. And they do. It’s probably just me, but it seemed like the beginning third of this title moved a little slow. It definitely took me awhile to get into the world of Celta again, and that’s really my only complaint about the book. Might have been the depth of description; having read the prior titles in the series, I’m familiar with a lot of what was described. HOWEVER… this negative for me is definitely a positive for Readers-at-Large. This title *could* be read individually, although the full experience of revisiting characters from the past won’t be fulfilling. Tiana is from a family that fell victim to religious persecution when she was a child. Now a priestess in a DIFFERENT religion, our leading lady stresses entirely too much over what people think of her. No. Really. She does. Tiana is dropped, by her superiors, into a timebomb—stemming from the destruction of her home, and the ensuing scandal. What’s pretty awesome about Tianna is watching her evolution as a person. We all ‘come from’ somewhere, and oftentimes that place defines at least a portion of our self-image. When we can’t reconcile events from our past, it takes a toll on our present, and definitely affects our future. Based on the details we get about Tiana, her self-image is closely tied to her perceived ranking in the social hierarchy. Watching events unfold made me reflect. Not too hard, though. Because, in general, I try not to care what others think (but we all know part of me does…), and I think as I get older, I actually care less. Antenn, adopted son of an influential family,...
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Oct
21

Review: Raging Sea by Terri Brisbin

Review: Raging Sea by Terri Brisbin Raging Sea Author: Terri Brisbin Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Even though I loved William in the first novel (and still do), I feel that Raging Sea is better than the previous novel, Rising Fire for several reasons. First, the connection and journey of Ran and Soren were stronger, more complex, and therefore a little more dramatic.  Second, the world-building is set so it was very easy to step into the world and be immersed in the plot, which was captivating.  And finally, the novel flowed really well. William is still my favorite hero in this series (and he does appear in Raging Sea).  I enjoyed the romantic and story of William and Brienne in Rising Fire.  However, Ran and Soren had a history that made their connection even stronger and more compelling.  Though the betrayal really bothered me at first, it is clear from the beginning that all may not be what it seems.  Theirs was truly an inner battle between right and wrong.  I loved how the truth was slowly revealed, though my heart wished it had come out sooner.  Their painful past, coupled with the intense attraction, was compelling, and I enjoyed how their journey was entwined with the overarching plot of keeping Chaela imprisoned.  Their awakening to their powers and the truth of their connection was different from the previous novel.  I loved how strong the connection between them was and the reason behind it.  It was great to see that both Ran and Soren were strong on their own, but even more formidable when allied. Ms. Brisbin keeps the tension of a chess match throughout the novel.  We experience the movement and the point of view of both sides as they try to gain the upper hand.  The antagonist is truly cunning and depraved.  He is truly a master manipulator, and I enjoyed watching him fall short (much to his surprise). Though the ending conflict was quick and a bit anticlimactic in a way, it fits with the overall chess match feel.  I am eager to see what happens in the next novel since the antagonist has lost the last two battles and Chaela is running out of portals to escape from.  Combine that with the losses our heroes endured and the regrouping they will need to do along with finding the next two bloodline warriors, and I can’t wait for the next book. I continue to enjoy this series, the...
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Oct
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Martian by Andy Weir Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: The Martian Author: Andy Weir Narrator: R.C. Bray Audio Speed: 1x Series: Standalone Genre: Science Fiction Source: purchased Okay friends… here is the scoop. We’ve all been hearing RAVES about The Martian, particularly in audiobook format, for months, and to be honest, when people rave that much, I tend to get disappointed. So I waited and then cautiously started listening a couple weeks ago. What did I think? THE BOOK IS WORTHY OF THE HYPE!! I was immediately engrossed and emotionally invested in the tale of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars. While he’s not the first person to step foot on Mars (he’s the 17th), he’s the first to survive by himself and live on the planet for more than a month. I’m going to warn readers right up front that the story is uber-scientific. If you don’t like science speak, I strong urge you to see the movie instead (I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s a pretty good one). I don’t know that I have ever recommended a movie over a book, but The Martian is really full of details. A large percentage of the book shares the intricate details of how Mark solves the problems presented, thus allowing him to survive. As a wanna be chemistry major turned engineer, I found the science utterly fascinating. I loved listening to how he figures everything out – even his failures are profoundly interesting. But what makes The Martian so great is that Mark’s journey is gripping. I wasn’t this nervous reading a book since Jurassic Park, which is still one of my all time favorites. The story is so realistic and heart-poundingly engaging. And Mark is the perfect character to be stuck on Mars, in fact, NASA even mentions that a couple of times. Yet no matter how clever Mark is, it’s his humor that steals the show over and over (and beware, his language is definitely for mature readers). While Mark Watney is the star of the title, each of the characters are three-dimensional and relatable on some level. I highly urge you to avoid spoilers, leaving you desperate to know if Mark and the crew survive, because it’s anybody’s guess right up until he very end of the book. One thing that is different about how The Martian plays out is that the author uses multiple perspectives and varying methods to share the story. The first several...
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Oct
14

Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher The Aeronaut’s Windlass Author: Jim Butcher Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Aeronaut’s Windlass follows a group of inexperienced, youthful soldiers who fate pairs with an honorable yet disgraced veteran, as they battle a powerful enemy on multiple fronts. Fighting along side this group is a pair of etherealists, individuals who are sensitive to the ether waves, giving each unique talents, but at the cost of eventual insanity. Additionally this world is home to clans of cats, who have the ability to communicate and are intelligent, yet mostly apathetic to the plight of humans. The protagonists live on Spire Albion, a closed off world that somehow hovers above the abandoned surface. Their enemy is Spire Aurora. We don’t have any clue how many Spires exist, or what is so foreboding about the surface below. All of this together makes for an extremely interesting world about which I long to know more. The Aeronaut’s Windlass is it a monster of a title at over 600 pages, plus it’s a solid fantasy tale with a whole new world filled with unique and interesting aspects. This doesn’t lend itself to a quick read, and in fact, I spent two weeks getting through this title. You have to be committed to read it. I don’t want to make it sound like it was a chore to read, but it’s not fluff. I’m glad I made it past the first half, which was spent trying to learn all of the players and understand the constructs of the new world. In the end, however, I am glad I made the time. Part of the reason the front half takes so long to get through is that there are numerous key characters, each sharing a portion of the story from his or her point of view. At first, I got a headache trying to note each character’s place in the world, along with his/her personality traits. But as the story progressed, I discerned amazing qualities about these characters that came out through his/her actions or, even better, I was able to infer after eavesdropping on his/her innermost thoughts as the character spent time pondering situations. The author showed rather than told, revealing truly remarkable characters who I grew to enjoy more and more as they developed and matured. The other primary reason the book takes time to get into is that the world is new, and building it up takes time to...
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Oct
7

Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy

Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy Claimed Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: *wipes drool from chin* You. Guys. I have absolutely NO idea how to coherently explain how IN LOVE I am will Claimed, Elle Kennedy’s first title in her Outlaw series. First, I want to clearly state—for the record—I am in a book coma. I also stayed up WAAAYYY too late reading last night because of this title. Also, don’t let my genre category-thing below mislead you: Claimed is post-apocalyptic/dystopian/erotic romance. Apparently, retailers don’t have that category. THEY SHOULD. I’d be all over it. Of course, future titles in this category have a pretty high bar to meet, as I’d make Ms. Kennedy’s venture into this genre the standard. Five super hot and sexy guys. One spit-fire blonde. Making their way in a future so different from our reality. The world-building is fabulous. I had images of a war-ravaged world in my head throughout the book. It’s almost like The Walking Dead meets The Stand without all the gore. I liked watching the relationships between the characters evolve. Just when I thought I would be able to put down my Kindle and do the dishes or flip laundry, something else would be revealed—and I’d keep reading instead of doing other stuff. My inner narrative as I read, if I had to put it in a sentence, would be: Oohhh… I wonder how THIS is going to work out… Each new reveal in the world-building or in character development drew me in further. At about the 55% mark, I went to my auto-buy list (because I may be guilty of having that note on my phone…) and added this series. I don’t usually do that until I hit the end and decide whether I like the resolution and forward-movement into the next book of the series. If you’re not into menage, you might want to pass… but it’s not super in-your-face, and it IS Super. Hot. *fans self* There’s a Dominant/submissive vibe going on, and I encourage everyone that gets into these subgenres to get all grabby-hands for this title. Rylan is our third in the menage scenes, and I have a bit of a crush on him. He’s funny, and he clearly knows his role in the relationship. Being Connor’s bestie (our hero!), he’s learned to read his friend like a book. They live together, fight together, and have come together to survive in this world they grew...
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Sep
29

Review + Excerpt: The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey

Review + Excerpt: The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey The Bloodforged Author: Erin Lindsey Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Bloodforged picks up a few months after the events of the first novel, The Bloodbound, ends.  This novel had very different feel from the first book, and although we liked the book overall, it wasn’t quite as solid as the previous one. The Bloodforged is a transitional novel, and that is the main reason for the different feel.  In order to get several pieces into position, Ms. Lindsey split the narrative between four characters.   Gikany and Una are a bit divided in our reactions to this change in the style of narration.  Una liked having each chapter devoted to a single plot line.  She preferred the longer moments, but wished they had been more balanced in length.  Gikany would have preferred having multiple short check-ins in every chapter, giving glimpses of each of the three plot lines as the novel progressed.  This way the reader does not get fully immersed in the point of view of a single character, making the transitions less jarring.  We both agreed that the antagonists’ points of view were not needed.  They were unnecessary since we were able to discern most of what they confirmed from other moments in the other point of views. There was a lot going on in this novel.  Rig is the general of an army facing almost impossible odds.  He must prevent the Oridians from overrunning Alden’s border while Liam and Erik seek aid from their allies. The battle against the Oridian’s and the difficulties of the front line were compelling.  Rig is as uncanny, sly, and irreverent, as he is amusing and endearing.  We liked the introduction of Vel and look forward to seeing what happens next. Liam’s mission to Onnan City was compelling and fascinating.  The machinations of the Republicana were intriguing and frightening.  The mystery of who is sabotaging the fleet was interesting and we enjoyed watching as Liam bumbled his way through it.  Experiencing Liam’s adventure allowed us to see him mature more fully into his new role. Alix and Erik’s harrowing journey to Harram and the final meeting with the King of Harram were captivating.  We were given both Alix and Erik’s point of views, which were fascinating to experience.  Knowing what both of them were thinking and feeling became very important as the novel concluded with a surprising cliffhanger.  Gikany and Una enjoyed Alix and Erik’s...
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