Monday, 29 December 2014

Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

It should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Gemini Cell is a prequel to Cole's Shadow Ops trilogy.

I have to say I quite enjoyed Gemini Cell. It's a big departure from the 'contemporary fantasy/sci-fi/romance' I usually read. I had my eye on the others in the series and when this one came up I grabbed it.

Blunt and very violent in places, the story was well tempered by the relationship between Jim and Sarah. For me, she was much the main character as Jim. She isn't a typical military wife which is, why I think, she has so much appeal.

This book has tons of gritty, in your face action, conspiracies and heart wrenching moments. Even reading the blurb, I was still pleasantly surprised by how MUCH went on. To be honest, the bulk of what I read is fantasy and sic-fi romance. Because of this, the biggest point of tension for me was Jim and Sarah's forced separation. For me, as much as Gemini Cell is a fantastic paranormal-military read, I was more than satisfied with the very human relationship Jim and Sarah had and my need to root for it was well supported throughout the book.

The only thing that might hold me back from continuing with the series is price. As I said I've had my eye on the other books in the series and while they aren't exorbitantly expensive, they are more than I usually spend.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review: Mine to Keep by Denise Rossetti

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

He's all puppy charm, but he smiles like a wolf. Trust him? She'd have to be out of her mind.

All Sandy wanted was some R&R in Sydney before joining the Earth Ship Siren as head of Military Police. What she gets is a night of mystery and pleasure with a man so wickedly fascinating he can't possibly be law-abiding.

For professional con man Peter Stanton, Master Sergeant Alanna Sanderson, with her kick-ass body and cool blue eyes, is the most fun he's ever had. Eight months later, on the Siren, he gets to meet her again, but now he's Prisoner 141, and they're out among the stars, half way to the penal colony on Solitaire.

When a micrometeroid shower strikes the convoy, Sandy and Prisoner 141 are stranded on a stricken ship. Will he pull off the ultimate confidence trick and sacrifice Sandy for his freedom?

If only she could command her heart as easily as she wields her stun gun, because when he betrays her, as he surely must, she's going to have to kill him.

Mine to Keep is book 5 in the ES Siren Series. The series contains books by Denise RossettiShona Husk and Mel Tescho and follows several ships making the long voyage from Earth to give humans a fresh start on the planet Solitaire.

I've read books four, five and six in the series before sitting down to review the second instalment of three stories in the series.

In this one, Master Sergeant Alanna Sanderson finds herself face to face with Peter Stanton, a con man who bears the humiliation of getting caught.

Although I'm amazed that three authors could put a series together so seamlessly I must admit my preference is for Rossetti's contributions. For me, her characters come to life. They are the most grounded in themselves and relatable. There is a real humanness about them I find appealing and for Mine to Keep and Yours to Desire it's the way I can identify with her characters that brings the stories to life. 

I will definitely continue with this series.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Review: Beyond Galaxy's Edge by Anna Hackett

Ambitious Patrol Captain Nissa Sander has spent three years at the galaxy’s edge keeping the law and order, and chasing scoundrel smuggler, Justyn Phoenix. But the charming rogue has always outwitted her and she’s had a hard time ignoring his hard body and handsome face. But when one of the galaxy’s most important documents—the US Constitution—is stolen, Nissa finds herself working with the very man she’s been trying to throw in her brig.

Justyn Phoenix embraces life and offers everyone a wink and a smile. He’s also in love with a spit-and-polish Patrol captain. Yep, crazy in love, and he knows she’ll never love him back. But when the opportunity arises to work alongside Nissa on a wild and crazy mission to recover the US Constitution, he can’t resist.

But nothing on this treasure hunt is as it seems. The trail leads them to fake documents, rival treasure hunters, and a millennia old mystery. As the hunt takes them beyond the galaxy’s edge, Justyn and Nissa will face the firestorm of their desire, and soon learn if they can survive long enough to save the galaxy.

Beyond Galaxy's Edge is the fifth title in The Phoenix Adventures by Anna Hackett.

The series continues to grow and like the books before, always surprises me with something new. So many interspecies romance novels stick to the strictly human female and the alien male. This one doesn't. Captain Nissa Sander, our heroine, is part reptile. I loved to see her golden skin, smooth head and soft scales through the eyes of Justyn Phoenix and yes, although he's inescapably drawn to her outer beauty her tough, quick thinking personality is what really drives him crazy.

I have to admit I was curious how Hackett would pull me from my comfort zone of the other Phoenix brothers, Nik, Zayn and Dathan and immerse me in the lives of their smuggle cousins. We met Justyn and Nissa in On a Rogue Planet, though briefly.

I liked Justyn right away. Always full of humour and very sweet to Nissa and she was so easy to root for; a career soldier out to prove herself to her father. She needed more than anything to take a chance and find herself. Hackett took them both out of their element and I to me it felt like she let them be to figure things out for themselves. Their actions and decisions made their characters stronger and gave me a real sense of how they grew together.

Also, more great settings. A steampunk planet (smitten!) and a very dangerous jungle planet.

If you haven't picked this series up, start here At Star's End. Tons of fun, action, adventure and steam!

I received a copy from the Author in exchange for my review.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Review: To Walk in the Way of Lions by H. Leighton Dickson

The conclusion to the sweeping epic that began in 'TO JOURNEY IN THE YEAR OF THE TIGER, the story picks up where Journey leaves off, in the harsh deserts of Khanisthan. The team is running under a very set of different dynamics than before, for not only will they be forced to confront enemies tracking from the North and a hostile force from the Palace following from the South, but they must face their own demons that are plaguing them from within. It's man against man, cat against cat, Seer against Alchemist, knowledge versus ‘the Way of Things’ – a Sci-Fi 'Pride and Prejudice and Lions', like you’ve never read it before.

From the ruthless wilds of Khanisthan to the wind-swept shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the beauty and savagery of the Upper Kingdom unfolds like a living thing before them as they travel and Kirin will find out what it means to follow the code of Bushido to the gates of death and beyond…

This is the journey of six individuals as they travel beyond the edges of the known Empire, into lands uncharted and wild. Theirs is a journey of magic and mystery, science and swords, romance and intrigue. It is a journey of different perspectives and unexpected kharma and love found in surprising places. It is a journey that takes place five thousand years or so in the future, naturally in the Year of the Tiger.

To Walk in the Way of Lions takes everything I loved about Book 1, To Journey in the Year of the Tiger and manages to make me fall in love with the world and characters all over again.

I've laughed, been saddened, felt anxious and let out great happy sighs. Dickson's places and characters are immersive and addictive. I'm so very glad there is another book in the series.

Again, I find myself wanting to say so much my voice feels blocked by the sheer volume of things to say. These stories continue to be amazing, the characters touching and relatable and the adventure so encompassing all I can express is the fantastic experience spread through Dickson's pages.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Review: Beneath a Trojan Moon by Anna Hackett

I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Fortune teller Relda Dela-Cruz is a woman with a secret. One she’ll do anything to conceal. She hides in plain sight on the market world of Souk, content with running her profitable fortune-telling business and never letting anyone too close. But when assailants attack her in pursuit of a powerful artifact, Relda collides with the city’s handsome, new marshal. A man who leaves no stone unturned and no secret covered.

War has left former Galactic Special Forces Captain Hunt Calder tired and empty, but one look at sexy Relda—with her wild curls and lush curves—brings him back to life. When she’s threatened over the mysterious Trojan Moon, Hunt will let nothing stop him from protecting her. Even Relda herself.

As they face alien attackers and killer droids, Relda can’t resist her burning attraction to Hunt. But she knows he’s the most dangerous threat of all, because he doesn’t just want her body, he wants her trust and her secret, too. A secret with the power to destroy Hunt and Relda, the city, even the planet itself.

Beneath a Trojan Moon is a novella in the Phoenix Adventures Series.

I adored Relda right from the start. She gave someone who broke into her shop a job and pays a young street kid to run messages she could send electronically. Her hidden abilities show us why we should like big, rough Hunt the moment we meet him.

Hunt has been left worn by years in the Special Forces, the only bright spot in his life is Relda though he doesn't have a chance to get close to her until she's in danger. Then, all bets are off.

Beneath a Trojan Moon is a sweet complement to the action driven romance of the three novels preceding it in the series although action is in no way lacking. In those, the destination is puzzled out then sought. Great journeys had, chases run and galaxies crossed. All in pursuit of a happy ending and home.

In Beneath a Trojan Moon, Relda and Hunt fight for the home and happy ending already surrounding them. Their great adventure is in discovering and protecting what they have together.

Although this novella can be read as a stand alone, I found my familiarity with Hackett's sci-fi world helped me dig in right away and appreciate Relda and Hunt's backgrounds.

Beneath a Trojan Moon holds up to the others in the series in terms of action, butt kicking heroines and the alpha males who welcome them as both their weakness and their strength.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Review: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett

Unlucky-in-love salvage mechanic, Malin Phoenix, didn’t intend to get caught up in a coup and kidnapped by a sexy cyborg. But she finds herself swept into an adventure to help the deadly, emotionless CenSec, Xander Saros, retrieve an ancient Terran artifact and save his planet.

Soon she’s racing across uncharted space and is magnetically drawn to the cyborg whose strong arms and muscled body ignite a desire that burns brighter than a supernova. But Mal can never let herself forget that she can’t fall in love with a cyborg who can never love her back.

The crowning glory of the Centax Security program, Xander is heavily enhanced, his emotions dampened to nothing to allow him to be the most efficient, lethal killer in the galaxy. As he and Malin hunt for the remnant of the galaxy’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, their quest leads them into the lair of a dangerous technomancer. But Xander can’t identify his greatest threat—the enemy or the fascinating woman who’s making him feel.

I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

On a Rogue Planet is third in The Phoenix Adventures and drops Malin Phoenix, cousin to Dathan, Zayn and Nik square in the middle of a coup on Centrix, the CenSec planet. On a Rogue Planet starts with a BOOM and charges forth from there.

At first, I assumed (silly me) this one would be about Nik and Darq and have to admit I enjoyed being teased along further with (what I hope will become) their storyline. The longer Darq gives Nik a hard time, the better =)

Malin is an overall-wearing, grease under the nails salvage mechanic more comfortable with rusty starship hulls than with men and Xander is living up to his nearly divine expectations as the number one cyberneticly enhanced man in the galaxy. What cyborg couldn't use a good mechanic? Xander has never felt love and Malin is afraid to have it taken from her again.

I loved how my mental picture of Malin was ripped out from under me. I pictured the saggy coveralls and tool belt, grease and her legs sticking out from something she's taken apart. She pulls off sleek and sexy just fine, laser cutter included.

I also really like how Hackett manages to surprise me with details. Even when you know Malin and Xander splitting up is a really bad idea, the way she makes things happen is enough off kilter to make the action pop and drive up the intensity.

On a Rogue Planet is a great blend of action, sci-fi and romance and if you're a fan of the genre this series is well worth a read.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Indie Pick: To Journey in the Year of the Tiger by H. Leighton Dickson

TO JOURNEY IN THE YEAR OF THE TIGER is the first in a Ground-Breaking Original Series by H. Leighton Dickson. This is a powerful, post-apocalyptic story of lions and tigers, wolves and dragons, embracing and blending the cultures of Dynastic China, Ancient India and Feudal Japan. Half feline, half human, this genetically altered world has evolved in the wake of the fall of human civilization. Fans of Tolkien, Game of Thrones, Redwall or Japanese anime will be entertained in these intelligent and beautifully written pages in a blend of science, fantasy and zoological speculation.

Kirin Wynegarde-Grey is a young lion with a big job – Captain of the Guard in a Kingdom that spans from the mountains of western China to the deserts of the Middle East. When an ancient threat awakens in the West and threatens to overthrow the Empire, he must lead a team that includes his enigmatic brother, a lethal swordswoman and three radically different and mysterious specialists through a world where humans are legend and animals walk like men.

This is the journey of six individuals as they travel beyond the edges of the known Empire, into lands uncharted and wild. It is a journey of magic and mystery, science and swords, romance and intrigue. It is a journey of different perspectives and unexpected kharma and love found in surprising places. It is a journey that takes place five thousand years or so in the future, naturally in the Year of the Tiger.

I finished reading To Journey in the Year of the Tiger a couple of weeks ago and found it hard to sit down and write a review. It should be easy, considering how very much I adore this book but then again, that could be what makes it such a challenge to find the right words. Now that I'm half way through the second book, To Walk in the Way of Lions, I have a good idea what to say.

I've never read anything like this. The idea of big cats living in the hierarchy and values of Imperial China caught my attention and the mystery and characters held me to the story. Each powerful character avoids stereotype. From the amazed and energetic Scholar, the dark and seductive Alchemist to the honour-first Captain each was well rounded, developed and managed to surprise me while staying in character.

The descriptions of everything from scenes to garments draws on my knowledge of Imperial China and builds on my own imagery without making me struggle to make things fit in my own mind. I could use words like vivid and stunning because they would be true but the fact that the complex settings are so digestible makes this book so very rich.

I found both books one and two in this series free and made sure I paid for book three before I found it free as well. Didn't feel right to enjoy this book so much without supporting the author with a few dollars. To Journey in the Year of the Tiger is like finding a bag of treasure and knowing you've stumbled upon something fantastic. It is definitely worth purchasing.

To Journey in the Year of the Tiger is seductive and crass, powerful and humble, wicked and pure, humorous and stoic and rich and simple. The power of this book is in the contrasts it presents.

Experience it.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Review: Skywatcher by Donna Maree Hanson

Violence and devastation spreads through Magra as the Inspector’s influence grows throughout the once peaceful lands. But Salinda, one of the Inspector’s most important weapons, has escaped. After being rescued by Nils, the last of his race, she is brought to the wondrous subterranean city of Barrahiem. With Nils’ vast store of knowledge and access to pre-Shatterwing technology, Salinda sees a way to defeat the Inspector, but only if she can convince him that humankind is worth saving.

Above ground, Brill and rebel leader, Danton, march for the observatory of Trithorn Peak, the only city yet to fall to the Inspector’s forces. With them are one of Trithorn’s Skywatchers, and a mysterious young woman whose eyes reflect a power not unlike Salinda’s. This misfit crew must work with Trithorn’s remaining Skywatchers to prepare for a desperate battle, not only for the observatory but for the future of Margra. For it is not only the Inspector that threatens their precious lands, and the Skywatchers are the only ones that can save them from the final moonfall.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. It was available as a pre-order on Amazon but I couldn't wait.

While I found Skywatcher to be less dark than Shatterwing, book one, it was no less compelling, interesting and fantastic in fact it was even more so. Skywatcher picks up where Shatterwing left off. As I mentioned in my review of Shatterwing, all the pieces were in place and they quickly start moving.

I loved the tension as the action built and plot turns I hoped for were dangled before me, either making me wait a little longer or surprising me. Our characters face tough decisions which develop them as people and root them in the story.

The ending brought tons of action. Each player had their part and many overcame their own hurdles in order to do so.

I also loved that the resolution wasn't over done. Too many stories end wrapped up in a huge silky bow. Skywatcher didn't and it was perfect. The ending tied up the main story and gave us a good idea of where the characters will go next without smothering me. It's a dark fantasy after all and a mushy ending would be just plain wrong.

It's been a long time since a book left me pacing at the end, it was that good. I hope somewhere in Ms. Hanson's writing den she keeps a few scraps of notes for further books in the series.

Happy release day, Skywatcher!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Indie Pick: The Helavite War by Theresa Snyder

Jake is a human mercenary looking for a quiet place to rest, when his Protect Dar-dolf attacks the last living Henu, Arr. Feeling responsible, Jake stays on to care for Arr, as the alien with deep blue cat eyes and unusual abilities recovers.

Jake, who is almost twice Arr's age, takes on the role of teacher, mentor, father, and lost brother for his new alien friend. He and Arr experience adventures dealing with the Hydra, a race of lizard-like creatures who kidnap members of other species to sell on the black market as slaves; battle the Narnon on Gligula where Tuldavian Swamp Lizards lay their traps just below the surface of the slime; endure the incredible cold of the Ice Planet; dodge the Drifits of Nulian; and meet several old friends, as well as making new ones. During these travels their appreciation of each others rare abilities leads to a deep and enduring bound which will only grow stronger throughout their lifetimes.

Ultimately, they must face their toughest foe, the Helavites, a species which has been preying on the weaker beings in the universe for generations. In the underground catacombs of these beetle-like creatures a mystery is solved and the grounds for the resurrection of an old world are laid.

At the beginning of month, I put a request out on my Facebook author page for an Indie book to feature on this blog for September. The only stipulations were it be Science Fiction or Fantasy, be Indie and the author provide the link. In the end my daughter picked one to read with me and I used to pick one for West Coast Book Reviews.

That's how I found Theresa Snyder and The Helavite War.

I liked the old-school video game look of the cover. I remember pushing quarters into arcade games with the same feel, picturing myself in space and doing good for the galaxy. To me, each sun on the blue background promises an adventure and I'm pleased I got exactly that.

The Helavite War is the first in a series of six young adult Sci-Fi novels, the Star Traveler Series, which starts with the destruction of the Henu at the hands of the Others. Arr, a child at the time, and his brother were the only survivors. When Arr's brother dies, he's left alone. The only surviving Henu.

That is, until Jake and his dar-dolf arrive looking for a little peace and quiet.

I loved how the relationship between Jake and Arr grows and takes shape. Both are honest, good men who each find something they need in the other. Both make mistakes, both learn and they become inseparable friends. It's an amazing buddy story like Buzz and Woody from Toy Story and Steve and Sarah in Jeffery M. Poole's The Prophecy. They are great companions first and foremost and I really felt the strain when they weren't together.

This book also has plenty of action. As a mercenary, Jake takes on jobs for pay from routing invaders to babysitting industrial operations and recovering kidnapping victims. Each little adventure they take builds on the whole and gives us hints of the Helavites, who take what they want from planets and destroy everything in their way. We get to see different planets and peoples to get a good feel for the galaxy Snyder builds.

If you're looking for some great space adventure, unique characters and to find out who loves the Raspberry Goo Chews more than anyone, strap in and take The Helavite War for a ride.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Review: Yours to Desire by Denise Rossetti

A man more potent than any drug.

It's 2202 and on board ES Siren, the brilliant Doctor Lily Kwan has worked in secret to develop an antidote for the aphrodisiac rape drug, sexmeth.

She'd be overjoyed if it wasn't for an embarrassing problem: the antidote has no effect on her extraordinary reaction to Connor Madison, the Siren's tough quartermaster. Scientifically, it should be impossible, but the man's a raging fever in her blood. If a single dark glance sets Lily on fire, a kiss might kill her dead – but what a way to go!

A former gang rat from the slums of a dying world, Con came up the hard way, so when geeky Doctor Kwan tops his hit list of possible drug runners, nothing's going to save her—not her family's money, nor her clever mind.

Not even the smile in her eyes.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is the third in the ES Siren series which also includes Yours to Uncover by Mel Teshco and Yours to Command by Shona Husk.

This one is a little different in that the hero, Connor Maddison, isn't a prisoner set to serve out his sentence doing hard labour on Solitaire, their destination. He's the quartermaster. He's also rough where the heroes in the first two seemed to be regular guys who were either coerced or chose to be prisoners.

This one turned into a very sweet love story and if anyone is wondering (since I've been clear how much I dislike Zane Andrews) I couldn't have imagined a better ending for him.

There is still six months to go before they reach Solitaire so I hope there are more to the series. I'll stay tuned...

Review: Timefall by James Kahn

It has been years since Joshua the Scribe, Lon the Vampire, Jasmine the Neuroman, and Beauty the Centaur journeyed to save their lost families from the strange Queen in the City With No Name. And as time went on, they were visited by ghosts of themselves, sometimes aiding in their quest and sometimes just a haunting presence. But were they really ghosts? Or were they simply incarnations of their own souls, visiting from another time to learn from them as well as to teach and to save their own world from the imminent destruction of the Timefall? In this climactic denouement to the dystopian future envisioned in World Enough, and Time and Time's Dark Laughter, the first two books in this trilogy, a new Joshua and friends fall through a complex weave of time tunnels, landing in the terrain of the first adventures. But to their dismay, they discover that the fates of both times are interdependent, and the new world's Joshua must enlist forces from the old to save the whole tipping universe from extinction.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

After requesting Timefall from Netgalley, I bought and read the first two in the series; World Enough, and Time and Time's Dark Laughter. With the exception of the last two pages which threw me into something unexpected, I thoroughly enjoyed both.

I wasn't disappointed with Timefall. It starts with the discovery of a very ancient skull and an expedition to learn more about its origins. Joshua and his friends find hidden civilizations and fight to prevent the end of everything by the end of time itself. Lots of action and so many themes from the first two books echo through this one.

I also enjoy Kahn's prose. As I found in Incarnate his pacing and choice of words lure you in so when the action comes, it feels like you've passed through something solid. Even in contemporary settings, there is a sense of the fantasy. I was concerned that since Timefall is set in the current day there would be a big sense of disconnect from the previous novels. For me, there wasn't. I loved the moments of recognition of characters and events echoed from the previous books.

I'm not certain of the science of time as presented in Timefall, it's not my specialty, but since the characters believed it and it was presented so simply and plausibly, I was able to follow.

Had I read this series when it was first printed, I would have been glad to pick it up as a re-read as I have with so many other great science fiction and fantasy series from my past, rediscovering it. The experience would have been very different for me then, than it is now. Joshua, Lon and Jasmine would be understood differently and for me they would have been different people then. Much like the Joshua, Lon and Jasmine in Timefall are fundamentally similar to their doppelgängers in World Enough, and Time and Time's Dark Laughter.

Thank you to Netgalley and Dover Publications for the opportunity to read this book.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Review: Yours to Command by Shona Husk

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

He would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him. 

Corporal Sienna Jade wasn't given a choice about joining the mission to Unity. Seen as a troublemaker after reporting an assault by a senior officer, the army wanted her gone. Sienna resents the army for assigning her to Earth Ship Siren, and suspects the fleet's Unity mission will fail. But others would do anything to escape Earth ...

Alex Tariel knew his only chance to get a place on ES Siren was as a prisoner, so he stole water rations. As a former construction foreman, his skills make him a valuable prisoner on board, but still a prisoner unable to control his own life. Instead of keeping his head down, he gets involved in the fights set up for gambling privilege tokens, the only currency aboard ship among the prisoners. 

Getting patched up by Corporal Jade might be the best thing that's happened to Alex on the trip so far, but becoming her ship husband puts him between her and the lieutenant who tried to kill her for kicks on Earth. While Sienna tries to keep control of her feelings for Alex, Alex would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him. 

As ES Siren faces its first crisis, a little trust and love goes a long way.

This is the second in the ES Siren Series which also includes Yours to Uncover by Mel Teshco and Yours to Desire by Denise Rossetti. All three authors, including Husk have a long list of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Romance to their credits.

I've also found their writing in this series felt very similar and I didn't get the sense I was introducing myself to three new authors. I'm very glad I met them and will read more from all three.

Since these are all novella's, in the first book the world building was sufficient for the length but in reading Yours to Commandthere was not only more time for the world to grow on me but for it to build. I liked experience life on the ship through other sets of eyes and also got a better sense of life back on Earth for the same reason.

My main irk with Yours to Uncover was Zane Andrews, the bad lieutenant and he is certainly present though he doesn't bother me as much as he did. He bothered me in the first book because he was well done, creepy and very deserving of my dislike. As an antagonist, he's second to none.

Andrews is back in this one, up to his usual and yes, please keep hating him =)

I recommend this series.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Review: Shatterwing by Donna Maree Hanson

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison's best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is a difficult review for me as I'm rather torn about this story and it's hard to say exactly why without dumping in a pile of spoilers but I will try.

Overall, for me this is a 3.5 star read meaning I rate it higher than "I like it" but some plot design choices kept me from saying "I loved it." That said, the author's website says the next instalment will be out as early as October so I hope all the loose ends will come together soon.

First, I'm a fan of dragons. All kinds; shifter dragons, pet dragons, smiling animated dragons and even the hungry, fire breathing, world dominating dragons in Shatterwing.

I liked the world Hanson built from the magic astronomy of the Skywatchers to the plain old down to earth gardening (I typed dragoning probably because of how dangerous it is growing grapes a hair's breadth away from a dragon colony. Then I had to correct it).

I also liked how magical learning is something that can be passed down and am intrigued by the folks who lived under the earth. So many unique components were put together in this story and caught my attention.

My challenge with Shatterwing lies in the fact that most of the story wasn't resolved. All the players are in place... and then the massive cliffhanger. I know if I wasn't enjoying the book so much, the cliffhanger wouldn't have had me yelp when I realized I was on the last page. I get it, I understand it, and wow, for a cliffhanger to sting me like that means I was into the book.

Did I mention the next instalment next month? I'll be there.

One point I would have loved to read more about in Shatterwing without waiting for Skywatcher is Salinda and Brill, setup in the teaser/blurb seem to disappear entirely half way through the book. I would have liked to see that part of the storyline carried a little further.

Overall, yes I liked Shatterwing and will move on to book 2.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review: Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Aliens have landed in New York. 

A deadly cloud of spores has already infected and killed the inhabitants of two worlds. Now that plague is heading for Earth, and threatens humans and aliens alike. Can either species be trusted to find the cure?

Geneticist Marianne Jenner is immersed in the desperate race to save humanity, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Siblings Elizabeth and Ryan are strident isolationists who agree only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Marianne’s youngest, Noah, is a loner addicted to a drug that constantly changes his identity. But between the four Jenners, the course of human history will be forever altered. 

Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent human extinction—and not everyone is willing to wait.

I really enjoyed this novel by Nancy Kress. Shortly after starting it, I found myself so taken with it that I looked to see if she had written anything else. I must have been living under a rock! She has so much more I want to read. *super happy reader*

Though a short novel, Yesterday's Kin immersed me. Mainly because the human reactions to the Deneb's arrival are all too plausible. I can all too easily see the paths of isolationism and mob mentality as reactions because there are so much of those things already. Existing solationism fuels xenophobia, particularly in the New Yorkers who live with the Deneb ship overhead. This theme also serves to divide Marianne's family as they come to terms with the Deneb's arrival and what it means for them and humanity.

I also very much liked Marianne, struggling so much balancing work and family. Although her children have grown into adult lives of their own and she has time to devote to (or hide in) her career she doesn't let go of the need to look after them.

I felt the novel could have been longer as there were some things I found abbreviated or touched on particularly with the Denebs. I wanted to understand them better. We only see them from the point of view of Marianne and her children.

I definitely recommend this book!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review: Yours to Uncover by Mel Teshco

Is she willing to sacrifice everything to keep her secret and her lover safe?

It's the year 2202. Earth is grossly overpopulated and seriously polluted. Rita Songworth has spent half her twenty-two years trying to escape the dying planet. It's taken the last five of those years to realize making it in the hard-ass infantry is her only way out, via space transporter Earth Ship Siren.

But the journey to Unity, the new colony, isn't easy. Rita has to resist an attraction to hard, brutish prisoner, Tristan MacFallan, whose masterful hands create more than the beautiful art he's been assigned to make. His forbidden touch affects her profoundly and he sees things in her no man ever has before. But obeying Kane, her ex-lover and malicious lieutenant, who is appointed to keeping the prisoners under guard, comes at a high price. Is she willing to sacrifice everything to keep her secret and her lover safe?

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Yours to Uncover is the first of three novellas in the ES Siren series, each written by a different author.

In the case of Yours to Uncover, I’ve come up against a personal trope-fobia. For me, any story where some rich and powerful man makes things very hard for our heroine and her underdog hero is one I’ll avoid. For example, Titanic. The injustices thrust upon our hero and heroine are so stressful I’ll move on to something else. Granted, everyone saw the movie, loved the move, and it made a lot of money but that particular storyline is one I avoid as much as possible.

In this case, however, I requested a copy for review so I stuck with it. If I hadn’t requested a copy for review it would have slipped quietly off my kindle. So why did I request it? The covers are gorgeous and I'm a big fan of sic-fi romance.

I found moving through something in my “avoid” list was not only good for me (yes, we're not always going to review books we'd pick out for ourselves), but in the process I found an author I’ll read more of and a great series to continue.

I like the way this series portrays our heroes as disadvantaged (they are prisoners, chosen for their strong backs or because they have skills useful in building a successful colony) and the heroines are women of rank among the solders in charge of their journey. In Yours to Uncover, this doesn't prevent the heroes from being strong characters.

Zane (as he's called in the story) or Kane (as he's called in the blurb) is sick, despicable and mean. Everything I'd expect from the mess of a Lieutenant cast to spoil the relationship between Rita and Tristan.

Overall, I enjoyed Teshco's writing and found the world building and character development to be as much as can be done considering a novella. I know this type of against the odds love story is popular and if it's your thing, then here it is.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Review: Eternally Yours by Gina Ardito

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Jodie Devlin's suicide is not the end, merely the beginning. With her future as a living human irrevocably destroyed, she must become an employee of the Afterlife until a new existence can be created for her. In the realm on the other side of death, she’ll learn how to retrieve ghosts who have lingered too long on Earth. If only she didn't have to work beside a good-looking, arrogant man who baffles and challenges her at every turn.

It's no wonder Luc Asante is so bitter toward women. His former wife ordered him taken off life support, condemning him to service in the Afterlife as one of Death’s bounty hunters. Now he has a trainee—a female trainee who’s as soft-hearted as he is hard, as impulsive as he is methodical. In a place where perfection is the norm, she revels in her imperfections just to drive him nuts.

Traveling through time and space to bring peace to lost souls, Jodie and Luc will be forced to come to terms with their differences and their pasts, to discover a love that might bind them for eternity.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I liked this one. In many places I liked it a lot.

It was a little lumpy to get in to and took a while for me to want Jodie and Luc together. I didn't feel any tension or attraction for a long time but that was understandable, Jodie was still hung up on making things right with those she left behind.

The biggest distractions for me were all the pop culture references. They weren't subtle and complementary to the story. Instead they were obvious and completely iconic. For me, my personal experiences around those references forced me from the story. Those experiences prevented me from seeing the references in the context the author may have intended or in a light that that enhanced the plot. Pop culture references are difficult to place. Too esoteric and they are lost but too powerful and they hide the real meaning of a scene or characters comment.

Fortunately, as Jodie let go of her earth bound experiences she also stopped referring to the movie Ghost and Vulcan mind melds. For me, that was when the story began to develop.

Eternally Yours finally grew into a sweet love story. For me, though, it felt like I'd moved on to another book. I wanted a happy ending, strong resolution and all the lose ends to come together. They certainly did, and well, Luc and Jodie both made their own journeys and I liked the result.

I will definitely move on with the series. Gina's writing won me, pulled me through when I was challenged with the beginning and was a big part of how pleased I was with the ending.