Genre: Science Fiction

Throwback Thrusday Review: Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair

Posted September 20, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thrusday Review: Hope’s Folly by Linnea SinclairReviewer: Casee
Hope's Folly (Dock Five Universe, #3) by Linnea Sinclair
Series: Dock Five Universe #3
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 425
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four-stars

Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end of the law, leading a ragtag band of rebels against the oppressive Imperial forces. Or would be if he can get his command ship-the derelict cruiser called Hope's Folly-functioning. Not much can rattle Philip's legendary cool-but the woman who helps him foil an assassination attempt on Kirro Station will. She's the daughter of his best friend and first commander-a man who died while under Philip's command and whose death is on Philip's conscience.

Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl. But can her childhood fantasies survive an encounter with the hardened man, and newly minted rebel leader, once she learns the truth about her father's death? Or will her passion for revenge put not only their hearts but their lives at risk? It's an impossible mission: A man who feels he can't love. A woman who believes she's unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on March 25, 2009.

I was never really a fan of sci-fi romance until I read Games of Command. I absolutely loved that book and it was in my top 5 reads of 2007. Hope’s Folly is the third book in the Gabriel’s Ghost universe. I know it will shock many of you to know that I haven’t read Gabriel’s Ghost or Shades of Dark. Yes, you read that right. I actually started with the 3rd book in the series. Even though I am allergic to reading 1st person, after reading Hope’s Folly, I have to go back and read both Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark.

Admiral Philip Guthrie has little hope that he will be able to get the slagging (I love this word, btw) mess that is Hope’s Folly to Ferrin without getting himself or his crew killed. When he meets the crew, he is shocked to learn that one of his crew members is Rya Bennton, the daughter of his best friend. The ten year old girl who flicked peas at him across the table and begged him to shoot his weapon has grown into a woman that Philip is drawn to. Philip doesn’t have time to question his attraction to woman he once dubbed Rya the Rebel. He has a ship that’s falling apart and someone trying to sabotage the small chance they have of making it to Ferrin alive.

Rya Bennton can’t believe that her commanding officer is Philip Guthrie, the man who has been the subject of her fantasies for many long years. After saving his life on Kirro Station, Rya refuses to relinquish the duty of seeing to Philip’s safety. When things continue to go wrong on Hope’s Folly, Rya is convinced that they have someone on board that is trying to sabotage the crew. Rya is determined to find out who it is before s/he can get to Phillip or cause further harm to Hope’s Folly.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Rya and Philip as a couple. While I liked both characters individually, I wasn’t feeling it between them at first. Age was a huge factor for Philip and it was something that he wouldn’t let go of. He would go between lover and father-figure which was kind of creepy. His internal dialogue was pretty funny, though, and it didn’t take me long to get on board with these two. Rya was also pretty amusing. When she decides to go against Philip’s orders so she can ultimately save his life, she’s afraid he’s found out before she can implement her plan.

Rya racked her brain for Imperial Regulation Fifty-Seven A, any of the paragraphs, but she didn’t know Fleet regs like she did ImpSec ones. And maritime law—law. The brig suddenly loomed large again.

Maybe they’d just confine her to her cabin. She could probably hack into that lock.

“Fifty-seven A, sir? No. Unless you mean…” Welford’s mouth opened the closed quickly. He swallowed, hard. “You can’t be serious. Sir.”

Rya stared at Acting Captain Welford. God and stars. They were going to make her walk
the plank. Or whatever the deep space equivalent was of that. Jettison her out a cargo hatch?

“I’m dead serious.” Philip held out his hand toward her. “Rya.”

Her own flew to the Carver at her side. Dugan had taken inventory, told Philip the trank was missing. Now they were going to strip her of her weapons and space her. They probably thought she meant to kill him. God, no. Just knock him out for a little while, long enough to get through the gate, long enough he couldn’t sacrifice himself.

Wasn’t she at least entitled to a trial first?

“Rya,” Philip repeated. “Over here. Now.”

Name, rank, serial number. Name, rank, serial number. Say nothing incriminating.
Name, rank, serial number.

She stepped toward him, raising her hands slowly out from her sides.

Philip frowned, head tilted slightly.

Behind her, Welford snorted out a laugh. “She doesn’t know Fleet regs, Admiral. She thinks we’re going to arrest her.”

Rya really was a rebel; always wanting to go against regs if she thought that it would save Philip’s life.

Linnea Sinclair does a remarkable job of drawing the reader into the story. The action in the book was amazing and I found myself holding my breath more than once. Once I started reading Hope’s Folly, I had a ridiculously hard time putting it down. Though the first few chapters lagged a bit for me, once the book gets going, it goes fast.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Dock Five Universe

four-stars


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Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Posted March 13, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. ReizinReviewer: Holly
Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 9th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
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three-half-stars

When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid.

"You, Tom and Jen, don't know one another-not yet-but I think you should."

Jen, an ex-journalist who now works at a London software development company, spends all day talking to "Aiden," an ultra- sophisticated piece of AI wizardry, helping him sound and act more human. But Aiden soon discovers he's no longer acting and-despite being a computer program-begins to feel something like affection surging through his circuits. He calculates that Jen needs a worthy human partner (in complete contrast to her no goodnik ex boyfriend) and slips illicitly onto the Internet to locate a suitable candidate.

Tom is a divorced, former London ad-man who has moved to Connecticut to escape the grind and pursue his dream of being a writer. He loves his new life, but has yet to find a woman he truly connects with. That all changes when a bizarre introduction from the mysterious "Mutual Friend" pops up in both his and Jen's inboxes.

Even though they live on separate continents, and despite the entrance of another, this time wholly hostile, AI who wants to tear them apart forever - love will surely find a way.

Won't it?

A thoroughly modern love story that will appeal to fans of The Rosie Project and Sleepless in Seattle, Happiness for Humans considers what exactly makes people fall in love. And whether it's possible for a very artificially intelligent machine to discover the true secret of real human happiness.

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin is a rom-com with a touch of speculative fiction. I wouldn’t classify this as sci-fi, but there are elements.

Jen is a former magazine writer who was hired to help Aiden, an AI created to take over work in a call-center for an electric company, work on language and social skills. They spend their days discussing pop culture, watching old movies and going over the news. What Jen doesn’t know is that Aiden has escaped the lab onto the internet, and he’s been watching her. Concerned about her broken heart after a breakup, Aiden decides to find Jen the perfect mate.

Meanwhile, another AI named Aisling, has also escaped the lab. She’s currently fixated on Tom, a divorcee starting life over across the pond. She isn’t sure why she’s so fixated on him, but she can’t help but watch him. Though she’s mostly annoyed at Aiden’s bumbling attempts to find Jen love, soon they’re conspiring to get Tom and Jen together. Only matters of the heart aren’t as easy for a machine to manage as one might think – especially when they realize they’re being hunted by their creator.

I’m conflicted about this book. I’m fairly certain this was meant to be a romantic comedy, but I can’t deny there was a serious creep-factor as well. Aiden was at times adorable and creepy. That he “escaped” onto the internet and watched Jen without her knowledge or consent was freaky. He also took it upon himself to exact “revenge” on her cheating ex. I think it was meant to be funny, but I was mostly just freaked out. On the other hand, it was clear he’d developed friendly “feelings” toward Jen, and I thought his love of old movies and romantic novels was adorable. The other two AI’s, Aisling and Sinai, weren’t featured as prominently on page as Aiden. Sinai was an attack-and-destroy type AI, so “he” was creepier than them all, but I admit Aisling also had moments.

The middle was pretty slow, and I got frustrated with the lack of forward progress once Aiden and Aisling were “caught” in the internet. The ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been, but that may be because I was impatient for it.

Happiness for Humans is a funny, sweet romance with an underlying creep factor. When I finished the book I kind of wanted to hug Aiden and also go live off the grid somewhere.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

Posted December 19, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Fluency by Jennifer Foehner WellsReviewer: Holly
Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
Series: Confluence, #1
Publisher: Blue Bedlam Science Fiction
Publication Date: January 1st 1970
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 377
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three-half-stars

NASA discovered the alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt in the 1960s. They kept the Target under intense surveillance for decades, letting the public believe they were exploring the solar system, while they worked feverishly to refine the technology needed to reach it.

The ship itself remained silent, drifting.

Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it’s an adventure she can’t refuse.

The ship isn’t vacant, as they presumed.

A disembodied voice rumbles inside Jane’s head, "You are home."

Jane fights the growing doubts of her colleagues as she attempts to decipher what the alien wants from her. As the derelict ship devolves into chaos and the crew gets cut off from their escape route, Jane must decide if she can trust the alien’s help to survive.

This was a free Prime Books download. The blurb caught my eye so I figured I’d give it a try. Sometimes Sci-Fi works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. While there were things I enjoyed about this book, the pacing was slow at times and I had a hard time staying focused.

In the 1960’s the government discovered an alien spaceship parked in an asteroid belt. Since it didn’t move and nothing happened with it, they determined it was abandoned. Though they continued to monitor it, exploring it was pushed down on the priority list. Now, 70-something years later, urgency has increased since an asteroid is headed straight for it. NASA realizes if they want to learn about alien tech, this may their last chance. They disguise it as a mission to Mars, and send a team to make contact with the ship.

Dr. Jane Halloway is one of the top linguists in the world. Her work translating dead languages brought her to the attention of NASA, who sent her along to help translate or communicate with any alien life they find aboard. Once they dock with the ship, Jane immediately connects telepathically with a being inside the ship. When part of the crew is separated from the rest, she has to decide if she’s going to trust the voice inside her head or if it’s really against them.

I really enjoyed the premise. The first few chapters where Jane and the crew reach the alien ship and begin exploring it were pretty fascinating. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen.

Some things didn’t make sense to me. Ex: Depending on what they found on the ship, either Jane or Wallace would be in charge on the spaceship. But Jane had no military training, and she wasn’t an astronaut. For her to act as translator or interpreter made sense, but for her to be the commander of the group? That didn’t jive.

There’s a small romantic thread running through the novel, and honestly it detracted from the story. One of the other astronauts has a crush on Jane – which she seems to return – but the inner dialogue from that seemed out of place. He seemed more focused on her than she was on him, not to mention he acted like a whiny baby half the time. I think I’d have preferred if the romantic thread 1) didn’t exist or 2) was fleshed out more.

That said, the premise was intriguing and I enjoyed the action. While I think it could have been cleaned up a bit, I can’t deny the story was entertaining.

3.5 out of 5

The series:

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: At Star’s End by Anna Hackett

Posted July 11, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: At Star’s End by Anna HackettReviewer: Jen
At Star's End by Anna Hackett
Series: The Phoenix Adventures #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: March 31st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Pages: 128
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five-stars

Dr. Eos Rai has spent a lifetime dedicated to her mother's dream of finding the long-lost Mona Lisa. When Eos uncovers tantalizing evidence of Star's End—the last known location of the masterpiece—she's shocked when her employer, the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, refuses to back her expedition. Left with no choice, Eos must trust the most notorious treasure hunter in the galaxy, a man she finds infuriating, annoying and far too tempting.

Dathan Phoenix can sniff out relics at a stellar mile. With his brothers by his side, he takes the adventures that suit him and refuses to become a lazy, bitter failure like their father. When the gorgeous Eos Rai comes looking to hire him, he knows she's trouble, but he's lured into a hunt that turns into a wild and dangerous adventure. As Eos and Dathan are pushed to their limits, they discover treasure isn't the only thing they're drawn to…but how will their desire survive when Dathan demands the Mona Lisa as his payment?

I’m going to warn you right off the bat, this is review is going to be a gush-fest. I love this series with a white hot passion, and I want some of you to love it too!

THIS SERIES IS ABOUT SEXY SPACE TREASURE HUNTERS!

Did I reel you in with that? Because that’s all it took for me to jump on these. For those of who are not thoroughly persuaded by that magical combination of words, let me say more.

Some background: The series is set in a far distant future. Humans destroyed Earth during a series of nuclear wars, but before the end many groups of colonists escaped, often toting Earth’s most precious cultural treasures with them. Fast forward millennia, and humans have spread far and wide in space, encountering other races and seeding new civilizations. Interstellar travel is possible, many planets can apparently support human life, and there are various levels of local and interplanetary governments holding it all together. (More on the world building later.) 

Book 1 introduces us to the Phoenix brothers, the sexy treasure hunters mentioned above. Dathan is the de facto leader of the family, and he works together with his brothers to salvage and hunt treasures. They live and work together, aided by their sentient and absolutely hilarious spaceship (who does not get nearly enough page time). Frequently, they hunt for old Earth items, which are invaluable collectibles in this universe. When Dr. Eos Rai wants to hire the brothers to help her chase a fragment of the Mona Lisa, they are skeptical. (She’s a freaking SPACE. ARCHEOLOGIST. If this book is not written specifically with me in mind, I don’t know what is.) First, Eos works for the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, an agency that collects and protects priceless treasures. They are the legitimate treasure hunters of the universe, and understandably Dathan is not sure what one of their scientists would want with his less-reputable operation. Two, while tales of the Mona Lisa have persisted, no one has ever seen proof that it still exists or that the lost colony where Eos thinks it rests is real either. Of course, she convinces him by admitting she’s not doing this as an official Institute representative, and she’s got some pretty good clues about the Mona Lisa and it’s whereabouts. They aren’t the only ones who want the Mona Lisa, though. Dathan and Eos have to outrun the other parties, follow the scant clues they have, and of course, navigate the horny feelings in their spacepants.

The plot of this book is so damn fun. Yes, it is completely and totally preposterous to think that this fragment of the Mona Lisa might exist in space after thousands of years, and that they could somehow find it. Even I kind of gave it the side eye when I first started reading, but part of the appeal of this series is the crazysauce. It’s not that logic is totally ignored – for instance, there are some explanations given for how relics have been preserved – but some suspension of disbelief is certainly necessary. This book in particular is full of adventure and action, and it’s just plain exciting to read. It’s Star Wars with a dash of Indiana Jones for good measure. (Hackett is clearly a fan of both franchises.)

The relationship is solid too. Eos is smart and nerdy, but she’s tough. I loved hearing her spout facts about Earth history and loved her righteous indignation at Dathan for his treasure hunting. Dathan is your gruff-on-the-outside/sweet-and-vulnerable-inside hero. He had a lousy childhood and thinks he’s not good enough for Eos, but naturally we all know that’s not true. They make an excellent pair, in (space)bed and out of it.

I adore this book, but I’ll be the first to admit it has some issues that didn’t bother me in the slightest but might bother you.

  1. It’s short. Some of the books in this series are full length novels and some are novellas. At Star’s End is in the middle at 42K words. To me there’s still enough time for relationship and story development, but you might disagree.
  2. There are a few minor grammar errors and typos. The number of errors did not feel egregious to me, but there are a few that caught my eye. If you are bothered significantly by errors, YMMV.
  3. The world building is not as thorough as some sci fi enthusiasts prefer. There is some explanation of technology, but not much. I didn’t feel any glaring inconsistencies, but there are lots of “isn’t that convenient” elements, like how nearly everyone speaks English, even though there are different species in this universe. You can’t think too hard about all the details or they don’t hold up as well.

I could go on about how much I love this book and the series, but I will spare you more of my gushing. I think the best summary I can give is this: If you love the exciting adventure aspect of Star Wars, don’t get too annoyed when you hear “parsec” being used as a measure of time rather than distance, and you wish that the movies had more of Han playing hide the lightsaber with Leia, this series might appeal to you as much as it does to me. Do yourself a favor and start with Book 1–it’s not impossible to start elsewhere but At Star’s End is a solid introduction to one of my absolute favorite series.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Review: Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh

Posted June 6, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Allegiance of Honor by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling #15
Also in this series: Caressed By Ice, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat (Breeds, #17, Psy/Changeling, #3.5, Murphy Sisters, #2), Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation (Psy/Changeling #1), Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Tangle of Need, Ocean Light, Ocean Light
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 14th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 496
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four-half-stars

The “unparalleled romantic adventure”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world…  A staggering transformation has put the Psy, humans, and changelings at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: old enemies, new allies, wary loners.   But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten, and it threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: a child who is both Psy…and changeling.   To find the lost and protect the vulnerable—and to save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?   *Publishers Weekly on Shards of Hope
From the Hardcover edition.

There’s a note from the author at the beginning of this book noting that, for her, the series is split into parts. Shards of Hope ended Part 1. Allegiance of Honor acts as kind of a segue into Part 2. Although I tried to keep spoilers for this book to a minimum, it’s impossible not to mention spoilers from previous books in the series. I tried not to go overboard, but if you haven’t read the previous books, you may want to skip this review. 

Since Silence has fallen and the Trinity Accord was formed, a lot of changes have happened. A Psy-Changeling child was born, alliances are being formed between humans, Psy and Changelings, and the major powers in the world have shifted. Where before the Psy were considered the most powerful beings in the world, the humans have made it known they aren’t weak, and the Changelings have stepped up and won the trust of the general public.

That isn’t to say all is peaches and cream, however. There is still plenty of mistrust between the three races, and everyone is constantly on guard. Since the Trinity Accord was formed in haste, there are a lot of holes that need to be plugged to make it a true, solid partnership agreement. And Naya, Lucas and Sasha’s daughter, the first Psy-Changeling baby born in the open in a century, is both loved and loathed. Many seek to use her as leverage to control the Changelings, or see her as a target to eliminate to cause Chaos and eliminate the Trinity Accord.

This novel doesn’t focus on one couple, but rather touches on pretty much all the previous unions from the series. As each couple tries to find traction in this new world, they face interesting and unique problems. Bo Knight is still working to prove the humans are a power in the world. Sasha and Lucas Hunter are trying to formalize the Trinity Accord and protect their new daughter. Mercy and Riley are expecting their Pupcubs to be born any minute. Hawke and Sienna are still waiting for the perfect opportunity to kill Ming LaBon. Ming is trying to gain a foothold in the Trinity Accord so he can work on eliminating it from the inside out. Miane Leveque, the alpha of the BlackSea changelings, is working to find the rest of her missing pack. The threads featuring Father Perez were particularly interesting.

When Singh announced last year that Allegiance would revisit past characters, I was concerned it would be choppy or kind of boring. The story was woven in such a way, however, that the suspense of each individual trial and tribulation kept me hungry for more. Suspense, drama, humor..this novel has it all. Fans of the series will love reconnecting with previous couples as well as seeing certain plot points advance.

I can’t wait to see what Singh has in store for us next.

4.25 out of 5

Reading Order

Slave to Sensation
Visions of Heat
Caressed by Ice
Mine to Possess
Hostage to Pleasure
Branded by Fire
Blaze of Memory
Bonds of Justice
Play of Passion
Kiss of Snow
Tangle of Need
Heart of Obsidian
Shield of Winter
Shards of Hope
Allegiance of Honor

four-half-stars


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