Genre: Science Fiction

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
Published by 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

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
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: March 31st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Space Opera, General
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

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, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation, Tangle of Need, 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
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: June 14th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General, 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

Guest Review: Ironheart by Nico Rosso

Posted February 8, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Ironheart by Nico RossoIronheart by Nico Rosso
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: January 18th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Action & Adventure, Fantasy
Pages: 125
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four-stars

Love is a battlefield...
Superhero Vince “The Anvil” can take on knives, bullets, and bombs, but he’s not invincible. It was a hard hit when Kara, AKA “Snapdragon,” flew off after their explosive affair. And he’s especially vulnerable when she returns, looking for his help.
Kara is new to the superhero game, and villain TechHead is too much for her and her teammates to handle. He’s determined to use their combined power to fuel his ultimate weapon. Her only chance to take him on is with Vince’s brutal skill. But bringing Vince into the fight leaves her exposed to the white hot passion that had scared her away in the first place.
When TechHead captures Kara, Vince will stop at nothing to rescue her–even if it means sacrificing his heart.

Ironheart was previously released as part of the Holding Out for a Hero anthology.

Ironheart was my very first superhero romance, and I liked it!

Vince and Kara, otherwise known by their superhero names “The Anvil” and “Snapdragon”, had an intense but brief fling a while ago, but Kara broke it off abruptly. After that, Vince ends up dropping out of his superhero group and disappearing to live a normal life, though he mostly spends his time pining after Kara. When she shows up out of the blue at the same time as some thugs attacking him, Vince is suspicious, but still hot for her, naturally, so he gives her a chance. He and Kara seem to be reconciling, until Vince realizes Kara hasn’t been entirely truthful about her reason for finding him again. Can they put aside their issues to help stop a super villain?

This story is short, but it was so much fun! Rosso creates a mostly fleshed-out, albeit narrowly focused, superhero world. Vince and Kara’s powers are explained (as much as any superhero powers are ever “explained”), and they actually have character arcs. Vince has to accept what he really wants, which is to be a superhero, and to be with Kara. Kara needs to accept all the parts of herself and embrace who she really is in order to be the best superhero, and partner, she can be. They both change and find out more about themselves and the other person in the course of a story, which is not an easy feat in a shorter book.

Probably the neatest part is that Vince and Kara are both super–no one has to save anyone else, or at least it’s not the same person always doing the saving. And really, Kara’s powers are cooler and probably more powerful than Vince’s, but it’s a total non-issue for Vince. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously either. It isn’t mocking superheroes, but it also acknowledges that superheroes are kind of funny too, which I liked. And have you ever wondered what would happen if superheroes had sex? Well, this book provides one potential answer: shit falls down and/or lights on fire. I assume that means no sex in a bed for these two or the fire department would have to be involved! (And apparently Kara’s powers allow her to make a little internal birth control device, hands down my favorite contraceptive reference EVER in a romance.)

Because the book is short, it’s inevitable that some things would not be as well explained as I would have liked, like who/what exactly gave Snapdragon her powers, what was going on with The Anvil’s group (Omni Force), how exactly the superhero political/organizational structure works, etc. I could overlook a lot of those details though because they didn’t take away from the relationship storyline. I did roll my eyes a bit at how Vince seemed so broken up over losing Kara when they’d hardly been together long (weeks? maybe only days? I wasn’t clear). He still thinks of her every day months later and is tortured by her memory. Really? Seems kind of melodramatic, Anvil! I believe these two had an intense connection, but maybe they needed a little more time to explore it. I loved the two of them once they were back in contact–I just thought the back story was weak.

I know there are a few other superhero romances floating around (and I will most certainly be looking for them now), but not many. I am honestly puzzled why there aren’t more, given how popular superheroes are lately. I sure hope there will be a series coming from this world because it was a ton of fun, and I’d love to hear more about some of the side characters.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars

Guest Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted January 25, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Tracy
Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome #1
Also in this series: Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending
Published by Kensington, Zebra
Publication Date: January 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Suspense, Fantasy
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four-stars

With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynne Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynne is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…   Danger has never looked quite so delicious…

A bacterium has hit the world and people are dying right and left.  The doctors at the CDC try their hardest to find a cure or prevention so that they can save the lives of millions.  The bacterium creates a fever and then a coma – if the patient survives they could be ok or they could turn into what they call Rippers who are basically serial killers as the bacteria messes with the person’s ability to empathize with…anything.  America is not a safe place to be.

Jax Mercury survived the fever and still has his head on straight.  Lynn Harmony, a doctor from the CDC seeks his help in trying to find a hidden research facility in the LA area.  From the moment that Jax sees Lynn he’s attracted to her but he doesn’t exactly trust her.  She just walked into their area and sought refuge and he thinks there are hidden motivations.  She’s wanted by the government, supposedly because she’s highly infected with a new strain of bacteria, but that’s a lie told by her boyfriend to get her back.

Jax agrees let her stay because he wants the cure that she may be able to find but he doesn’t plan on falling for her like he does.  She certainly doesn’t plan on falling for him.  What starts out as just some sex to pass the time turns into so much more and it may the death of both of them.

I read Rebecca Zanetti’s Sin Brothers series and liked it a lot.  When I saw this one I knew that I had to snap it up because her writing and story-telling is always intriguing.  I wasn’t wrong.  This story was fast paced and definitely a different take on a post-apocalyptic world.

Jax was one tough man.  He had been a gang member and then entered the Army rather than go to prison.  He ended up being a man with principles and when the Scorpius bacteria hit he was one to help and protect others.  He was a nurturer at heat even though he wasn’t afraid to kill if necessary to save his people.  He was always thinking of others and I loved that about him.

Lynn was definitely a quiet woman but was incredibly smart and she wasn’t afraid to go for what she wanted.  She was targeted by her ex-boyfriend and lived in fear of him but she still powered on and traveled across the states to try and find a cure.  I loved her tenacity and her understanding of Jax and his true self was pretty cool.  The two of them together was incredibly hot and refreshing respite from the world that was falling apart around them.

I really liked this book!  I liked the main characters, the secondary characters and the whole premise and plot.  I’m curious about the character, Raze, as he’s such a mystery and can’t wait for the next book, which is his, to find out what’s up with that man.  If you like post-apocalyptic stories, or even if you like a good action story than this one is definitely one you won’t want to miss.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars