Tag: Science Fiction

Joint Review: Strange Love by Ann Aguirre

Posted April 14, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Strange Love by Ann AguirreReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
Strange Love by Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 15, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 275
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Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars

He's awkward. He's adorable. He's alien as hell.

Zylar of Kith Balak is a four-time loser in the annual Choosing. If he fails to find a nest guardian this time, he'll lose his chance to have a mate for all time. Desperation drives him to try a matching service but due to a freak solar flare and a severely malfunctioning ship AI, things go way off course. This 'human being' is not the Tiralan match he was looking for.

She's frazzled. She's fierce. She's from St. Louis.

Beryl Bowman's mother always said she'd never get married. She should have added a rider about the husband being human. Who would have ever thought that working at the Sunshine Angel daycare center would offer such interstellar prestige? She doesn't know what the hell's going on, but a new life awaits on Barath Colony, where she can have any alien bachelor she wants.

They agree to join the Choosing together, but love is about to get seriously strange.

Ames, Holly, and I are back with another joint review. Actually, I could have sworn we posted this last month but it’s nowhere to be found so maybe all of this clean air in California has me trippin’ but anyway, here we are again. It was Ames turn to choose our book of the month and she chose something a little different for us to read. Her choice was Strange Love by Ann Aguirre and it was my first alien romance.

Strange Love features Beryl Bowman, a human from St. Louis and Zylar of Kith Balak. Beryl was just minding her own business, cleaning up after a Ren Fare festival when a freaking alien abducts her and dog, Snaps. He takes her back to his home, an alien world where her and Snaps are implanted with a device that helps her understand what everyone is saying around her. Not only does she understand the aliens but Snaps can talk too!

Zylar was supposed to have picked up his intended but mistakes Beryl for his intended and because they can’t get back to Earth anymore, Beryl has to choose between staying with Zylar in this new place and trying her hand at the Alien Bachelor, which they call The Choosing, or she can go off on her own and try to survive in a strange place, on an even stranger planet. Things start heating up the longer Beryl is with Zylar. Who knew that she would fall head over heels in love with an alien.

Alright guys, what did you guys think?

Holly: This was a totally unexpected book from AA. She generally writes darker novels, but this was light and campy. I’ll be honest, I didn’t care for it at first. The whole “Alien Tinder/Mistaken Identity” was silly and pretty over the top. The Choosing got my attention, though. It was interesting watching Beryl and Kerr go through the challenges, and I thought Zylar was really sweet. Snaps (the dog) was pretty funny, too.

Ames: I’m glad I picked this one. From the moment Beryl was abducted and the translator was implanted I was cracking up at Snaps. AA definitely nailed how a dog would talk IMO. I liked Beryl’s character too. She had her inner freak outs about what she was going through but she practical at heart and that carries her through. Zylar was interesting. I liked how he wasn’t confident in himself and how Beryl helped him overcome his self-esteem issues. His freaking brother was the worst.

Holly: His brother was the worst. I didn’t like him at all.

I thought it was cute how Zylar struggled with his self-esteem and Beryl helped him. He was pretty adorable all the way around. Omg I cracked up when he kept calling her “Terrible One”.

Ames: Yes! Terrible One! And how he thought her smiles were scary!

Holly: And when she explains she’s showing she’s happy, not threatening anyone, and he’s like “Aww. Okay. That’s great. But maybe let’s not tell anyone about that…?” Haha.

Still, there were a lot of things that bugged me. It was pretty silly, which I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t like how Zylar’s family treated him, or the final resolution of the book. I guess I wanted something different from them.

Rowena: Like Holly, it took me a while to get into this one because it was silly and I didn’t really know what to expect from an alien romance but I’m glad that I stuck with it. I did enjoy getting to know Beryl, Zylar, and Snaps. I thought they were a lot of fun. I agree with you both about Zylar’s brother. What’s his name again? I wanted to push him off an alien cliff.

The ending was a weird one for me and though I can understand why we got that kind of ending, I wasn’t a real big fan. I thought Snaps was adorable. When he first started talking and seeing how excited he was, it had grinning like mad. I also loved how sure he was in Beryl. The way that he told Zylar that Beryl doesn’t get lost. She found Snaps. She found Zylar and they’re still found? I thought that was super sweet.

Holly: I thought Snaps was cute. How loyal he was. Such a good doggy.

Ryvken? That guy was a tool. I was glad to see how that played out, but I’m still irritated with the way the book ended.

Are you planning to read the next book?

Ames: I will read the next book. I liked the characters and the world-building. Holly had mentioned earlier this wasn’t AA’s typical style of writing but since its been a while since I’ve read AA, I didn’t recall enough to compare it to her past work. I do like my sci-fi romps so I really enjoyed this one. Although I agree with Wena over the ending – I was hoping for better for them.

What did you guys think of Helix, the AI? I think that’ll be interesting to see how that character develops. I will say this, the secondary characters were excellent. I liked Kurr and Helix. AND! Snaps tiny dirt babies. Seriously, Snaps was the star here. haha.

Holly: Ha! As soon as Snaps gained the ability to talk, I knew he’d be your favorite. Oh man, the dirt babies. I literally laughed out loud.

I’m curious to see how things develop with Helix, as well. I didn’t love how things happened with him, but I do want to read the next book. I agree that the secondary characters were good. I wonder if we’ll see more of Kurr in future books?

Rowena: I knew that you’d love Snaps too, Ames. It was hard not to since he was super adorable and super funny. When he first started talking, I immediately thought that it was exactly how I thought dogs thoughts would be. And the dirt babies!! Haha!

I really liked the growth in Zylar’s character. His insecurities made me want to kick some serious alien ass but I liked the way that Beryl was able to help him.

As much as I enjoyed Zylar, Beryl, and Snaps, like Holly, I thought a lot of things were silly and Zylar’s family pissed me off. I’m not sure that I would continue this series. I did like Helix and am curious about his character growth, but I think that I would actually just bug you guys to tell me about it then read it myself. I’ve never read an alien romance before and I don’t know, I guess I prefer my Sci-Fi stories to be a little darker, a little more serious. Am I the only one in that camp?

Holly: No, I’m with you. I generally prefer my SF to be darker. I did enjoy this story as a whole, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue. Maybe at some point in the future. Never say never, right?

I think I’m going to give this 3.25-3.5 out of 5.

Rowena: Yeah, same here. I might read it eventually, but I’m not in a rush to.

This one gets a 3.25 out of 5 from me.

Ames: I liked this one a teeny bit more than you two. I’m giving this one 3.75 out of 5. I would recommend.

Holly: You know what I forgot to mention? How effing annoying the “Butt Stuff” joke that ran throughout the book was. The first time, okay. The second…eh. But after that? So much no. Every time she woke up, or turned around “Well, nothing is in my butt”. WHY???

Rowena: LOL! Yeah, I didn’t even think it was that funny the first time she said it.

Holly: I didn’t laugh the first time, either, but I saw her joke. After that? Nah. Miss me with that.

Ames: I must have skipped over those. I didn’t find those funny either.

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.25 out of 5
Rowena: 3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Posted January 8, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa ColeReviewer: Rowena
The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole
Narrator: Regina Hall, Mindy Kaling
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 6
Length: 5 hours, 18 minutes
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four-stars

Listening Length: 5 hours and 18 minutes

A captivating romantic comedy with a thrilling sci-fi twist by award-winning author Alyssa Cole!

Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: working from home for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center, and recovering from the incident that sent her into a tailspin. But the life she’s trying to rebuild is plagued by mishaps when Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew, moves in and turns things upside down. Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd—and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him…and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door—he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine. It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but danger is mounting as they figure out whether he’s capable of the most illogical human behavior of all…falling in love.

I’m not much of a science fiction romance reader but for some reason, I wanted to read this one and I’m really glad that I did because I liked it. I listened to this audiobook on my flight to Chicago and then finished it on my flight home from Chicago. It was super easy to fall into and I thought all of the narrators did a fabulous job of bringing Trinity and Li Wei’s story to life. I would definitely listen to another audiobook that Regina Hall narrates.

So Alyssa Cole penned a sci-fi romance that really worked for me. It was fun, sweet and it even brought the steam. I was listening to the love scenes like, “Okayyy Li Wei.” Haha. It took a little while for me to figure my way around what was what, who was who, and you know, all of that jazz but once I figured things out, I was up and running. So Trinity is a woman who works for Hive, a government research company. She’s recovering from an accident that took her out. She’s trying to figure some things out when she meets her neighbor’s nephew, Li Wei. Li Wei is nothing like Trinity originally thought and the more she gets to know him, the more she wants to know about him. There’s chemistry sizzling between them and it’s not easy for either of them to walk away.

Trinity and Li Wei were pretty fantastic characters. I loved seeing them grow into their feelings for each other, and I thought Alyssa Cole did a great job of making me roll with an A.I. love story. I don’t normally read science fiction romances but this worked. I mean, sure it took me a little bit to warm up to the story itself but in the end, I was glad that I read it because the story was fun and it was interesting and that end? Yeah, I was a fan. I will definitely be reading more stories like this and definitely more stories by Alyssa Cole. This was one of the last reads of 2019 for me and it was definitely a good way to end out my year in reading. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton

Posted May 30, 2019 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Features, Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Killing Dance by Laurell K. HamiltonReviewer: Melissa
The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake #6
Also in this series: Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: April 4, 2006
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 368
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Series Rating: four-stars

Dating both a vampire and a werewolf isn't easy. But just to complicate Anita's already messy life, someone has put a price on her head. Love cannot save her this time, so she turns to Edward, hitman extraordinaire, for help. But finding the person behind the threat won't be easy, because as both a vampire hunter and zombie reanimator, Anita has made a lot of enemies-both human and otherwise.

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

This review was originally posted on May 14, 2008.

Melissa‘s review of The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton.

So, I saw the new LKH book at a bookstore. It interested me. I started the series from the beginning. I’m now up to the 6th book in the Anita Blake series. I love them all.

One reason why I love Anita is that she has a hitman/hitmen after her and she is still making threats to monsters. She just can’t seem to keep her mouth shut and doesn’t give f*** who she pisses off. There are a couple of different bad guys in this book.

The bad guys caught me off guard. One, I totally didn’t see coming, I just thought it was beneath him/her to hire a hit man. The other, well traitors are among us. Good old Edward appears in this book. He is such a mystery to me, he just pops in and out of books, but we really don’t know too much about him. Anita’s love triangle is getting complicated. She knows she can’t date both of her monsters indefinitely, but can’t choose either. What’s a girls gonna do.

All 3 of them are powerful. More powerful together than apart. Richard is her ideal man, except he has one flaw, he is a werewolf that won’t kill. His morals are starting to make Anita think less of him, cause trouble in the pack for him, and piss him off. Jean-Claude is a vampire and although he turns her on, she can’t get down with it, because he is the undead. I will tell you that she makes some sort of decision in this book. But, was it the right one??? And how will it affect their combined power?

Now for the part, I didn’t like..there wasn’t one. I liked the whole book.

Favorite quote:

“Gag me with a spoon”

(you gotta admit, that’s just funny)

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Jove. You can buy it here or here in eBook format.

Anita Blake


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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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