Edward Hoornaert is a new-to-me romance writer. The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station works for me in many ways.
It's filled with humour (maybe I shouEdward Hoornaert is a new-to-me romance writer. The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station works for me in many ways.
It's filled with humour (maybe I shouldn't have snort-laughed at "Greatest need: To shove his intestines back into his belly" but I did. Not sorry.) I adore Sandrina and her plarking bad (err) mouth. As a woman who can't speak, we rely on her inner dialogue and the reactions of others in order to understand her. From her inner dialogue to her body language she's completely expressive and endearing.
I found Lockey to be a pleasant surprise. The depth of her character grew as the story went on and even when she became someone unexpected, I found she stayed "in character" and new revelations about her built other existing character without turning her into someone unrecognizable. Since we don't get the impression her greatest need has ever been met, there's also an appealing innocence about her. She's never explored the joys and pitfalls.
I liked how Duke looks after Farflung Station and everyone on it yet he seems desperately incomplete. He gravitates to Sandrina and recognizes her strengths. He doesn't let anything minimize her abilities. He's the heart of Farflung Station as much as she is.
Hoornaert makes Farflung Station real in both its scope and culture. It's a great setting and he lets us discover it through his characters eyes.
"Silvia ran laughing through the night brightness, between the roses and cosmos and Shasta daisies..."Originally reviewed at West Coast Book Reviews.
"Silvia ran laughing through the night brightness, between the roses and cosmos and Shasta daisies..." leads us into Upon the Dull Earth.
Upon the Dull Earth was by far my favourite story in this collection. The first paragraph pulled me in and drew me along into the story. I had no choice but to follow Sylvia past the cedars supporting the sky as they ignored her slim shape.
I loved the first book in this collection, The Early Science Fiction of Philip K. Dick, as much as this one. Each story lured me in and along until I ran headlong into the dark twist at the end. Even though I knew something disturbing waited at the end, more often than not, I found myself knocked off kilter by what I found.
The other thing I enjoy about these stories is the interpersonal relationships: families, couples, coworkers and friends. Nobody is immune to finding themselves in a strange Philip K. Dick situation and having the bottom pulled out of their universe at the end.
I highly recommend you check out both volumes.
I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
Pico's Crush is the third full novel in Carol Van Natta's Central Galactic Concordance series. I feel it can be read as a stand-alone even though it centers on some characters we've met in books one and two. As with book two, Minder Rising, Van Natta builds on the previous book to satisfy the world building needs of anyone following the series without overburdening us with back story. She balances her seamless continuity of the series with new places and scenes.
Pico's Crush teams up two romance arc's with Jerzi Adams (from Overload Flux) and his old military friend Andra DeLuna along with Jerzi's daughter Pico and summer-camp crush Sojaire. Sojaire visits along with Luka and Mairwen also from Overload Flux. Together they face all sorts of suspicious activity and villains on Pico's tropical college campus.
Van Natta keeps up her infectious humour which she puts to good use showing us the past camaraderie between Jerzi and Andra. It not only brings them together, but welcomes us in to the easy and comfortable friendship they're both resistant to give up.
Pico and Sojaire have a history together as well but very different from Andra and Jerzi. In contrast to Jerzi and Andra where their past is an anchor, Pico and Sojaire's pasts act as an obstacle keeping them apart.
I also love how the growth of Pico, Sojaire, Andra and Jerzi is grounded with the stable and familiar relationship between Luka and Mairwen. Van Natta keeps all the plates spinning, so to speak. I've found her novels contain a well rounded combination of contrasts and balance.
For me, the big surprise was the next-level crop of bad guys. I thought the Citizen Protection Service (aka CPS or capital A Antagonists) in book two, Minder Rising, sufficiently demonstrated the nasty subversiveness of the CPS but Pico's Crush pushes even harder. This batch of CPS no-gooders could be considered terrifying. In spite of their gory, co-dependent and evil natures they're enlightened with enough humanity to make them endearing in an uncomfortably dark yet relatable way.
In all honesty, I found this to be a challenging review to put together. I don't do spoilers and so much of my enjoyment came Van Natta's good grasp of who her characters are. Little things they do and say advance my understanding of them and their world. I feel like I know them. They stay in character, not only doing what I expect but in ways that move the plot, build their relationships and improve the richness of who I feel they are. I loved so much detail of the story, it wasn't easy to step back and articulate how I feel about the novel as a whole. (Loved it if you didn't guess that already.)
My Galactic Concordance Top (in no particular order) Five Wants and Wows:
1. Stylish gold percomp for the back of my hand 2. Flitter (my kindergarten teacher said I'd have one by now so I experience owning one vicariously through the fiction of others) 3. Autotailor 4.*totally creepy villains* achievement unlocked 5. Explosions
If you love character driven sci-fi with gadgets, superpowers and tons of action, Pico's Crush will hit all the targets. ...more
I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Minder Rising is the second in Van Natta's Central Galactic Concordance series. The third, Pico's Crush, is expected around the end of January and follows characters introduced in the first book, Overload Flux. Minder Rising can be read standalone, though I highly recommend reading Overload Flux as well.
As with Overload Flux, characters drive Minder Rising. Though we only learn a few general details about Lièrén's past, he smoothly adapts his skills to investigating the threat to his unit. As a bartender and road construction crew boss, Imara does not come off as classic heroine. She's tough, clever, honest and has my respect as a realistic female lead. Her son Derrit displays a good balance between his childhood and his fierce devotion to protect his mother following the loss of his father.
As I read, I became aware interactions between Lièrén and Imara lacked copious sidelong glances, urgent heartbeats and salacious inner voices oogling each other's physical appearance. As I came to know them, I understood having those sorts of inner dialogues would be out of character. Lièrén comes from a big, respectful family and Imara is cautious to avoid involvement with someone she considers a 'transient' out of concern for Derrit. While I appreciated their inner maturity, I wouldn't have minded seeing them enjoy more emotionally close moments together.
I'm very fond of the supporting characters in this book, particularly the flamboyant, charming and instantly likeable Rayle. I don't think I'll ever tire of a well done character who fits the "social glue" role in a story. He's nosy, which he can't help since he's an empath, but he only uses it out of a desire to help others even if they're not ready for it.
*crosses fingers and wishes for more Rayle*
In addition to the great characters, I loved imagining the glass-like construction of the Spires and the layers of plot tied together throughout. I also liked learning about something one character has done through the eyes of another. It happened several times and I found it to be more suspenseful than if we saw the setup with one character and the discovery by another. Van Natta also build up the world of minders and the CPS in a way that grows on what I learned in Overload Flux while giving a complete and thorough world descriptions to someone starting the series with Minder Rising.
I loved the finesse with which Van Natta handles Mairwen and Luka's individual back-stories. Their motOriginally published at West Coast Book Reviews.
I loved the finesse with which Van Natta handles Mairwen and Luka's individual back-stories. Their motivations and challenges are there, clear and sufficient, without overwhelming. There's just enough to explain and engage with Mairwen and Luka without dumping too much emphasis on previous events. It's handled in such a quiet way that every time there's a little more the plot moves forward, not the other way.
I also really enjoyed the subtle humour I found ever present. As little as a few words or the smallest change in facial expression made the dialogue real and relatable and I found myself connecting more and more with Mairwen and Luka. Too many times I've read SFR with overdone violence or straight to the bedroom smut and the relationship between the H/h is lost to the flash and bang. Luka and Mairwen come across as very genuine and their relationship builds in solid layers.
Van Natta's tech is both simple (in that it's reasonable and makes sense) and powerful (in that it's reasonable and makes sense. Her names both for super gadgets and plain old household items tell us exactly what it is and what it does without losing me in any need for weighty description.
Finally, it was so refreshing to see a H/h pair somewhat close in age to my own. They had a respect and maturity we don't usually see in romances set around twenty-somethings. It was nice to see them being good together without unnecessary drama centered around eye-rolling juvenile behaviour. I'm glad they have a follow-up novella together as I will miss them. I must admit to a small amount of trepidation getting in to the sequel, Minder Rising, since I'm so fond of Mairwen and Luka but I'm also happily in to Van Natta's well built Galactic Concordance world and look forward to experiencing more.
FYI: New favourite space-ish curse word is "cluster bucket"
If you're new to SFR or a hopeless addict I think you'll find Overload Flux to be a good find. Definitely recommended....more
The 2016 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide is the second collection of science fiction short stories aimOriginally reviewed at West Coast Book Reviews.
The 2016 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide is the second collection of science fiction short stories aimed at middle grade readers. The first, of course, is the 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide.
I highly recommend this collection. I love the variety of "young voices" it contains as well. From kids making first contact to piloting starships the range of adventure is fantastic. I treated myself to one or two a day and am definitely going to read the 2015 edition.
The only thing I didn't like is the collection contains almost exclusively (if not completely) female lead characters. I would have preferred a balance. In spite of this, it's still a first class read.
Ours to Save is the seriously explosive finish to the ES Siren series by Shona Husk, Denise Rossetti and Mel Teshco. Yep, used an adverb. THE adverb. Couldn't help it. With Unity so very, very close, the passengers on ES Siren have a lot more to think about than landing and hard work. A prisoner faction has infiltrated all corners of the ship and refuses remain under the jailors' control.
This ninth and final episode of the series adds an element we haven't seen before.
I really felt for Micah and Felicity. I loved how they were presented and wanted them to succeed and have the happy ending they never got on Earth. Both are brave and willing to give it all up for each other and their daughter.
I liked how Husk combined the action from book seven, Ours to Embrace, and my feelings for the rebels I got to know in book eight , Ours to Share, and put me in the unenviable position of needing both sides to succeed. Not only do we see the tension through to the end but we also feel the isolation of those for whom the stakes are highest while they are so very helpless to take action.
Again, I appreciated how very well Husk, Rossetti and Tescho built nine stories together, each contributing three and nailed their consistency of plot, voice and world building.
I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
Ours to Share is the eighth book of the ES Siren Series by Mel Teshco, Denise Rossetti and Shona Husk. It's taken us from departing Earth and the troubled lives the Unity bound passengers escaped, the fallout of a catastrophic micro-meteor shower and in this final trio of stories some of the prisoners onboard prepare to make their own way when it comes time to land on their new home.
Where book seven, Ours to Embrace, and book nine, Ours to Save bring on the action, Ours to Share is a definite loop in the series' path. While there's still danger, there's a certain gentleness to the story. I liked the basic and open relationship between Cloey and Jasmine and adding Silo brings on a great sweetness to their trio.
Book eight had me changing sides to the prisoner rebellion. At the end, I wanted to go with them wherever Cloey, Jasmine and Silo wound up. I have found that with this series, the more I read, the more I feel the desperation and hope spread so thickly through the world Teshco, Rossetti and Husk created. If you're looking to pick a couple of books in the series and read them I don't think you'll be disappointed but you will definitely feel their world's pull if you experience them all from the start....more
Okay, so I can be shallow. I requested this one because of the pretty cover and the intriguing blurb. TOriginally reviewed at West Coast Book Reviews.
Okay, so I can be shallow. I requested this one because of the pretty cover and the intriguing blurb. That said, there's nothing shallow about Dark Horse.
The thing I love most about this book is everyone, and I mean everyone, has an angle. Some wear it on their sleeve and others surprise you, sometimes not for a good long while. With several races and political agendas, nobody fits neatly into their role. So many times I found myself muttering no, no, no as something amazing I didn't want to see twisted the plot and ramped up the story.
My favourite character is Sazo, the AI. There's something so chilling and unpredictable about him. He's also inquisitive, immature and very,very likeable.
Rose and Dav are great together. This isn't a Mars Needs Moms trope novel at all. No contrived setup that puts them together.
Dark Horse is action packed and full of surprises and backed up by a comfortable and well-built world.
I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
Aurora: Eden is fifth in Amanda Bridgeman's Aurora series and picks up shortly after Aurora: Centralis leaves off. I felt the transition between the first four books, the balance between the team dealing with the losses of the past and the dangers in their future and finally, as I've come to enjoy, the capital A Action at the end.
I must admit to having become fan-girly about this series. I love the action, the enhanced soldiers and the fact the women are allowed to be women. I disagree with any suggestion Welles and the other women in these books receive unequal treatment due to their gender. I agree with the reality in the Aurora series. Regardless of training, enhancement or opportunity I'll take a strong woman in a futuristic novel over one who is assumed able to take on an opponent ten inches taller and a hundred pounds heavier. Strong women are okay.
Now I must also admit that Ms. Bridgeman has my heart on a string when it comes to the Aurora crew. After the unfathomably strong yank she gave that string at the end of book four Aurora: Centralis, I tried hard to hold back on my attachment to the crew but for me it was a losing battle.
Where the other novels in the series gave us a prologue to position Sharley and mainly filtered his actions through the POV of the Aurora crew, Eden gives us tastes of Sharley's men throughout. For me, this drove Bridgeman's tension high. Considering the backgrounds of Sharley's new recruits, I approached the battle I knew must be coming with huge apprehension. The way she moved quickly back and forth through all the action at the end really worked. I was left anxious about so many things at once and considering that one string that got pulled at the end of Aurora: Centralis the thought Ms. Bridgeman had the courage to pull it again was always there.
Sticking with this series is easy for me. It's a great story with strong, consistent and very real characters. Each book ends with a bang though each bang is different and exciting. I've never been left to feel I've seen it before even though the players (for the most part) remain the same.
This is a series I will continue to invest my time in. No hesitation. My deepening attachment to the Aurora's crew makes each book better than the one before and for me, that's the number one sign of a great series. They grow, they change and through it all, their choices, both easy and hard, are understandable.
I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
This one caught my eye when I was browsing the publisher's website. It looked like a good fit for theOriginally published at West Coast Book Reviews.
This one caught my eye when I was browsing the publisher's website. It looked like a good fit for the scifi/adventure tear I've been on and I sure enjoyed it.
First off, I appreciated the well layered main characters Carrie and Dragonfly. Both have pasts, presents and goals which are revealed as they develop. Revelations and challenges make them more complex and real while stripping them down to who they really are. Not only are they they sums of their experiences but they also have the effects of those experiences peeled away for us. Make sense? Good.
I also really liked the strong, pushy, self-centred urban fantasy first person heroine in a romantic scifi. It's a very empowered POV I always enjoy and even in moments of weakness Carrie remains sturdy. This book holds to urban fantasy right down to the "someone is good with animals and has a furry pet" bit. Perfect.
Hayes direct and descriptive writing pushed me to stay engaged with the story and didn't let up its hold on the action or settings. She gives us smells and scents (yes, Hayes definitely shows us the distinction), dirt, sweat and so many unique bits of tech, security and booby traps the world she built is both amazing and immersive.
Loved this read! Recommended for both UF and scifirom readers. Excellent action doesn't let up and won't let you put it down....more
You know *that* book where you can just let go because you know it will both melt your heart and jam iOriginally published at West Coast Book Reviews.
You know *that* book where you can just let go because you know it will both melt your heart and jam it up in your throat? Those books where you have such feels you can't see the words on the page when the only thing that matters is to continue reading?
This is one of those books.
Aurora: Centralis is fourth in Amanda Bridgeman's amazing Sci-Fi series. I enjoy the series' near-Earth story including both Earth-based action and 'local' space action including Mars and the Moon. Placing things in familiar yet futuristic places makes this story feel close to home.
For me, Centralis kept me delightfully off balance. After reading all four in a few weeks, getting to know the characters from the previous books and keeping the plot fresh helped me dive right in to this one.
I really liked how Welles' and Harris' stories run together and through each other in a way that keeps the tension high. Even during breaks in the action I felt suspense biding its time. Harris and Welles both diverge and converge and many secondary characters stand out, bringing so much depth to the main storyline.
Welles continues to face everything but she's not infallible and when she stumbles, it's real and understandable. For Harris, exploring his own gifts, we get to see him expand as a person. His own self discovery doesn't take away from his role as captain and the leader I've grown to respect.
No spoilers from me. Just to say I haven't felt so wrung out at the end of a book as I have with this one in a very long time. For me, it's one of those series that will stand out as a game changer when I think about my reading experiences.
Just plain fantastic.
I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review and requested it because I couldn't wait! I'll still buy my own on March 26th....more
Down is my first Ally Blue novel and I'm now a fan. I will definitely read more.
Down takes us deep, very deep, to a place where sunlight is no more than a memory and the ocean pressure will crush a person beyond recognition. For the men and women of BathyTech, however, much more waits.
I like Armin and Mo very much, particularly together. Theirs is a story of romance under pressure.
I also really liked that in addition to excellent suspense and tension pulling me through scenes, we also see so many things only by discovering the aftermath. I found this well done particularly since in many cases the unknown action is so much more scary than if the action had been laid out. We don't know who did it or how but it was bad and frightening.
The whole sense of being trapped deep below the surface added even more delicious scariness. The author is subtle about it, which I really enjoyed. The characters don't fear living underwater, they don't fear the ocean. They come to fear the people they live with, however, and for me setting the action underwater gave a whole other layer of creepy.
Definitely recommended to anyone who likes the feel of movies like Leviathan and Event Horizon.
I received a copy from Riptide Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more