Publisher: Orbit Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle. This blurb came from the author’s website.
E: It has been a while since I read a book that was much heavier on science fiction than romance so when I saw the cover and blurb of Fortune’s Pawn I had to request it and I am very glad that I did. The last time I felt this way about a book was when I read Ghost Planet which I absolutely loved. I didn’t love this one in exactly the same way, which is probably good since the authors are two different people with different writing styles, but I am eagerly waiting the next installment. Bach provided some of my early reading loves with space travel, aliens, fighting, new or at least different planets, intrigue, and some very fascinating characters. She also teased us with a forbidden romance that hasn’t reached its conclusion yet.
Has: I felt the same way about this book. I loved the Sci Fi setting and thought the premise with a mercenary heroine who has a body armour and likes to name her weapons was engaging and colourful. The world-building was interesting and imaginative and I loved Bach’s descriptions of the exotic aliens in the crew and those they encountered. I also found the Sci Fi tech to be interesting and it added a vivid dynamic to the plot. Although I did find Devi’s character didn’t differentiate from other characters in similar roles, I did enjoy her voice and how she handled the mission she embarked upon. And I also loved the cast of characters and thought the crew of The Glorious Fool were vibrant and diverse. Within the first chapters, I was totally drawn into the story.
E: I agree with you Has, she shared a lot of similarities with other mercenaries but she had some personal touches that set her apart. I liked that she spent money on her equipment and having the best she could without going for the flashy. I also liked that she had goals and knew how to read people but would also sometimes rush in when she knew that she shouldn’t. She was also dedicated to her profession and once paid she stayed loyal. She was also extremely smart and curious which was a benefit but also a drawback. I was just as curious to find out the story behind The Glorious Fool and its motley crew as Devi. While some questions were answered those answers have left me with more questions because things are not as they seem with the ship, the crew or the locations they visit.
Has: I really liked that because the mysteries and secrets kept me guessing throughout the book, and I was very intrigued about how it all tied in with the crew and the aliens they encountered. Bach also had a great flow in making the story action-packed and tense. I was really impressed in how she described the action sequences which were exciting and memorable and they added a fun flourish to Devi’s character.
I also loved the supporting casts of characters who were so unexepectedly different which I found refreshing. I especially loved the alien crew members like the lizard Hyrek who was their medical officer but was a member of a dangerous race who liked to munch on humans. Basil the avian bird-like navigator provided some humour with his exchanges with the other crew members. But I really loved the romance which subtly grows throughout the book and takes Devi by surprise. The chemistry between her and Rupert who had secrets of his own was just fabulous and I really enjoyed their scenes together even though it developed a forbidden element in the end which really heightened the romantic tension.
E: Oh the attraction and forbidden romance were certainly entertaining. I have to admit that a few times I really wanted to see Devi give it to Rupert to make up for his role in several things that were emotionally distressing. Hyrek was also something else. His role amongst his people and his obvious role on the ship seemed contradictory to accepted knowledge about his species. Really makes me wonder how he ended up on the crew along with the others. I also thought the new things Devi started noticing and what Hyrek noticed was different about her are going to have some significant effects later on. Something I think will come back to haunt the Captain given how things ended with this installment.
Fortune’s Pawn has proved to be a very interesting and entertaining start to a series that I plan to thoroughly enjoy. Bach threw in some twists at the end that are going to make things sticky and will hopefully result in much groveling and the revealing of several mysteries. I am glad I decided to give it a try. I give Fortune’s Pawn a B.
Has: I definitely agree about the mysteries and secrets that slowly evolve and link with the crew. I am also interested to see the repercussions that Devi may have with her encounter on the alien ghost ship, which I have to say was one of my favourite scenes of the book. But I really like how Bach sets up the ongoing plot mystery which is a fantastic layer to the overall story arc. I love a good book that keeps me guessing and wondering what will happen next and while I have some ideas and theories – I suspect I will be surprised by the outcomes.
I am so glad that I picked up this book on a whim because it was intriguing, exciting and had a wonderful cast of vibrant characters in a rich and imaginative world. I think this is a book which can appeal to a broad base of readers because it has a bit of everything from heart-pounding action scenes, a unique world and a good romance. Fortune’s Pawn is a great start to memorable series!
Publisher: Book View Cafe Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Purchased
“When you have the Gift, your life is not your own.”
I was born to a family that harnessed the winds and could read futures in fire and water. Yet my mother kept her secrets.
Then the werewolf came, sharing his madness.
Now it’s my turn to keep secrets…. ********* Descended from powerful magic-users, but ignorant of her heritage, young Alfreda Sorensson learns magic and wisdom from her extended family in an alternate early 1800s Michigan Territory. This blurb came from Book View Café.
I have been relatively vocal about saying that if an author has a website, they don’t need to have a blog just a place for me to find out what is coming out next, what is out now, what was out in the past and where I can buy them. However, if an author does have a blog one of the things I love is seeing what they have read and enjoyed. I was browsing through Laura Anne Gilman’s blog about five months ago when she had a book recommendation post. She was recommending Night Called and made mention that she felt it belonged on the shelf with The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I you have been following us for a while you know that I absolutely LOVE Robin McKinley and tend to re-read both The Hero and The Crown and The Blue Sword on a regular basis so that statement sent me on a clicking frenzy to get to the blurb. I really don’t know why I bothered to read the blurb because the combination of who recommended it and the recommendation itself I knew I was going to buy it. Life happened to get in my reading way so I didn’t manage to read Night Calls until after the New Year when I was dealing with the post holiday slump. After I finished reading it I knew three different things. First, I really hoped she Kimbriel was writing more Alfreda stories. Second, I HAD to review this and spread the word. And finally Gilman gives good book recs.
Night Calls is like an epic fantasy/alternate historic world coming of age with a heroine as the central character. Alfreda lived in a rather small town and dealt with the usual trials and tribulations of growing up and trying to fit in while being slightly different. Then after the visit by a werewolf Alfreda learned she was part of a world that she didn’t know existed. This was a world well known to her family, but her mother’s fears about the very real dangers kept Alfreda ignorant until it became obvious she was in even more danger with her lack of knowledge. Not only was she in danger, but for some reason her town seemed to attract a growing number of creatures or supernatural entities who thought of humans as prey.
Told from Alfreda’s perspective as she learns about this new aspect to hear world and the role she can play in it I found this story an absolute delight. Alfreda did not have all the answers, nor was she all-powerful but she was determined to learn and do the best she could to help deal with the problems. In addition to learning about her abilities, Alfreda was still dealing with school, first crushes, and adults disregarding her thoughts because of her age. I loved the combination of challenges both in her day-to-day life and in her training/apprenticeship.
Kimbriel also created a very interesting world. The merging of magic and supernatural with rustic historic living and superstition was very deftly done. I enjoyed the hints that not all supernatural was evil and sometimes what appeared evil was created by humanity itself. The supporting cast was also evenly balanced, they weren’t all good, bad, or indifferent but appeared to be fully fleshed out. I also think several other families from Alfreda’s town have secrets of their own I am looking forward to discovering. While the focus of the story is Alfreda, her training came from both men and women, which I loved because it showed gender wasn’t a limitation.
Night Calls was a wonderful reminder of why I read epic coming of age fantasy for years and still hope to find that sense of adventure and wonder. I will also agree with Gilman that Night Calls is one I plan to re-read right along with McKinley’s stories. I am looking forward to Alfreda’s continuing adventures.
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
HARK! to the sounds of battle. Mighty men and women who take their destinies with the strength of their arm and the sharpness of their blades. These are tales of warriors, reavers, barbarians, and kings. Lands of wonder populated with monsters, black-hearted sorcerors of Stygian power, and heroes who have blood on their hands and on their steel. This is SWORD AND SORCERY. This blurb came from Goodreads
As promised when I reviewed the second volume, Sorcery, last month here are my thoughts on the first volume. I was looking forward to seeing how this with the focus on Swords differed from the other with a focus on Sorcery since swords were also present. I was also wondering if any of these stories would continue to remind me of working my way through my father’s collection of books.
The Horde by G. Jerome Henson Very interesting opening story. It showed the visionary results of a leader planning a long game or strategy instead of a short quick one. The central battle was at least 20 years in the making and reminded me of some historical circumstances that were also part of a long strategy.
Paper Demons by James Requard Unlike the first story, which was pure war, this had some elements of sorcery and mysticism. I found the unexpected twists fascinating. Yet like the first story each side felt they were superior to the other so they failed to take them seriously.
The Wolf and The Crow by D. T. Neal So far this is one of my favorites in this volume because it reminds me the most of raiding the grown-up bookshelf. Lone warrior standing up against the evil conqueror and attempting to rescue the fair maiden **grin**. Granted she wasn’t a weeping wailing thing looking for rescue but determined to face whatever came her way with strength which was another reminder of the Conan era stories. The women in those stories tended to use whatever they could to survive and make their own way and this was reminiscent of that drive.
Forest of Shadows by John F. Allen This one seemed disjointed to me. I had a hard time following the action because of the jumping between flashbacks and present time. I found it more like a collection of scenes than a short story. I also felt the inclusion of a certain character was very random and came out of nowhere.
Emissary by Marcella Burnard Enjoyable read with a strong heroine. I liked the added twists so things were not completely straightforward. I also enjoyed the inclusion of big cats and the need for judgment calls instead of just taking action. Burnard also included a subtle hint of romance.
The Dogs of War by David J. West Oh the Crusades, for glory and honor and loot and…yet in this particular story the struggle was more for personal loyalty and honor. It was an internal struggle so I found it fascinating that protagonist, amidst all the talk of glory and loot, was more focused on other things. Not that he was altruistic but he didn’t have the same motivations as the others in the story.
The Red Hand by Alexis A. Hunter Oh wow. What a story of betrayal, anger, sadness, and more betrayal. I think this one had a stronger sorcery thread than the others but began and ended with the sword.
Where the Red Blossoms Weep by James R. Tuck Umm so I need to check out Tuck’s backlist. The combination of battlefield gore, honor, death, and evil all came together in a vivid short story. I also enjoyed the touch of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” Or does that make my enemy my friend?
Thief of Souls by Loriane Parker This was a lot of fun to read. Love, revenge, sword-fighting, stealth the perfect combination in a short story. I need to check out Parker’s backlist.
The Gnawed Bone by W. E. Wertenberger This one reminded me of soldiers anywhere full of jokes, stories, sometimes crude, and always looking for a way to avoid the rules. Only in this case it slightly back-fired.
All the Lands, Nowhere a Home by Stephen Zimmer Loved the strong warrior woman and how she didn’t tolerate certain things. I also enjoyed the berserker aspect but found myself feeling cheated a bit by the hints of physical attraction and no action.
The Witch of Rymal Pass by J.S. Veter Sometimes it is better not to swear to the gods. Veter wrote a very interesting twist on murder and revenge.
Like most anthologies, I tend to find some stories I really enjoy and others don’t work quite as well for me. I thought as a whole, this group of stories tended to have some rather interesting twists so the tropes used remained fresh. Another thing I found fascinating was that fewer stories in Volume 1 reminded me of stories of yore than Volume 2. Of course that could be a result of my gravitating more towards stories that contained both swords and sorcery as I grew up. Overall I enjoyed this two volume collection and the change in scenery from what I have been reading lately.
I give Thunder on the Battlefield Volume 1: Swords a C...more
Publisher: Tor Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher
A world in peril. A bond deeper than love.
Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world – a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she’d struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
Reincarnated as a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy – creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone – oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love – Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man she loves.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: When I read the blurb to Ghost Planet I found it fascinating. The thought of a new world, symbiotic ghosts, and of course a struggle for planet control intrigued me. I went into this without any expectations and I am glad because Fisher took her story in directions I never imagined. The combination of the ghosts, how they were treated due to the Ghost Protocol and what happened if/when people broke the rules was something else. This reminded me of some of the older science fiction exploratory novels of my childhood with the seamless addition of some romance.
Has: I totally agree with you about this book going into unexpected ways and I adored the premise which was refreshing and oh so haunting. The opening chapters of when Elizabeth finds out her fate and coming to terms to it had a stark and sad tone and I felt that Sharon Lynn Fisher really captured the emotions of grief and loss in a bittersweet way. In a lot of ways, this reminded me of a combination of Ghost and Solaris but Fisher injected her own unique twist on this premise and I freaking loved it!
I also loved Elizabeth’s stubbornness and determination in not succumbing into her fate and fading away and despite the melancholy tone which I have to say the setting of a New Seattle really adds to the overall theme of the story – there were also touches of humour, passion and life which helped to balance the book. The start of the romance between Murphy who is the psychologist who created the Ghost Protocol and ends up breaking all the rules to fall in love with Elizabeth was a fantastic and I loved how themes of love, grief and hope was explored via their unusual bond.
E: I agree the way Fisher started up the story with the initial attraction and then all of a sudden the change… I really liked how this was a case unlike most of the others but the logic fit. I also think that Elizabeth’s background was what enabled her to resist what the Ghost Protocol was designed to do. It also gave her a unique perspective that came in handy as the twists and turns continued. One of the early signs of that was how Elizabeth while promising to stop pestering Murphy started talking to other ghosts and reminded them that they were still alive in a sense with the ability to eat, feel, etc. That the ghosts could talk to each other and therefore experience some contact.
Of course rebellion doesn’t come without a price and that price is initially steeper then either Elizabeth or Murphy could have imagined. They got a very good display of how science can over weigh any thought of human decency but then the ghosts aren’t “human.” I have to admit that I thought the way a few scientists used Elizabeth’s knowledge of science and lab protocol against her inspired in a sick sort of way.
Has: And this is why I loved how Fisher explored these themes in the book, because it really delved into what grief and love is about and what if there was a second chance in regaining someone you lost? But it also didn’t have to be someone a person knew well or was very close to. I liked the fact the planet/alien entity also offered potential possibilities and seeing that Murphy and Elizabeth who were almost strangers on earth but had a second chance was interesting and I loved the dynamic they created with each other. It was also ironic but important to see that here is a human colony settling in an alien planet but trying to control and shape it into their ideas and conventions and not respecting or embracing on what it could offer. That message really rang out loud for me and it was important to see how it panned out over the course of the story but without it being a heavy-handed or preachy.
E: I liked that aspect too. I think it can be important sometimes to remember that just because we have a way of doing things that doesn’t mean that other ways are wrong or won’t work they are just different. One of the other aspects I liked was how Fisher showed things from different angles. We had the more benign side with the Ghost Protocol, then the dark side of the Ghost Protocol and experimentation, and then the ugly side of the flip in power/control that can occur when rage and hurt find an outlet without control. Fisher also showed through Elizabeth that no one had really made any long-term documentation of the results when a settler and ghost were permanently separated for failure to follow the Ghost Protocol. The ghost wasn’t really of concern but the reaction to the former settler was never considered. The long term reaction could have provided some evidence that things weren’t necessarily as the settlers thought they were… It took the combined effort of a lot of different people, ghosts, and outsiders to actually make a difference on Ghost Planet.
I loved how the solution wasn’t a single individual or idea but a combination. As I said earlier this reminded me of the science fiction of my youth. I want to say thanks to Fisher for proving that I still have that love and giving me several hours of enjoyment. I hope she provides more. I give Ghost Planet an A.
Has: Ghost Planet for me was a such a surprise, because although I didn’t have high expectations even though it had an interesting premise. I was surprised HOW much I really liked it because of how it approached themes of love and loss but exploring it in a wonderful way. When a character states “People Die. Love Doesn’t” – this really sums up the book and the characters for me. Despite it being a SF romance, this goes beyond a high tech and high speculative premise because it really examines the full spectrum of human emotions and what it is to be human. And at its heart, there is a fantastic romance, which has flawed but real characters who have been given a second chance at love and by finding it they become truly alive and I loved that message.
This has definitely become one of my favourite books this year and it is a standout debut by Sharon Lynn Fisher who has a fantastic voice. I highly recommend it because it was fresh, and different and it was chock-full of emotions. I want more please!
Very enjoyable read. It was my bribe purchase and well worth it. The world-building was fascinating as was the slow developing seduction throughout thVery enjoyable read. It was my bribe purchase and well worth it. The world-building was fascinating as was the slow developing seduction throughout the book. I would love for Voinov to write more in this particular world....more
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Bestselling authors Lauren Dane and Megan Hart deliver two stories of longing, lust, and love in futuristic worlds where love comes first—then survival…
Land’s End by Lauren Dane…The Land’s End highway is one of the most dangerous places in the universe. The constant peril of brigands keeps Verity Coleman stuck in Silver Cliffs, dreaming of the open road—and of Loyal Alsbaugh, the tall and silent highway patrolman. When her town is attacked, Verity has a chance to win over Loyal’s muted heart. But will his wounded past make him leave her along the road, or can she convince him to take her along?
By the Sea of Sand by Megan Hart…Captain Kason Reed was willing to give his life to the Sheirran Defense Forces, but now he can’t remember anything but bits and pieces of the war. When his sexual attraction to his caregiver, Teila, causes him to make advances toward her, she becomes the aggressor, urging him with her body to explore the memories of his past—memories that all seem to draw him back to Teila… This blurb came from Goodreads.
Land’s End by Lauren Dane
As much as I love reading an anticipated installment in a series, there is something special about picking up a story set in an entirely new world written by a trusted author. It is like going on an adventure and knowing that the journey to the unknown end-point will be full of surprises. As a result when I read the blurb for Land’s End a few weeks ago I was pretty excited. Reading Land’s End was even better than my anticipation and made me hope she would turn this into the start of a new series.
Dane established a very interesting setting. Isolated settlements or villages have developed connected only by a major road called Land’s End. Some of those villages were larger, better protected and equipped while others were smaller and more tenuous. They were always on the defensive from attacks by traveling hordes of brigands who survived by raiding. The villagers were expected to provide their own self-defense long enough for the roving highway patrol to respond. Unfortunately as the brigands became more adept or more determined, the larger villages could no longer depend on their size as a deterrent. Silver Cliffs was one of the larger towns set up in a well defensible location. It was also one of the favorite stops for the highway patrol on their route as they delivered mail, goods, and supplies.
I enjoyed Loyal and Verity. Both filled valuable roles in their world but they felt constricted by society’s expectations. Verity was married off at a very young age and gratefully widowed some years later. She inherited and ran the post office/general store, which happened to be the location that Patrolman Loyal stayed at during all of his trips. As a widow, Verity had a bit more freedom than the usual unmarried woman in Silver Cliffs but she was still faced with restrictions on her movement and behavior. For years, she fed her lust for adventure and travel on the tales that Loyal provided during their evening discussions but Verity decided that she wants more. Loyal looked forward to his stops at Silver Cliff and the welcome he would receive from Verity. While he would have welcomed more than lodging, he knew she walked a precarious line between acceptance by her village and losing her reputation. He also felt she was worth more to him than a casual stress relief. As a result, it was up to Verity to pursue and convince Loyal to give them a chance.
Counterbalancing the passion of Loyal and Verity’s romance was the intensifying danger from the brigands and Verity’s shunning by her family for going against their wishes. I thought the inclusion of those two elements really brought to the forefront what Verity and Loyal were risking and what they could gain. Watching Verity show she refused to be limited to a specific role nor would she support limiting anyone else’s dreams spoke volumes about her character. Loyal also showed one of the many reasons Verity was attracted to him when he mentally wrestled against possible danger to Verity and the certainty of losing her if he tried to keep her constrained. I loved their resulting compromise.
By the Sea of Sand by Megan Hart
When I was looking at this anthology, I thought Hart’s name was familiar but I couldn’t quite figure out why. After looking at her backlist I realized that was because I owned some anthologies with her contributions but I had only read selected stories. Obviously I need to go back and correct my oversight. Hart also created a very interesting world that I would love to see more of despite the sometimes uncomfortable questions raised by the narrative. Humankind has expanded to the stars and as a side effect of the expansion bumped up against another space-going species that was not willing to share. The inevitable ensued and as the enemy tactics changed over the centuries, fighters suffering from both physical and mental wounds needed a place to heal.
The planet Sheir has oceans made of sand complete with waves, tides, winds, and storms. Teila, one of the Sheir residents is also a single mother who runs a lighthouse along the edge of The Sea of Sand. With the loss of her husband, she started to take in some of the more grievously wounded fighters who needed a peaceful place during their recovery. Then one day a new fighter, Kason, arrived who was close to dying. He had no memory of his previous name, life, or much beyond his torture as a captive and his time in the military. However, he was intensely attracted to Teila and she returned his attraction hoping their time together would help him regain his memory.
The dynamic between Kason, Teila, a high military commander, and the other individuals recuperating at the lighthouse was full of underlying messages and tension. Teila was trying desperately to help Kason heal because she had a lot at stake with his health. The high military commander had personal and professional reasons to hope for Kason’s recovery. In addition to the internal and external pressure to help Kason recover, not all of the other inhabitants of the lighthouse were supporting Teila’s efforts which added to the tension. As the story continued it became evident that the information provided to the public was very different from reality and that raised the stakes even more. Not only did learning aspects of the truth raise the stakes for Kason and Teila but it also raised some questions in my mind about the trust we tend to place in public officials.
I will admit I found it a bit jarring when things came to a head and the pieces started coming together in a rather shocking series of events. I knew something was going to happen but I wasn’t expecting the extent of that something. While the novella had a satisfactory ending I have some serious questions about what happened after, not with Kason and Teila but with Sheir, the military, the war, and the lies told to the public. Like Dane’s earlier novella, I would love to see Hart continue to write in this world/universe because I think there is so much possibility.