Sunday, 25 September 2016

Review: Translucid by Zen DiPietro


What if you woke up knowing how to do your job, but not your own name? What if you had to rely on other people to tell you who you were? 

What if you thought they were wrong?

Emé Fallon is the security chief of Dragonfire Station, and does a damn good job of it. That’s where her competence ends. Outside of work, she has a wife she doesn’t know, a captain who seems to hate her, and a lot of questions that don’t add up.

Without a past, all she has is the present, and she’ll stop at nothing to ensure she has a future.

***

What if I used a word you don't often see describing SF?



What if I called Translucid 'sweet'?


I enjoyed DiPietro's approach to amnesia. In Translucid, we learn about Emé as she does so the plot develops around her discoveries. Hers in the only POV so we don't have the motives of others thrust upon her and she is free of any motivations carried over from prior to the accident which stole her memory.


Because of this, we meet the people of Dragonfire Station for the first time as Emé does. We quickly learn she is efficient, thorough and compassionate. I felt she is inherently good and she was able to remain honest to this trait as she began to fit the pieces of her life, both in her relationships and personal history, together.

I also loved DiPietro's attention to her world building and Dragonfire Station. Her descriptions are neither forced upon us nor forgotten and each little piece and large section cleanly mesh together and build on each other. She describes much of the station through the interaction of her characters with it and for me, this engagement effectively submerged me in station life.


It's also this attention to and sharing of detail that invested me in Emé and the people around her. Even the slightest mention of danger to Emé's wife had me worried and angry thinking "No, no, no, not happening to Wren."

Overall, a solid and well thought out SF. Translucid is a confident, relationship driven adventure and I'm very excited for Fragments, the follow up. Best of all, I've discovered an author I enjoy and I'm always grateful for an opportunity to be a fan.

I received my copy of Translucid from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Review: Skyjacked by Shirley Golden


Separated from his son, only a galaxy stands between him and home... The year is 2154, and Corvus Ranger, space pilot and captain of the Soliton, embarks on a penal run to Jupiter's prison moon, Europa. It should be another routine drop, but a motley band of escaped convicts have other ideas. When Soliton is hijacked, Corvus is forced to set a new destination, one which is far from Earth and his son. Unable to fight (or smooth talk) his way to freedom, Corvus finds himself tied to the plans of the escapees, including their leader Isidore and a gifted young boy who seems to possess strange abilities. Desperate to return to Earth and the son he left behind, Corvus is thrown into the ultimate adventure, a star-strewn odyssey where the greatest enemy in the universe may very well be himself. 


***


Skyjacked by Shirley Golden was exactly the read I needed. I'd finished a couple of amazing books and was stumped with what to pick up next and skipped over a ton of books before cracking open Skyjacked. I love the cover; the lone figure contrasted against the alien planet scape. The bold, one-word title fits perfectly.

This SF takes a clever assortment of characters and confines them on Soliton, Corvus' ship. Golden cleanly defines her characters, pointing out the pointy parts of their personalities, and then throws them in together. Skyjacked has constant action and fluid character dynamic as they succeed, fail or find redemption.

I really liked Isidore, Shai and Janelle. The three female leads in the story displayed confidence and strength. I felt Golden nicely setup and supported them, then let them go at it. Their decisions felt genuine and natural.

Corvus' 'lone wolf' thing made me want to elbow him at times but as I came to understand his pieces, I became protective of him though he'd never admit to needing it =)

All together a really enjoyable SF. Recommended!



Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review: Dragon of Ash & Stars by H. Leighton Dickson


“People say that a Dragon breathes Fire. That is a myth. A Dragon IS Fire and his Whole Life is the Story of his Burning - Page by Blistering Page.” 



Stormfall is a dragon born with a coat the colour of a starry night. When a violent storm strikes his island aerie, he is carried on hurricane winds into the complicated and sometimes cruel world of men. There, his journey takes him from fisher dragon to farmer, pit-fighting dragon to warrior, each step leading him closer to a remarkable destiny. But war is coming to Remus and with it, a crossroads for the Night Dragon and the young soul-boy he allows on his back. But how far is Stormfall willing to go in a war that is not his own?

*****

A brilliant, insightful and spiritual tale.

To be honest, even if I'd never heard of H. Leighton Dickson I would have bought this book for the cover alone. I also want the poster, cell phone case, stationery, queen sized bedding and a black toothbrush covered in gold stars. She is on my auto-buy list and reading her work is always an absolute pleasure.

Dragon gives a unique approach to the telling of a fantastic tale. It is the autobiography of Stormfall the black dragon told in his own words.

As an autobiography, the telling is of course slanted to show the teller in whatever light he wants to be seen. For a dragon who is every inch arrogant, proud and self-centred, giving him the opportunity to tell his own tale grants this story an impact that grows as the pages progress and the dragon portrays himself as he sees himself.

Big.

Also present in generous amounts is Dickson's ability to take advantage of humour in sharing any type of scene. Regardless of whether the moment is light or dark, one can sense her hand there not in telling the jokes but in allowing her characters the freedom to share those absurd thoughts we all have at even the most difficult of moments. Her images are both pristine and deep and each chapter is engaging.

The story itself is deeply satisfying. (Yes, she had me in tears again with wonderful and agonizing feels.) This is not a story that leaves you looking for book two. It is a complete tale I found epitomizes the idea of a standalone. I reached the end thinking "don't change a thing." I feel like I knew the dragon and will adore him for who he was, treasuring him for the way he saw himself and grateful he shared both his victories and triumphs.

Highly recommended.



Monday, 6 June 2016

Review: The Demon Girl's Song by Susan Jane Bigelow


More than anything, Andín dal Rovi wants to escape her small town life, helping her father in the store, watching her younger brother prepare to take the place at University she’d longed for.

Instead of escape, she gets a thousand-year-old demon stuck in her head, and she loses everything – her home, her family and her country.

In the quest to regain her identity, she finds herself racing against time to uncover the secrets of her world – and save it from utter annihilation.

***


I won my copy of The Demon Girl's Song in an awesome prize bundle I received when I attended the Facebook release party. I'm not sure why I chose to read it first. Perhaps the title intrigued me as it promised a binding of darkness, innocence and beauty. I was not disappointed.


The Demon Girl's Song was a lovely combination of many things. History, magic and gender expectations to name a few. Andín comes to us with her heartfelt desire taken away. She's quickly stripped of everything else she's given to take the place of her dream of university.

I really liked that Andín didn't choose to love the person she did 'because' of the demon or anything else. She loved Yshe because of the people they were.

Andín's journey, both in travel and self discovery, is touching, adventurous and empowering. For all the action, danger and fear she experiences in her travels, she's a wonderful character. She's strong, gentle and loves so much.

Bigelow has a delightful hand for crafting such a bold story. The scope of her many-countried land balances nicely with its comprehensive but not overwhelming history. Very much recommended.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Review: Argenterra by Donna Maree Hanson


Every one hundred years a woman comes to Argenterra through the Crystal Tree Woods. This time two women came… 

While on a ghost tour in Castle Crioch, Sophy and her best friend and foster sister, Aria, are sucked into the world of Argenterra, where they encounter a strange Crystal Tree. Two leaves fall from it, one of which Aria catches and the other mysteriously delves into Sophy’s chest. 

Met by Dellbright, the prince of Valley Keep, and Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, the girls learn they are expected. Aria has beauty and talent with the given, the land’s native magic. She finds a home and a husband in Prince Dellbright and is revered as the legendary Gift of Crystal Tree Woods. 
Sophy is out of place as anything made with the given makes her ill. 

Sophy accompanies Oakheart to the capital to find out why the crystal leaf is in her chest. A sinister force is tracking her—trying to snatch her away or kill her. Only Oakheart suspects her importance: she is the talisman that can cause great harm to the world of Argenterra if she falls into the wrong hands. 

*****

Argenterra is the first in Donna Maree Hanson's new series, Silverlands. It brings an alternate fantasy world which is both unforgiving in its beauty and pure in its treachery and dangers together with a solid friendship story as we follow Sophy and Aria through their combined and individual challenges with their new lives in Argenterra.

Argenterra's magic, the given, permeates everyone and everything in the land. It's used in everything from building and cooking to healing and holding the people to their oaths. I liked how the given not only weaves through the lives of the characters but through the story itself. The given has its own history, champions and enemies. The given lives through the story as a character in its own right, complete with unique relationships with other characters and a life changing challenge.

For me, characters and their fellowships (among other things) bring Argenterra to life.

I appreciated and felt how close Sophy and Aria were. It didn't matter what else was going on, I could always count on solid affection and support between the two. *Sucker for buddy stories here* There relationship was well put together and supported and left me genuinely anxious when they weren't together.

My favourite character, besides Sophy/Aria, is Oakheart (in spite of my Kindle text to speech calling him Oh-Eckhart, silly Kindle.)  As much as Dellbright came off as too good to be true (which he was), Oakheart is *that good.* For me, he is the pure hero of Argenterra.

I also liked how each castle and land was distinct and appreciated the care Hanson took hi-lighting both their faults and reasons to shine. Loved the forest people and Lillia and the screavers (scary, scary, scary.)

Hanson reveals Argenterra to us through her characters' experiences, particularly those of Sophy and Aria which I enjoyed because I felt like I experienced Argenterrra first hand through their adventure.


And I'm very grateful for the sample of book two, The Crystal Gate. Not only did it reassure and soothe my delicious worry at the end of book one, it also twisted my engagement to the story up several notches and I'm very eager to move in to book two.

You can also read my interview with Donna Maree Hanson here. I also recommend her dark fantasy Dragonwine series, Shatterwing and Skywatcher and her fun science fiction Rayessa and the Space Pirates.



Tuesday, 10 May 2016

New Release! Sabotaged Desires by Rebecca Airies





Super excited to speed the word about Rebecca Airies new release, Sabotaged Desires

Blurb:
Suz Lore thought she had everything she wanted, a job as an engineer and a position on a colony ship headed to another planet. That was before her arranged ménage marriage with Robert Smith and David Bradford turned into a disaster. She’d thought they were building more than a sizzling sexual relationship, but all they do is argue now. She isn't surprised when they're sequestered in a room in order to reignite the passion between them and learn to trust again.
Robert believes she betrayed him while David is stuck in the middle of their conflict. Getting Robert to talk about what made him angry is difficult, but they discover there's far more behind their problems than a message with misleading information. A virus has overtaken the ship's computers, put them on a different heading and cut them off from all communication. They must work together to find a way to survive and rebuild their relationship.


PG excerpt:
“Get your ass to the hatch and let us out now,” Robert yelled.
Ever the demanding Captain. Robert expected people to follow his orders immediately.  He’d behaved like an ass lately. That arrogance set her nerves on edge. His tendency to bark out commands even when on personal time made her want to rebel or strike out at him.
The argument hadn’t stayed within the confines of their quarters. Suz didn’t know how he was surprised that they’d been placed here. At the moment, his yelling was getting on her nerves.
“They won’t let us out. Not until they’re convinced our problems are solved.” She eased to the edge of the big bed. At least, she wasn’t nauseous from coming out of stasis or have a headache any longer. 
David strode to the side of the bed, sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulders. “Are you all right?”
His dark blond hair stuck up in spikes, looking delightfully mussed. She only wished she’d been the one to run her fingers through it. Concern turned the corners of his full lips down. His muscled chest was bare offering yet another lure for exploration and he wore only loose, light blue pants which most men chose to wear into the stasis pods.
“The pain has faded. I sort of expected this after our last rotation, although waking up from stasis in this room scared me and for a little while, I didn’t realize what had happened.” She relaxed against the strength of his arm for a moment. Normally, they were left in the open cryopods until they were able to walk. She’d almost panicked when she woke here. Her heart had felt as if it were going to burst through her chest.
The feel of his muscled body against hers soothed a little of the tension and worry. Between David and her, they would find a way to get through to Robert. Even though they couldn’t get out, she didn’t fool herself that this would be easy. 
“So did I. I think he’s the only one who thought things could go on as they were.” David smiled and used his free hand to brush the silver blond hair away from her face.
“They should stay out of our business.” Robert glared at her.
His dark brown eyes moved from her to David. He didn’t look mussed or even sleepy as David did, but then again, his close-cropped black hair always seemed to be in perfect order. The dark brown skin of his chest gleamed. Her eyes hungrily trailed over the expanse and down to the white shorts at his waist. Even though anger pulsed through her at his stubbornness, she hungered for his touch. Her body remembered the pleasure he’d given her.
“Our business is everyone’s concern. We’re on a colony ship. There are only married groups here. There aren’t extra women and men and our group will be the only people on the planet until more colonists are sent, which could be years. The crap you’ve been doing can’t continue.” David straightened a little and his eyes locked on Robert.
Bio:
A voracious reader since childhood, Rebecca Airies has always enjoyed getting lost in the fantastic worlds of science fiction, horror, fantasy and romance. When she began to write her own stories, they always had a romantic edge.
Rebecca currently lives in Texas and writes with the help of a couple feline critics. She’s a multi-published author whose muse loves fantasy, sci-fi and the paranormal, as well as strong heroines who are sometimes as stubborn as their heroes. She loves to here from her readers. Email her at contactme@rebeccaairies.net.

Come say Hi to Rebecca, you can find her in all the places!
My New Release Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRE0V9

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review: Legacy of Dragonwand by Daniel J. Peyton


Over 1000 years ago, nearly all the ancient wizards were destroyed after the Wizard Wars. However, the one who started the War still remains, having worked his will in secret. If he can find the last Dragonwand, he will regain his powers as the dark dragon. Unaware of the Dragonwand or the betrayer, sixteen-year-old Markus is looking for a wizard who will give him a letter of recommendation for the College of Wizardry. During his journey, he stumbles upon Tolen the Wise, who sends Markus on a quest to end the darkness and find the Dragonwand before it gets into the wrong hands. As Markus discovers growing powers and makes allies, will he find what he needs to complete Tolen’s task, or will the ancient, dark wizard uncover the Dragonwand and forever change the fate of the land of Gallenor?



*****


I found Legacy of Dragonwand to be a great start to this series. It's middle-grade/YA appropriate fantasy with wands (of course), magic, evil wizards and a level headed young hero.

Markus leaves home shortly before his sixteenth birthday in the hopes of becoming a wizard. After years of dark dreams of fire and dragons, its his destiny. Much to his surprise, he finds much more than he wished for.

Legacy of Dragonwand thrives with balanced pacing, voice and observations suitable to its teen protagonist. It's a teen's story told as Markus himself would tell it which is much appreciated. Too many times I've read middle-grade/YA books that come off as the interference of a meddling parent. This one doesn't and I found it really let me, as a reader, fit in to Markus' head and his world.

I enjoyed the different races and cultures and my favourite place is the Rakki village and library. The imagery made it seem real and inviting and the behaviour details of the Rakki themselves felt appropriate for the species (dogkind) and an effective tool with which to give details of individuals' personalities.

The plot has well placed layers. Even characters we know will be trouble are themselves outmaneuvered (whether they know it or not) and the ending of the story is well positioned to move forward. It ends set to rock into the next volume and even though we don't yet (at time of posting) have a soft release date I'm confident Peyton's consistent pacing and storytelling will make it an easy transition in spite of the wait.

Legacy of Dragonwand is recommended for all ages.