Category Archives: Sci Fi

Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti

For former hacker, Sami Steel secrets are a way of life and the best part about playing soldier is anything involving medic Tace Justice, especially their late night sparring sessions. Since he recovered from Scorpius, the smoldering Texas cowboy’s different. He’s harder and more predatory. Tace was done wondering if strength, speed and cunning would be the only changes, he wondered about Sami.

Sami knew she couldn’t keep acting indifferent toward Tace to her friend, his latest bedmate and the world when he set all her parts fluttering. They couldn’t happen and after last night’s session she wanted to tell him everything. Their sparring also left Tace rattled so he jumped at an assignment away from camp. Unaware of their changed status, Jax assigned Sami as Tace’s back-up.

This busy outing teased out several meaty threads including secret alliances, resolving three overlong pieces, uncovering a traitor, smacking own major enemies in stellar skirmishes and gaining an ally. The tired ‘we’re marooned on an island so let’s fall in love’ vibe made favorites Tace and Sami’s romance fall a bit flat in places for my taste before finding its footing in this satisfying read.
Rating:4.5stars

Building From Ashes by Elizabeth Hunter

It’s highly recommended Elemental Mysteries is read before digging into the back stories of fan favorite, Carwyn and new character Brigid. Though it brackets A Hidden Fire, what could be confusing here is thoroughly explained in the previous series.

After years of alternating abuse and neglect, Brigid Connor showed no surprise or alarm when big, shaggy earth vampire priest Carwyn ap Bryn’s came into her bedroom and saved her. Carwyn’s belief is one loves and protects family first and last every time and there was no question Brigid needed a better family. Carwyn helped her into one but knew he couldn’t help with what Brigid had to face next.

While 1000 year old Carwyn, lover of American wrestling, bad jokes and Hawaiian print shirts was a lonely and an intermittent fixture in her life, Brigid had the hard part of growing up and through emotional damage and rebellion as a very sheltered human in a vampire world as she ripened to be a full character to appreciate.

This reader had difficulty releasing Carwyn and Brigid’s combined past through changing times and situations (possibly affecting the rating). To this reader’s taste, the author can be counted on to ignore a casual, steamy, sex-riddled hookup in favor of a fumbling, bumbling old fashioned ROMANCE between fully fleshed characters. The intrinsic humor and wit of the characters ensure a fun read.
Rating: 4.25stars

Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre

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Once the most famed jumper in space, Sirantha Jax has been delegated to an ambassadorship as the new crop of jumpers go though basic training since the fall of the Corporation. She’s wondering why when diplomacy is definitely not one of her strong suits. Yea she needed money but the Conglomerate took the money approved her dead before hiring her and her crew to play diplomatic.

Jax’s task is to convince the insular Ithiss-Tor their worlds should become allies against the ravenous Morgut. Many Ithtorians are against the alliance, they don’t see the Morgut straddling trade routes, gaining more territory and leaving death in their wake as a Ithtorian concern. Failing at this sensitive and critical mission would fall in line with her mother’s expectation for the Syndicate.

Plots abound with multiple agendas in play and a wide array of possible missteps waiting to befall the inexperienced ambassador and company. Meanwhile the Ithtorian’s have an ongoing battle with factions against the alliance are in sensitive positions.

Book one held adventure and action, and two was full of angst, this outing is talky with political maneuvering, posturing and fumbling by the Ithtorians and a toned down newly matured Jax while March is an animated husk, blandly going through the obligatory motions and the great supporting characters are stellar once again. This reader is uncertain about whatever evolution the next outing will bring.
Rating:3.25stars

Born of Vengeance by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Major Ember Wyldestarrin is mad. Personally, her sister, Alura slept with Em’s latest boyfriend and professionally she’s assigned recently demoted royal celebrity playboy Captain Bastien Cabarro as her new wingman. As Em got her second wind to rant about Bas’ many flaws, a bomb hits critical areas in and near the facility. Em rushes into the rubble to find Alura and sees her being rescued by Cabarro.

While Bas’ mother dotes on him, his father and siblings would trade him for a hairpin. Alura flirts but Bas only wants Em. Knowing Bas will propose, his father warns Em if she accepts, Bas will be disinherited and disowned if he survives a series of near death assignments. Em harshly breaks both their hearts and ends their personal and professional relationships. Alura was there with comfort and tricks.

Alura was almost the only one happy at her wedding to Bas and when he escaped their reception for air he inadvertently caught part of a transmission about a plot against his family with details about the military. As it was reported by Bas, his father dismissed it. When the attack happened, Alura testified that she’d overheard Bas plotting his family’s deaths and relating military secrets. Bas was convicted.

Em fought tears at Bas’ sentencing, knowing Bas was innocent, Alura lied and was involved in the conspiracy and everyone should worry for their way of life with Bas’ uncle on the throne and in charge of the military. A disgraced Bas is sentenced to 15 years as a Ravin, a live target for League training with a tracking device embedded in his body and a life expectancy of eight weeks or less.

Bas beat the odds daily, living a solitary life in the Oksanan desert except it wasn’t solitary (cue flashbacks to Born of Fury & Born of Legend), visits from the Tavali and Sentella, not to mention random bounty hunters. After the tracker’s removed, a few good meals and re-acquaintances with family Bas is ready to settle accounts. Next thing he knows, Em is back.

This outing was a fangirl’s delight complete with the Sentella, the DR, the League steeped in political intrigue and just damn outlaws. No thread is left un-spun as this full outing gave desirable Bas a hero’s background and complicated romance. The pieces lifted from earlier reads fit and flow well here and shed light more light on their impact. The fairly good bonus read featuring Thia makes way for a spinoff.
Rating: 5stars

The Battle Sylph by L.J. McDonald

battle-sylph

In the master-slave relationship of their dimensions, young Solie’s fate is to be the sacrifice needed to enslave young battle sylph, Heyou, to the prince. Fierce and hate-filled battle sylphs are both the most coveted and dreaded of all sylphs. By royal decree the magical sylphs could only be bound to powerful men though some have discovered the battle sylph’s innate affection for women.

Turning her back on her parent’s choice of husband, Solie planned to leave and model her life after her spinster aunt. She set out under cover of night but was captured by the king’s guard. While protecting his home hive and unseen queen Heyou’s lured to investigate the mysterious and likely dangerous gate that suddenly appeared. He’s unable to resist the helpless and restrained female on the other side.

In the excitement of the ceremony, Solie freed herself, bound the battle sylph to her and named him Heyou. During the confusion, Solie and Heyou escaped leaving several dead behind including the young prince. The shocked king ranted about female inability to master Sylphs as he ordered his security chief to kill Solie so Heyou would be banished from their dimension.

In a neaby town, security chief, Leon and his battle sylph, Ril, nearly caught Solie and seriously injured Heyou. During the battle, Devon, a villager and castle guard orders his air sylph, Airi, to take Solie to safety. Believing Heyou dead, Airi flees with Devon and Solie. The trio takes rest in a broken community of peasants with sylphs rebelling against the king, as a wounded Heyou hobbles in their direction.

Reunited, Solie and Heyou do what’s needed for Solie to ascend to queen of the sylphs. One of the battle sylph’s tracking them doesn’t understand what is happening. The other is aware and understands a queen has arisen to accept their bond and rule them. Men are unaware a new day has dawned and their days of cruel rule has been drastically altered as a new hive, hierarchy and society is born.

To this reader’s taste, there’s much more to this read than can effectively be put in a few paragraphs. The rich, layered and complicated world is built in reader sized dollops with a straight-forward ebb and flow rhythm makes understanding simple. The complex supporting characters are multi-dimensional and display unexpected ranges of logic, emotions and personalities.

Since the easy to invest in and fully fleshed leads are described by the relative term young their fumbles are explained while nicely ushering the reader into the world. Along with the characters, the reader is wrapped in a thrilling story flush with adventure, action, drama and intrigue plus a bit of romance for flavor, not noticing they’ve devoured this fast paced foundation tale in one sitting.
Rating: 4.75stars

Origin in Death by J.D. Robb

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In a private and heavily secured facility closing a case, Eve and Peabody are stunned hear Eve’s name over the paging system. Rushing to find out why, they’re surprised to find they’ve been called to attend renowned cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Wilfred B. Icove, Sr., He’s definitely been murdered and it looks like a professional job.

Eve and her team search but can’t find a motive. Convinced no one that age had no blemishes in his past, Eve and her team dug deeper. Discovering incomplete information puts Eve on the trail of wisps of a motive. The middle of that trail has Eve facing the murder of Dr. Wilfred B. Icove, Jr. But the killer left bread crumbs and Eve gobbled them up and quickly came up with a theory.

An engrossing conspiracy tale with an exciting end and an extreme minimum linking the case to Eve’s past all appealed to this reader. Brief appearances by the usual support cast made sure fans got glimpses as well. Also, I enjoy the subtle changes in Eve over the last few outings. While humanizing Eve more, her social awkwardness gained another dimension.
Rating:4.25stars

Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

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The formerly omnipotent Farwan Corporation had swept their dirty deeds under the rug, declared Jax dead and seized her assets before they had to relinquish power to the formerly impotent Conglomeration due to Jax’s recovered memories and testimony. In need of a job but un-needed for jumping or teaching Jax is offered a conglomerate job as an ambassador to a world of bug-like creatures.

Though Dina, March and Jax return, March and Jax are different enough to be new characters. New characters were welcome additions and a visit to March’s home planet gave him food for thought. Great additions to the crew, horrible heartbreak, a shiny new villain, angst galore, more duplicity, buckets of action, a handful of surprises and this read could thrill many a fan-girl. But not this one.

An inability to connect with the leads here and the amount of angst put the outing squarely in the like but not love category for this reader. Also, the logic was off enough to be an issue for my taste, Jax is too dead to the government to reclaim her assets while being alive enough for the government to demand her testimony and for them to overtly hire her. Trusting manipulative Ramona despite their past. Nope.
Rating:3.75stars

Nicolae by Tim LaHaye

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The Tribulation Force has lost the valuable Bruce Barnes to the bombings and they’re shaken. As they crawl in the snarled Chicago traffic to reach the church and spread the news, Nicolae summons Ray to his side and Amanda stays glued to her husband. Chloe and Buck listen to the New York status reports with trepidation as they scramble to do what they can with the Chicago flock and Buck’s office.

The loss of Bruce hurt but didn’t cripple the team as they received the help they needed from various sources. Earl leaves a powerful legacy in Ray’s charge while Hattie isn’t s predictable as Nicolae thought and he calls on Ray. Ken Ritz returns lending his services to TF’s cause through Buck, Mac’s loyalties are still hidden and the extension of a helping hand threatens to do more harm than good.

After watching Nicolae charm the masses for two years, the un-enthralled note the calculated manipulation of people and circumstances as well as the devastating attacks across the globe as Nicolae remains safely a step ahead. While Ben Judah’s fortune takes a severe downturn Chiam’s unshakable loyalty to Nicolae grows, though it’s not returned in kind.

For most of this read, Nicolae himself was not on the page but the many moving pieces seemingly unconnected directly to Nicolae were and the theme was power. The abuse, orchestration, manipulation and concentration of power was clear as Nicolae played with the strings. A nit not to my taste was the repetition of certain pointless or past scenarios which aggravated this reader’s desire to skim.

This entertaining fiction was lighter on romance than its predecessors and much heavier on action and suspense. The installments should be read in order as it builds on previous outings and they are all biblically themed. If is not a genre that holds your interest, this may not be the read or the series for you.
Rating:4stars

Survivor In Death by J.D. Robb

survivor-in-death

The household was asleep and so was Nixie Swisher’s best friend but Nixie wanted a snack and snuck out of bed to get it. That saved her life. Shadowy men make their way through the house and murder everyone else unaware of the tiny witness that was able to call the police. Nixie attaches herself to Dallas and a still healing Peabody makes her case for Dallas to be Nixie’s caregiver for a few days.

While Eve doesn’t have the capacity to give Nixie all she needs, Eve does give her as much as she can and is able to separate her own trauma in perspective and apart from Nixie’s as she pulls in the other help she needs. Nixie’s impact on the household has the staunch and stalwart Summerset dusting his parenting skills as he pitches in to help and Roarke fumbles his way through as well.

Nixie’s heartbreaking as she tries to find her way through things she doesn’t understand while Eve and company are treated to an intense cat and mouse chase across the city as the body count rises when the culprits try to secure anything that could lead back to them. Their actions lead Eve to a thread without a knot in it just waiting to be pulled.

The breezier writing style of this enjoyable and fast paced outing also had easy to invest in secondary characters and a tight storyline. Scenes from Eve’s past are usually the worst part of the read for my taste but were apropos as they easily underscored Eve’s thought process for this case.
Rating: 4.75stars

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

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Sirantha Jax’s stellar career has made her legend. Possessing the rare J-gene, instinctive deep/grimspace navigation without instruments while psychically linked to a pilot. Jax’s successful jumps ensured the Corporation remained a galaxy-wide monopoly for trade, work or education. When Jax alone survives a jump the Corporation locks her in a facility to force her to confess to their truth.

Meanwhile a group of rogues led by the mysterious and taciturn March instigate a coup and rescuing Jax is their opening volley. The rogues want to change all that, develop their own skills, run their own trades and open their own schools, etc. Now that the Corporation has tossed Jax aside, other groups and factions hopes she’ll join their faction and cause to live outside Corporation directives.

Jax is wary of her reluctant rescuer and doesn’t know if March is there to help or hurt her. Plus she doesn’t know these people and isn’t sure she wants to! And don’t they see she’ grieving! Indoctrinated at an early age and imprisoned since the Corporation turned on her, Jax is used to a different lifestyle but adapts quickly to her new surroundings though he isn’t sure she’s the answer the renegades need.

Jax’ rescue thwarts the Corporation’s plan and they’re relentless in hunting her. This reader was immediately intrigued by the story but didn’t invest in the characters as quickly. As the story gained momentum, so did Jax and March’s explosive friendship and attraction in this intricate and layered world where betrayal and deceit are commonplace.

This medium-paced, well done cat and mouse galaxy chase is littered with hidden agendas, likeable, well defined characters with good chemistry and a shadow-y, all-seeing but faceless villain in the Corporation. The ending is too neatly accepted for my taste but isn’t a cliffhanger and leaves enough tantalizing tidbits on the table to want a few more rounds with this crew.
Rating: 4.5stars

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