interspecies relationships

Returning to a Favourite World with “Allegiance of Honor”

26089799Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh
Berkley: June 14, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance; Urban Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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Since my recent conversion to the cult of Nalini Singh a couple of years ago I have anxiously awaited each and every new addition to Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. Throughout this series Singh has created a rich futuristic world that is full of all kinds of race tension, but also fabulous romances. I can’t think of another series that so well combines complex world building with fully developed romantic relationships. Nalini Singh, she is a master, and this is again proven with her newest book, Allegiance of Honor and its shift for the entire series. Allegiance propels the series into new territory while also giving readers a glimpse into the lives of so many of the beloved characters of the series. (more…)

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‘The Terrans’ was so much better

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V’Dan, by Jean Johnson
Publication: Ace, December 29, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Free from publisher

The view was nice, but the food was bad
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After I fell in love with The Terrans (see exactly how much in my review), I expected to adore V’Dan. Unfortunately, everything I ignored in The Terrans was emphasized in its sequel, and everything I loved so much took a back seat to the main elements (those things  I ignored).

V’Dan continues the story of the interaction between two human civilizations: the Terrans, or the futuristic us, and the V’Dan, a civilization that grew up in a distant universe after they left Earth millennia ago in a time of disaster. This time, the group of mixed V’Dan and Terrans, the individuals who made first contact, have traveled from the Terran homeworld to the V’Dan homeworld, where they embark on diplomatic, political, and interpersonal ventures.

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The Terrans: Super Space Opera and First Contact

the terransThe Terrans by Jean Johnson
Penguin/Berkley/Signet: July 28th, 2015 (Science Fiction / Space Opera)*

Outstanding Adventure!
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Two hundred or so years in the future, the peoples of Earth have colonized the Moon and a few other planets in the solar system. Faster-than-light travel (in this universe, called Other-Than-Light, or OTL) has been around for approximately a decade. After yet another major conflict with massive loss of life, the nations united to become one Earth government, with a governmental structure much more focused on ethics and honesty than on … corruption, greed, etc.

In addition to this utopian civilization, some people have developed telekinesis, telepathy, and clairvoyance. The emphasis on ethical behavior for these people is much stronger than for others, although it is mandatory for all civil servants.

Within this environment, Jacaranda has been a high-ranking civil servant for years. With a military background, and psi abilities that surpass the vast majority of mentally gifted folks, she is in a unique position to become Ambassador to other races from other solar systems. In fact, she has been chosen by the government based on her presence in a number of prophetic visions, as have the other members of the First Contact team. Some clairvoyants have seen human-like aliens, some spider-influenced, and some even more horrific (sorry, spider people) aliens. All coming into contact at roughly this time, with the selected First Contact team playing the leading roles.

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“Waking the Dragon” – Typical Paranormal Romance

wakingthedragonWaking the Dragon by Juliette Cross
Lyrical Press: June 9th, 2015 (Paranormal Romance)*

Beach vacation
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I read these because they’re like candy. Fun, quick and easy to devour, and not at all nutritious. I also have a low tolerance for them – reading too many at a time leaves me feeling bloated and a little bit ill.

This one has all the familiar paranormal romance tropes – a brooding, domineering not-quite-human hero who protects and guards the independent human heroine as they protect the world from the big bad evil that threatens to destroy everything. Their initial dislike of each other which quickly transforms into desire and love. Oh, and they’re almost star-crossed, too, with the humans and the half-dragon Morgons not getting along very peacefully and Moira (our heroine) being the scion of one of the most powerful human families. (more…)

Resistance is Futile Lacks Depth, Has Unique Heroine

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Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan

Orbit: May 28th, 2015 (Romantic Science Fiction)*

vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3 The view was nice, but the food was bad (meh)

This book’s premise intrigued me. I don’t often come across books whose protagonists are female redheaded genius mathematicians.

The set-up involves a mysterious, too-good-to-be-true fellowship position. When Connie finally arrives at her new office, however, she discovers that she is not the only bright mathematician to get the job. Which is shrouded in secrecy. As she and her coworkers work to solve the problem they’ve been given, they also poke their noses into the mystery about what problem itself. What are these numbers they’ve been given, and what do they mean? What could be so important and so desperately secret at the same time? (more…)

Irenicon: Part Renaissance Fantasy, Part Allegorical Fantasy, All Interesting

46031_Irenicon_MMP.inddIrenicon by Aidan Harte
(The Wave Trilogy #1)
Published by Jo Fletcher Books, March 29, 2014 (Historical Fantasy)*

My rating: Beach vacation

Irenicon has so many different elements. Alternate history of the European Renaissance variety, steampunk fantasy, understated romance, superhero battles, magical water creatures. It also has elements of religious allegory.

This book tells the story of Captain Giovanni, architect to the Concordian empire, and Sofia, heir to the city of Rasenna. Their lives intertwine when Giovanni is sent to build a bridge over the wily Irenicon river in Rasenna, a city dominated by two gangs. Decades ago, the Irenicon was flooded by a mechanical device built by Concord, to depress the wealth and power of its rival. Lives, homes, and people were destroyed, and since then, two groups of tower-jumping gangs have ruled the north and south sides of the city. Sofia is approaching her 17th birthday, and the day she officially becomes Countess of Rasenna. Her position and birth  make her a powerful pawn in the struggle between the gangs, but she has plans of her own. Giovanni, disgraced architect of Concord, meets her when he arrives to build the bridge over the Irenicon. Though it is a symbol and tool of Concord’s dominion over Rasenna, and will be used by an invading army to pass through the city, Giovanni gives it a different significance – one of unity. As the bridge is built, politics in the city shift, power moving swiftly between the north and south sides. Outside Rasenna, Concord makes plans of its own, which are revealed as the plot advances. (more…)

“Lagoon”: Aliens, shapeshifters, and revolution in Lagos, Nigeria


lagoonLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., April 10th, 2014 (Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy / Science Fiction)*

My rating: It’s complicated (but probably I’d go there again) (3-4 stars)

Lagoon takes place in contemporary Lagos, Nigeria. Three main protagonists, one a marine biologist, one a soldier, and one a famous Ghanaian musician, come together when aliens land in the Lagos Lagoon. Called by a mysterious force to Bar Beach, Adaora, Agu, and Anthony are briefly kidnapped by the aliens and subsequently become the alien ambassador’s main contacts with the human world. They navigate the human, geographical, and alien consequences of the disruption of Lagos by the alien spaceship.

Nnedi Okorafor weaves dozens of perspectives (including those of bats and spiders!) into an intricate tapestry that depicts the story of a city turned upside down and inside out by a peaceful-ish alien invasion. Although Adaora, Anthony, and Agu are the three major narrators in this novel, it is arguably the city itself that is the main protagonist. We, as readers, never really become deeply involved with any of the characters – the most important character development takes place as the city changes under the influence of the alien invasion. Although the aliens come relatively peacefully (but not without their own determination to thrive on Earth, mingling with humans), chaos ensues when the lagoon level rises, flooding the Beach, when sea creatures grow enormous and more threatening, and when the news that aliens would settle in Nigeria reaches the citizens through inexplicable uses of human technologies.

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Lives after Death in: The Waking Engine

waking engineThe Waking Engine by David Edison
Tor Books, February 11, 2014 (Fantasy)*
My rating: I’d go there again

This book is like a tornado, dragging its readers along for a spinning, whirlwind tour of the City Unspoken, a realm where the Dying go to Die their final Death. For when you die, you re-awaken on another planet, in another universe, as yourself but in a slightly different body. The City Unspoken, created by the First People, has become one of the premier destinations for those who meet the criteria and have the desire for the oblivion provided by true Death. It is a seedy, chaotic, and violent city with a population of newly awakened, body-bound, undead, and fae inhabitants.

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Trade Secret: A disappointment for a dedicated fan of the Liaden Universe

tradesecretTrade Secret by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen, November 5th, 2013 (Science Fiction / Space Opera)*

My rating: Vacation by the beach

Disclaimer: The Liaden novels are some of my all-time favorites, and I am devoted to Lee and Miller.

This latest installment just did not achieve the greatness of all the other stories in the Liaden Universe. I felt confused throughout the first half, and certain things still did not make sense even by the end. I ended up reading the whole thing without trying to go back and make sense of it. Would I have done that if I were reading a paper copy? I’m not sure – but on an eReader, it’s not worth it.

The first of Jethri’s stories was published with the Crystal Variation omnibus (loved that one! The stories about how the Korval clan got its start, and especially the anthropomorphic tree!). I read it two years ago and could not remember the context for this follow-up. Which really hindered my ability to understand the plot in this one. I would have found a preliminary summary of what went before extremely helpful in understanding the events that take place in this book.

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Bittersweet Magic: an entertaining urban fantasy

bittersweetmagicBittersweet Magic by Nina Croft
Entangled, November 11th, 2013 (Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy)*

This book definitely falls into the category of guilty pleasure. I’m not sure that it is truly an amazing book, but I had such fun reading it.

Roz, our main character, is some kind of immortal, but she doesn’t know what. In fact, she doesn’t know much about her past at all. She has been indebted to a demon, Asmodai (great demon name, by the way), for 500 years. Five hundred years ago, she agreed to perform 13 unspecified tasks whenever he asks her, in return for her life, and the deaths of the villagers who burned her mother at the stake as a witch and who were all set to burn her, too.

The story opens with Asmodai calling in his 13th and final favor – that Roz find a specific key hidden in a monastery. So Roz goes under cover as a very unlikely nun, in order to find it. Only she gets there too late, witnessing the murders of most of the nuns, and the stealing of the key by a shadowy figure followed by demon dogs. This leads her on a chase for the key, and to Piers’ door. Piers, though Roz doesn’t know it, is a vampire. And Head of the Order of the Shadow Accords (established to keep demons, humans, and elves in line), whom Roz has been taught by Asmodai to fear. (more…)