Murder & Mystery in the British Navy: “Tenacity”

26698944Tenacity by J.S. Law
Henry Holt & Company: November 3, 2015
Genre: Mystery; Thriller
Review Source: Free from publisher.

I’d go there again!

Tenacity was an unexpected thriller (in a good way) that was refreshing, suspenseful, and introduces readers to a heroine in a unique situation.

Lieutenant Danielle “Dan” Lewis is an investigator for the Special Investigative Branch (SIB) of the British military, and the lone female investigator at that. Following an investigation that both heralded her as a hero and reviled her amongst her colleagues, Dan has come back to her roots after taking a year sabbatical. What her colleagues are unaware of is that Dan’s sabbatical was motivated after she was attacked and beaten on the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of the man that made her a household name. Now another woman has been beaten and murdered and her husband has seemingly committed suicide. Only Dan sees the connection between her own attack and that of the murder victim’s and that’s only because she’s never shared what happened to her. (more…)

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!

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.


Dreaming about time travel, romance, and adventure in “The Dreamer”

dreamerThe Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale by Lora Innes
IDW Publishing 2009-2014 (Graphic Novels / SciFi-Fantasy / YA)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure! I’m going to go back again and again and again.

Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I fell right into this webcomic, and right into the Revolutionary War in 1776. And I can’t wait to get my hands on copies of the graphic novels.

Beatrice Whaley (Bea) is a young high schooler in Boston who suddenly starts reliving the Revolutionary War in her dreams. She “wakes up” in the past, just as she’s being rescued from a British ship by a handsome and daring revolutionary officer named Alan Warren. She can’t remember her past, or her recent captivity – just her own life as a modern-day high schooler. She and Alan have a romantic history in the past (untangle that one, if you can!), which she also does not remember. While she’s asleep in the modern world, she rescues Alan from lobsterbacks, gets caught in an ambush, retreats with Alan’s regiment, and generally gets in the army’s way… finally learning her history – firsthand! While she’s awake in the modern world, she’s a talented thespian with a crush on a football player/thespian, and not a very dedicated student.


Here There Be Dragons!


Fellow Book Adventurers,

Today, I bring you Dragons. Because whyever did vampires and werewolves replace dragons?

As a direct result of my beginning Moth and Spark, which is off to an excellent start (stay tuned for a review later this week), I have decided to share with you a list of 11 Books About Dragons Most Likely To…


Autumn Getaway Itinerary 2013

The following are a few of the upcoming books I can’t wait to read. I’ve learned about them through various sources, including The Book Smugglers, io9, and the Fantasy Book Critic.


The Moon King by Neil Williamson
Publisher: Newcon Press
Date: April 2014

Luck monkeys? That’s all it takes to interest me in this book (discovered on The Book Smugglers’ site), but really there’s a lot more here to look forward to. Here’s the description from the author’s website:

In an island city dominated by the influence of the moon and ruled by a benevolent king, nothing has changed for centuries. But now something is disturbing the long-established patterns of life in Glassholm. Luck monkeys, forgotten technology and mysterious, whispering children abound, and a rebel engineer is called upon to fix an ancient machine, a retired policeman feels duty-bound to investigate a series of brutal murders and an outsider artist is drawn into the social unrest now bubbling at the heart of the city under the moon.

Autumn Bones (Agent of Hel #2) by Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc
Date: October 1, 2013

Fascinating mythology and folklore, solid worldbuilding, lighthearted tone and a highly entertaining protagonist made the first in this series my favorite novel (so far – I still have to read the Kushiel series) by this author. I can’t wait for the sequel, to find out more about Daisy Johanssen, half-incubus, half-human agent of the Norse goddess Hel.

Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel.

Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one.

He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything.

shamanShaman by Kim Stanley Robinson
Publisher: Orbit
Date: September 3, 2014
I’ve never read anything by Kim Stanley Robinson before, but I love stories about prehistory (read: Jean Auel), and one by a master of science fiction? Sounds amazing.

A new epic set in the Paleolithic era from New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson.

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Mars trilogy and 2312 comes a powerful, thrilling and heart-breaking story of one young man’s journey into adulthood — and an awe-inspiring vision of how we lived thirty thousand years ago.


Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Publisher: Orbit
Date: October 1st, 2013

A spaceship soldier? The last time I read one of these was Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang.

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

theboneseasonThe Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date: August, 20th 2013

Technically, this one is already out. But I’m still anticipating it.

 It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

shewalksindarknessShe Walks In Darkness by Evangeline Walton
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Date: September 1st, 2013

By the author of the Mabinogion Tetralogy!

A gorgeous Tuscan villa harboring a terrible secret houses this original harrowing adventure of ancient mystery and modern intrigue.

Archaeologist Richard Keyes and his resourceful young bride, Barbara, are expecting a blissful honeymoon in a welcoming new country. But from the moment they arrive in their secluded new home, circumstances conspire against them. A car crash leaves Richard lying unconscious in a bed surrounded by frescoes of a benevolent goddess, while a far more sinister deity in the courtyard seems to gain power in the night.

Meanwhile, in Barbara’s hour of need, a beautiful, young Tuscan appears, and she is drawn to his seductive charms. A conflict has been reawakened after generations of sacrifice, betrayal, and madness, and the key to the mystery lies in the catacombs under the villa.

This first publication of a newly-discovered novel from classic fantasist Evangeline Walton (The Mabinogoion series) is sure to please fans of all genres.

shadowsShadows by Robin McKinley
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Date: September 26, 2013

Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors EVER. Enough said.

A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

Classics: On Basilisk Station

on basilisk station On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Publisher: Baen Books
Date (original): April 1993
Genre: Science Fiction / Space Opera
Series: Book One of Honor Harrington, Honorverse
Sequel: The Honor of the Queen
My rating: I’d go there again!

This space opera opens as Honor Harrington, a commander in the Manticoran Navy, transfers to her new command. Her ship is small and old, but still space-worthy, and she settles in to her new position optimistically, even though the ship’s armaments have been completely re-vamped, and not in a promising way.

Unfortunately, her ambition is blocked by an Admiral trying to avoid losing face after a radical but disappointing demonstration in the ship’s first wargames. Harrington and her ship get sent to the back of beyond, a place called Basilisk Station, which is the place Her Majesty’s Navy sends its screw-ups and oddballs to rusticate.

The plot thickens when Honor’s superior officer, nominally in charge of the fleet at Basilisk Station, excuses himself (and his ship) from duty on claims that his ship needs repairs. This leaves Honor with too many responsibilities and not enough hands to fulfill them. Nevertheless, she tackles the problems with determination and courage.

Basilisk Station, although neglected, is in fact a valuable hub for hyperspace travel, and the People’s Republic of Haven, a neighboring and warmongering system, is eager to find new sources of revenue. Fortunately for the Manticore system, Harrington is determined to do her job, and do it well, even though Basilisk Station has had a succession of incompetent and uninterested naval officers stationed there.

Harrington and her crew muzzle smugglers, conduct customs inspections, and work closely with the local government on station and on planet. The situation heats up when her vigilance leads to the discovery of a nefarious and mysterious plot.

The villains are never in doubt, not even in the characters’ minds, but this doesn’t harm the story. In fact, the mystery is in what exactly the villains have planned.

The story is so complex, with detailed intra-Manticoran and interstellar political intrigues that affect Harrington’s position and her ability to do her job, the plot development on-planet and on-station at Basilisk, the descriptions of space physics, that it is very dense reading. For all that, the book is well-paced with very few dull moments.

Additionally, the interpersonal conflicts and tensions, as Harrington struggles to lead a demoralized crew, are fascinating. In particular, the difficult relationship Harrington has with her first officer adds interest and draws sympathy from readers, but I found myself very interested in many of the secondary characters as well. Harrington herself is an impressive role model, only slightly imperfect (I love how the author, when using some of her crew as narrators, hints that they think she is perfect, and then when it switches back to Harrington’s narration, the reader sees how imperfect she thinks she is.)

The action builds smoothly to a page-turning chase scene climax.

Caution: the violence is graphic. Very gruesome, but very evocative of the dangers of (space) warfare.

Sometimes I found myself confused by the technical descriptions of the physics behind space travel, and the mechanical descriptions of malfunctioning ship parts. Otherwise, this book was exciting, well-written, and fascinating on so many different levels (politics, battle, interpersonal relationships). I look forward to continuing the series.


Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon  Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro    Grimspace by Ann Aguirre    Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair