Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allan

The Art of Space Travel

The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allan

Published by: Tor.com on July 27, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

After the first mission intended to put people on Mars was a tragic failure, it has taken thirty years for people to be ready to try again. As a hotel housekeeper, Emily’s only connection to the mission is the fact that two of the mission’s astronauts will be coming to her hotel to participate in the final press conference before the launch. But Emily’s mother, Moolie, has something that Emily needs to know. And that something may just set Emily’s entire world on its head.

When I read science fiction, I admit that I do like the speculative elements of the story. But what is most important is the character development. Who are these people? Why should I care about them and what is happening to them? How are they going to overcome the obstacles that are thrown in their way? And Nina Allan definitely delivers in all of those areas. Although this is novelette length, readers get an opportunity to see in to Emily’s world–and to be right there with her when everything changes in ways she never expected or imagined.

Scrum by P.D. Singer

Scrum

Scrum by P.D. Singer

Published by: Goodreads M/M Romance Group on August 16, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Robin is not what one would call a rugby fan. But when his friend Sebastian drags him out and he sees the new player, Yves, Robin is totally in love with the game. Or, at least, the player. Their eyes seem to meet often, and Yves is all smiles. Which leaves Robin wondering if that smile is specifically for him or if it’s all in his head. And he really, really hopes it’s not all in his head…

This is an entertaining short story that would certainly hit the spot for those who like the athlete-fan romance. There are all of the elements that you might expect. And then there are a couple of unexpected twists that are likely to leave readers wanting more…

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon

The Tomato Thief

“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon

Series: Jackalope Wives, #2
Published by:
 Apex Magazine on January 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Grandma Harken lives out on the edge of town, away from most everyone else. Many speculate on why that is: Is it for privacy? Is she a witch? Does she just not like people? But maybe the real question is: Does it even matter? One thing Grandma Harken does like are her prized tomatoes. When they start disappearing from her garden, however, she finds herself with her own set of questions about the thief. And what follows is a double lesson on why one should never make assumptions or judge people based on the little information we can get from just a glance or two.

There was no question for me that this was destined to win the Hugo Award in the novelette category once I had a chance to read all the finalists. In a relatively short space, Ursula Vernon packs in a well-paced fantasy story with a touch of mystery and some action to go along with it. The storytelling is gripping, and while the overall message seems like a serious one, I felt a lightness to it all that kept it from becoming too heavy. I do find reviewing shorter fiction to be difficult because sometimes I worry about having enough to talk about without spoiling the plot. There is so much here, though, that I know I have not even come close. The story is available to read for free on the Apex Magazine website, so I suggest checking it out when you get a chance.

On Point by Annabeth Albert

On Point

On Point by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, Book 3
Published by: Carina Press on June 5, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Is it better to have someone you love in your life as a friend than to pursue romance and risk ruining that connection forever? That’s Maddox Horvat’s dilemma: his best friend, Ben Tovey, is everything he could want in a man. But their friendship, and the fact that they are SEALs in the same unit, makes him hesitate to make a move. Of course, Ben is not exactly opposed to the idea himself–he thinks Maddox is great. But past relationships gone wrong make him cautious about ruining their connection for a tiny shot at something more. When the two of them are stranded together on a mission awaiting rescue, they find themselves forced to confront their feelings–and each other.

There is something about Annabeth Albert’s writing that always draws me in. Her development and depiction of characters and relationships feels real without relying on tropes. Her storytelling is engaging, and I always find myself rooting for the characters from very early on in the book. And this one is no exception. Even though I found myself wanting to bop both of these guys on the head more than once for being too obtuse to acknowledge their feelings and make something of it. A well-written continuation of this series–which does not need to be read in order.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.]

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Peter Darling

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Published by: Less Than Three Press on February 15, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Peter Pan left Neverland ten years ago, willing to give growing up a try, even if it was in a world where he never felt comfortable. But they say time will always tell, and in this case it told Peter that he could not leave his truth behind. So he returns to Neverland, only to find that the game has changed. In fact, there is far more danger than fun. And when he crosses paths with his arch-nemesis, Captain Hook, he finds that time has also brought about new feelings that he never experienced before…

I love a well-written adaptation. And I love fantasy. So this is an absolutely winning combination for me as a reader. This is also the first work by Austin Chant that I have read, but I am willing to label myself a fan. The complexity of the characters, the slow and organic reveals, and the ways of being true to the original while telling a new story demonstrate a skill in storytelling. We definitely need more well-written stories with transgender characters like this to reflect the diversity of human experience. And while this is a fantasy story, the humanity is universal.

The Bones of the Past by Craig A. Munro

The Bones of the Past

The Bones of the Past by Craig A. Munro

Series: The Books of Dust and Bone, Book 1
Published by: Inkshares on May 30, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

There are threats to the people in the kingdom of Bialta that one cannot always see. And even when they can be seen, they are not easy to defeat. The Night Guard, an elite and specially trained force, are responsible for rooting out these threats and eliminating them. Salt never expected that he would find himself among their ranks, yet here he is.

Nial hasn’t had the greatest childhood. Her father is not the most attentive, and he’s quite fond of the drink. So when a mysterious new friend arrives and offers her power beyond her imagination, she takes it. But the power may be darker than Nial understood, and there’s a chance this power may also be beyond her control.

Add to this the mysterious reappearance of a long-lost city and the rise of a vicious tyrant, and the relatively quiet lives of the people of Bialta–and the world–are about to be changed in unexpected ways.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I picked this book up. Yes, I read the blurb, as I always do. But I guess I hadn’t expected just the sheer amount of people and places that the reader is introduced to here. That said, the author does an excellent job of keeping everything clearly defined for readers to follow. Their motivations aren’t always entirely clear, but that’s part of the mystery that I anticipate will be revealed in future installments. I am looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.]

Unexpected Summer Break

The blog has been quiet for a while, and here’s why:

I am working on a doctorate degree in education, and my summer coursework has been a bit more intense than expected.  Additionally, I’ve had three trips this summer (two international) that took more preparation and energy than I had initially planned.

But I do have good news:

We’re back to normal business starting tomorrow. The upside of all of this travel is that I have ready MANY books, and I am excited to start sharing them with you all again.