Tag Archives: genre: science-fiction

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

Cold Summer

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

Published by: Sky Pony Press on May 2, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Kale Jackson has an exciting special ability, but it is one that he is beginning to think is not quite so exciting anymore. He travels through time. That might sound fascinating to many people, but Kale cannot control it. Though he can usually tell when he’s likely to travel shortly before he does, he can’t stop it or force it to happen. And with his recent travels taking him back to World War II, fighting on the front lines as a sharpshooter, the danger has taken much of the fun out of the whole experience. Of course there’s also the fact that he cannot explain to most people why he disappears for days at a time without any notice. They would never believe him–including his own father.

But one person who has always believed Kale is Harper, a childhood friend who used to live next door. And when Kale finds out she’s returned for the summer, he has the smallest glimmer of hope that quickly fades. In the years that have gone by Kale has changed. But so has Harper. Although she promised she would never ask Kale where he travels, she is more assertive and insistent that Kale not resign himself to being alone. The two quickly reforge a friendship that has the potential to become something more. That is, until Harper looks up Kale’s involvement in World War II online. What she finds has the potential to change everything.
This is a wonderfully written young adult science fiction story that doesn’t rely on all of the tropes that are so common these days in the genre. Yes, there’s angst and a budding relationship, but they don’t drive the story. Instead we see Kale, a young man who feels very much at the mercy of this thing he can’t control or explain, finding his way back to feeling like he has some agency over his life. And we see Harper, a young woman who has recently claimed her own agency, working to feel comfortable with her choices while trying to help Kale do the same. And everyone will have to love Uncle Jasper. Definitely recommended reading!

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

The Relics of Thiala by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

The Relics of Thiala

The Relics of Thiala by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Series: Packmasters, Book 1
Published by: Beryll & Osiris Brakhaus on February 15, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

The time of the Packmasters is in the past. But although they were wiped out, some of their genetically engineered bestiae were kept around. And while that may have seemed like an innocent thing to do, people need to take care with handling things they may not understand. And when Cat crosses paths with Ana, the two bond in an unexpected way–the bond of a Packmaster to her bestiae. To understand this bond, they will need to understand the world of the Packmasters and find out exactly what happened 20 years ago in a war that predates them. Perhaps the ways of the Packmasters haven’t been completely eradicated. And if that is the case, everyone may be in more danger than they realize…

I’m really intrigued by the world in which this story takes place. I feel like there’s a history here that has some interesting layers to be unraveled as this series continues. And I also am interested to see how the dynamic between Ana and her bestiae–especially Cat–plays out going forward.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the authors via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Astounding! by Kim Fielding

Astounding

Astounding! by Kim Fielding

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 26, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Carter Evans founded the speculative fiction magazine Astounding! because he wanted to have an impact on the genre. And while he did help launch several authors–including his ex-boyfriend–the magazine is on its last leg. He expects he may only be able to publish one more issue. Which is why the stories from J. Harper are a distraction he doesn’t need. They’re among some of the worst writing he’s ever read, they follow the same general format, and they just keep coming. So Carter writes a brutally honest rejection letter on a lark while he’s drinking one evening with no intention of ever sending it. But when he wakes up the next morning, he realizes he’s done just that. Feeling awful about being so rude, Carter drives from Seattle to Portland to apologize in person. And when he meets John Harper, he discovers that he is a sweet and charming (and attractive!) man, who is a fan of the magazine and graciously invites Carter into his home. There’s something else: John also claims to be from another planet. It’s a lot for Carter to take in, but as a fan of science fiction, shouldn’t it follow that some aspect of those stores might somehow come true? Despite his uncertainties, Carter decides he wants to get to know John better. What could it hurt?

This is a fun and entertaining read. It’s not necessarily a comedy, but there’s a lightness to it that I really appreciated. Carter’s in a rut, but he doesn’t wallow. And John is just so incredibly endearing that I think it would be impossible for a reader to not be drawn to him. Another great romantic journey from Kim Fielding that I highly recommend!

Soldier Mine by Amber Kell

Soldier Mine

Soldier Mine by Amber Kell

Series: The Thresl Chronicles, Book 1
Published by: Total-E-Bound on March 11, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

During an attack by a group of colleagues, Kreslan Piers is saved by an unlikely hero. And he learns that his life changed in that moment. The Thresl–a shape-shifting companion creature–has imprinted on Kres, and that is something that cannot be undone. A soldier like him wouldn’t normally have a Thresl companion, so he’s sent off to learn more about his new relationship and how to connect with his likely new beau. But Kres’s Thresl is no ordinary Thresl. Vohne is actually royalty. And he has memories of past lives in which he and Kres keep finding each each other, and he believes that destiny has a part to play in their lives. But there are challenges that come with being royal and having power–challenges that may not only threaten Kres and Vohne’s relationship but also their lives…

This is an interesting and relatively quick read. As a reader, I was quickly immersed in the world and never left it until I finished the book. It’s a good choice for fans of science fiction, romance, and stories of a hint of mystery and betrayal.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

Skyships Over Innsmouth

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

Published by: DSP Publications on August 2, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Twenty years ago, the world changed for humanity. In an event known only as the Cataclysm, everyone lost their memories. They lost not only memories of who they are but also how the world worked. Technological advances were all lost. Relying on a small number of books that have survived, society has started anew.

The Scout and Ranger Corps was started to seek out any missing survivors and to acquire additional resources that may have been left behind. Dev is the captain of a ship involved in this work, and he’s been joined by Shay, a scholar who has spent time looking for clues to secrets of the past. They are on their way to Innsmouth, Massachusetts, to try to learn about this mysterious city that doesn’t show up on any maps.

What awaits them is beyond anything they could have expected. It turns out humanity is not alone. And the true threat is borne right out of their own imaginations.

I loved the concept of this book. An omnipotent villain who fashions their weapon out of old-school science fiction texts? Not only is it an interesting throwback, but it’s an interesting notion to see people’s own ideas used against them in this way. But I found the execution to be challenging for me. Most of these key aspects of the story seem to be glossed over. And the resolution seemed way too easy.

There’s also the issue of Dev and Shay’s relationship. Talk about 0 to 100 in less than 60 seconds. How these two go from the occasional glance to pledging their undying love with nothing in between seemed far-fetched, even for a speculative fiction novel.

But I’m still giving this a mild recommendation. Why? Because if you go in knowing these things, I think it can be fun and enjoyable. It’s one of those books where the concept itself is so fun and intriguing, everything else is secondary and can be overlooked.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Native Wind by A.M. Burns


Native Wind

Native Wind by A.M. Burns

Series: Native Ingenuity, Book 1
Published by: DSP Publications on July 19, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

After the murder of his family, Trey McAllister found a home among the Comanche. Not only did they give him a place to live and a tribe to support him, but his innate magical abilities led to him being taken on as a shaman’s apprentice. The new home also gave Trey the opportunity to bond more closely with his friend Grey Talon. And their relationship quickly became more to both of them than they might otherwise have imagined.

As part of a bargain made by the tribe’s shaman, Trey and Grey Talon find themselves on a mission to track down a dragon’s daughter. But it’s not just a simple tracking mission. It’s a task that may bring them face-to-face with people more vile and more powerful than they’ve faced before. The two of them will need to work together, and they’ll need to be willing to rely on any extra help they might find along the way.

There’s quite a convergence of genre here. There are elements of historical fiction when it comes to place and people. Then one will find some fantasy in the use of magic. There’s mythology with the mention of spirits of the elements and dragons. And the mechanical creations that show up early in the book bring in a healthy helping of steampunk. But comes together in a way that really works.

This is one that I finished in a single sitting. Not only is it a relatively easy read, but it’s engaging. I had no real desire to put it down and go do something else until it was finished. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I am certainly looking forward to more.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran (Ed.)

Beyond the Woods

Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran (Editor)

Published by: Night Shade Books on July 5, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Who didn’t love fairy tales as children? And for many of us that fascination has never died. There’s something about the possibilities and the lessons that these stories provide. And even when we’ve heard a story time and time again, it can still keep all its magic.

In this anthology, Paula Guran has collected some of the best re-tellings of our favorite fairy tales in recent memory. These twists on old standards and adaptations breathe new life into these classic stories. You’ll find yourself lost in the pages of this book, and it will be well worth it when you come out on the other side.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.]

Department of Truth by Jennifer Rose Jorgenson

Department of Truth by Jennifer Rose Jorgenson

Published by: Daily Science Fiction on June 7, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

 

In the year 2230, Emmett Wright works for the Department of Truths, a government agency focused on citing people for deception and ensuring historical accuracy. Which is why he’s troubled for having told his son what some would call a little white lie. But it’s the first lie Emmett’s ever told.

It’s no surprise, then, when Emmett realizes he’s being followed. Yes, it seems odd they would have found out about the lie so quickly. But at the same time, he knows that employees of the Department are held to a higher standard.

How he’s going to get out of this one is something that’s certainly beyond him…

This was a fun play on a situation I think most people can relate to with the added twist of Emmett’s requirement to always tell the truth. So many times–probably every day–we all have moments when we’re not completely truthful. Whether it’s to spare someone’s feelings, to keep private thoughts to ourselves, or to simply avoid making a big deal when one’s not needed: We all engage in small deceptions. But what would it be like if we couldn’t do that? If those small twists we make could get us into trouble? Would the world and our lives be different? And how could we find a way out when we stumble into that territory?

After the End by Damien Angelica Walters

After the End by Damien Angelica Walters

Published by: Daily Science Fiction on June 10, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

What would it be like to be a child in the aftermath of an epidemic that wipes out most of the population? For something so devastating to happen while you’re still in your formative years? It seems like it would be a tough way to learn about the ways of the world. And learning the hard lessons about humanity can make one grow up way too fast.

But one can’t change their circumstances. All we can ever do is try our best to live within them, make the most of what we have. And at some point, we all have to leave childhood behind…

This was an interesting and sobering first-person account of what it means to be a young girl in what followed after a deadly epidemic that wiped out most of the population. And it was not one of those stories of an epic journey and fight to survive. It was the reality of living without having access to everything you need. It showed that the struggle doesn’t always lend itself to glamorous action shots that can be filmed for the big screen. And that makes it an incredibly powerful short story.

Love Unmasked by Dale Cameron Lowry

Love Unmasked

Love Unmasked by Dale Cameron Lowry

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 1, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Aaron Loreto is a shifter, but he’s not one that’s well-known or often appreciated. In a world where shifters are known to humans, raccoon shifters aren’t exactly considered highbrow. And Aaron’s other self has proven to be too much for past boyfriends.

When Aaron meets Philip MacRory, he’s drawn to the man immediately. There’s something about Philip that makes Aaron think he can let his guard down. But past experience still makes him wary of divulging his secret.

But as they spend more time together, Aaron learns he may not be the only one with a secret…

Is it okay to call a story adorable and fun? Because that’s exactly what I have to say about this story. It’s a unique shifter story–how often does one see a raccoon shifter?–and the characters are great. This is definitely one of my personal favorites of this year’s Daily Dose series from Dreamspinner Press. I definitely suggest giving it a read.