Category: Adult

Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

Fortune’s Pawn has been compared to Firefly, which doesn’t really do the book justice. Let’s be honest, just about every space opera released in the past five years has been compared to Joss Whedon’s Firefly, which makes the comparison feel stale and lacking when using it for a book like Fortune’s Pawn. Because Fortune’s Pawn is much, much better than Firefly. Rachel Bach’s book is a rollicking, rolling good time, competent even without the misty-eyed Firefly comparisons. This is the book that people who love a good space opera have been waiting for.

Devi is a mercenary, a hard drinking, ambitious woman who takes a spot as security on the Glorious Fool, a cargo ship that’s seen more than its share of action. A year on the Fool is the equivalent to five years in any other tour and will set Devi up for a prestigious assignment with her planet’s king (who functions almost as a deity), so she takes the assignment even though she knows there is definitely something off about the Fool.

This book is the first in a trilogy, and I have to say that the ending left me frustrated just for that reason. Readers that hate cliffhangers (here’s where I raise my hand high) will be irritated by the non-ending. But that’s really the only thing negative thing I can say about this book. I loved Devi, loved her brash, hardheaded nature, her interactions with the rest of the crew. I even enjoyed the romantic aspect of the book, which starts out as insta-lust and grows from there.

A warning to sci-fi fans, though: this book doesn’t read like a sci-fi, not like Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, for example. Instead, this book reads much more like an urban fantasy or even like Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series. There’s the heroine, trying to get the job done, the conspiracies swirling around her, and the love interest, there but completely unavailable. It’s a formula that works for me, and Fortune’s Pawn is no exception. For fans of hard science, this may be a drawback. But for those who enjoy more action than physics, this book should be right up your alley.

I really enjoyed Fortune’s Pawn, and I’m eagerly awaiting book two!

Book Blitz: The Ever After of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

EllaAndMicha[1]

I’m still finding all of the glorious time in the word to catch up on this fantastic series, but that doesn’t stop me from letting YOU know about it! TODAY, as in, RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT you can buy the fourth book in The Secret series, The Ever After of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen RIGHT NOW. I know. There are just so much caps happening up in here!

Now, guess what?! You can read an excerpt from The Ever After of Ella and Micha right here, right now! But what’s that you say? You’ve forgotten what The Secret of Ella and Micha and The Forever of Ella and Micha are about? Well, thanks to your handy dandy YA editor at Novel Thoughts, there are reviews for you. The Secret of Ella and Micha and The Forever of Ella and Micha. I PROMISE a review for the third, The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is coming soon. Ish. Anywho…

An excerpt of The Ever After of Ella and Micha:

“Baby, come on. Let them be. They deserve a beautiful wedding not an elopement in a tacky fake church.” Lila glides her hand up the front of his chest, stands on her tiptoes, and kisses his neck. Then she whispers something in his ear as she plays with his hair.

I’ll admit they make a cute couple, especially now that Lila has this whole grunge thing going. Her blond hair is chin length and streaked with black that matches Ethan’s hair. She’s wearing jeans and a tank top that aren’t name brand like everything she used to wear when we were living together. Her style goes well with Ethan’s laidback look: his plaid shirt and faded jeans and a pair of sneakers that he’s probably owned since he was sixteen. And Lila’s average height allows her to nestle her head against Ethan’s chest comfortably. Looking at them with the sunlight and my house in the backdrop, I find myself wishing I had time to draw them.

After a lot of kissing and whispering in Ethan’s ear, Lila convinces him to stop complaining and he begrudgingly agrees that Vegas is a ridiculous idea and that Micha and I should get married in Star Grove.
“A week is not a lot of time to prepare a wedding,” Lila declares, pulling her sunglasses over her eyes. “Not a real one with decorations, flowers, dresses, tuxes, and guests. God, I wish we had more time to plan this.”

“And I wish you wouldn’t take any time to plan it,” I say, and when she frowns I sigh. “Sorry, I’m just not into wedding stuff.” I round the car to the passenger side of the Chevelle, trailing my finger across a few dings and chips in the black paint that were put there when Micha intentionally crashed it into the snow bank.

Micha opens the driver door and steps back so Ethan can climb into the backseat. “It doesn’t matter what kind of wedding we have,” he says, “just as long as Ella’s there with me. In fact, we don’t even need dresses and tuxes. We could even be naked and standing in my backyard and I’d be okay.” He winks at me over the roof of the car. “As long as we’re together, I’ll be happy and being naked would just be an added bonus.”

This makes Lila giggle as she ducks her head and hops into the backseat with Ethan. I push the seat back, get in the car, and shut the door, then pull the visor down to block the sunlight.
Micha adjusts the driver’s seat before he closes the door and starts the engine. “So is everyone ready for this?” He looks around at the three of us, but when his eyes finally land on me I know he only really cares about my answer.

It takes me a second to answer and he notices my hesitation and his expression starts to fall. But even though my throat feels dry I manage to say, “Of course.” My voice trembles a little.
“Okay then.” Giving me a small but slightly forced smile, he backs down the driveway and drives toward the highway, toward home where all of this started. Where Micha and I first met, first talked, first played, kissed, fooled around, danced, said I love you.
Where Micha and I began.

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Jessica Sorensen[3]About Jessica Sorensen:
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jessica Sorensen, lives in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

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Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

ancillary justiceOn 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.

From debut author Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice is a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.

Writing this review was harder than I thought, because while the setting of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice is complex and multi-layered, the author builds the world in such an effortless way that it feels much simpler. So I’m afraid this review is going to be less review and more me just gushing about this book.

Bottom line: I adored Ancillary Justice.

Breq is an ancillary, one of the fabled “corpse soldiers” of the ship Justice of Toren. In the world of the Radch Empire, ancillaries are soldiers linked to the main Artificial Intelligence of the ship, in effect creating a force that thinks with one mind. The ancillaries are basically dead, people captured and enslaved (for lack of a better word) when the Radch conquered their planets.

Breq is no longer part of Justice of Toren, after a disaster that killed all of her ship officers and ancillaries, leaving just her. It’s a fascinating premise, and Leckie adds in copious amounts of alien etiquette, political intrigue, and good old-fashioned revenge to keep the story moving.

I won’t lie: this is a story that isn’t always easy to read. In the Radch, everyone is referred to by a feminine pronoun, so it’s hard to remember that sometimes the “she” being referred to isn’t actually female. In addition, there are numerous characters, sentient ships, and a rank structure that isn’t always clear (just about all of the human officers are lieutenants, albeit with different levels of responsibility, if that makes sense). All of this forces the reader to completely abandon the world they know and dive head first into the one Leckie builds. It’s a risky premise, and one that the author accomplishes quite well.

Not everyone will like this, though. Sci-fi readers expecting something a little faster paced and a little more commercial in feeling (like say Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series) may be left feeling confused and bored. There is a ton of necessary world-building in this book, and the political back and forth can be a tad confusing at times. But die hard sci-fi fans looking for something new will most definitely find it in Ancillary Justice. All in all, the book does what sci-fi should (and doesn’t always) do well: take the reader to a place both familiar and alien as well as tell a damn good story.

I highly recommend Ancillary Justice for fans of good old-fashioned sci-fi and everyone looking for something satisfyingly different.

Video: A Life in Books by Warren Lehrer

a life in booksWritten and designed by award-winning author/artist Warren Lehrer, A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is an incredibly original exploration of one man’s use of books as a means of understanding himself, the people around him, and a half-century of American/global events. It celebrates the mysteries and contradictions of the creative process, and grapples with the future of the book as a medium, and the lines that separate and blur truth, myth, and fiction.

A LIFE IN BOOKS is an illuminated novel containing 101 books within it, all written by Lehrer’s protagonist—Bleu Mobley—who finds himself in prison looking back on his life and career. Each of the 101 books within is represented by its first-edition cover design and catalog copy. More than a third of the books are excerpted. The resulting retrospective contrasts the published writings (which read like short stories) with the confessional memoir, forming a most unusual portrait of a well-intentioned, obsessively inventive (if ethically challenged) visionary. Lehrer acts as the book’s editor, presenting Bleu Mobley’s “life in books” to the public.

To learn more about the book, or about Warren Lehrer, please visit www.alifeinbooks.net or on Facebook.

Here is what others have to say about this book:

“In A Life In Books, Warren Lehrer has written a profound commentary on this nausea-inducing unique moment in the grand transition from Silly Mind to Machine Mind. Amusingly and smartly enough, he may have helped transition ‘the last great American novel’ to the first ‘great illustrated novel’ which is how novels started. A Life In Books is brilliant, beautiful, delicious for eyes and mind.” -Andrei Codrescu poet, novelist, journalist, public radio commentator

“For anyone who has ever resisted judging a book by its cover, now’s your chance: In A Life In Books, author and graphic design visionary Warren Lehrer crafts a vivid kaleidoscopic odyssey that frames one man’s life through not one, but one hundred different books—and book jackets. In this quirky, yet unmistakably modern evocation of the illuminated manuscript, Lehrer’s book reminds us that we are what we do. And, for that matter, what we publish.” -Jessica Helfand, graphic designer, writer, educator, founding editor of Design Observer

“In the era of cookie-cutter books and rubber-stamped stories, Warren Lehrer’s A Life In Books is fresh, original, idiosyncratic, beautiful, and important.” -Rabih Alameddine novelist and painter, author of Koolaids, The Perv, Hakawati, and I, the Divine

A Life In Books is unique, incredible, affecting, meticulous, the perfect hide-and-seek game, and honestly, one of those works that seems so obvious and fertile as a structure, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before. Am I gushing? I just love it. This is an important book.” -Stephen Farrell design innovator, Vas An Opera In Flatland and Toc: A New Media Novel

Review: Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

archangel's legionAngels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.

Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same . . . 

Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series is on my insta-buy list. You know, that list of books you buy no matter what the cover art and synopsis look like? So I had pretty high expectations for this book, especially since this would be the first book dealing with the central couple, Elena and Raphael, in a while (the last two books dealt with a couple of Raphael’s lieutenants with cameos by our central couple). I was really looking forward to this book, and for the most part I was satisfied.

For the most part.

Archangel’s Legion, the sixth installment of the series, opens on a war brewing in New York, the heart of Raphael’s domain. In the Guild Hunter world, archangels rule huge swaths of territory, with angels as a whole acting as sort of a ruling class. Next in the food chain are the vampires, which are created by the angels from a toxin that occurs in their blood. And at the bottom of the pile are the humans, who really only exist because the angels let them.
Needless to say, the heroine Elena is a human (or at least starts out that way) and her human tendencies are about eighty percent of the tension in the book: how she relates to angels and to the vampires that she used to hunt as a sort of angelic bounty hunter (because the vampires are indentured servants of a sort for their first hundred years). It’s a fantastic set up, and one that I really dig.

But this installment was lacking compared to the other books in the series. Which, by the way, should be read in order. This isn’t an episodic series where reader can pick up in the middle. A lot of plot development happens in the first three books (not so much in the fourth and fifth), and readers coming in on Archangel’s Legion would be totally lost. So if angels and vampire shenanigans sound like your thing, go back to Angel’s Blood, the first book, and start from there.

As for Archangel’s Legion, while I enjoyed the book (I have a lot of love for the central couple, so how could I not?) I felt like the balance between the super hot sex scenes and the action was a little skewed. Raphael and Elena spend about a third of the book making smoldering glances at each other and then doing it. Not that this is a problem, but when a war is brewing and immortal beings are getting killed by a mysterious plague, I need fewer sexytimes and more getting $#!% done.

You should be saving the world, folks! Get to it.

Three quarters of the book later, the action scenes finally happen…and then the book is over. The end. The reader gets a bit of a bombshell, and then is left waiting for the next book. That is why I didn’t love this book as much I did the others. This book felt like a build-up to book seven instead of a full-fledged story in its own right. The writing was good, the sexy scenes were sexy, the action was whoa, but the plot felt half-finished, as though the author was saving a few big events for the next book instead of putting everything out on the table.

Archangel’s Legion will appeal to die-hard fans of the series, especially those patient enough to wait for the big payoff. But those looking for the high-stakes momentum of the first three books may be a bit disappointed.

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