Reading Fanatic ReviewsScience Fiction
SEER by Ryan Beck
One Could Almost Imagine It Happening…
While I enjoy the genre, I don’t read science fiction as often as I would like. I am continually on the lookout at my favorite book review sites for novels that I think will be interesting. I tend to like full-out space opera, humorous sci-fi romance, or technology-driven dystopian urban fantasy that is just a click or two off of our own capabilities. Yes, that is an odd grab bag of sub-genres to like, but what can I say? This story is one of the third variety. In this novel’s world, there is a ubiquitous technology that seems to anticipate an individual’s every want and need. This creates such a pleasant environment for people that they do not think about all the data that is being collected and what is being done with it. Having had some fairly recent scandals about what big companies do with our data, this particular plot seemed very on-point and applicable to our world. The author has added levels of technological complexity to it, compared to our world. (But I could totally see this kind of technology happening; it actually does in some limited applications.) The book focuses on one young woman who becomes a part of the rebel movement, though she does have some qualms about it. For a science fiction story, I thought that the characters were well drawn. Aside from the fascinating technology and modern relevance, I thought the author did an exceptional job with the plotting. The pacing was just right, with all the reveals and action seeming to happen at the precise time in the story to keep you turning the pages. I quite enjoyed this book, and if you like technology-driven dystopian sci-fi, you will most likely find it an engrossing read.
Henry and Sophie by Grant Eagar
Henry and Sophie*
Elements Out of Place
I was not wild about this book. I’m having a hard time putting a finger on precisely why I didn’t like it. Maybe part of it is the opening scene where there was a catfight, brief though it was, that didn’t seem to fit with the story. I felt other elements seemed out of place. I was so looking forward to digging into a steampunk story, as I don’t read them that often and I usually find them quite fun. The book does have some action, though, so if you read it, you won’t be bored. And perhaps you won’t find it to be such an odd combination as I thought it was.
Genetic Imperfections by Steve Hadden
Love and Redemption Overwhelmed by Greed
I was intrigued by the medical thriller aspect of this book, which is why I chose it at my favorite book review website. While the medical thriller part was certainly present, I felt like the novel had issues on a variety of fronts. First, it seemed like every time we met a new character, we got a very large information dump about them, their story, and how they related to the bigger story. I hate data dumps in novels in general, but to just keep running across them every time there was a new viewpoint character or a new character got a little wearisome.
Second, I am an RN, and I found the way that the author portrayed the hospital setting was grossly inaccurate. I hate that in stories. Given our ever-connected, networked world, it seems to me like authors could simply go on nursing groups on Facebook or other forums and ask if anybody would be willing to share their knowledge so books can be accurate. I know I would help an author out. There are so many things that are inaccurate, but I think the one that bothered me the most is that a nurse would just let a patient who survived an airplane crash just walk out of his room on his own. We actually have some pretty strict protocols in the hospital for mobility. A patient like him would have had to have been signed off by PT as able to walk around the unit independently. A nurse couldn’t make this decision and just let him go. And given what has happened to him, a good nurse—even with such permission—would have walked with him or had a nursing assistant walk with him to make sure he was safe on his own. I could go on about the medical, but I will not.
I also had issues with the characters. I had really hoped that this would be a story of redemption and love, as promised in the book description. But most of the characters were motivated by such greed and were so ugly that any positive themes felt completely overwhelmed. Too, probably because of the information dumps, I never felt like I connected with the characters, especially those at the heart of what should have been the romance and redemption. So I never really bought those themes for them anyway. I also did find issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. All in all, I found this to be a disappointing book.
Million Miles Away by Alice Bane
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
Million Miles Away*
Sci-Fi Romance with Serious Twists and Turns
Well, this book had some surprising twists and turns! I don’t read a lot of sci-fi romance, because I find it’s usually pretty—pardon the pun—out there in terms of the romance. (I usually read historical romance.) This one appeared to be different when I first saw it on my favorite book review site, and it is, indeed. The heroine finds herself with an array of maladies she can’t explain but is impacting her life more and more. Very near the start of the book, while napping, she senses herself being some place else. Come to find out, she sometimes travels to an alien ship that is near Earth, previously unbeknownst to her. She comes to know the doctor who takes care of her there; he says she is being treated for a particular parasite. But, as we find out a little after the midpoint of the book, he has not been truthful with her. It definitely comes as a surprise. The evolving relationship between the heroine and hero, this alien doctor, is fascinating to watch as they learn more about each other and their different species and eventually fall for each other. The book has another shocking twist at the end, and very unfortunately, ends on a cliffhanger. I so hate it when books end on a cliffhanger! In fact, I might not have picked up this book if I had realized that, though I am glad I did as I found this to be a good read. I’ll be watching for the second half as I’m very curious to see how this all turns out.
The Mountain’s Shadow by Cecilia Dominic
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson
The Mountain's Shadow*
Pacing Off But Better Toward End
This is a quirky combination of paranormal urban fantasy and medical thriller. I felt like the pacing was a bit off. It started too slowly, spending much time on revealing background and slice-of-life moments rather than some good, gripping action. There is a lot going on in this book, so much so at times that it was difficult to keep everything and everybody straight. I particularly liked the science aspects of the story. While taking place in a fantastical setting, it still seems realistic. I thought that perhaps there was a little too much exposition, even though it was well done. I kept wanting more to happen in the first half, which is never good in a thriller. Still, I stuck with it, and I am glad I did as the pacing and action did pick up in the second half of the story.
Gullible’s Travels & Taxing Rabble by Rachel Ford
Gullible's Travels & Taxing Rabble*
Good Concept, Not Well Realized
What an odd book! As the title suggests, there are some references and subtle nods to the original Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. The book opens with a scene where the protagonists are before an intergalactic/interdimensional council that is looking into their inappropriate uses of a time machine. They can either surrender the machine or become enforcement agents who track down people much like themselves and try to right their wrongs. I like the concept of this book, but I don’t think it was well realized by the author. Parts of it seem quite slow, and sometimes the humor falls flat. They’re also definitely issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. I found multiple mistakes, like missing commas that made for problems with meaning and wrong words/misspellings (e.g., curios/curious). I did receive an ARC copy, but the ones in my first 10% were still in the original at Amazon, which is always a disappointment.
Violet Souls by Abbey MacMunn
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)
Violet-Eyed Aliens Among Us
How to classify this book… How about alien shifter romance thriller? Yes, this book has a lot going on. The heroine’s world is quickly rocked when she finds out that she is an alien. There is a bad guy after her because he craves power, and he needs her to get it. The heroin has a bonded mate, but she doesn’t presently know him or recognize him. But he knows and remembers her and seeks to protect her while helping her learn about their society and her powers. The book was a little awkwardly worded in places, but the author kept a book moving with lots of fast-paced action. I really liked Quinn and Lexie, the heroine’s little girl. Jane was a fun character, too. I hope we see more of all these characters as well as find out more about the home planet of Evox.
Time Tourist Outfitters, Ltd. by Christy Nicholas
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, Thalia, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
Time Tourist Outfitters, Ltd.*
Time Travel Medical Thriller
How fun to combine a medical thriller with time travel! I love the protagonist, and I so appreciate that the author chose to use an older one. In these days of the popularity of magical academies and dystopian worlds, younger people seem to be the stars the most often (and the older generations often the villains). I actually think authors miss out by not at least experimenting with older characters in novels. An author could give such a character a great background (more time for the character to have done cool stuff in his or her life), which can greatly really enhances the story as it does here. The times and places traveled to in this book were so fun to visit. It is clear that the author did some excellent research. I felt like the book was a bit repetitive in places. It could have used some tightening in general. But all in all, I found this book to be an engaging read.
Blade’s Edge by Val Roberts
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Excellent Romantic Space Opera
Having read a fair amount of science fiction when I was younger, I have to say I like the modern trend within the genre so much better. I love sci-fi with strong female characters and where there is a good gender balance. I have come to really enjoy, as well, sci-fi romances, which didn’t exist back in the day. It was more guy, “buddy” sci-fi. This book had so much going on that I love to see in a space opera: political intrigue, lots of action, culture clash, characters who make a big story personal, and of course, a little romance. I thought it was cool, too, that romance didn’t just exist between the hero and heroine. The author showed the loving relationship between an older couple as well; what a delight! There is so much going on in this book, but the author is able to give each character presence and voice as well as strong motivations, goals, and conflicts. I felt immersed in the world pretty quickly and didn’t want to stop until I got to the end. This world is so complex and the character so fascinating it is perfect for a series; I look forward to digging into the next book.
The Last of the Firsts by G. J. Ogden
The Last of the Firsts*
Exceptional End to Amazing Series
This was an exceptional wrap up to a wonderful series. The author touches on so many themes in this book (and in the series). Like with the earlier books, he does so with a gentle and personal touch. While the underlying themes of the book are very serious–the effect of what we do on our environment, teamwork, taking responsibility for our actions, understanding the repercussions of difficult choices, and acceptance—they are brought to life through characters that we’ve come to know and appreciate through these three books; we’ve seen them grow and change, so to see them grapple with these themes seems very organic and natural. Therefore, it doesn’t feel like sermonizing or preaching. Instead, seeing the characters work through the difficulties makes you aware of these themes, and you find yourself thinking about them even after you’ve put the book down. I like a book that does that for me. I don’t believe that this is necessarily an easy thing for a writer to do, but when it is done well, it truly resonates—as it does here. These books definitely need to be read one after the other. They are not meant to stand alone. Only then will you get the full sweep of the character arcs for the main characters as well as the greater story. This series is just so well done in terms of characters, themes, and story. I highly recommend it.