Reading Fanatic Reviews

Science Fiction

Enigma: What Lies Beneath by Ditter Kellen

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Enigma: What Lies Beneath*

Bonds Reinforced in Harrowing Circumstances

Abbie and Hauke have had a bond since they were children when he saved her from drowning. That comes alive when they meet again as adults when Hauke has been captured and is being kept for further study; he is due to be transported to Area 51. He is from an underwater race of beings that are unknown to humans. Abbie and Hauke are soon on the run, trying to protect each other and figure out all that is going on with the deadly virus. I like how this couple could communicate telepathically; the author made their bond, even before mating, seem very real. Abbie is a supposedly intelligent woman, but some things that she thought or said didn’t come across that way to me. I also thought that the beginning of the book was told in a too-detached fashion, almost clinical in places. The book is surprisingly sensual, and this is described in great detail. This is a very steamy read; it was a bit over-the-top on occasion. However, I enjoyed their relationship and watching the conflicts they faced unfold.

Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body by William Quincy Belle

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Of Sound Mind and Someone Else's Body*

Illuminating, 18+ Freaky Friday that Looks at Social and Gender Issues

What a wholly different and intriguing book! It’s a very adult, 18+ Freaky Friday variant, with the mind-swap happening between a sex worker and a man in a corporate job. The switch happens almost right away when the man finds his consciousness suddenly in the female sex workers body while she is plying her trade. Parts of this book are highly amusing as both come to grips with their new lives in a different body. But it also gives them an awareness of the trials and tribulations of the other gender in broader society (as well as the difficulty of wearing stilettos). I really enjoyed the conversations between the two mind-swappers. The author makes many points about gender inequality and society without preaching; through the characters, he shows rather than tells. There is some swearing and crude language in the book, but it did seem appropriate in context. I found this to be an illuminating and fascinating read.

Fall from the Moon by C. S. Hale

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Fall From the Moon*

Compelling Mix of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Romance

What a delightful and engaging read! This book takes the theme of time travel romance that is so popular today because of Outlander and spins the premise on its head. This is science fiction, fantasy, and time travel romance all rolled into one very well-done story. The futuristic heroine is as modern as we are and is traveling through space when she becomes marooned on a planet that is actually a Do Not Contact planet for the agency she works for. The people and culture on this planet mirror what we would call medieval on Earth. So this future woman with modern sensibilities—and with cool nanobots running around in her blood repairing her crash injuries and a communication device that can learn a new language in a few hours—is stuck on a planet with a much cruder society than she is familiar with.

The author was able to pull me right into the story with a dramatic scene of what was happening on her ship before she crash-landed. Compared to the world that she came from, this new one is so different, and she has choices that she must make right away to maintain her survival. She can be very cool and analytical at times, and she needs to be to survive both initially on the ship and on the new world. I absolutely loved both her and the hero. To add a further fantasy/mystical element, the hero believes that she is a prophesied savior, which is why he insists on marrying her when she arrives. This book was just so well done, with characters that you could relate to and root for. The heroine’s thoughts and commentary were just priceless. I really enjoyed this book.

Cursing by Lynne Murray

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Humorous, Men-in-Black-style Story

What a fun read! In a book that is very reminiscent of Men In Black but magic-like powers and paranormal creatures, the heroine is indoctrinated into a secret society that is a part of, but separate from, our own—one that seeks those with unique abilities so they can protect the regular part of humanity from dangers that the everyday people don’t know about, after she accidentally kills her boss using powers that she never knew she had or even existed. The heroine has a quirky sense of self that is a delight to read in this first-person narrative. There’s a lot of ironic humor in the book; it’s fun to come across these little nuggets. There were some delightful twists and turns, and I loved the ending. Hoping there is more to come. I very much enjoyed this urban fantasy with a paranormal, alien twist!

Intraterrestrial by Nicholas Conley

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Complex Speculative Fiction that Surprises

Oh, my gosh, what a story! The author has such a vivid imagination and such a creative way of thinking to even be able to conceive of such a story! The book is very well written. All of the characters have unique voices, and the important ones have super unique character arcs. I love speculative fiction, but this one ratchets it up a notch or 100. After the accident that literally cracks open Adam’s world, the book actually follows two storylines, one about what’s happening with Adam and his intraterrestrial journey and the other about his parents as they cope with their own injuries and try to deal with Adam’s. Camille in particular is a complex and very well done character. She acts just like one would expect a mother to act in this situation, as one grappling with her son’s traumatic brain injury and his subsequent battle to remain alive, at times a crusader and at other times a woman who is grappling with too much. This can make her unlikable at times, and I think it is actually brave of the author to write the character this way. I don’t want to give too much away about Adam’s story arc, but it definitely is both an inner and outer journey for him. Brilliantly done all the way around. If you’re looking for a speculative fiction book is completely different from anything you’ve read, but still is very human, you should definitely check out this book.

The Second Fall by G. J. Ogden

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The Second Fall*

Five Years Later

This is the second book of the Planetsider series, and oh, what a ride it is! First, I have to say I absolutely loved the author’s acknowledgment at the beginning of the book where he stated that it had taken him twenty years to write the first book of this series, stating that people shouldn’t give up if they want to write a novel and believe that they can’t. I hope his readers out there take it to heart. But now, about the story itself! This story is so full of action and drama, yet it also has lovely, small moments between the characters, many of whom we know from the first book. Ethan and Maria have both changed since the last book, and I enjoyed their interactions. I thought that the writer actually handled the “romance” aspect beautifully and in a very adult way that isn’t often seen in fiction. I like how the story could broach bigger themes in a way that isn’t preachy but was rather, instead, more quietly insightful and lets readers draw their own conclusions based on what is happening in the story. The action scenes are balanced well with the scenes that are more about the characters’ relationships. The author has a natural writing style that allows the reader to enter the book’s world quickly, even though the world itself is complex. A delightful space opera; I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Eros Element by Cecilia Dominic

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Eros Element*

Fun Steampunk Romance

Oh, my gosh! What a fun book. This was my first foray into steampunk, though I had heard of the subgenre before. This particular author is able to convey her characters’ thoughts and words well, sometimes with gravity (when needed) and deliciously dry humor (most of the time). The characters are well drawn with very clear goals and motivations. There’s no gore or violence, and the plot did have some unexpected twists and turns. I think I especially appreciated the interactions between the characters. I loved the budding Romance. Just a delightful quasi-historical romantic read.

My Big Fat Alien Wedding by Fiona Roarke

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My Big Fat Alien Wedding*

Another Fun Trip to Alienn

It is brother Axel’s turn for romance! The woman he thinks is just a worker on board a ship visiting the way-station is actually from one of the more prominent families on Alpha-Prime. She has never fully felt appreciated there but has lived the life that has been proscribed for her—including agreeing to an arranged marriage. Meeting Axel gets her thinking about the possibilities.

This is now the fourth books that I have read in this series about Alienn, Arkansas. Like the rest, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment. There’s delightful tongue-in-cheek humor that at times borders on slapstick with great turns of phrase. The pacing of the book is right on. I love getting glimpses of the other characters I’ve come to know and love, like the other Grey brothers and their Aunt Dixie. Axel was sweet when he just fell for her so quickly, not really know that much about her. He is a simple man who just wants the woman of his dreams.

How to Lose an Alien in 10 Days by Fiona Roarke

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How to Lose an Alien in 10 Days*

How Do I Love This Series? Let Me Count the Ways!

This is the third installment of this delightful, humorous romantic sci-fi series that I have read. I continue to be absolutely charmed by this aliens-on-Earth series. In this particular installment, Cam—the chief security officer for the alien way station on Earth—meets an intriguing young woman when he goes just outside of Alien’s borders to a karaoke bar. This is his little secret getaway that he likes to do on occasion; close enough to home that he can be contacted if needed but a world away otherwise. Unbeknownst to him, this girl is actually a runaway from a spaceship that has just recently come to the way station. She wanted to experience a little bit of life on Earth and perhaps get away from her affianced. A marriage has been arranged for her, and she is not happy with the choice of groom.

As always in these books, there is a lot of delicious humor and wordplay. The romance really did seem to be ramped up in this one but in a believable way. I like how the heroine tests Cam to go beyond his gotta-play-by-the-rules mentality. The romance is a lovely one to follow, and given the circumstances as they get more and more complicated, it’s hard to see their way to a proper HEA. But that’s the fun of reading a romance! I so enjoyed these characters and their story. I am very much looking forward to my next trip to Alienn, Arkansas.

Aliens and Androids by J. J. Harlan

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Aliens and Androids*

A Fun Little Collection of Very Short Stories

This is a very short collection of six short stories that all have science fiction themes. The first story is super short, just a few pages that can be read in a few minutes. I will have to say that the last line of that first one did make me laugh out loud. While none of the other stories did, I did find them fun, quick reads. It would seem that aliens and Androids are much like us! Both good and bad. There were some issues with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. But overall, these stories were just fast bits of fun.



The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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