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Book Review: "Foreigner" by C.J. Cherryh [Aug. 26th, 2015|02:19 pm]
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I've been meaning to get to this series for a while. I've never read anything by C.J. Cherryh, and I know this series is extremely popular (I think there are, like, 15 books out in it so far), so I figured I'd start here.





Premise: Something happens to one of our first deep-space colonization ships and it ends up lost. After barely managing to reach a safe planet that could sustain the colonists, it's discovered that the planet is inhabited. But it's too late. There isn't enough fuel remaining to go anywhere else. So some of the scientists/colonists decide to land regardless ... and so we have first contact with an alien culture that is uniquely different from ours, one where assassination is an accepted form of social climbing and there are no clearly marked borders. There are only associations ... and the fact that we bring with us technology that we must parcel out in order to retain even a toehold on the planet.

The book started off a little rough with some initial set-up with large time jumps before we get to Bren, the main character for the rest of the book. Once we get to Bren, though, the book takes off with an illegal assassination attempt (or so it seems) being made on Bren. No one has filed the paperwork required for the attempt. So what does it mean? Who could have done it? And why did they try to kill Bren? These questions drive the first part of the story, as Bren tries to figure out why his unique role as the representative of humanity amidst the alien atevi has made him a target. And then Tabini--Bren's strongest atevi ally--sends Bren off to the far reaches of the planet, where no human has been allowed, and the plot only deepens. At this point, the book bogs down a bit as Bren tries to figure out what's going on while trapped in a place with no technology he can access. He's stuck with Tabini's relative, Ilisidi, who may be the one trying to kill him. It's here that we're supposed to be delving deeper into the atevi world and culture, to see how different it is from our own, as Bren struggles to understand the atevi and their actions himself.

Overall, an interesting set-up and an interesting culture and a unique take on aliens. I simply felt it was slow in the middle, with a mostly uncertain plot direction, before it appeared to find its footing again and take off at the end. Definitely a good read. I'll be reading the sequels to see where Cherryh takes us with this world and culture ... and with Bren.
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Book Discussion: "Frozen in Amber" by Phyllis Ames [Aug. 26th, 2015|01:56 pm]
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Our next book discussion is for the first book in a new urban fantasy series from Phyllis Ames called Frozen in Amber. WerCougars, anyone? Who here has read this? What did you think?





Cover Copy: Amber Treganis constantly reinvents herself. New clothes, new hairstyle, new car--anything she can do to exert a level of control over her life. What she can’t control is her shape-shifting other self: the WerCougar that sinks its claws into her brain during the three nights surrounding the full moon.

Though she is a natural-born shifter from a prominent WerCougar family, Amber has been unwilling to change into her cat form ever since a terrible tragedy cost her the man she loved. And she has little patience with Wers of any species who embrace their otherness more than their humanity. She focuses on her life as a defense attorney in Mt. Hood, and stays out of Wer politics.

But after a blurry night of hunting, Amber begins to notice changes in her transformation. When she hears rumors of research to discover a treatment for shifting, she suspects she may have been unknowingly given the experimental therapy.

With the help of Adler, a WerEagle active in community politics, Amber tries to hunt down the truth about this cure, while staying off the radar of the FBI, which tracks and manages Wer communities in secret.

But Amber doesn’t realize how much she depends on her Wer sense until, one by one, they begin to fade. And Amber is left increasingly ill--and increasingly human. Can shifter who is losing her abilities survive for long in either human or Wer society?
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Book Discussion: "Crossways" by Jacey Bedford [Aug. 25th, 2015|12:07 pm]
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Time for the next book discussion for the August releases from DAW Books! This time, we're looking at the second Psi-Tech novel from Jacey Bedford, Crossways. Who here has read it? What did you think?





Cover Copy: Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught.

So they better not get caught.

These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe, and they’re not saying where that is.

They take refuge on crimelord-run Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their state-of-the-art jump-drive ship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. But to do that, Ben and Cara have to confront old enemies.

Alphacorp and the Trust: separately they are dangerous, united they are unstoppable. They want to silence Ben and Cara more than they want to upstage each other. If they have to get rid of Crossways in order to do it, they can live with that. In fact, this might be the excuse they’ve been looking for. . . .
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Book Discussion: "The Twice and Future Caesar" by R.M. Meluch [Aug. 24th, 2015|03:11 pm]
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Gah, August has been insane! But I'm ready to start putting up the book discussion for the DAW Books August releases. First up, a new USS Merrimack novel from R.M. Meluch in hardcover, The Twice and Future Caesar! Who here has read it? What did you think?





In the year 2448, the interstellar Empire of Rome spans an area almost as wide as the far-flung colonial worlds of the United States of America.

Caesar Numa Pompeii is still rebuilding his shredded empire after the catastrophic war that his predecessor, Caesar Romulus, waged against the United States. War’s end left Romulus in a nanovirus-induced coma, captive of Caesar Numa.

Numa has under his command a powerful living weapon--a patterner, an augmented man capable of synthesizing vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence.

Now, Numa has lost his prisoner, and his patterner may have turned on him, while the U.S.S. Merrimack has lost the commander of her Fleet Marines, Colonel T. R. Steele.

Events take a Mobius turn when fanatical devotees of Romulus rescue their fallen leader from his tortured captivity and fashion him into the most capable patterner ever created. Romulus is back, more insanely brilliant than ever. But without his queen, all the power in the universe means nothing. Romulus will move heaven and Earth and space and time to rescue his beloved Claudia.

Admiral John Farragut returns to the space battle­ship Merrimack in an attempt to head off the impend­ing temporal catastrophe. Past and future hinge on a critical moment when time broke once before in the distant star cluster known as the Myriad.
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Book Discussion: "Shattering the Ley" by Joshua Palmatier [Aug. 10th, 2015|01:15 pm]
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Time for the last book discussion of the July releases. I knew there was one left and couldn't remember what it was and--surprise!--I'd forgotten about my own book. *snort* So, here's the discussion for Shattering the Ley, the start of my new fantasy series. Who here has ready it? What did you think?





Cover Copy: Erenthrall: A sprawling city of light and magic, its streets are packed with traders from a dozen lands and its buildings and towers are grown and shaped in the space of a day.

At the heart of the city is the Nexus, the hub of a magical ley line system that powers Erenthrall. These ley lines also link the city and the Baronial plains to the rest of the continent and the world beyond. The Prime Wielders control the Nexus with secrecy and lies, but it is the Baron who controls the Wielders. The Baron also dominates the rest of the Baronies through a web of brutal intimidation enforced by his bloodthirsty guardsmen and his unnatural assassins.

When the rebel Kormanley seek to destroy the ley system and the Baron's chokehold, two people find themselves caught in the chaos that sweeps through Erenthrall and threatens the entire world: Kara Tremain, a young Wielder coming into her power, who discovers the forbidden truth behind the magic that powers the ley lines; and Allan Garrett, a recruit in the Baron's guard, who learns that the city holds more mysteries and more danger than he could possibly have imagined . . . and who holds a secret within himself that could mean Erenthall's destruction--or its salvation.
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New Releases: August 2015 [Aug. 3rd, 2015|12:35 pm]
DAW Books Inc.

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Time for the new releases from DAW Books for August 2015! We have new R.M. Meluch, Jacey Bedford, and Phyllis Ames, along with two omnibus editions--one from Mercedes Lackey and another with two novels from S. Andrew Swann. Check them out below, then raid the bookstore!

*****************

First up, a new USS Merrimack novel from R.M. Meluch in hardcover, The Twice and Future Caesar!





In the year 2448, the interstellar Empire of Rome spans an area almost as wide as the far-flung colonial worlds of the United States of America.

Caesar Numa Pompeii is still rebuilding his shredded empire after the catastrophic war that his predecessor, Caesar Romulus, waged against the United States. War’s end left Romulus in a nanovirus-induced coma, captive of Caesar Numa.

Numa has under his command a powerful living weapon--a patterner, an augmented man capable of synthesizing vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence.

Now, Numa has lost his prisoner, and his patterner may have turned on him, while the U.S.S. Merrimack has lost the commander of her Fleet Marines, Colonel T. R. Steele.

Events take a Mobius turn when fanatical devotees of Romulus rescue their fallen leader from his tortured captivity and fashion him into the most capable patterner ever created. Romulus is back, more insanely brilliant than ever. But without his queen, all the power in the universe means nothing. Romulus will move heaven and Earth and space and time to rescue his beloved Claudia.

Admiral John Farragut returns to the space battle­ship Merrimack in an attempt to head off the impend­ing temporal catastrophe. Past and future hinge on a critical moment when time broke once before in the distant star cluster known as the Myriad.

********************

Next up, we have Crossways from Jacey Bedford, the second novel in her Psi-Tech series.





Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught.

So they better not get caught.

These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe, and they’re not saying where that is.

They take refuge on crimelord-run Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their state-of-the-art jump-drive ship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. But to do that, Ben and Cara have to confront old enemies.

Alphacorp and the Trust: separately they are dangerous, united they are unstoppable. They want to silence Ben and Cara more than they want to upstage each other. If they have to get rid of Crossways in order to do it, they can live with that. In fact, this might be the excuse they’ve been looking for. . . .

*****************

Next, we have the debut novel of Phyllis Ames, Frozen in Amber.





Amber Treganis constantly reinvents herself. New clothes, new hairstyle, new car--anything she can do to exert a level of control over her life. What she can’t control is her shape-shifting other self: the WerCougar that sinks its claws into her brain during the three nights surrounding the full moon.

Though she is a natural-born shifter from a prominent WerCougar family, Amber has been unwilling to change into her cat form ever since a terrible tragedy cost her the man she loved. And she has little patience with Wers of any species who embrace their otherness more than their humanity. She focuses on her life as a defense attorney in Mt. Hood, and stays out of Wer politics.

But after a blurry night of hunting, Amber begins to notice changes in her transformation. When she hears rumors of research to discover a treatment for shifting, she suspects she may have been unknowingly given the experimental therapy.

With the help of Adler, a WerEagle active in community politics, Amber tries to hunt down the truth about this cure, while staying off the radar of the FBI, which tracks and manages Wer communities in secret.

But Amber doesn’t realize how much she depends on her Wer sense until, one by one, they begin to fade. And Amber is left increasingly ill--and increasingly human. Can shifter who is losing her abilities survive for long in either human or Wer society?

**************************

Next, we shift to the omnibus editions for this month. First up is the omnibus of Mercedes Lackey's Arrows trilogy, The Complete Arrows Trilogy.





The Complete Arrows Trilogy contains the three extraordinary novels that launched Mercedes Lackey’s remarkable career and sparked the imaginations of millions of readers across the world.

The Arrows trilogy tells the story of Talia, a daughter of the repres­sive Holderfolk, who is Chosen by the immortal Companion Rolan to become one of the legendary Heralds of Valdemar.

Companions like Rolan are mystical horse-like beings with powers beyond imagining—including the power to sense an awakening potential for special talents of the mind in certain young men and women, like Talia.

With Rolan’s help, Talia will learn to master her unique mental abilities of telepathy and empathy, and will grow from an uncertain and inexperienced Herald trainee to become the most important Herald of all: the Queen’s Own.

And together, Talia and Rolan will fight to protect the queen, the heir to the throne, and the entire kingdom—from dangerous conspiracies, looming unrest, vicious treachery, and even an evil and ancient sorcery beyond the magic of the Heralds themselves.

****************************

And lastly this month, we have the omnibus of two of S. Andrew Swann's Moreau novels in The Moreau Quartet, Volume 1.





It's 2053, and the U.S. has long since genetically engineered life successfully. "Moreaus," humanoid and animal hybrids, and "frankensteins," genetically manipulated humans, live as second-class citizens. Nohar Rajasthan is a moreau, a humanoid of tiger stock. Raised by a human after his parents' death, Nohar ekes out a career as a private eye. Mixing science fiction with detective thrillers, Nohar's story leaps off the page with all the nonstop excitement and danger of an action blockbuster.

Forests of the Night: When Nohar accepts a commission from a frankenstein to investigate the death of the campaign manager of a local politico, all hell breaks loose. Nohar finds himself targeted by everyone from local cops to federal agents to a drug-running gang to an assassin with a 100% kill rate.

Fearful Symmetries: Nohar retired from the private eye business ten years ago, and just wants to spend his remaining time in the peace and quiet of his wilderness homestead. So when a human lawyer asks him to take on a missing moreau case, he refuses--and soon after is attacked by a paramilitary team. Now Nohar must find the missing moreau and discover why someone wants him dead.

**************************

And those are the August releases from DAW Books! Sally forth and read, read, read!
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Book Discussion: "Elisha Rex" by E.C. Ambrose [Jul. 21st, 2015|08:36 am]
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Time for the next book discussion of the July releases from DAW Books! This time, we're looking at Elisha Rex from E.C. Ambrose, the third book in the Dark Apostle series. I've read the first one and have the second on my "short stack" for reading. Who here has gotten to this one already? What did you think?





Cover Copy: Elisha was once a lowly barber-surgeon, cutting hair and stitching wounds for poor peasants like himself in 14th century London. But that was before: before he was falsely accused of murder, and sent to die in an unjust war. Before he discovered his potential for a singularly deadly magic. Before he was forced to embrace his gifts and end the war . . . by using his newfound abilities to kill the tyrannical king.

So who is Elisha now? The beautiful witch Brigit, his former mentor, claims him for the magi, all those who have grasped the secrets of affinity and knowledge to manipulate mind and matter, and who are persecuted for it. Duke Randall, the man who first rose against the mad King Hugh, has accepted him as a comrade and ally in the perilous schemes of the nobility. Somehow, he has even become a friend to Thomas, both the rightful king and, something finer, a good man.

But there is another force at work in the world, a shadowy cabal beyond the might of kings and nobles, that sees its opportunity in the chaos of war and political turmoil--and sees its mirror in Elisha's indivisible connection with Death. For these necromancers, Elisha is the ultimate prize, and the perfect tool.

When the necromancers' secret plans begin to bear black fruit and King Thomas goes missing, England teeters on the brink of a hellish anarchy that could make the previous war look like a pleasant memory. Elisha may be the only man who can stop it. But if he steps forward and takes on the authority he is offered to save his nation, is he playing right into the necromancers' hands?

Why does it seem like his enemies are the ones most keen to call him Elisha Rex?
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Book Review: "Dragon * Thief" by S. Andrew Swann [Jul. 20th, 2015|04:22 pm]
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I loved the first book in this new series and immediately moved on to the second. I'm happy to say, it's just as much fun as the first. In fact, I'm a little miffed that I'll have to wait almost a year before the third book comes out. (Although I'm not miffed because there's a giant cliffhanger or anything, nothing of the sort.)





Premise: Frank Blackthorne is a thief who somehow finds himself trapped in a princess' body, basically taking on the princess' role . . . which leaves something to be desired. He'd desperately like to be back in his own body, but that's just not possible. So for second-best, he'd like to at least be back in a MAN'S body. So, one night, drunk and not thinking, he uses the cursed artifact given to him as a wedding gift . . . and finds himself not only in a man's body, but a thief's as well. One of the most dangerous thieves in the world, wanted by nearly every country. A man who is now inhabiting the princess' body, with all the power it entales, in the defenseless Lendowyn court.

Again, a great rollicking story that starts off with a terrible and stupid mistake that escalates into a disaster of monstrous proportions, with that little twist of switching bodies. Frank's escapades as he tries to get back to the Lendowyn court and change everything back to the way it was are hilarious and fun, especially with all of the characters he meets along the way. If you like humorous fantasy that plays with the tropes we're all used to, then you should definitely be reading this series.

But the best part of this series--and what makes a truly good humorous story rise above all others--is that there IS some seriousness behind all of the tongue-in-cheek fun. In this case, most of the seriousness comes into play with the outcast group of teenage girls, all with their own little stories. These little serious elements are what takes the book out of simple fun and give it that extra kick, making the story work on multiple levels.

As usual, lots of little twists as Frank works his way back to the castle, with a ton of twists at the end, especially with exactly who this master thief really is and how he's used his newfound powers to mess with the Lendowyn court. But that would be spoilery, so . . .

A great, fun, enjoyable read that works on many levels--some more serious than others. Definitely go find Dragon * Princess, the first book in the series, or this one and read them. Both of them. (You don't NEED to have read the first one to read this one, but you'd be missing out on another fun read if you didn't.)
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Book Discussion: "A Murder of Mages" by Marshall Ryan Maresca [Jul. 17th, 2015|01:07 pm]
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The next book discussion for the July releases is the first book in Marshall Ryan Maresca's The Maradaine Constabulary series, A Murder of Mages. I read the standalone book The Thorn of Dentonhill set in the same city (although with different characters) and look forward to reading this new book. Anyone here read it? What did you think?





A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.

Satrine Rainey--former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty--has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage--almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together--the ritual murder of a Circled mage--sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.
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Book Discussion: "Faces" by E.C. Blake [Jul. 16th, 2015|11:36 am]
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It's time for our first book discussion of the July releases! (Now that my copies have arrived. *grin*) The hardcover release this month is for Faces by E.C. Blake, the third novel in his Masks of Aygrima series. Who here has read it? What did you think?





Cover Copy: Here is the spellbinding third novel of The Masks of Aygrima, set in the only kingdom that is home to magic wielders, a land where people are forced to wear spell-imbued Masks from the age of fifteen, Masks that will reveal any traitorous thoughts they have about their ruler, the Autarch.

Mara Holdfast is a young woman gifted with the ability to see and use all the colors of magic. Two other people share this talent: the Autarch, who draws upon the very life-force of his subjects to fuel his existence and retain his control over the kingdom; and the legendary Lady of Pain and Fire, the only person who has ever truly challenged the Autarch’s despotic reign.

After a devastating battle that takes a dreadful toll on both the rebel unMasked Army and the forces of Prince Chell, their ally from across the sea, Mara and her fellow survivors have no one to turn to for help but the Lady of Pain and Fire.

As the Lady leads them to her haven beyond the mountain borders of the kingdom, Mara feels that she has found the one person who truly understands her, a mentor who can teach her to control and use her power for the greater good. Together, they may be able to at last free Agryma from the Autarch’s rule.

Living within the Lady’s castle, cut off from her friends in the village far below, Mara immerses herself in her training. Still, she can’t entirely escape from hearing dark hints about the Lady, rumors that the Lady may, in her own way, be as ruthless as the Autarch himself.

Yet it is not until they begin their campaign against the Autarch that Mara discovers where the real danger lies. Driven by the Lady’s thirst for revenge, will Mara and all her friends fall victim in a duel to the death between two masters of magic?
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