Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: Haven Kansas by @AletheaKontis

Looking for something spooky for Halloween?

Step into Lora's life-turned-nightmare in young adult horror novel, "Haven, Kansas" by Alethea Kontis, where Lora and Erin's dreams of getting in touch with spirits and magic come true in the worst way. Lora wears black and reads about the occult, but at heart she is only a teenager living an average rural life in Haven, Kansas. Her oldest brother likes to fix tractors. Her younger brother and his friends like to pull pranks on the school. And her best friend Erin shares everything with her, including a years-long promise to keep their hands off their mutual crush. Except, Erin doesn't tell Lora where she's going that fateful night, and this innocent little secret makes solving deaths that much harder.

Also, murderous crows. Murderous crows make everything harder. The best clue Lora has is a foul-smelling, centuries-old book engraved with a single name, and meanwhile, people are dying around her.

In "Haven, Kansas" by Alethea Kontis, Lora confronts the power of hate with the help of her family and friends--not exactly your typical super-powered line-up of exorcists, but it's all they've got. Grab your copy here!


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Review: UFO6 by @AShvartsman

In UFO6 (Unidentified Funny Objects 6), editor Alex Shvartsman once again delivers the high quality comedy we've come to expect from his UFO series. A good portion of UFO6 titles utilize epistolary formats for a non-traditional punchline—these stories are otherwise quite unlike each other. A wonderful collection, expertly arranged.

Stories range from the self-explanatory “Twenty-Nine Responses to Inquiries About my Craigslist Post: Alien Spaceship for Sale. $200, You Haul” by Tina Connolly to the surprisingly touching “A Crawlspace Full of Prizes” by Bill Ferris, which is a bit like if your life were a video game, while being nothing like other stories about video-game lives.

UFO6 includes heavy-hitters Jim C. Hines with parody “A Game of Goblins,” Jack Campbell with “Agent of Chaos,” in which a writer's muse forces her on a trek deep into the mountains where she coincidentally encounters Gothlack, God of Chaos, Alan Dean Foster with a Mad Amos Malone story, “A Mountain Man and a Cat Walk Into a Bar,” and Mike Resnick with a Harry the Book story, “The Great Manhattan Eat-Off,” which is as perfectly ridiculous as it sounds. If you've never read Mad Amos Malone or Harry the Book, you're still in for a treat with these two. And let's not forget Ken Liu, whose “An Open Letter to the Sentient AI Who Has Announced its Intention to Take Over the Earth” drips with sleaze.

On the hard science fiction side of things, “The Breakdown of the Parasite/Host Relationship” by Paul R. Hardy shows how a symbiote and its host can degenerate into petty arguments as fast as your roommate. The Captain reluctantly attempts to intervene as disagreements turn violent and regulations fly out the spaceport. “Display of Affection” by P. K. Sambeaux serves up a healthy dose of creepy in a world where everyone's wired into the net. Guy can't take any more of it when his mother dies, and—well, you'll never look at a museum quite the same afterward. In “Common Scents” by Jody Lynn Nye, symbiote Dr. K't'ank helps host Dena Malone solve a murder mystery with his love of stink. “Alexander Outland: Space Jockey” by Gini Koch may make you wonder if a comedic anthology could, indeed, be complete without space pirates and explosions. “Approved Expense” by David Vierling gives us a chance to live vicariously through dimension-hopping Special Operative Morgan T. Graymael as he explains his itemizations to The Budget and Accounting Administration.

Israel's lost tribe returns on a spaceship in “Lost and Found” by Laura Resnick, in which they are quite shocked to learn what's become of their temple. Esther Friesner introduces readers to the mythical Yiddish town of fools with “From This She Makes a Living?”—along with some interesting phrases, uttered at the discovery of a people-eating dragon come to town. Both Friesner and Resnick's stories treat religion with whimsical irreverence.

Dear Joyce” by Langley Hyde turns all your fantasy tropes on their head with an opinionated advice columnist in this parody reminiscent of LOTR, if Frodo had written to Joyce. “Return to Sender” by Melissa Mead takes us back to folktale classics with letters written by giants of the fe-fi-fo-fum persuasion. “An Evil Opportunity Employer” by Lawrence Wayt-Evans pokes fun at both lawyers and secret identities as our hero tells a henchmen that he should have read the contract. “The Friendly Necromancer” by Rod M. Santos shows us the proper way to deal with those pesky Knights and Knaves riddles—with violence. Santos delivers an excellent blend of characterization, quest-like trickery, and irreverent humor.

Told in first person by the morally-ambiguous scientist who unleashed chaos on the world through humanity's greed and self-loathing, “Impress Me, Then We'll Take About the Money” by Tatiana Ivanova, Translated by Alex Shvartsman, closes out UFO6 with a bang.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Stolen Legacy by @GoblinWriter

Stolen Legacy is the third book in fast-paced, smart and funny space opera, The Sky Full of Stars, by Lindsay Buroker. Stolen Legacy is just as smart and engaging as its predecessors, The Rogue Prince, (reviewed here) and Angle of Truth.

This time, trouble comes knocking on Jelena Marchenko's figurative door in the form of an unlikely treasure hunt with dubious characters, so naturally, she says yes. It can't be that bad when the contact is passed on by her experienced mercenary parents, can it? Not only will Jelena get paid as a transport/smuggler, but she will get to meet Starseers outside of her small family circle. Marchenko has always suspected that the Starseer community shuns her family, though she's not sure why. Surely it is all a big misunderstanding and she can make valuable contacts on this mission, all while aiding her fellow Starseers.

Unfortunately, the treasure hunt involves Starseer powers--a temptation that seems to affect everyone except Jelena. Space pirates are only the first of their troubles as opposition tears at the crew from inside and out. A classic SF mystery provides the bones for this adventure as well as a twist near the end, and one not quite as happy-go-lucky as rescuing lab animals. Stolen Legacy adds depth to The Sky Full of Stars universe as Jelena and her crew hop from space battle to space battle.

The Sky Full of Stars is perfect for voracious readers who enjoy smart and funny characters and plot with soul. Buroker has a great way with dialogue and a good balance of character development and long-reaching plot.

Join Lindsay Buroker's email list to keep up-to-date on her releases, and get free content. Buroker is a prolific writer with a variety of series to whet your appetite. Pick up The Rogue Prince, Angle of Truth, and Stolen Legacy now on Amazon.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Review: Angle of Truth by @GoblinWriter

Angle of Truth is the second book in fast-paced, smart and funny space opera, The Sky Full of Stars, by Lindsay Buroker. Angle of Truth is just as witty and engaging as its predecessor, The Rogue Prince, which I reviewed here.

Young Captain Jelena Marchenko would never regret saving mistreated animals from a giant corporation, but she does feel bad about the debt incurred by her family’s business from her adventures. Apparently, space bases are costly to repair--who knew?

After seeing the bill and her new monthly payments, Jelena turns to her crew for creative solutions, and soon settles on mercenary work. Childhood friend and practiced assassin Prince Thorian warns Jelena that she doesn’t have the cold, killer’s heart needed to be a mercenary, so the team settles for the most heroic-sounding mission: rescuing war prisoners.

Jelena Marchenko still has a knack for getting into trouble as she acts on her bright moral principles in a post-war universe. Angle of Truth piles space battles, magic-like Starseer powers, and witty banter onto the platter of a classic SF moral quandary: outsiders interfering in a civil war.

The Sky Full of Stars is perfect for voracious readers who enjoy smart and funny characters and plot with soul. Buroker has a great way with dialogue and a good balance of character development and long-reaching plot.

Join Lindsay Buroker's email list to keep up-to-date on her releases, and get free content. Buroker is a prolific writer with a variety of series to whet your appetite. Pick up The Rogue Prince and Angle of Truth now on Amazon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Unleash by @LaurenScribe

I was so excited for Unleash, which already had good reviews from awesome people, like:

“A visceral, heart-pounding ride of a book that will keep you guessing until the final bloody breath.” – Award-winning fantasy author Pip Ballantine (The Books of the Order, The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences)

And Gail Carriger intereviewed Lauren Harris. How cool is that? So of course, I read the book, and after devouring it in two days, I can give you my own glowing review:

In contemporary urban fantasy Unleash (Spellhounds, Book One) by Lauren Harris, Helena Martin fights to break the spell binding her to her sadistic abuser, a powerful mage intent on destroying her family lineage. When well-meaning mundanes offer her a couch to crash on while she waits to contact her cousin on the run, Helena gets a taste of the normal life her abuser has stolen from her. Too bad the Guild is after her and strange happenings keep endangering her and her mundane rescuers.

Lauren Harris writes heart-stopping action scenes while delving into the emotional backlash of abuse--which for Helena includes panic attacks and a painful disconnect from your average social scripts. Readers get a good feel for how dangerous and damaging Helena's situation is, and as a result, Helena comes out on top as an even stronger character. The gritty realism of Unleash was a welcome break from the lighter urban fantasy I usually see. Flowing banter, plot twists, and pointed descriptions round out the action to make Unleash a compelling read.

The wonderfully nail-bitting world of Unleash involves ancient magic drawn through mandalas, blood magic, shapeshifting, and a powerful sorcerer's intent on hiding it all from mundanes. And then there's the heart-warming volunteer dog rescue and the rescuers who only want to give Helena a safe place to stay, away from whatever horrible thing she ran away from. Mandalas and dangerous puppies. Doesn't that make you want to dive in?

Pick up Unleash by Lauren Harris on Amazon.

Add it to your Goodreads list and give it some love there and on Amazon. Every review counts!

Join Lauren's mailing list for an exclusive prequel!  You can also find her on Patreon where followers get exclusive content.

Unjust is the cool prequel you get for signing up!