Frozen in Amber

51QUj8BEPvL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Frozen in Amber

Phyllis Ames

Frozen in Amber is set in a world where Weres live unknown in the midst of normal people. Only a few chosen normal people are in on the secret. A special branch of the FBI is in charge of keeping it that way and of maintaining the list of all the Weres in the US. Amber is a were-mountain lion, but where most of her people revealing their animal side, she fears hers, even to the extreme of eating a vegan diet in human form. On one of the rare time she hunts the mountains in cat form, she is hunted and something implanted in her hip.

For the first time in her life should gets sick, but she has no time to worry. She has a major case dropped in her lap defending a murder suspect who happens to be working on a cure for being Were. Add in a very sexy bike courier, her grandfather’s odd behavior and a possible rogue group of We’re and Amber has a lot more on her plate than she can handle.

I thoroughly enjoyed a new slant on Weres. In this world there are a wide variety and the animal side shows up as part of the human personality.  That particular piece of genius makes for a mystery which is intense, thoughtful and a great ride through an interesting world. I’m hoping this is not the last we see of Amber.

You can buy the book here.

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Allouette’s Dream

25847239Allouette’s Dream  

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Allouette’s Dream picks up some years after the events of Allouette’s Song. While Song was a good story it struggled with being very wordy and overly detailed dialogue. If you are interested in seeing what Asperger’s is like, Song is a good book to read. While you don’t have to have read Song to follow Allouette’s Dream it would help as it introduces the world and concept in Dream.

Allouette’s Dream is the story of Sarah Kondal Seaton, the sixteen year old daughter of Richard and Dorothy Seaton. She is the first human and first Jewish child born off-world. She is a skilled martial artist. When Margaret learns the universe is moving toward rapid destruction, she comes to Kondal to talk to her friends.

The source of the destruction is an anomaly in the time stream. The prototype for the string projector which powered the Allouette was built before any of them were born. She concluded that someone will have to go back in time to build it. What she didn’t expect at that time was that going back  would ultimately carry the mission of preventing the assassination of Adolf Hitler.

Sarah is chosen to travel back with only a slight hope of returning to the future.

Sarah is a strong young woman who acts like the teenager she is, but also as a caring and ethical adult in her own right. One of the things I enjoy about Andrew’s writing is the care he takes not just to depict ethical characters but to then put their morals to the test in a way that aligns with the plot.

When you read Allouette’s Dream be prepared to get a recap of parts of Song as it affects the character in Dream. You will also get recaps of events in Allouette’s Dream which happened earlier in the book.They aren’t long enough to push most readers out of the book, but you will have a number of times of deja vu.

That isn’t a sufficient problem to stop me recommending a very good book to readers of sci fi, readers who want to see Jewish characters or people who just like a good tale.

You can buy the book here.

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Reflection, the Stranger in the Mirror

Reflection, the Stranger in the Mirror
Rachel Smith


Nerissa is heir to the Kingdom of Chiyo. Chiyo is the more mystical of two divided kingdoms. The Kingdom of Marine followed a more technological path. They have been unquiet neighbours since a thwarted assassination attempt on the rulers of Chiyo twenty years earlier.

Nerissa is a strong minded young women who finds the strictures of being the heir suffocating. She decides to create double masquerade on the night of the ball celebrating the failure of the attack twenty years before. It will be one last night of anonymity, and a choice which will change the course of Chiyo’s history.

The world created in Reflections is fascinating with hints of magic and technology. It is the beginning of a series so I expect we will learn more in the next book. This novel does a good job of setting the stage, introducing the characters and setting, and creating the essential conflict for the series. Nerissa is a strong and engaging character with good back up cast.

I heartily recommend the book to fantasy readers.

You can buy the book here.

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Jamie Schultz

Anna lives in the underbelly of a secret world of magic. She and her team survived their last job, but it left them under the control of Enoch Sobel, who is not known for his kind and generous nature. The team is damaged to. Karyn, their prophet and Anna’s oldest friend is lost in the myriad world’s of the future.  The source of the herbs which kept her sane has vanished.

Sobel has set them to abduct Van Horne, a man with a manic group of followers who are not only able to do things like throw fire around, but who have a questionable hold on sanity. They are also connected with the group who was the cause of their situation.

Life is hard, and it is going to get a whole lot harder before this job is done.

If you like your urban fantasy gritty and hard edged, this book is for you. Anna is well drawn as a woman at the edge of her resources, but who has no option but to keep going anyway. Everyone on her team has their own secrets and their own agenda.

The villains in the book are well developed as well, and are much more complex than being just ‘the bad guys. Splintered is a good solid read.

You can buy the book here.

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The Key of Alanar

51VKH1eIYXL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Key of Alanar
Rory McKay

David is a young boy living on a remote island on the planet of Alanar. He’s always known he was different from the other inhabitants. He is still shocked when he learns he is a foundling from the mainland. His father dies as a result of Davidson actions, but at the same time he gains a mentor in a.stranger to the island named Janir. Years later on his nineteenth birthday David is given an amulet. That moment touches off a streaming events which destroy his home and send him into the world with a motley band to save not just the world, but the universe.

The Key of Alanar is a rare book, it is a story with an underlying message yet doesn’t allow the message to get in the way of the story. David is a very complex character and is superbly drawn. His companions, aside from Janir are not as filled out, but they too develop three days through the course of the book.

The Key of Alanar is a first book in a series, but has a satisfying ending which still points us to the next installment. I recommend this book for people who enjoy sci fi and fantasy as it has elements of both.

You can buy the book here.

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The Quest

The Quest  

Dani Hoots


Arcadia is the Emperor’s shadow. She goes out to eliminate the people who plot rebellion and cause unrest. It has been two hundred years since the Imperialists wan the war, but there are still those who continue the fight. She gets home from her latest mission just in time for the semi annual formal ball for the rulers of the planets which make up the Empire.

Arcadia hates dressing up, but this time, that will be the least of her problems. Her long lost brother shows up and tries to kill the Emperor. She has a sneaking suspicion the assassination attempt was only to get her attention.

The Quest is a teen book disguised as sci fi. All the main characters are teens or in their early twenties, and they act like it with sniping and grumbling being the order of the day. Even the Emperor is young. The Generals are all fresh out of school. Arcadia, the scourge of the Empire with thousands of kills is seventeen. I kept wondering as I read what killed off all the adults.

The Generals and Arcadia are an odd mix of competency and incompetence. They run security in the palace, but do most of the work themselves instead of delegating it. They let personalities get in the way, not that adults don’t,  but there is no subtlety.

This is also science fiction with very little technology.  A galactic empire, but it doesn’t have basic scanners for weapons. Those weapons are knives and guns with funny names. They don’t have cell phones but must do all their bickering in person.

Having said that, Arcadia is an interesting mix of hard edges and arrogance with a soft spot which is hurt by people’s distrust of her. Some of her throw away comments are great, and the level of sarcasm is terrific. If you don’t mind the teen dynamics and you like space opera, you will probably enjoy this book.

 You can buy the book here.

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Rarity from the Hollow

16389680._UY200_Rarity from the Hollow

Robert Eggleton

When you imagine a young girl who will save the universe, you will never picture Lacy Dawn, who is back country poor, the daughter of a soldier with PTSD and his sweetheart, now beaten down and almost broken by life. These are people who would be described in a non politically correct way as white trash.

Lacy Dawn is a bewildering mix of brilliance and childhood innocence. She has a boyfriend named DotCom, a dog named Brownie and a ghost friend named Faith. She is eleven at the beginning of the book.

There is humour in the book, there is discussion of sex and drugs and abuse. It is also a book about hope. What Lacy Dawn wants more than anything in the world is to fix her parents.  I found the first part of the story a bit on the slow side, but it picks up pace gradually until you suddenly realize you’re flying down a gravel road at insane speed in a pickup truck held together with duct tape and chewing gum. It is a heck of a ride.

I recommend the book for people who don’t mind some real life intruding on their sci fi and can handle the rough and raw edges that are a large part of this book’s charm.

You  can buy the book here.

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King Callie

51H-05veIaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_King Callie

Brian Lynch

The Kingdom of Barra chooses its Kings through the power of Peacebringer. The present King is on his deathbed and his son Valric is determined not to lose his status of prince. He asks Royce, the palace seer to tell him how to save his father. Royce catches a glimpse of a devastated Barra under King Valric and decides to send Valric to his death to preserve the kingdom. After Valric departs Royce sees the Kings elder daughter Callie as King.

Not everyone in Barra is content to let Peacebringer choose the King, the axe is stolen and plots whirl through the palace.

I enjoyed the book, the world is well defined and interesting and Callie in particular is a complex and interesting character among many deftly created people. The villain is one favourite kinds, they think they are doing the best thing for their country.

There are a few places where I think the plot is rushed and some opportunities for interesting side plots missed, but the writing is solid and the story enjoyable. It is the first in a series, but the reader is not left hanging by a story which stops abruptly in place of a decent ending.

I recommend it to fantasy and YA readers.

You can buy the book here.

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Dead Reckoning and other stories

511W7j4pQdL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Dead Reckoning and other stories

David Kelly

This book is a diverse collection of stories from the tale of a man who buys an afterlife only to learn it isn’t what he expected, to a astronaut named Murphy. A couple of stories feature Castaneda, a woman reminiscent of Asimov’s Susan Calvin. The collection reads much like an Asimov collection with bit of this and that with no apparent theme.

The title story is my favorite and the best developed of the bunch. All of them are fun, but I’d like to see some of them fleshed out and deepened. Still, this is a nice collection to give a few minutes of reading time here or there.

You can buy the book here.

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Irons in the Fire

516KCkq9mUL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Irons in the Fire

Antonio Urias

The story takes place in Talis, a city ruled by the Duke and Duchess, which is the focus of fairy unrest. It takes a while to learn all the characters and what they are or are not. The plotting is deliciously complicated and no one is sure who is on what side. This book is not your normal fantasy with fairies and humans,  there are real political undertones. Beyond that it has a different feel to most books brought out these days in that there is no obvious good or bad. Each faction has their grievances and their flaws. The fascination is not in cheering for the ‘good guys’ but in admiring the depth of the interaction and how the people can be simultaneously heroes and villains.

If you are going to take up just one fantasy epic this year, this book is a very good place to start. I highly recommend it to epic fantasy readers, people who enjoy the interplay of plots and power in a city which is both alive and balanced on a knife edge.

You can buy the book here.

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