Review: Silent Blade (Kinsmen #1) by Ilona Andrews

This is an older book by the authors, and I’m impressed by how far their writing ability has come (though this wasn’t poorly written by any means). They’ve always been excellent storytellers though, and this novella stands out in this regard.

The society worldbuilding here reminds me a lot of the Hidden Legacy series, though in a science-fiction setting rather than contemporary urban fantasy. This novella doesn’t include a lot of in-depth explanation into why humans are on a different planet, but that’s never the focus of the story to begin with, so it worked for me.

Instead, this is a commentary on where men and women fit in the society created here, and how sex can be a woman’s greatest weapon even if she has other strong abilities. This isn’t a traditional “enemies to lovers” tale, but it is a fantastic realization of revenge with an unexpected ending.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: A Little Light Mischief (Turner Series #3.5) by Cat Sebastian

This story can be read without the others in the Turner Series, though I highly recommend them. It also shows how women have both more and less freedom to choose their paths in life during this time period. Molly and Alice are both trapped by financial circumstances, but their ability to share a room is no cause for suspicion.

Their enforced close quarters creates a growing attraction that develops into a friendship before evolving into anything more. Molly gives Alice the confidence to take back a measure of control in her life, and Alice accepts Molly’s history along with her current status. I delighted in the women’s connection, though I wish Molly had experienced more character growth along with Alice.

A sweet story not to be missed by fans of this author. (Bonus points for bisexual representation that is not used as a source of conflict!)

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Starbase Indy 2019 Schedule!

This Thursday, while my family stays home and eats delicious food, I’ll be boarding a flight to Indianapolis for my first Starbase Indy! I’m looking forward to checking out a new con, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends.

For the majority of the convention, you can probably find me in the Writer’s Salon (Suite 162). You can also poke me on social media. I’m happy to meet up for a meal, a drink, a coffee, or just a chat!

Copies of all the books in my Steel Empires series will be available for purchase.

Saturday

  • 1 PM: Defining Genre (panel)
    • Writing science fiction without hard science, fantasy without magic, or a romance without a love interest would seem counterintuitive to writing in your genre of choice. Can it be done? What does genre even mean in this situation? Join us for a discussion on defining genre.
    • With Blake Haulauden, Deanna Sjolander, and Anna La Voie
  • 4 PM: Professional Editor Q&A (panel)
    • Writing is hard and the editing process can be intimidating. Come ask a group of very friendly editors all your hard-hitting questions.
    • With Deanna Sjolander and Anna La Voie

Sunday

  • 1 PM: Alternate History: Creating Stories by Changing the Past (workshop)
    • Join author and editor J.L. Gribble for a look at the various types of alternate history stories, followed by interactive exercises in which participants create worlds of their own.

Review: The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter (Lilywhite Boys #0.5) by K.J. Charles

One of my favorite things about K.J. Charles’ writing is how she weaves together emotion, intrigue, and suspense. Another of my favorite things is how she inserts non-straight and nonbinary characters without unnecessary fanfare into historical fiction that too often lacks such representation as it it never existed before the twentieth century. In combination, she is an author whose new releases always go instantly to the top of my “to be read” pile, and this story once again proves this to always be the correct decision.

It may be a novella, but Christiana and Stan’s relationship develops naturally and to good effect. It doesn’t feel rushed, and it also doesn’t leave me wanting more. This story is not a necessary read for the Lilywhite Boys series, but it’s lovely background detail that fleshes out the world.

Fans of K.J. Charles should not miss this story, and it would also serve as a short and sweet introduction to this author’s excellent writing and storytelling.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

New feature: Fan cast of the Steel Empires!

A few weeks ago, I sorted the main characters of the Steel Empires series into their Hogwarts houses. But that was just the start of the new features I’m adding to the Worldbuilding section of my website!

A question many authors get is “Who would play your characters in the movie?” Over the next few weeks, I’ll be answering just that over in my newest bonus material section.

First up, of course, are Victory and Mikelos. How does my mental image match up with yours? Who else do you want to see cast from the Steel Empires?

Check back often to find more!

Review: Follow Him Home (Lovers Rush/Alternate Worlds #1) by P.W. Davies

This book started off slow, but quickly escalated to an interesting story line I found hard to put down. All three protagonists where well-developed and intriguing in their own way. Even the doctor Peter might seem bland on the surface, but his depths were revealed in the way he reacted to both Christian and Victor.

None of the men’s interactions develop as a traditional romance, but I still found the relationship arcs compelling. Christian’s revelations to Peter so soon after meeting jerked me out of the story a bit, but in retrospect, his motives were very clear and I’m not sure the author could have handled it much differently.

My biggest complaint is that Victor does not show up as a proper character earlier in the story. Though once he’s there, it’s as if all three men should never have been apart.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #2) by Theodora Goss

My biggest minor quibble from the previous book in this trilogy followed me to this one. I love the conceit of the book characters inserting their commentary into the writing, but it still reduces some of the tension since I know everyone survives to the end.

That being said, this was still a tale filled with plenty of exciting adventure, sending the members of the Athena Club on another thrilling chase — this time, across the Continent. We also meet more “monstrous gentlewomen” and some familiar friends in the forms of Count Dracula, Mina Murray, and Irene (Adler) Norton.

Who, you might ask? One thing I love about these books is that they don’t hold the readers’ hands. We’re expected to have a modicum of familiarity with the classic tales that inspired this work, such as FrankensteinDracula, and the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Goss includes her own “modern” feminist twist on the tales as they’re represented in her world, which is much appreciated.

I’ll definitely be picking up the final book in this trilogy once it’s released. I’m invested in these wonderful ladies, and they still have a lot of work (and adventuring) to do.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

2019 Resolution Project: Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews

My 2019 Resolution Project over at my other blog, Speculative Chic, is to read the entire Kate Daniels urban fantasy series by Ilona Andrews, finishing up with a first read of the final book in the series.

I’ve read the eighth book, Magic Shifts,before, and originally reviewed it in April 2016. You can find NEW my full review here.

An excerpt:

“Alas, Kate and Curran can give up the Pack, Atlanta’s organization of shapeshifters, but the Pack can’t leave them. This particular bit of politics is how Kate becomes involved in the main plot of this story, which revolved around Persian and Arabian folklore and mythology, with a particular creature that most readers are familiar with. As usual, however, the authors do the amazing research necessary to turn the drama of a simple missing persons case up to 11.”

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars.

Review: Alexander X (Battle For Forever #1) by Edward Savio

This book is a whirlwind story that features a very different take on immortality. I devoured it on a single plane ride and never felt a moment of boredom. The main character’s narrative voice makes me absolutely believe that he’s a teenager who’s been around for 1500 years.

I was immediately invested in the characters and the plot. It was a fantastic blend of fantasy and action-adventure, with just the right doses of back-story to fill in some blanks without disrupting the flow of the story.

I was intrigued by the concept of immortality presented here because it certainly isn’t a version seen often. However, I’d have been pleased if there had been any representation of a female immortal beyond an unnamed woman mentioned in passing. In addition, the only fleshed-out woman characters are the love interest and a housekeeper.

This is a fully contained story that doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger. However, some information is revealed that definitely keeps me invested in Alexander’s story. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: The Portrait Problem (The Galipp Files #3) by Jamaila Brinkley

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I bought the ebook for full price.

The Galipp Files are a solid trilogy chronicling the evolving relationship between Anastasia and her partner-turned-fiance Simon. Along the way, they solve magical crimes in their version of not overly-magical London.

My biggest complaint about this series is how much untapped potential is lost in how short the installments are. There’s so much more to the characters, the world, and how much trouble could be caused. While I enjoyed every moment of it, this story sped by.

Hopefully, there is more to come with this fantastic couple. In longer form!

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.