Comics Science Fiction

Read Saga Vol. 10

Read Saga, Volume 10

At long last, Hazel and her star-crossed family are finally back, and they’ve made some new…friends?

Art is just as beautiful as ever.

Lying Cat remains the best.

Panel of Lying Cat calling out The Will

I liked the decision to make the story time skip the same duration as the hiatus.

This series is pretty damn brutal. I’m bummed about how the previous book ended, and this book was dealing with the emotional fallout from it.

I know that everyone is on the chopping block in this series but I’m gonna be really pissed if they hurt Ghüs. It may be too much of a bummer for me nowadays? It’s good but has lost the magic of when it was first published. I keep hoping for something, anything, to get better for these guys and these worlds, and instead it’s getting worse. There was one hint of hope towards the end of this volume then of course they crushed us with a massive emotional blow for the ending.

Science Fiction

Read Ocean’s Echo

Read Ocean’s Echo

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.

Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.

Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.

Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.

Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?

Very different from Winter’s Orbit but liked it just as well. Kept me on my toes — I was never sure what would happen next, even if I could anticipate a few key moments that would happen *sometime* — which fits quite nicely with the main character as an agent of chaos. High tension, I didn’t want to put it down though it was too long to read at once 😂

Although their relationship was integral to the story, I would categorize this as sci-fi with a strong romantic element rather than sci-fi romance.

One quibble is I don’t believe the direction of the public’s hatred and fear makes sense: isn’t it worse that someone can make you act against your will than that they can read your mind? That order — readers are scarier than writers — is foundational to the story, so I wish there had been a stronger explanation.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Operation Fury

Read Operation Fury (The Drift: Nova Force #3)

She’s used to bringing death. Now she has to learn to live.

Nyx was created to be the perfect killer. A cyborg assassin with violence encoded in her DNA. After years of tests, torments, and trials designed to push her to her breaking point, she’s survived by focusing on one thing – revenge.

He broke the law to find her… and that was the easy part.

Eric made a promise, and he intends to keep it. But freeing Nyx was supposed to bring him closure, not introduce him to the woman of his dreams. She’s beautiful, damaged, dangerous, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her from any threat, including herself.

Now she’s free, Nyx isn’t looking for a safe, comfortable life, not even if it comes with a man as sweet and sexy as Eric. She wants to make her captors pay for what they did to her…even if it costs her everything, including her chance at love…

Enjoyed this. I liked the variety of cyborgs and cyber-jockeys, and the conceit for the book. I would have liked the couple to spend some more on-page time together, but it worked, and kept up the pace throughout. I had a little bit of a hard time following all the characters because they had nicknames and I hadn’t read the previous books. Eric reads as coded ADHD to me: impulsive, impatient, likes high stimulation environments and calls life outside the data stream “slow life”, has trouble sleeping, hyperfocuses on his interests.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Eclipse the Moon

Read Eclipse the Moon (Starlight’s Shadow, #2)

Kee Ildez has been many things: hacker, soldier, bounty…

Second book in the series is still very strong on the sci-fi plot, with slightly more steam than the first book but still a pretty light romance.

Heroine is coded ADHD to me, with hyperfocus, a constant need for motion, and memory hacks for her poor short-term memory mentioned. She also shows extreme emotional responses probably meant to be Rejection Sensitivity, and has self-esteem issues about not being perfect.

I didn’t like the hero’s reasoning for refusing to be with her, and also didn’t understand what changed his mind. With the way the men in these books are obsessed with honor and vows, I don’t really understand how they made it through a war.

Too much technical info on hacking and some of the fight scenes were too focused on blocking — too many people in a scene doing different things that I didn’t need to hear about.

The hero makes a move at the end that mimics the heroine’s decision midbook, I’m not sure that was successful in conveying emotional growth if it was meant to.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Bonded

Read Bonded (Star Breed, #2)

Eris Vance, salvager and loner, is happy with her life in the remote fringes of the Empire with just her AI for company. An abandoned ship could be the find of a lifetime, but it’s not nearly as empty as she thinks. And the hulking man left behind kindles a heat she’s never felt. But will he stay through the coming storm?

Connor is the perfect soldier – He’s been made that way. Waking up to the destruction of the world he knew disturbs him almost as much as the gorgeous woman who found him. Her scent, her touch distracts him, and just this once, maybe he doesn’t care.

The Daedelus is filled with secrets and the results of genetic experiments to breed the perfect soldier… and now that she’s awakened him, the mystery of its destruction will hunt them both. Can the growing bond between them survive?

Their attraction to each other happened a little too quickly for me, especially after he was pretty standoffish at first. Pretty mild since they kept trying to bone down and getting interrupted. Not a whole lot seemed to be resolved in this for the overarching series, and I didn’t see a clear connection to either the previous or next book.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Dark Matters

Read Dark Matters (Class 5, #4)

A time bomb, waiting to go off . . .

Lucy Harris is on the run, not sure where she can turn to for help, or if help is even available. But even as her abductors chase her down, she realizes they don’t just want to recapture her, they want to erase her.

When your very existence puts a planet at the risk of war, there’s no choice but to do everything in your power to stay out of your enemies hands.

A predator . . . waiting for the chance to pounce

The powerful AI battleship, Bane, is accompanying the United Council envoy to Tecra to mete out the punishment the Tecrans have earned for breaking UC law. He revels in the power he’s about to have over his old masters. But his mission isn’t only to rain down retribution on the people who kept him chained for years, he’s also looking for a human woman his fellow Class 5 thinking system mentioned in the final seconds of his life. Paxe admitted to taking Lucy Harris from Earth, and Bane has been looking for her ever since.

A warrior conflicted . . .

Commander Dray Helvan thinks the Grih made a mistake in not pushing for war with the Tecran, but he’s had to accept the compromise, that he and the other envoys from the United Council will go to Tecra and dismantle its military from the top down. His mission is not one of his choosing, but when he and his team arrive, he’s handed a very different job. While he distrusts Bane on principle, when the thinking system tells him there’s a woman running for her life on the planet below, he will do whatever he has to to see her safe. And if that means war for Tecra, well, then it means war.

Sequel to Dark Minds, which I thought might be something of a wrap on the series, but this didn’t feel like an afterthought.

The romance was a pretty minor aspect of this book, and the couple didn’t get to talk much besides trying to escape. I would have liked to get to know the love interest better, as in early chapters he seems to kick himself a lot for being thoughtless.

The author did a good job of ratcheting up the challenges, with a mix of politics and predators.

I thought Bane’s attachment to Lucy was stronger than maybe warranted given their limited interactions, but also it’s probably fine to write him as overattached since he isn’t very emotionally mature.

Romance Science Fiction

Re-read Games of Command

Read Games of Command

The universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten–and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart–and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings . . . for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for–and everything they now have to live for.

Still enjoyed this on fourth read — it had been long enough since I read it last I didn’t remember the whole plot. I appreciate that the space pets played an important part in the plot because I’m always 🤷‍♀️ when they’re just there for cute factor. I had remembered it being totally tame but there was one short sex scene, a lot of kissing and a fair bit of innuendo.

It’s long – over 500 pages – with a lot going on so it doesn’t drag. Interesting to see how this was written in very much the style of a space opera, with a big universe, long page-count, five plus POVs, and an action-packed plot — the SFR genre seems mostly to have shifted to shorter, steamier, series-oriented works that typically feature an everywoman-insert and less of a space opera scope. Following the self-pub market demand.

This was third-person past-tense, whereas I’ve noticed a fair bit of current SFR is first-person present-tense — echoing the more traditional space opera style versus the contemporary romance / YA styling. I think first person present works best for single POV books, it can be a little confusing to hop from I to I and have to figure out if the narrator has changed (or I suppose you can just use chapter headings to indicate whose POV it is 😉).

Romance Science Fiction

Read Dark Minds

Read Dark Minds (Class 5, #3)

The mind is the most powerful weapon of all . . .

Imogen Peters knows she’s a pawn. She’s been abducted from Earth, held prisoner, and abducted again. So when she gets a chance at freedom, she takes it with both hands, not realizing that doing so will turn her from pawn to kingmaker.

Captain Camlar Kalor expected to meet an Earth woman on his current mission, he just thought he’d be meeting her on Larga Ways, under the protection of his Battle Center colleague. Instead, he and Imogen are thrown together as prisoners in the hold of a Class 5 battleship. When he works out she’s not the woman who sparked his mission, but another abductee, Cam realizes his investigation just got a lot more complicated, and the nations of the United Council just took a step closer to war.

Imogen’s out of her depth in this crazy mind game playing out all around her, and she begins to understand her actions will have a massive impact on all the players. But she’s good at mind games. She’s been playing them since she was abducted. Guess they should have left her minding her own business back on Earth…

Read this straight after book 2 and it was different enough to still enjoy it. The relationship between Imogen and the thinking system in this book was much more tense. Her “go out with a bang” attitude was fun. I liked how this pulled in the characters from previous books and gave them ways to participate. This one was mildly spicier than the second book, with some fade to black. The ending worked, and felt like it could be the conclusion of the series, though there is another book and a novella following.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Dark Deeds

Read Dark Deeds (Class 5, #2)

Far from home . . .
Fiona Russell has been snatched from Earth, imprisoned and used as slave labor, but nothing about her abduction makes sense. When she’s rescued by the Grih, she realizes there’s a much bigger game in play than she could ever have imagined, and she’s right in the middle of it.

Far from safe . . .
Battleship captain Hal Vakeri is chasing down pirates when he stumbles across a woman abducted from Earth. She’s the second one the Grih have found in two months, and her presence is potentially explosive in the Grih’s ongoing negotiations with their enemies, the Tecran. The Tecran and the Grih are on the cusp of war, and Fiona might just tip the balance.

Far from done . . .
Fiona has had to bide her time while she’s been a prisoner, pretending to be less than she is, but when the chance comes for her to forge her own destiny in the new world she’s found herself in, she grabs it with both hands. After all, actions speak louder than words.

It’s been quite a bit since I read the first book but had not problem jumping back in. Very light heat, not even a fade to black. Liked how the ending worked out.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Hunt the Stars

Read Hunt the Stars (Starlight’s Shadow, #1) by Jessie Mihalik

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line.

First in a series, does a good job setting up the series and introducing all the characters (almost too good a job setting up the future pairs?) — I’ll check out the next book. I couldn’t get into Polaris Rising but wanted to give Mihalik another try.

I’m not convinced the captain we meet here could be a bounty hunter — she’s too caring. She spends much of the book cooking for her crew and pitching in on chores while her crew seems to solve most of the problems. The found family on both their parts is sweet.

This felt a bit long, the pacing maybe a little too slow on the flight to Valovia. The author was giving everyone time to get used to each other and work through some tensions about “working with the enemy,” while introducing the reader to all the characters and starting the romance. That  I feel like the romance needed a little more time to develop and build trust, especially after some betrayal and manipulative behavior towards the end of the book that should be a red flag, unaddressed.

The politics are vague, but will presumably become clearer in future books. Some loose threads — what’s up with her seeing the auras? what did Torran do that infamous day? is Torran upset about the way telepaths fought in the war? what’s the actual way to fight with flying spiked metal shields? — and guns unfired — kept waiting for the much-feared wormholes to yield danger. I’m guessing these will be addressed in future books, are foreshadowing future events, or are holdovers from edited out plots. Because this is told only from her perspective, we miss out on some of his thinking — though I think that was probably the right choice given the plot, because it would spoil some surprises. The alien pet was cute though didn’t do much — and it was unclear why it was so important to the Valoffs.