Review: Second Star by Dana Stabenow

The Particulars:  Science Fiction,  Gere Donovan Press, available as e-book and in print

The Source: Free read from the author’s webpage

The Grade: C+

The Blurb:

Esther “Star” Svensdotter’s job is overseeing the completion of the American Alliance’s first O’Neill cylinder — a massive space hab capable of supporting thousands of colonists. It’s just weeks away from commissioning, and she’ll be damned if Luddite terrorists, squabbling bureaucrats, military takeovers or rogue AIs will stand in the way. Frontier justice on Ellfive sometimes involves an airlock — you don’t want to be on the wrong side of justice. Or the wrong side of Star Svensdotter.

The review:

I downloaded this from the author’s webpage when she offered it as a free read a couple of years ago. ( I think she still does, in fact.) For a number of reasons, it took me a long time to get around to reading it. Until recently when I was in the mood for Science Fiction, and decided to read this.


Over all, I liked it even if I didn’t love it.

Star, the main character, was pragmatic but she wasn’t ruthless. She ruled Ellfive with a firm hand, and the descisions she made was based on the good for the space station. It was intresting to see her interact with her department heads, and the friendship that was between them.


One aspect that I really liked was that they were working towards commissioning Ellfive, and that it meant that they would soon be out of jobs. I never see that aspect being explored in other genres.

The world that novel the place in felt believable. When I read about the life at Ellfive, it almost felt like I was there. I was visiting the man made gardens, I walked down the hallways. I really liked that it wasn’t peaceful. There were both tension between Earth and Ellfive, and jealousy from other space stations.


I really liked how that tension was woven into a twisty plot that gradually pulls the reader in. I liked how when things seemed to finally go well for Star, the stakes twisted and increased. But in the end, the plot twists wrapped up all the treads, and Star’s life had changed drastically.

All in all, it was a well written novel, and an intriguing start to a new series, but I didn’t fell in love with it. So the grade is C+.

Review: Fated by Benedict Jacka

The Particulars:  Urban Fantasy, Ace (US)/ Orbit (UK), available in Print and e-book

The Source: Purchased at Sf bokhandeln ( Swedish edition)

The Grade: B-

The Blurb:
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…

The Review:

I have wanted to read this ever since I saw it on the swedish publishers webpage. I know I could have bought the book in English, but I wanted to support the Swedish publisher for translating Urban Fantasy.

The World that Alex Verus lived in felt refreshing and belivable. The fact that nothing was black and white felt refreshing. The tension between light mages and dark mages felt realistic.  What I liked was that the conflict was based on so many things, from history to different ethics. As a result of this, everyone in the book had their own agendas. And I loved it.

I liked the fact that we got glimpses of Alex past in the book. But what I loved the most was the fact that he was a seer. It felt refreshing, yet totally logical in the way he used his gifts. I also loved the fact that he mostly of all wanted to live a quiet life.
Luna.. .I loved Luna. She was human, but with a twist.   I felt for her as she was pulled into the search for the fateweaver. Said search led them to some fascinating characters. I shuddered when they met Arachne. She might be friendly but I am glad I don’t live in Alex Verus version of London.

The plot was delightfully twisty.  Alex was in a“ damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation” from the start, and I loved it. It fascinating to follow how he was dragged into opening the fateweaver’s vault.  Alex slowly pieced the clues together, and the more he found out the deeper into trouble he got.   Despite all this, what I missed in the book was a sense of the stakes raising. No matter how much the bad guys threatened Alex, I never felt he was in danger. But it might have been something that was lost in the translation.

ARC review: Mountain Echoes by CE Murphy

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Luna, available in print and as e-book
The Source: ARC from Netgalley
The Grade: B+
The Blurb:
You can never go home again.

Joanne Walker has survived an encounter with the Master at great personal cost, but now her father is missing – stolen from the timeline. She must finally return to North Carolina to find him – and to meet Aidan, the son she left behind long ago.

That would be enough for any shaman to face, but Joanne’s beloved Appalachians are being torn apart by an evil reaching forward from the distant past. Anything that gets in its way becomes tainted – or worse.

And Aidan has gotten in the way.

Only by calling on every aspect of her shamanic powers can Joanne pull the past apart and weave a better future. It will take everything she has – and more.

Unless she can turn back time…

The Review:
If Raven Calls was about Jo discovering her Irish Heritage, this book is about her discovering her Cherokee heritage.
The vivid details in the setting sucked me in. I loved how the author described the Appalachian landscape, and how the Cherokee was connected to it. The struggle between traditions and the modern society that the author describe felt very delievable.
The Cherokee nation was closeknit, which made sense to me. I also liked the suspicion that Jo’s return caused. Their wariness made total sense, since she had been… prickly during her stay in Qualla boundary. In some ways, this book is about healing and making amends. I liked how she slowly started to build a relationship with her son, Aidan, at the same time while assuring his adoptive mother that Jo wasn’t there to usurp her place. I also liked how returning to Qualla Boundary made her look back at her time there during high school, and reflect over the mistakes and memories she had made. And there was Morrison. I loved the interactions between him and Jo, I felt like their relationship became more solid.
The plot was fast paced, and deliciously complex. Everything that happened in the book was connected, from Jo’s discovery of
The plot was a fast paced, and deliciously complex.
The plot was fast paced and deliciously complex. I loved how the fast pace threw unexpected twists a Jo, and forced her to discover new aspects of her gifts. The painful history of the Cherokee was a big theme in the plot, and I loved how Ms Murphy described how the pain had affected both the past and the present.
The biggest problem I had was that sometimes Jo did things that defied physics, which boggled my mind, since I couldn’t understand how she could do that. And, no, I am not talking about her gift to travel through time.

ARC Review: Blood Winter by Diana Pharaoh Francis:

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Pocket, available in print and e-book
The Source: ARC from the author.
The Grade: B-

The Blurb:

Max always does her job, no matter how brutal and bloody. That’s how it’s been ever since she was enslaved by a witch, turned into a supernatural warrior, and assigned to protect the coven of Horngate. But her job just got harder. . . .
Waves of wild magic have returned much of the world to a time when fairy tales were real and danger now lurks behind every tree and bush. As winter descends and food, heat, and water are harder to come by, many have turned to Benjamin Sterling for protection. Leader of the Earth’s Last Stand cult, Sterling claims to be the Hand of God, but his power and charisma secretly come from a dark and terrible source. With devout followers eager to do his sadistic bidding, he has his eyes on Horngate and its magical inhabitants. To save those she loves, Max will knowingly walk into a trap. But when the cult strips Max’s soul bare for all to see, will even Alexander—her lover and her strength—remain? And if she were to lose him, what does it matter if she gains the whole world. . . .

The Review:
This review is a bit late, since Diana Pharoah Francis was kind enough to ship the book from the States. It was well worth the wait. This is the latest book in the Horngate series, and while it stands reasonably alone, I though think you will get more out of it if you have read the first three books beforehand.
The world was believable in the way it described the new normal. Both for Horngate, and how the Sunspears and the Shadowblades need for calories strained their limits. I admired the ingenious ways they had created to main the infrastructure in the Covenstead, from heat sources to water sources. This was a contrast from the way people outside the Covenstead lived. They were scrambling for resources, and to survive the winter. In many ways, this shows how vulnerable our society is and how much we depend on oil.
The plot was gripping. I kept on reading, wondering when Max would break beneath the strain of responsibility and losing friends. But she didn’t, she kept soldiering on struggling to figure out how to defeat Sterling, and how to wake up the angels. Despite all the bleakness in the book, it ends with a feeling of hope. That things might be tough, but they will survive. And, if this is the last book in the series, it feels like all the loose threads are wrapped up.
 I enjoyed the banter between Max and Tyler, but also the more serious discussions between Thor and Alexander. That said, I had some trouble connecting with the characters.  Part of the reason was the feeling that all the non magical inhabitants behaved like spoiled children, not seeing the danger they put themselves and Horngate in.  

ARC Review: Haunted Sanctuary by Moira Rogers

The Particulars: Paranormal Romance, Samhain publishing, available as e-book

The Source: ARC from the Author
The Grade: B+
The Blurb:
 Eden Green can’t remember a time she didn’t believe in monsters—her cousin was born one. Her family’s dark past casts a long shadow, making it hard to make friends and harder to commit to a lover. She lives a quiet life in small-town Clover, Tennessee, but she’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Tired of the city packs’ corruption, yet too alpha to be a subordinate in a sanctuary town, Jay Ancheta satisfies his need to protect by serving as Clover’s Chief of Police. As much as he’s drawn to Eden, he can’t offer forever to a woman who doesn’t know what he is—or trust himself to let her go after one taste.
When Eden’s cousin and his battered pack stagger into town, their tormentors hard on their heels, Eden is bitten in the chaos. Now Jay not only has a traumatized pack to deal with, but a newly turned wolf with enough hungry alpha power to consume them both.
With their combined strength, they can create a new sanctuary—if their passion can survive the ghosts of the Green family’s legacy.
Warning: Contains a newly turned werewolf heroine who enjoys a little rough dominance in bed and a badass alpha wolf hero who’ll fight bad guys, ghosts and even the past to protect what’s his. Be prepared for violence, death and heartbreak on the way to a happily ever after.
The Review:
I loved Moira Rogers Red Rock Pass series, so when Moira Rogers offered ARCs for this one, I requested it on the spot. And I am glad I did.
This was a sizzling, yet heart wrenching paranormal romance, set in small rural town that felt believable. I enjoyed the nuances in small town life, which made it feel believable. One factor that I liked was the historic feel of the farm were the pack settled. There were also hint of other things,more darker events, through the book which was a touch that I appreciated .
While the focus on this book was Jay and Eden, their romance was heavily intertwined with the apperance of Zach and his werewolf friends. The pack brought with them a lot of problems, which felt logical. But, I liked how they were determinded to create a better life, and everyone pitched in.
Eden and Jay had been attracted to each other for a long time, and I liked how their allowed their casual friendship develop into something more, despite the chaos their life turn into.The plot gripped me from the start, and the feeling of danger kept creeping higher and higher until it reached the breaking plot.  I loved how the pack dealed with the final confrontation with their enemies.  It was the perfect, and logical, sollution.   
The problem with all that tension was that it overshadowed Jay and Eden’s relationship at the end of the book. Not much, but enough for me to notice it.

Review: Ten Ruby Trick by Julia Knight

Ten Ruby Trick by Julia Knight:

The Particulars: Fantasy Romance, Carina Press, available as e-book
The Grade: B+
The Source: Kobo.
The Blurb:
Privateer Van Gast thrills in capturing treasure; delights in pulling off elaborate scams; and has an outrageous reputation with the ladies. But there is only one woman for him: fellow privateer Josie—seductive, brave and unpredictable. He’s hoping to make their relationship permanent, until he raids the wrong ship. Now slavers are stalking him, his crew is verging on mutiny and Josie has disappeared.
When she reappears with a new mark wanting Van Gast’s help running the ten ruby trick con, he senses trouble. It seems like Josie has joined up with mage-bound slavers to turn him over to their Master. Van Gast is about to take he biggest risk of all— and find out the true meaning of trust and betrayal.

The Review:

This book languished unread, until Carina Press offered the sequel at a discount this summer. And I decided to read this one first. I am glad I read it, and yes, I snapped up the sequel as well.

 The world was detailed, and felt very believable. I loved the nuances in this book. From the Pirates, and their sense of honor, to the crystal covered mages and the harsh hands of their rule.

The characters were both strong, yet at the same time they were deliciously flawed. I loved Josie for her courage, and Van Gast for his determination to figure out what was wrong. The other pirates were charming, but they weren’t perfect. They had temper, and they showed it.
The plot was fast paced, and filled with twists. What I liked was that the twists were the result of Van Gast’s actions. And while the Mages gave me the creeps, I loved the fact that the villain’s motivation made sense.
The only thing I wished was different, was that I missed Josie’s POV. The whole story was told for Van Gast’s or Holden’s POV which was both refreshing, and felt a bit odd.

Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

The particulars:  Contemporary Romance, MacMillan, available in print and as e-book
The Source: Purchased at Kobo
The Grade: A
The blurb:
Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiance Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy’s bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy’s parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to “romance” Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life–even after being broken–can be made into something new and beautifu
The Review:
I like Lisa Kleypas historicals, but I had never read her contemporaries. I kept hearing good things about this one, bu the price stopped me. When Macmillan discounted it to 2.99 earlier this summer I snapped it up.
And I am glad I did.
The setting for this sweet romance was San Juan Island outside Washington state. I liked the careful details that Ms Kleypas inserted in her description of the island. From the description of Friday Harbor, to the nature that is an important part of the story.
That said, what made the book for me was the relationship between Sam and Lucy. One thing that I loved were that nothing felt rushed.  The romance unfolded at a pace that felt right. They started out as friends and let it evolve, both of them clear that they made no committments. As their relationship unfolded, Ms Kleypas cleverly wov in the details why they were committment shy.   
I also liked how both Sam and Lucy dealt with the stinking aftermath of her breakup with Kevin.  It could have spoiled the book for me if they had dealt with it differently, but they didn’t.
 But what I also liked was the sense that both of them had something they were passionate about, and careers they loved, yet they didn’t let takeover their lives. 
That said, I wanted to strangle Alice and Kevin for their selfish behaviour, and the fact that they didn’t care if they hurt their family. Just.. Argh.
The magic element in this book felt unnecessary. It was hardly more than a quiant touch. That said, I applaud Ms Kleypas for having the courage to add it. I would love to read a true paranormal romance written by Lisa Kleypas in the future.

Review: Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

The particulars: Historical Paranormal Romance, Sourcebooks, available as e-book and in print
The Source: Discover a new love
The Grade: D+
The blurb:
Sir Terence Blackwell is a lion shapeshifter who is determined to find the magical relic that killed his brother. When he sniffs out the taint of magic on Lady Felicity Seymour, a disinherited duchess, he’s sure that she’s far craftier than she first appears. Terrance believes that the easiest way to learn all of her secrets is to court the young miss. Unfortunately, Terrance’s plans for vengeance are soon thwarted when he finds himself falling under the lady’s enchanting spell…
The Review:
I downloaded this from Discover a new love since I read and liked The Firelord’s lover a couple of years ago.
This is a light paranormal, set in an alternate Victorian London. I had a lot of fun trying to guess which parts of London the different neighborhoods was based on. The alternative place names felt right and reflected the neighborhoods status.  How the magic system was set up appealed a lot too me.  I liked that you ( and your family) could raise or fall  in status, depending on which kind of magic you had.  I also liked that no one could do everything.  
The thing I liked most about this book was Terence and Felicity. Both of them were shaped by their backgrounds. Terrence just lost his brother, and is fiercely protective of his remaining family. And I liked the lengths he went to protect Felicity.
Felicity has spent her life being ignored. And her adaptions to that made me smile. But the first scenes made my heart ache as well since they showed very clearly how her life must have been.
Too me the plot was very predicable. From the way they met, to their courtship and then their HEA. The thing that kept me reading was Terence and Felicity’s relationship, but when I stopped reading yesterday I wasn’t sure if I would finish this.  In fact, it wasn’t until the last 70 pages or so that I felt that I was interested in what happened next.
A lot of that stemmed from my main problem with this book: I had a lot of problem connecting with the characters. I liked Terence and Felicity, but I didn’t love them. It felt like their feelings were just hinted at, and never truly shown. Which is too bad, since I felt that there was a lot of promise in the worldbuilding, and in parts of the plot.

Review: Yorkshire by Lynne Connolly

The Particulars: Historical Romance, Samhain, available as e-book and in print
The Source: Amazon freebie ( also available at BN and Sony)
The Grade: B+
The blurb:
Rose Golightly is a country girl who thinks her life will continue on its comfortable course, but a series of events changes that for good. On a visit to the ancestral estate of Hareton Abbey, Richard Kerre, Lord Strang, enters her life. A leader of society, a man known for extravagance in dress and life, Richard is her fate. And she is his.

Richard is to marry a rich, frigid woman in a few weeks, and has deliberately closed his heart to love. Then a coach accident throws his wounded body into Rose’s arms.

With one kiss, Richard and Rose discover in each other the passion they thought they’d never find.

But the accident that brought them together was an act of sabotage. Somewhere, in the rotting hulk of a once beautiful stately home, a murderer is hiding. Richard and Rose set out to solve the mystery, and find the layers of scandal go deeper than simply determining who is guilty. And that doing the right thing could separate them—forever.

The review:

Lynne Connolly have been on my To check out list for awhile, so when I discovered that Samhain offered the first book in the Richard and Rose series as a freebie, I decided to download it.
And I am glad I did. This story hooked me from the start. I loved the setting. The derelict manor, and how she with small touches showed how bleak life had been there for Lady Harcourt.
I also liked the down to earth way Rose and her family is described. They are in the upper echelons of the middle class, and they are happy to be middle class.
This was an stark contrast compared to Richard and his family. They are nobles, and it showed.
I could understand the worry Lizzie felt when she realised that Rose was attracted to Richard, since Richard had a certain reputation. Not to mention that he was engaged.
A lot of the enjoyment with this book stems from the characters.
Most of the focus is on romance between Rose and Richard. How they struggled with the attraction they felt to each other, and how they decided to act on it. I liked that both of them knew that their relationship would have an hard path towards their HEA.
Then there is Rose’s family. I loved quiet feelings between Jacob and Martha. The bubbly excitement of her sister Lizzie.
That said, this novel has its weak spots. While the romance is fascinating, the mystery subplot felt a bit predictable, both when it came to what happened, and who caused it. The major problem I had was that it felt likethey stumbled upon the biggest clue purely by coincidence.
Still I do plan to read more books by Lynne Connolly in the future.