Guest Post: Gareth L. Powell Shares Five SF Books That Influenced Embers of War
Guest Post / February 19, 2018

Five Books That Influenced Embers of War By Gareth L. Powell  With my latest novel, Embers of War, I’ve returned to one of my favourite subgenres: space opera. The story follows the exploits of the sentient warship Trouble Dog as she gets embroiled in a plot to conceal the true contents of an ancient alien vault. As a lifelong reader of stories set in space, I knew some of those books would inevitably end up influencing my writing. After all, we’re all made up of everything we’ve ever consumed. So, after much thought, I’ve prepared this list of the books I feel had the biggest impact.   1. NOVA by Samuel Delany Set a thousand years into the future, NOVA tells the story of Lorq Von Ray, last scion of a powerful and rich dynasty, and his quest to harvest the rare mineral illyrion from the core of an imploding sun. He believes a cargo hold filled with illyrion will be enough to tip the balance of power between Earth and the quasi-independent Pleiades Federation. Operating on several levels, the book explores Von Ray’s childhood and current quest, and relates them to Arthurian Grail lore, while also using the literary…

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6/10
Review: The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear
Reviews / February 14, 2018

The Stone in the Skull kicks off strong with a unique and visual scene of a group of mercenaries featuring two of the main characters. Gage is an automaton and the other one? He is called The Dead Man. OK, it got my attention! Then when the setting changes, I honestly became more invested and quickly preferred the perspectives of Sayeh and Mrithuri, two powerful women who are each ruling their own kingdoms. Gotta love a book that features not just one, but two powerful women that can control the fate of their land. So, my first impressions this book were really strong, however, I am was disappointed that my overall experience was not on that same level. This is one of those books that I leave feeling quite conflicted. It started strong and through out, there were parts and passages of it that I loved, convincing me that I would have an overall positive experience. Unfortnately, something held me back. While I love the premise of this book, and I actually quite like most of her prose there seemed to be a pacing issue as well as inconsistent strength of perspectives. As the book progressed, I realized I found…

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6/10
Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Reviews / February 6, 2018

When I read the first book in this series, I had no expectations, just thought it sounded like a great concept and so picked it up. It pretty much blew me away. I loved the entire concept of the the Library being evil, controlling (and often destroying) knowledge. It set a ridiculously high bar for the series, but even though next in the series (Paper and Fire) did not have quite that same level of magical reading experience, there was still plenty of room to be really good. I’m not exactly sure what happened with this book, but I feel like I lost all of the things that made me love the series. Yes, the Library is still evil, but at this point, I need more. I really wish this had been a trilogy and contained some closure at this point. I feel like if more had happened, perhaps I would have more excited by this book. But it is another middle book where I wish the story made more progress. Jess and his crew escaped at the end of the previous book, and now find themselves in Philadelphia, land of the Burners. Jess was raised in a family of…

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9/10
Review: The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
Reviews / January 29, 2018

I’ll be honest, I read The Valiant by Lesley Livingston pretty much on a whim last year. It wasn’t a book that was on my radar until after it was released, which is unusual. I read a couple of glowing reviews for it for that essentially made me set my review books to the side because it sounded so good. I was glad I did because it just happened to have everything I love and in just the right amounts. I am very happy to tell you that The Defiant continues with all the strengths and excitement that made me enjoy The Valiant so much. I still love Fallon as a character. She is strong both physcially and mentally, but she is not infallible. She won the admiration and respect of Caesar at the end of the first book, and now we can see how that has impacted her life. Her rise to be favored by Caesar And known as “Victrix” gave her a decent life, but when it comes down to it, she is still a slave and not free to do as she pleases. And winning so much also puts her in the spotlight for potential enemies. Also to add…

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7/10
Review: One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning by David Moody
Reviews / January 24, 2018

One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning is not a book for the squeamish! The body count rises at an astronimical rate, and details are not spared. I enjoyed it, and have to admit, parts were certainly unexpected, always a good thing. It takes place on a remote island that is currently home to an adventure group that does team building exercises. The current group of coworkers on a retreat to the island find themselves trapped there as their ferry home crashed amongst the rocks, littering the corpses of its incoming passengers. Did they die in the crash? Were they murdered? Or is something else going on? If they didn’t die in the crash, are they safe or are they the next potential victims? All things to think about instead of heading back home as they planned. I have to admit, just the thought of traveling to a remote island with coworkers is a bit horrifying by itself. But then to get stuck there as horrify deaths that start to pile up? With no idea who you can trust? Then it becomes a living nightmare. This book is part of a series that I’ve not previously read. I am…

EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY: Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
Excerpt , Giveaway / January 19, 2018

Today, we are thrilled to not only host an excerpt from Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra, but also offer a giveaway. Markswoman releases Januray 23, 2018 but you can get a brief look below! And in case you missed my review last week, be sure to check it out. The tl;dr? Markswoman has a great mix of badass women, action and an interesting world. Assassins, magical blades, betrayal and more. Enjoy the excerpt, enter our giveaway and be sure to check out the book! Excerpt from Marskwoman  By Rati Mehrotra   Giveaway     About the Author Born and raised in India, Rati Mehrotra now lives and writes in lovely Toronto. She is represented by Mary. C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron & Associates. Markswoman is her first book. You can check out her short stories at http://ratiwrites.com/short-fiction/       About the Book Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors…

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10/10
Review: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Reviews / January 16, 2018

Anytime I read the first book in a new series that follows one I love as much as Red Rising, I approach with both a huge dose of excitement but also a touch of apprehension that it won’t live up to the previous series. I am so excited that Iron Gold lived up to every expectation I had and maybe even set some new ones for the rest of the series. It has all the traits that Ioved in the Red Rising series, but the current story stays fresh and exciting. Iron Gold is set about 10 years after the last one left off and the peace that Darrow and Mustang worked to achieve is beginning to show signs of serious strain. There is the threat from the Ash Lord, but internally there is also politcal strife as groups try to jockey for power. Darrow is faced with some incredibly hard choices and some of his decisions, quite frankly, just don’t go over well. It is interesting seeing him go from being the favored son of the land, a living superhero of his time, to, well … you’ll have to read to find out, I don’t want to go into…

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8/10
Review: Marskwoman by Rati Mehrotra
Reviews / January 9, 2018

This debut was such an enjoyable read for me. It had a great balance of world building and character drama and the pace kept things moving. The world in this is definitely interesting. It starts out feeling like a standard fantasy world with magic and swords, etc. But then as you keep reading and details are revealed, you come to realize it also is post-apocalyptic. I’ve seen this in a number of other books, but that certainly did not prevent me from enjoying the reveals in this one at all. There are orders of women called Markswomen, who serve essentially as assassins. They are meant to uphold the law and enforce order, so they are feared as their skills are almost legendary. Plus, as I mentioned before, they are assassins, so its probably natural that the commoners don’t want to buddy up with them and instead keep a respectul (and slightly fearful) distance. One secret to their power is that they are telepathically bonded with a special type of blade, so it becomes a sort of extenstion of themselves. These blades are magical, and provide their owners strength and the ability to do more than just cut or slice. Even at…

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7/10
Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci
Reviews / December 26, 2017

This is a book that was written as a love letter to Star Wars, and it shows.  You enjoy it for the adventure and the crew’s personalities and excitement as they work to defeat a large and ominous force in the galaxy. It embraces all of the tropes and deus ex machina found in Star Wars and if you can’t embrace them as well, then this might not be a great choice of book for you. And that’s fine, no book will please everyone and knowing that is what this book is about is important for setting reader expectations. Cade Sura is both an underdog and a chosen one. He falls into the position of being the one person who is needed to save the universe from the evil empire of Praxis. Whether he actually feels qualified or up to it is another thing. The point is, the weight of saving everyone has fallen on his shoulders, and even if he doesn’t feel like the right man for the job, he’s also not really the type to quit with at least trying whatever he is capable of. Along the way, he picks up an interesting crew that has fun dynamics….

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7/10
Review: The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis
Reviews / November 30, 2017

Overall, The Guns Above was an enjoyable steampunk adventure, with a strong female protagonist and airships and battles. Josette Dupre is an enjoyable protagonist who becomes the first female captain of an airship. Whether this assignment is out of earned respect or a setup to see her fail depends on perspective. Either way, its an amazing opportunity that came her way after becoming a hero when her previous airship crashed. And it turns out her new airship is not just any airship, but a brand new, cutting edge model. Again, since its cutting edge, the likelihood of demise is higher, so whether it was an honor or not is a bit debatable. But Josette is up for the challenge and handles everything with skill and humor. She really is a great character to follow as she lightens things with a great sense of humor and she kicks ass at what she does. One of the things that didn’t work well for me was the sexism. I know the author has done this on purpose, but the misogynistic characters in this just felt over the top. We get the view point from a an overly sexist character who’s only real defining…