Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just Finished Reading... A Hero for the Empire by Christina Wescott

After hardly doing any reading all year because I'd been so busy, in the last few weeks I've built up quite a nice TBR (to-be-read) pile between e-books on my iPad mini and a stack of good old fashioned paperbacks, which I'll admit, I get more enjoyment out of. I think its something to do with the fact that when I'm looking at a screen, I'm usually working, so I can't relax the same way reading an e-book as I do when I've got the printed version in my hand.
Anyway, enough psycho-analysis, I'm here to talk about the latest book I finished!
Now, I'm actually pretty picky about my sci-fi romance, which is why I don't read as much as I either should (to keep up with what's going on in the market, etc) or would like. However, both the blurb and extract I found of A Hero for the Empire online sounded pretty good, so I went ahead and got an e-book copy from iTunes, which is where I get a majority of my e-books these days.
I found this book to be quite well written, the action scenes and description done very well, though I felt it was a bit rough and ready to start with. We're tossed into this world with little reference, and some of the terms weren't really explained, so it took me until well into the book to fully understand the political and military side of it. However, I can't talk, because I know how hard opening chapters are, and the same problem -- rough opening chapters where the story struggles to get going -- is a flaw of my own that I'm constantly struggling with.
Anyway, the other thing was that the romance side of things also started off a bit rough. The two main characters were instantly attracted to each other, and were thinking about sleeping together within like a few hours of meeting. We've all read books where this works, but in this case, it was a little jarring. I actually think it would have worked better if the author had said they were attracted to one another, and left it at that, because following shortly after, the romance got pushed back in favor of the story, which felt more natural and allowed the characters to come together more organically.
This was one of those books that starts off good, but ends up being great. The further I got into the story, the more addicted I was, the more on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what was going to happen and how in the heck the author was going to pull together a convincing happily-ever-after with all the things going wrong all over the place. But she did it, and she did it really well, with plenty of action and the exact right amount of romance to round things out.
I'm really looking forward to seeing where the author goes with the series next, as I think (I hope) it will only continue to get better from here.
All in all, this was a great sci-fi romance read, one I think is a good representation of the genre we're all hoping will gain ground and popularity. Oh, I also have to say that even though I'm not a cat person, I really loved the psychic cat. He had his own great personality and called the hero his "person" which was just adorable! Anyone on the look out for good sci-fi romance should check this book out.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just Finished Reading... Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

So I've been totally slack with my reading habits this year, especially in the last six months. However, I have a new resolve to start making more time to read so I'm not so caught up in my own work all the time, plus its good too see what else is out there.
To that end, I finally got my hands on a book I'd been meaning to read for ages - Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (also writing as Rachel Aaron). There's an interview in the back of this book, and the author says that she'd had the idea for her Paradox series in the back of her mind, but a few years ago, went looking for an action packed space romance, but when she couldn't find any that were exactly what she was after, decided to write one herself. The reason I mention this is because that was one of the reasons I decided to write Atrophy.
Anyway, I'm not a big fan of books written in the first person. That's not to say I won't read them, but they've got to have a really awesome hook to get me in, otherwise, it bothers me. About three pages into this book, I stopped noticing it was even written in first person. Good writing is good writing, people, so if a book can grab you, it won't matter about those little things that otherwise might stop you from reading on.
This writing in this book is awesome, which, when added to great characters and an exciting story, makes for a five star read, if I was the type of reader to give out marks.
The main female character, Devi, is exactly the kind of brave, confident kick-ass heroine I aspire to write, but haven't got a handle on yet. This book shows it can be done, and can be done well. So its probably not surprising to admit that I wasn't even half way through this book when I immediately went and ordered the following two (in paperback, because I'm old fashioned that way) and now I'm sitting here day after day, waiting for them to arrive so I can find out what happens to Devi.
As for the romance, it was good, but there probably wasn't as much as I usually enjoy in my sci-fi romance (however, I know in my own books, sometimes I go over board with the romance and don't have as much sci-fi, which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea). The romance between Devi and Rupert was handled quite well, and Rupert is a whole mystery unto himself that I can't wait to find out more about. 
All in all, this was an awesome book, and I certainly hope Rachel Bach continues writing sci-fi romance -- if not this series, then maybe something else, because she certainly has a talent for it!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Countdown: Top Season Returns of 2014/2015 - #1 Arrow



And after a bit of a delay, we're back with the countdown of shows that I think made the best return for the 2014/2015 season. I know, I'm a bit slow with this considering the viewing season is now almost half over already, with most shows airing their mid-winter finale. Still, I think the shows I've mentioned have continued to impress right into the middle of the series, and hopefully will continue into the second half when they return in 2015. At number four we had Once Upon a Time. The number three spot was Chicago Fire. And Agents of SHIELD came in at number two.
If you've read this blog recently, its probably not surprising to find I've awarded Arrow the number one spot...





Yes, I have already posted about how awesome I thought the first episode in season three of Arrow was. The subsequent episodes have only made this show more epic. They killed Sarah, and now
Laurel is secretly training (as much as Laurel sometimes annoys me, I have to respect her resolve to become tougher) while Felicity has gone to work at Queen Consolidated under Ray Palmer as I predicted... but who couldn't see that coming?
We got an awesome Felicity-centered episode (anything featuring Felicity is awesome) however, Oliver is just asking for it, really. Someone punch that guy in the face, maybe it'll knock some sense into him. Seriously. At the end of the Felicity episode, he gave her one of his speeches, something along the lines of no matter what happened to Felicity in the past, he was glad for it, because it had made her the woman she is today. He finished by pointedly saying "and you know how I feel about her." Sure, why not twist the knife, Oliver? Felicity ignored the comment and told him she had to go. What else was she going to do?
Maybe run straight into the conveniently positioned arms of her new boss, Ray Palmer.
Again, who didn't see that coming. After wooing Felicity with an expensive dress, even more expensive jewelry and then taking her out to a "work" dinner (actually, it really was a work dinner) it was easy to see what would happen by the end of the episode. Oliver was displaying an unsurprising jealousy over Felicity's new closeness to Ray, though it seemed he was happy to show it to everyone else, but around Felicity, stayed as stoic as ever. I have to say, it was a little cliche, but I did enjoy how the writers maneuvered the characters in this episode -- Diggle was in Oliver's ear about his true feelings for Felicity and the fact that he was hurting her by denying her the chance to be with him (or something along those lines), so toward the end of the episode, it seemed Oliver had finally decided to open himself up to the possibility of being with her, except when he went to see her at his old QC offices, what did he find? Ray and Felicity kissing.
The look on his face said it all, before he went back to the Arrow cave (newly monikered in recent episodes) only to come face to face with the fern Felicity had bought to brighten the place up. In that moment, he snapped, letting the fury and hurt out. Unfortunately, in the aftermath, you could all but see his resolve strengthening that nothing would ever happen between them, especially if Felicity was moving on. Which she totally isn't. I think Ray and the kiss were just a distraction. And with the little clues being left, it seems more and more likely that Ray will turn out to be a bad guy. I think it will be a case of Ray had always meant to use Felicity when he came to town with his nefarious plan, but hadn't expected to care for her, or some such thing like that.
Meanwhile, I will try to contain my geeky excitement when I state that the Arrow-Flash crossover was easily THE BEST crossover any show has done ever. I don't have words to describe how awesome that was. I really loved that it showcased the differences in the Arrow-Flash teams, but highlighted that they do what they do for the same reasons, even if their methods are a little different. I could go on, but maybe I'll save that for another day and another post.
Lastly I have to say that tonight's mid season finally, with Oliver facing the leader of the League of Assassins, after they presumably find out he was the one who killed Sarah, looks amazing. I'm sure it'll end in some cliff-hanger where we don't know if Oliver is dead or alive (of course they're not going to kill him!) but I'm hoping it doesn't. I'm hoping we get some smallish resolution so we're not spending the next few weeks counting down the days until the mid-season break is over.
All I can say in finishing is that if the first half of Arrow season 3 has been this awesome, I can't wait to see what they do in the second half.