Tag Archives: book reviews

Killshot, by Felix R. Savage

When the Spirit of Destiny crashed on the moon, Earth’s last hope of escaping alien conquest was lost. Pilot Jack Kildare and the battle-hardened crew of the SoD survived, but they are trapped in Earth’s ramshackle little moon colony, exposed to the constant threat of alien attack. On Earth, the alien behemoth Lightbringer lies in the African jungle, grounded but no less deadly. Its crew spread destruction across a planet racked by conflict. Former astronaut Hannah Ginsburg inherits a dangerous role as go-between for the aliens and humankind. As much as she struggles to rein in the spreading chaos, her complicity in the alien conquest grows, pushing her nearer to the breaking point. Meanwhile, on the moon, Jack is desperate to get back to Earth and rejoin the fight. But the moon colonists side with the aliens, forcing him to lie and steal just to survive. His chance for redemption comes unexpectedly, when shipmate Skyler Taft detects a horrific new threat to our solar system. Humanity and aliens, locked in a bitter war for our planet, will all perish together … unless Jack can achieve the impossible, and work together with his worst enemy to save Earth.

Killshot is an excellent conclusion to the “Earth’s Last Gambit” series. With any story by Felix R. Savage, I didn’t know what to expect – only that it would be good. I’m glad that the over-sexualized encounters between Hannah and her alien master were toned down in this book.

A few highlights in Killshot: The theme of alien invaders affecting global religion was present through out the series, but Killshot really drove it home. I don’t know if the author intended it, but it reminded me of the extremist religions through out the world. The theme of subservience and slavery was also front and center in Killshot. With slavery and human trafficking so prevalent today, it’s nice to see it tackled in a modern novel.

All in all, Killshot ramps up the tension between the various survivors of the first three books, and introduce a new threat. The book returns to the pace and action from books 1 & 2. The ending is satisfying, and leaves the possibility of another quartet or trilogy in the future. I would eagerly read another series in this universe.

Killshot is a five-star read. Be sure to read the entire series.

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You might say Felix R. Savage has a long history associated with rebellion. He was born in the 1970s, a decade of American youth rebelling against the safe culture of their parents. He is married to a wonderful woman and they have a beautiful daughter. Together the three of them live in Tokyo serving their cat overlord and benevolent protector. Felix writes Science Fiction and Fantasy while not translating, delighting in his family, or catering to the whims of the family’s cat. He never stops watching out for any sign the lizard people have found him.

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Sovereign, by April Daniels

Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

It’s hard to talk about a great book like Sovereign, by April Daniels without spoiling it. The cover art is compelling, just like Dreadnought. We see the continuing adventures of Danny Tozer. The way that society reacts to her and her power continues from book one. While I feel that Sovereign is not quite as powerful as Dreadnought, they are superhero books above all others as far as I’m concerned. From a literary standpoint, Sovereign cranks up the tension and the stakes, not just with Danny Tozer, but also with the world as a whole. Danny has more to lose and more to cherish in book two, and I cannot wait for book three. Like its predecessor, Sovereign, by April Daniels is a five-star superhero read.

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April Daniels graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in literature, and then promptly lost her job during the 2008 stock crash and recession. After she recovered from homelessness, she completed her first manuscript by scribbling a few sentences at a time between calls while working in the customer support department for a well-known video game console. She has a number of hobbies, most of which are boring and predictable. As nostalgia for the 1990s comes into its full bloom, she has become ever more convinced that she was born two or three years too late and missed all the good stuff the first time around. Early in her writing practice, April set her narrative defaults to “lots of lesbians” and never looked back.

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Escape Velocity, by Jason M. Hough

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Captains Skyler Luiken and Gloria Tsandi (and their respective crews) have smashed through the deadly Swarm Blockade, but now find themselves scattered around the planet Carthage and the space stations that she holds in her orbit. Their mission is now twofold: destroy the military compounds of the nefarious alien overlords and find a way back home to Earth.
Standing in their way are a race of horrifying aliens aided by incredible weapons and technology. Low on supplies and with intermittent communication, the surviving humans must rely on all of their cunning, strength, and plain old good luck to turn the tables and overcome their foes. 

The only expectation I had for Escape Velocity was that it was the conclusion to the Dire Earth Duology, and that it had a badass captain on the cover. If you read my review on Tuesday, you already know that I seriously liked Zero World, so I had high expectations for the Dire Earth Duology.

I think that book two is the better of the two books. The floundering that I had felt in book one was gone, replaced by familiarity. Some of the clunky surreal sequences I was left scratching my head in the first book reached fruition in book two.

The dangling plot from Injection Burn is wrapped up in Escape Velocity, and if Jason Hough decided to write more in the same universe, I’d be an eager reader. I’m probably going to read the Dire Earth Cycle, and I look forward to meeting Jason at the 2017 Phoenix Comicon this weekend. I’m giving Escape Velocity four and a half stars over Injection Burn’s four.

Jason M. Hough (pronounced ‘Huff’) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dire Earth Cycle and the near-future spy thriller Zero World. In a former life he was a 3D artist, animator, and game designer (Metal Fatigue, Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction, and many others). He has also worked in the fields of high-performance cluster computing and machine learning.

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Injection Burn, by Jason M. Hough

Skyler Luiken and his ragtag crew of scavengers, scientists, and brawlers have a new mission: a long journey to a distant planet where a race of benevolent aliens are held captive behind a cloud of destructive ships known as the Swarm Blockade. No human ships have ever made it past this impenetrable wall, and Skyler knows not what to anticipate when they reach their destination. Safe to say that the last thing he expects to find there is a second human ship led by the tough-as-nails Captain Gloria Tsandi. These two crews and their respective captains initially clash, but they will have to learn to work together when their mutual foe closes in around them and begins the outright destruction of their vessels along with any hope of a return to Earth.”

I had no expectation when I saw Injection Burn on Netgalley, other than I knew I’d liked Zero World. I wasn’t aware that the Dire Earth duology was a companion series to the Dire Earth Cycle, but at no time reading Injection Burn did I feel like I was missing something.

The para-military vibe from the characters makes this a standard space opera. I kept waiting for the two distinct stories to merge, and I was not disappointed in the payout. There is a surreal plot in book one that I felt out of my element reading, but it pays off in book two.

I’ll give Injection burn four stars.

Jason M. Hough (pronounced ‘Huff’) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dire Earth Cycle and the near-future spy thriller Zero World. In a former life he was a 3D artist, animator, and game designer (Metal Fatigue, Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction, and many others). He has also worked in the fields of high-performance cluster computing and machine learning.

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The Rebellion’s Last Traitor, by Nik Korpon

In a dystopian world ravaged by war and environmental collapse, one man fights history to discover the truth about his wife and child. After decades of war, the brutal Tathadann Party restored order toshattered Eitan City by outlawing the past and rewriting history. Memory is a commodity – bought and sold, and experienced like a drug. Henraek works as a Tathadann memory thief, draining citizens’ memories. Everything changes when Henraek harvests a memory of his own wife’s death, in the hidden rebellion that once tore apart their city. Now he will do whatever it takes to learn the truth – even ifit means burning Eitan City to the ground.

I saw Nik Korpon’s The Rebellion’s Last Traitor on Netgalley, and since I groove scifi, and Angry Robot in general, I decided to give it a whirl.

The Good: Intricate world building. The backstory of the word envisioned by the author displayed a lot of thought and a love of the fictional world created. The gritty dark noir feel of the city and its inhabitants really drove home the totalitarian oppression committed against the citizens.

The Bad: The rebellion that ended so long ago that put so many characters on the varying sides was to more interesting that the main storyline. But these little snippets were almost an afterthought. In fiction like Firefly, the loss of the rebels was so important that it was integrated into each episode. Also, the alternating narrative is nice, but the style of both characters and their POVs were pretty much the same. More than once I had to flip back to the first page of the chapter to verify what POV I was in.

The Disappointing: The story was super confusing. There was a complex socio-political thing going on, but there just wasn’t enough information to really click. I had no investment in the characters. The Rebellion’s Last Traitor has so much potential, but the execution was left muddy and confusing.

The Final Word: I’m probably the wrong person to ask if I’d recommend this story. I like all sci-fi, even bad sci-fi. Reading this book felt like I had accidentally picked up the second book in a series, and I spent most of the read lost. I’m going to give this on three stars.

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Glass Sword, by Victoria Aveyard

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul. Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind. Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

I enjoyed Red Queen. I expected to enjoy Glass Sword. And I did… mostly. A sequel not living up to my expectations is common, so I try to factor that when I read the second book in a series. I don’t think that my quibbles with expectations are what made Glass Sword not as good as the first book.

The two books almost feel like different people wrote them. Red Queen felt like an epic YA fantasy with a political undercurrent that resulted in manipulative politics that were forced upon Mare. In Glass Sword, the tale is more of an angsty love triangle, and Maven’s vindictiveness seems cliché. Cal’s depression, while realistic, is just such a drag. Finally, will Mare ever learn? She makes the same mistakes in book two as she did in book one.

All in all, I’ll still read the third book. I already have all the short stories, and I’ll likely read those as well. The ending of Glass Sword makes me think that whatever happens in King’s Cage will be epic. I’m gonna give Glass Sword four stars, and look forward to reading more from Victoria Aveyard.

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Victoria Aveyard recently graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. She has sold several television pilots and feature-length screenplays, and is currently represented by the Hollywood management company Benderspink. THE RED QUEEN is her first novel.

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Facsimile, by Vicki Weavil

For a ticket to Earth, 17-year-old Anna-Maria “Ann” Solano is ready to jettison her birth planet, best friend, and the boy who loves her. Her mission is easy: escort Dace Keeling, a young naturalist, through the wilderness of the partially terraformed planet Eco. Ann’s determination to escape the limitations of her small, frontier colony never falters, until Dace’s expeditions uncover three secrets. One offers riches, one shatters Ann’s perceptions of herself, and one reveals that the humans stranded on Eco are not its only inhabitants. This is the story of a girl who must choose between fulfilling the dream that has always sustained her or save the planet she’s never considered home.

I was trapped in the passenger seat on a long road trip, so I ended up reading Facsimile in about six hours. Facsimile has a slow beginning. The premise was interesting, but it was difficult to connect with the characters. There was this odd love triangle, but it didn’t seem to work for me. I had just finished reading the Generations series by Scott Sigler, and I was hoping that Facsimile would be similar. There are a lot of parallels – children left to cope on their own; no adults around to guide the youth who just want to get off the planet; a strong female protagonist.

I think that the narrative was a bit too long. There were some interesting social justice components, but they seemed forced. I think if I had to sum up my quibbles with Facsimile, it would be “forced.” The story just didn’t seem to flow smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still read a sequel, because the overall story was interesting. In the end, I’d award Facsimile 3.5 stars.

Vicki turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.
 

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