Monday, April 24, 2017

Alexander Outland: Space Pirate by G.J. Koch

Great news for readers who love laugh out loud, irreverent, satirical, space opera! Gini Koch's 2012 Alexander Outland: Space Pirate is being brought out in mass market paper back by Skyhorse Publishing in June.

You may remember how enthused I was about her debut novel, Touched by an Alien, which may have been my favorite read of of 2010. Somehow I missed Alexander Outland when it was first published in 2012 but I'm glad I found it now. It has elements of my favorite SF book series ever (Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga) and favorite tv series ever (Firefly).

Alexander Outland, captain of the Sixty-Nine,  may well be a distant relative of James T. Kirk and Malcolm Reynolds as demonstrated by way with women. However, Slinkie, his weapons chief is strong, independent, and definitely has his number. Also on board are a distinctly different engineer, a Sexbot AI co-pilot named Audrey, and a deposed governor. On what should have been a routine trip to pick up and deliver a shipment of magma between planets, the Sixty-Nine is caught in the web of a pirate armada. But, Alexander being the best space pilot in the galaxy, escapes to land on a strictly regimented  planet that has been totally cut off by the pirate armada. Koch is not afraid of throwing her characters into deep shit as evidenced by a hair raising trek through the planetary sewer system. 

It is to be hoped that there will be many more hilarious forays into the clever universe concocted here. In the very best of ways, it reminds me of some of the humorous science fiction from the 70s and 80s.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester

The Seventh Sun
Kent  Lester

Tor/Forge ISBN: 9780765382221

A geologist doing research in Honduras finds something major in a mining core sample that may win him a Nobel Prize. Dan Clifford, a scientist specializing in "black swan" events, generally unpredictable catastrophic disasters such as earth quakes or tidal waves, decides to stop off at his company's computer plant in Honduras on his way to a scuba vacations and unknowingly sets a series of events that could take down his company. When diving he discovers the body of that geologist. Rachel Sullivan, a daredevil scientist returns from a frigid near death experience and teams up with Dan as he figures out what is going on and races time to prevent a domino effect leading to the next global extinction event.

You won't want to stop reading until the last page is turned. It has somewhat the same feel and appeal as Jurassic Park by Crichton or Preston's Hot Zone with the combination of science and suspense. A terrific debut novel.

Run the Risk by Allison Van Diepen

Nineteen-year-old Grace is trying to keep her fifteen year-old brother Alex on track and out of a gang while working nights in a movie theater and volunteering days at a childcare center. She's also taking classes to bring her grades up high enough to get into the early childhood education certification program because her last semester of high school had tanked after her mom died and her father spent all his time working as a trucker to (sometimes) pay the bills. Mateo had been her first love when she was fifteen but when he joined a gang she had broken up with him. Now, he has just started working security at the theater and claims to be done with gangs. The tension ratchets up when Alex finds himself in deep gang-related trouble with his only hope being Grace and Mateo.

Highly recommended for readers of Simone Elkeles and those who like edgy teen romances with danger and suspense.

Monday, April 10, 2017

No One but You by Brenda Novak

A brave heroine and a wounded bad-boy hero may find healing in a small town if they aren't killed first. Sadie needs more work or better paying work to be free of her controlling and dangerous ex so she can protect her young son. Dawson may have been acquitted by a jury but the folks of Silver Springs still see him as guilty in the gruesome murders of his adoptive parents. He needs to get the farm going again and clean up the mess made when vandals trashed the house while he was in jail and on trial so he can bring his developmentally disabled sister home from the institution she has been in since his arrest. Sadie applies for the job which puts her bullying ex-husband, a town cop, into high gear and increasingly dangerous harassment.

Appealing characters, gripping suspense, and believable romance make this a great reading choice.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bound by Their Secret Passion by Diane Gaston

Lorene Summerfield lost all hope of love and children when she sacrificed herself to a loveless marriage to a crotchety old count so her siblings would be able to make decent marriages. With her two sisters and half-brother happily married, her only joy in life is spending time with them so when her elderly husband forbids her to see them on Christmas she defies him and walks to the neighboring estate, her childhood home to spend the day with them. Returning home, escorted by Dell, the Earl of Penford, who inherited the family home, they are accosted by Lorene's husband and accused of having an affair. When Lorene's husband attempts to strike Dell with his cane, Dell grabs it just as the old lord grabs his own head as in terrible pain, falls down the steps, and dies. Finally the inquest is over, the count buried, and the will read. Lorene had hoped for a modest settlement, having bargained away her dower rights in return of promises of dowries for her sisters but is astonished to realize her late husband left her quite wealthy. After a year of mourning she goes to London to sell her inherited townhouse and both her scandalous mother who had deserted her as a child and Dell come back into her life. This delightful regency era romance is the fourth book in the Scandalous Summerfields series.

Harlequin 978-0-373-29925-6

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen

Returning from holiday, Mrs. Jackson is beseeched by a former cook from a Hyde Castle, a nearby manor owned by the merchant millionaire Haldanes to take up her case. She was dismissed without references when a house guest at the manor died after eating her kedgeree and she was blamed for serving fish that had spoiled. She is positive the man was poisoned. Mrs. Jackson takes the story to Lady Montfort, who decides to investigate. Mrs. Jekyll, the prominent rose expert, happens to be visiting at the time so when Lady Montfort secures an invitation to a rose symposium by Mrs. Haldane, the three women go to spend a few days at Hyde Castle. As news from the continent heralds the beginning of World War I, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson sort through the contentious group of rose-loving friends to determine if a murder by poisoning had actually occurred and if so, who did it. Fans of Downton Abbey and readers who enjoy authentic, rich historical detail will enjoy this look into Edwardian England on the brink of war.

This is the third mystery featuring Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson but it stands well on its own. Well worth reading if you like cozy mysteries and being immersed the the manners and mores of a different time.