20 August 2019

Romance and space opera, with spies and aliens

Space opera | Starshine (Series: Aurora Rising #1; Amaranthe #1) | G.S. Jennsen

⭐⭐⭐, aka I liked it

The main characters and their motivations are well done. The galaxy destroying aliens are plausible.

The future tech is high quality soap-opera and almost credible, the right quantity of science terms and jargon are thrown in at appropriate times, while not descending to handwavium and unobtainium (big plus).

The economics, as in all space opera, makes little sense. People zip between planets like they'd zip between cities on Earth, the major population centres on whole planets are as tiny as 30,000. Come on, we have villages in my country which are bigger than that! There are whole planets run by mafias.... but then, that's why it's space opera, right? And this one is quite well done.

There is good character development for the heroine and the hero, and a few of the main characters. I presume the villains will be better fleshed out in the subsequent books. As of now, they are just creepy evil bad guys. This book is for the female gaze, and the romance is overly signalled to start with, but once you get used to the idea, it's quite fun, because the characters are solidly done.

Will I read more in the series? Yup, planning to dish out good money for it.

Pew-pew-pew fun from one end to the other

Military Science Fiction | Scorpion’s Fury (Series: Metal Legion, #1) | C.H. Gideon  

⭐⭐⭐ and a large planet, aka I liked it quite a bit

No wasting time. Our heroine leaps into battle in the prologue itself, and then continues for the rest of the book, winning a field promotion while saving the day and dissing the inept officers around. So far, fairly standard expectations. So what else is there?

Bad language used by soldiers (who are supposedly the dregs anyway)? Check. Sassy and fearless heroine? Check. At least one decent senior officer? Check. Comrade under fire? Check. Bureaucratic own-ass savers? Check. Hand to hand fighting with own side? Uhh..., check. Mystery man? Check. Fancy futuristic battle craft? Check.

Flashes of humour, believable battles (ok, willing suspension of disbelief, but at least there are no infinite ammunition supplies), almost invincible aliens, all check. Political twists and turns, yup, a few.

The characters come to life and you care about them. Hence, an 'I like it' rating. No way to give a partial star, so let me say: this sits at the top of 3 stars, with a large planet.

19 August 2019

Futuristic boot camp to fight alien monsters

Military science fiction | Earth Alone (Series: Earthrise, #1) | Daniel Arenson 

⭐⭐⭐ aka I liked it

This book features mandatory drafting of all eighteen year olds, worldwide, to fight alien monsters. Most of the book is about the boot camp that our heroes go to. There is the mandatory bully, the tough sergeants, the unapproachable officers, the teen romances.

But the boot camp went on and on, and the remaining pages got less and less. This was supposed to be a military sf book featuring alien monsters. Now, there was hardly any book left, and the boot camp was still on. I wondered if these teens would ever actually fight a war or, horrors, was I expected to go to book two for that?

Well, if Arenson had done that to us, nobody would buy book two. Fortunately for sales, he did not disappoint regarding battles with the aliens. The book went into high gear, the aliens appeared. And there was still a chapter left to wrap up the whole thing  in case you decided to stop at book one. However, such authorial kindness should be rewarded, and the rest of the series beckons more appealingly as a result.

15 August 2019

Government cracks down on Teens. Really??

Young Adult Dystopia | Fated | Teri Terry

⭐⭐ aka It's OK

It's a prequel, so I was happy not to worry about spoilers if I read the series.

Well written, aimed at the teen market.

Where it fails is the sheer impossibility of the plot premise. That a crooked politician could create emergency conditions and take over as absolute dictator is plausible. But that the first few executive orders thereafter are to create a police state aimed at teenagers, to have all teens carry ids on lanyards, and kids below age 16 prohibited to have a mobile phone begins to stretch credulity. To then go on to jail terms for having mobile phones, searches in schools begins to become ridiculous.

But to have death sentences for kids 12 and above? Public hangings? For supposedly opposing Brexit? Come on! That's too absurd. I give up.

A Western written in the 21st century

Western | The Revenant | Michael Punke

⭐⭐ aka It's OK

You see the map and you realise how BIG the continent of North America is, and how much travel the people did, a lot of it by foot. And yet, the story itself didn't move me much.
Partly, it may be because I expected to read a Western in the style common in the last century. But nowadays, they are better researched,  there are less 'varmints' in the dialogue, and there are not a lot of shootouts fastest-gun-in-the-West style at all.

On a continuum between Max Brand and Louis L'Amour, this one is beyond Louis L'Amour. Not as much fun, though.

A Detective Story about a Detective Story

Detective | Magpie Murders | Anthony Horowitz

⭐⭐⭐ aka I liked it

An editor finds the last chapter of the detective novel by the boutique publisher's bestselling author missing. Shortly after, she learns that the author is dead, presumably a suicide. Her search for the missing chapter hints darkly at murder, and she ends up risking her life chasing the chapter and the truth.

You get to read the whole of the detective story by the fictional author as well... heh heh. Two mysteries for the price of one.

Anthony Horowitz tends to place himself and his family in some of his detective books. This time, he leaves the poor folk in reality. It makes the story a bit better this way, I think. That stuff is clever-clever, not necessarily more entertaining.