Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake

Science Fiction Romance/Space Opera

From Goodreads:

Skulking around in the ruins on a planet swarming with treasure hunters, slavers, and bounty hunters isn’t good for one’s health. But Ankari Markovich needs a few archaeological samples for her latest business venture, a venture that might prove lucrative enough to move her family off the impoverished planet where she grew up. Unfortunately, she has no sooner collected her samples than she’s captured by a band of brawny mercenaries. The captain might be handsome, but he’s intent on turning her over to some finance lord who has, for reasons unknown, put a bounty on her head, a ridiculously large one at that. If she can’t figure out a way to escape before she’s delivered to the lord’s home world, she could be forced into a life of indentured servitude—or worse.

Captain Viktor Mandrake doesn’t usually take on piddling bounty hunting gigs, but when his intelligence officer informs him of a criminal on a nearby planet, he decides it wouldn’t hurt to take a shuttle down to collect the woman. But Ankari Markovich is trouble from the start, nearly eluding his elite forces, then fighting and tricking his people left and right. He finds himself admiring her spirit, but according to her warrant, she’s a criminal. The safest thing is to keep her in the brig and ignore her until she can be handed off to the man who wants her.

But the situation grows more complicated when other bounty hunters show up, wanting to claim Ankari for themselves. Thanks to this woman, Viktor’s ship is in danger, his crew members are going missing, and he’s fighting enemies he never asked for in a jungle in the middle of a hurricane. He’s either going to strangle Ankari… or fall in love. Either scenario could get him killed.

Mercenary Instinct is a full-length, stand-alone novel of 90,000 words. It is part of the “Mandrake Company” series of science fiction romance stories and is recommended for readers who enjoy space-based adventure (such as Firefly) and steamy love stories (in the style of Linnea Sinclair).

Mercenary Instinct is a very well written and exciting story that combines Space Opera and Science Fiction Romance.  Captain Viktor Mandrake and Ankari Markovich are both great characters that keep the story moving. Starting with Ankari chipping off alien poop and ending with a pink shuttle there is both danger and humor.  In between Viktor captures Ankari after destroying her space ship and find that he has a very unusual captive on his hands. 

This is how I like my SFR.  The romance is woven into the plot.  You could take the romance out, do a little re-writing and have an exciting Space Opera.  With the romance added in you have a story that blends both in just the right amount.  This is the first book in the Mandrake Company series.  After reading Mercenary Instinct I will be looking for all the books. 

Amazon Digital Services published Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake in 2014. 

When I looked I found that Mercenary Instinct is free on Amazon.  Trial and Temptation and The Assassin’s Salvation (book 2 and 3) are also available for 3.99 each.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves, December 20, 2014

Books Stacked on My Shelves

I spent the last week in Denver where my son got married.  Between the trip and my goal of reducing the books I take for review I only got one book during the last two weeks.

I got Furry Logic, A Guide to Life's Little Challenges by Jane Seabrook from the publisher in return for a honest review.  This is the 10th Anniversary Edition and contains some new and some previously published saying and illustrations.  The cat on the cover got me at once. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 - December 19, 2014

I'm linking up with Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings and Freda's Voice for Page 56. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Pick the closest book on your book stack and join the fun.

The Beginning:

I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather."

Page 56:

"I told Coin I'd be her Mockingjay. But I made her promise to give the other tributes immunity if the rebels won," I tell him."

While the beginning might not give the book away page 56 does. This is from MockingJay by Suzanne Collins. I watched the movie of The Hunger Games when it came out. Then on a trip last week I listen to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I drove 26 hours round trip so I got through both just as I got home. I then checked out MockingJay from my local library and finished it in a day.

For those of you who have read the books what did you think? I have mixed thoughts about the series. It is certainly exciting reading most of the time. I do hate it when so many of the main characters are killed off. And like others I wondered about why a series about children killing other children is so popular.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mrs. Kaplan and The Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger

Cozy Mystery

From Goodreads:

Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida.

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover.

But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.

This is a nice start to a new cozy mystery series.  The setting is a little different.  Mrs. Rose Kaplen and her sidekick live in the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors.  Using the mystery of why Bertha Finkelstein choked to death on a stolen diamond earring a cast of interesting characters are introduced.  In fact the mystery is really just a cover for developing the premise for the series.

Rose loves mystery stories especially Sherlock Holmes.  When she is the prime suspect in the theft and murder her only choice is to use those stories to solve both the theft and murder. Since Rose is Holmes that made Ida Watson.  There is added color in the use of many Yiddish words in the dialog.  

This is a nice start to a new series.  What happens in the next book will be the decided factor is the success or failure of the series.

Alibi published Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger in 2014.

I received a free ARC of Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death in return for a honest review.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Fortress in Orion (Dead Enders) by Mike Resnick

Science Fiction/Space Opera

From Goodreads:

The Democracy is at war with the alien Traanskei Coalition. War hero Colonel Nathan Pretorius has a record of success on dangerous behind-enemy-lines missions, missions that usually leave him in the hospital. Now he's recruited for a near-impossible assignment that may well leave him dead. 

At the cost of many lives, the Democracy has managed to clone and train General Michkag, one of the Traanskei's master strategists. Colonel Pretorius and a hand-picked team must kidnap the real Michkag if they can, assassinate him if they can't, but no matter which, put the clone in his place, where he will misdirect the enemy's forces and funnel vital information to the Democracy. 

Against the odds, Pretorius, along with Cyborg Felix Ortega, computer expert Toni Levi, convict and contortionist Sally "Snake" Kowalski, the near-human empath Marlowe, the alien Gzychurlyx, and Madam Methuselah - the Dead Enders - must infiltrate the Fortress in Orion, accomplish their mission, and escape with their lives.

The Fortress in Orion is classic Mike Resnick.  There is great dialog, interesting characters, a fun plot and world building set in the Democracy phase of the Birthright Universe.  (The framework for this universe is set in Birthright: The Book of Man an early Resnick book.)  To make this even better The Fortress of Orion is the first book in a new series by Resnick.

I loved how Pretorius just keeps everything secret until the last minute and then manages to make it work.  The only problem – everything seemed to be too easy in spite of the fact that it had only a 3% chance of succeeding.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens when all of the characters are together again.  Here’s hoping for many more books featuring the Dead Enders.

Pry published The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick in 2014.  

I received a free ARC of The Fortress in Orion from Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On a Rogue Planet (The Phoenix Adventures #3) by Anna Hackett

Science Fiction Romance

What Goodreads says:

Unlucky-in-love salvage mechanic, Malin Phoenix, didn’t intend to get caught up in a coup and kidnapped by a sexy cyborg. But she finds herself swept into an adventure to help the deadly, emotionless CenSec, Xander Saros, retrieve an ancient Terran artifact and save his planet.

Soon she’s racing across uncharted space and is magnetically drawn to the cyborg whose strong arms and muscled body ignite a desire that burns brighter than a supernova. But Mal can never let herself forget that she can’t fall in love with a cyborg who can never love her back.

The crowning glory of the Centax Security program, Xander is heavily enhanced, his emotions dampened to nothing to allow him to be the most efficient, lethal killer in the galaxy. As he and Malin hunt for the remnant of the galaxy’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, their quest leads them into the lair of a dangerous technomancer. But Xander can’t identify his greatest threat—the enemy or the fascinating woman who’s making him feel.

Malin Phoenix  loves machines and Xander Saros is part machine so they must be made for each other.  We the readers know this but Malin and Xander do not and so we have a story. You can also look for a new set of Phoenix characters to appear along with hook for future stories.

I really like this series.  Each adventure is a novella with well developed characters, a interesting plot, good world building and a new romance. See if like me  a female mechanic unlucky in love and a cyborg who should not have emotions remind you of a female character in a short lived TV show  and a character in another SFR.  While I found the characters similar the story was all new.

On a Rogue Planet can stand alone but it is more fun if you have read At Star’s End and In the Devil’s Nebula, the first two books in the series.  Since there are several more Phoenix loose and without a love interest I can look forward to more books set in this universe. 

Anna Hackett published On a RoguePlanet in 2014.

I received an ARC for On a Rogue Planet from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ghosts of Grace Cottage by Carolyn Wren Blurb Blitz Tour and Giveaway

Ghosts of Grace Cottage
by Carolyn Wren

Carolyn will be awarding a $50 gift card to winner's choice of Amazon or Secret Cravings Publishing to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


Eloisa Waters is creating a new life for herself.  After travelling for twelve months, she comes home at Christmas, purchasing a small country cottage in a sleepy English village, despite the fact its previous owner was a recluse, the original owner was supposedly a witch, and it’s now rumored to be haunted!

On the first night in her new home, sensual erotic dreams surprise and delight her.  Only these aren’t dreams.  The rumors are true.  Two handsome Regency ghosts inhabit the cottage, becoming corporeal at night, trapped by a curse, compelled to satisfy every desire of the new owner.

Elly begins to fall in love with Anton and Phillipe, her charming ghostly lovers.  But is there more? Can the curse be broken? Or does Elly risk her own soul. As Christmas approaches, and memories surface, how will Elly choose?  How can she possibly leave behind the Ghosts of Grace Cottage? 


My Thoughts on Ghosts at Grace Cottage

Elly is a great character and carries this short novella.  If you like erotica and really handsome ghosts this is a story for you.  Elly, Anton and Phillipe find that they fit.  Elly has a hard decision to make and in the end it leads to a HEA for the three.


“You can’t avoid bringing up the subject of Christmas with me. It’s everywhere I look.” She gestured to the fairy lights in the trees and the snowman in the garden next door. “Just because I’m not up to all the festivities this year doesn’t mean everyone else has to suffer.”

“I don’t know why you don’t buy a lovely new place with the life insurance money.”

“My folks always wanted a country cottage. Maybe in some ways I’m fulfilling their dream.”

Sally yanked the collar of her coat higher as a chill breeze flew along the quiet country lane. “You know she died there,” she whispered. “The previous owner, I mean.”

“Miss Hardy was ninety-two years old. She had to die somewhere.”

“Doesn’t it freak you out?”

“Nope, from what I hear she had a long and happy life.”

“Really?” Sally shivered. “I don’t know where you get that idea. She was a recluse who wouldn’t let anyone inside the house to do repairs and renovations.  That’s why it’s so cheap. Did you hear the rumors? Some people say she used to talk to herself, and strange noises came from inside late at night.” Her voice dropped back to a whisper. “Maybe it’s haunted. I heard another rumor too.  They say a witch might have lived here a couple of hundred years ago.”

Elly laughed. “Sal, honey, I think you need to go back to realtor school. Your selling method leaves a lot to be desired.” Her eyes turned once again to the faded beauty of the old home, and her voice was determined. “I want it.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I was born in England. My parents loved to travel as my dad spent many years in the navy. By the time I reached the age of 12 we had traveled pretty much around the world on cruise ships.

This sounds fun and exciting unless like me you can get sea sick sitting in a bathtub. Lets just say boats do not feature highly in my books.

I still love to travel, but I use planes. All of my life I have written stories in my head. I would rewrite and add characters to TV shows, edit and change novels I was reading, invent scenarios and scenes to amuse myself on long journeys. But strangely I never wrote any of them down. About three years ago I woke up with a scene so clear in my head I knew I had to put it down on paper. Now, what should I do with this one page of prose? I know, I will email it to some friends. The friends approved, in fact they asked what book it was from. I shyly admitted it was my own work and the reaction was immediate...please write the next bit! I did and I have not stopped writing since.

Web links and Buy links

Buy links

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Undercity (Major Baahjan #1) by Catherine Asaro

Science Fiction

From Goodreads:

BOOK ONE IN A BRAND NEW SERIES by Nebula and Hugo Award Winner Catherine Asaro set in the world of her Skolian Empire universe. In the galaxy-spanning future, Major Bhaajan is a tough female P.I. who works the dangerous streets of Undercity.

Major Bhaajan, a former military officer with Imperial Space Command, is now a hard-bitten P.I. with a load of baggage to deal with, and clients with woes sometimes personal, sometimes galaxy-shattering, and sometimes both. Bhaajan must sift through the shadows of dark and dangerous Undercity—the enormous capital of a vast star empire—to find answers.

I look for any book released by Catherine Asaro and the universe she created for the Skolian Empire is one of my favorites.  Undercity is a new series set in that universe.  I loved the book and how Asaro tied it to the previous books in the series. 

Undercity is filled with great new characters and several interlocking plots.  Everything is set in a world that adds a new dimension to the world building in the Skolian Empire.  There are three books in Undercity.  Book One is a previously published novella that introduces Major Baahjan and the planet where the story is set.  It is set in a time before many of the other books in the series.  Each of the books that follow build on everything introduced in Book One.

Undercity is a well written interesting Science Fiction story.  It will stand alone and is a good introduction to the Skolian Empire books for anyone who has not read the series.  I look forward to the next book in the series and hope there be more than one.

Baen published Undercity by Catherine Asaro in 2014.

I received an ARC of Undercity from Netgalley in return for an honest review.  I also purchased a copy when I bought Baen’s monthly bundle for Dec. 2014.