Stacking the Shelves (152)

Stacking the Shelves

I have never read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but I have heard enough about it that I knew what it was about. It’s about cancer cell research, with a dose of medical ethics. Which meant that I was beyond puzzled and well into flummoxed when I read that a woman in Tennessee was claiming that the book was pornographic and that not only should her 15-year-old son not have been assigned the book in school, but that it should be banned from the local school district.

As far a this woman is concerned, the information about the subject’s cervical cancer, which does include the information about her cervix and vagina and that all women have them, is too graphic for a high school student. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that someone thinks that a woman discovering she has cervical cancer should be called pornographic. Considering what happened to Henrietta Lacks and the cells harvested without her permission or consent, I’d use other words. Pornography isn’t even in the same hemisphere.

I’m reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for Banned Books Week later this month.

For Review:
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Burn it Up (Desert Dogs #3) by Cara McKenna
Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra #11) by Michelle Sagara
Dark Secrets by Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy and Mina Khan
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell
Heart Legacy (Celta’s Heartmates #14) by Robin D. Owens
The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic #3) by Patrick Weekes
The Prophecy Con (Rogues of the Republic #2) by Patrick Weekes
Target Engaged (Delta Force #1) by M.L. Buchman
When the Stars Align by Jeanette Grey

Purchased from Amazon:
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk by David A. Goodman (review)
Captured in Ink (Art of Love #3) by Donna McDonald
Diplomats and Fugitives (Emperor’s Edge #9) by Lindsay Buroker

Borrowed from the Library:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 6-7-15

Sunday Post

I had a couple of really terrific books this week.

One of my terrific books here this week was The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy, the epic conclusion of her Twelve Kingdoms series. I loved the series so much that I am giving away a copy of the winner’s choice of title in the series, so that I can share the love. If you like epic fantasy and/or fantasy romance, this series is awesome.

shards of hope by nalini singhAnd over at The Book Pushers I was part of the gang for one of our epic group reviews, this time for Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh. Shards was also absolutely awesome, and everything I’ve come to expect from Singh’s Psy/Changeling series. And now we wait for next year’s installment.

Speaking of awesome, my first book this coming week is Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman. It is a more than worthy successor to last year’s fantastic Spider Woman’s Daughter, and to her father’s terrific Navajo Mysteries series.

Current Giveaways:

The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller
Winner’s choice of title in The Twelve Kingdoms series by Jeffe Kennedy
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland is Anita Y.

talon of the hawk by jeffe kennedyBlog Recap:

B+ Review: The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller + Giveaway
A+ Review: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy
Guest Post by Author Jeffe Kennedy about Warrior Women + Giveaway
B Review: Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear
B Review: Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy + Giveaway
A Review: The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato
Stacking the Shelves (138)

sinners gin by rhys fordComing Next Week:

Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman (review)
Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy by Victoria Vane (blog tour review)
Rhyme of the Magpie by Marty Wingate (blog tour review)
Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper (blog tour review)
Sinner’s Gin by Rhys Ford (review)

Guest Post by Author Jeffe Kennedy about Warrior Women + Giveaway

talon of the hawk by jeffe kennedyToday’s guest post is from one of my favorite authors. Jeffe Kennedy is the author of both the Covenant of Thorns paranormal romance series and the fantasy-with-romance The Twelve Kingdoms. She is the author of today’s featured book, The Talon of the Hawk, which stars a marvelously portrayed warrior woman, Ursula of the Twelve Kingdoms, and concludes the series. I asked Jeffe to give us her take on writing a warrior woman heroine, and here’s what she had to say.

The Joy of Writing Warrior Women
by Jeffe Kennedy

One of my favorite parts of having THE TALON OF THE HAWK be live in the world is seeing how readers react to the amazing cover. Not just any readers, but women – especially younger ones.

I mean, there’s my very tough warrior princess with her steely gaze, a leather bustier with studs, vambraces and a great big, gleaming sword. Seriously, one after another, I saw women’s eyes light up with unholy joy.

I’m hearing about it, too, with the new Mad Max movie. I even reposted this great gif on my Tumblr of Charlize Theron answering questions at Cannes. (Fair Warning: there’s a lot of very sexy stuff on my Tumblr, very NSFW (not safe for work) pics, so know that if you go exploring there. :))  Someone asked her where the anger came from in the movie’s women warriors and she answers “Women have that.” And clearly the crowd cheers because she adds that she’s not the only one.

Yes. Women have rage like men have rage. Because people have anger when things don’t go our way – and rage gives us the energy to make the necessary changes so things DO go our way.

Sometimes I think women might have more anger because we have fewer acceptable outlets. And not the same number and quality of escapist images. We go to the movies and the guys get the whole trip of the awesome hero defeating everything and everyone, while the woman helps in some feminine way or is simply rescued.

by the sword by mercedes lackeyThis is why I *loved* writing a woman warrior! I got to live the fantasy of being Ursula – blazingly fast, able to defeat even a much bigger man. She’s smart, tough, strong and a hero to those around her. No, she’s not perfect. She’s also incredibly stubborn, prickly and doesn’t trust easily. Much like any number of male action heroes. Some readers have said she reminds them of Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and I can totally see that.

I would love to see more women warriors in all genres. One of my long time favorites is Kerowyn in BY THE SWORD, by Mercedes Lackey. What are some others you can think of? Hit me!

Jeffe KennedyJeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

To learn about Jeffe, visit her website or blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


mark of the tala by jeffe kennedyI loved this series so much that I can’t resist sharing it. Therefore, I’m giving away a copy of any book in the Twelve Kingdoms series to one lucky winner. So that’s a choice of either The Mark of the Tala, The Tears of the Rose or The Talon of the Hawk.

This is an international giveaway. If you are located anywhere that The Book Depository ships, you’re welcome to enter. For U.S. winners, you can choose between ebook and paperback.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

talon of the hawk by jeffe kennedyFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: fantasy romance
Series: The Twelve Kingdoms #3
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Date Released: May 26, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository


Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

My Review:

When I finished this marvelous book, one of my first thoughts was that it was an absolute tragedy that too many people will see the label “fantasy romance” and turn away, because The Twelve Kingdoms series is an absolutely awesome epic fantasy series, complete with oath-breaking kings, witchy queens, black and white magic, political skullduggery and epic betrayals and reversals of fortune. Good triumphs, evil gets its just desserts, justice prevails. Kingdoms fall, kingdoms rise. The King is dead, long live the Queen.

It just so happens that in each of the books in the series, one of the High King’s daughters finds true love, amidst a whole lot of struggle and also with a kingdom to fight for. And through these fantastic women, we also see lots of different ways to become a heroine, whether by magic, by religion, or by the sword.

Also a marvelous celebration of sisterhood. In the end, the daughters of High King Uorsin and Queen Salena discover that they are fated to either rise together, or fall together. And that no matter what happens or how their paths may diverge, they are always stronger together. The men they love are there to help and assist, but it is the women who run this show.

Evil wears a woman’s face, too. So we have fantastic heroines and dastardly female villains. Evil is not vanquished with a hair pulling cat fight, but righteously with a sword, also in the hands of a woman.

There is a message here, wrapped in an awesome fantasy series, that we can be and do anything, both good and evil (and also in between). It’s up to us to decide our fate.

mark of the tala by jeffe kennedyThe Talon of the Hawk brings the story begun in The Mark of the Tala (reviewed here) and continued in The Tears of the Rose (here) to its epic conclusion.

Ursula is High King Uorsin’s oldest daughter, and his putative heir. He has been constantly disappointed that Ursula is a woman, but at the same time has trained her to be the warrior-queen that the Twelve Kingdoms will need when he is gone. He just can’t admit that day will ever come, and he is also unable to let go of the idea of a male heir.

When Ursula’s youngest sister has a boychild, Uorsin wants to make the new princeling his heir, in spite of Astar being a) a baby, and b) the rightful heir to one of the principalities that make up the Twelve Kingdoms. Uorsin and the boy’s other grandfather, King Erich, are fighting over the little body of this tiny baby, while his mother hunts for his kidnapped twin sister.

Ursula can’t bear to take the baby from his mother, and won’t kidnap her sister and her child in order to please her tyrannical father. She wants him to be reasonable, but she should know better.

She returns to a court under siege. Her father has hired mercenaries to take over all the guard posts, and has imprisoned the entire town within its walls. He is also under the sway of a magic practitioner who makes even the tough mercenaries quake in their very large boots.

Ursula is ultimately faced with a dire choice – is she loyal to the High King, or to the Twelve Kingdoms? Until she returns to court without her sister’s child, she has always thought they were one and the same. Seeing the deepening paranoia that has descended upon the king, she finally admits that the needs of the Kingdom are more important than the corrupt wishes of its mad King.

This is Ursula’s quest – to escape her father’s madness, to find her sisters, and to free the kingdom from its descent into evil and death – before it is too late.

tears of the rose by jeffe kennedyEscape Rating A+: I’ll admit that I didn’t much like youngest sister Amelia (until she got her pretty little self-centered head out of her ass) but I’ve always had a fondness for Ursula.

She is an absolutely stellar example of the warrior-princess, but like each of her sisters, she has hidden depths that have yet to be plumbed, and hidden heartaches that need to be lanced of their pain before she can be the queen she must be.

So this story is one about Ursula both finding her heart, and admitting what has been hiding in it all along. Ursula has spent her life pretending not to hear the rumors that she hates men and sleeps with her sword, and all the nastiness encased in those rumors, and in the court’s judgment of her appearance as a warrior and not a pretty girl.

Well, she does sleep with her sword. She needs to protect herself against attack. But those rumors also hide a much deeper secret, and it takes a mercenary captain to dig in and hold on long enough for her pain to finally be healed.

Ursula has always protected her sisters from the worst of their father’s abuses, and even from the knowledge that those abuses were happening. They don’t know the depths to which their father sunk, or the horrific nature of exactly what Ursula has been hiding from them.

Mercenary Captain Harlan helps Ursula to heal by getting her to finally talk about what is wrong. He listens. He encourages her to let out the pain she’s been holding in, because as a leader of fighters he has come to the conclusion that sharing the secret decreases its power to hurt.

What he does not do, what does not happen in this book, is a healing by “magic cock”. He loves her and he helps her to be her best self. While they do fall in love and become lovers, the physical aspects of their eventual relationship are not what cures Ursula. It’s her revealing the secret, and finally realizing that she was abused and not consenting, that it was not her fault, that allows her to heal. They only become lovers after Ursula is able to let go of the harm that has been done to her.

Meanwhile, there is a huge quest going on. Her sister Andromeda, and Andromeda’s husband Rayfe, are the rulers of the magic country of the Tala. There are resistance factions in their court that are responsible for the kidnapping of sister Amelia’s daughter Stella. The sisters are not just hunting Stella, but they are also trying to put down the plot and recover Andromeda’s kingdom.

As if that wasn’t enough, Amelia, as the avatar of the goddess Glorianna, is working to bring down the magical barrier between the Tala and the Twelve Kingdoms. Not, as their father desires, in order to conquer the Tala, but because the walling off of magic is sickening all the kingdoms.

Too little of a good thing turns out to be deadly. And too much of a good thing is equally as damaging, although less obviously.

negotiation by jeffe kennedyAll of the action, and the fate of all the sisters and all the kingdoms, ties back to the marriage of their parents. Queen Salena saw all of this when she married Uorsin (in the novella Negotiation) and bartered her own life and happiness in the hopes that one day her daughters would be able to fix the world.

This series comes to a stunning conclusion, one that ties up all the loose ends and sets the stage for a marvelous future for the Twelve Kingdoms. Happily Ever After all around. And a lovely book hangover for any fantasy or fantasy romance fan.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 5-31-15

Sunday Post

I’ve gone weeks with relatively few blog tours, but next week is chock-full of them. Lucky for me, they are all for books that I am really anxious to read, so it should be a real treat of a week.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Current Giveaways:

One copy of Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

beyond galaxy's edge by anna hackettBlog Recap:

Memorial Day 2015
A- Review: Beyond Galaxy’s Edge by Anna Hackett
B+ Review: Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford
B+ Review: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
B Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (137)



moonlight on butternut lake by mary mcnearComing Next Week:

The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour review)
The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy (blog tour review)
Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear (blog tour review)
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (blog tour review)
The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (137)

Stacking the Shelves

I’ll admit that I really love these short stack weeks. But I’m starting to wonder whether its a lack of books, a lack of choices, my own changing tastes or, heaven forbid, the early signs of a reading slump.

Oh noes! Anything but that…

For Review:
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Fable: Blood of Heroes by Jim C. Hines
Inherit the Stars by Laurie A. Green
Opening Up (Ink and Chrome #1) by Lauren Dane
A Sword for His Lady (Courtly Love #1) by Mary Wine
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (Song of the Shattered Sands #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Purchased from Amazon:
Negotiation (Twelve Kingdoms #0.5) by Jeffe Kennedy

Stacking the Shelves (129)

Stacking the Shelves

Today is the 4th anniversary of Reading Reality. 2011 seems like a LONG time ago. The official celebration (and giveaway) will be on Monday, April 6. I’m starting to measure my life in when we moved and where we were when “X” happened. When I started Reading Reality, we were living in Gainesville, FL. After that, we moved here to Atlanta. and moved again within Atlanta. Then Seattle, and we moved again in Seattle. Now we’re back in Atlanta. That’s a lot of moves to end up back in the same place. We often drive by that second place we lived in when we were here before. It’s hard to resist the impulse to turn in!

On the bookish front, Humble Bundle is currently offering a science fiction bundle that is pretty awesome. Check it out!

For Review:
Deadly Election (Flavia Albia #3) by Lindsey Davis
The Dismantling by Brian DeLeeuw
Dissident (Bellator #1) by Cecilia London
Finding Mr. Right Now (Salt Box #1) by Meg Benjamin
The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
The State of Play edited by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Purchased from Amazon:
The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files #1) by Charles Stross
Crushed (City of Eldrich #2) by Laura Kirwan
The Fire Seer and Her Quradum (Coalition of Mages #2) by Amy Raby
Impervious (City of Eldrich #1) by Laura Kirwan
Target of the Heart (Night Stalkers) by M.L. Buchman

15 for 15: My Most Anticipated Books for 2015


I took a look at last year’s list, and was surprised and pleased to discover that I read almost everything I was looking forward to, and even better, liked them! (I have the other two books, but just haven’t gotten a round tuit yet. This is what TBR piles are made of.)

It’s also hard not to miss the trend. The books I’m looking forward to are sequels to things I read last year or new pieces of ongoing series. It is difficult to anticipate something if you don’t know that it exists.

And even though these books aren’t being released until sometime in 2015, I already have arcs for a few of them, and have even read a couple. So far, the stuff I’m looking forward to is every bit as good as I’m hoping it will be.

Speaking of hopes, the dragon book is for Cass (Surprise, surprise!) She adored the first book in the series, liked the second one a lot, and has high hopes for the third one. Because, dragons.

So what books can’t you wait to see in 2015? 


Most anticipated in 2015:
Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann Leckie
Dreaming Spies (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #13) by Laurie R. King
The End of All Things (Old Man’s War #6) by John Scalzi
Flask of the Drunken Master (Shinobi Mystery #3) by Susan Spann
The Invasion of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen
Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4) by Max Gladstone
Madness in Solidar (Imager Portfolio #9) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Obsession in Death (In Death #40) by J.D. Robb
A Pattern of Lies (Bess Crawford #7) by Charles Todd
Pirate’s Alley (Sentinels of New Orleans #4) by Suzanne Johnson
Ryder: American Treasure (Ryder #2) by Nick Pengelley
Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling #14) by Nalini Singh
The Talon of the Hawk (Twelve Kingdoms #3) by Jeffe Kennedy
The Terrans (First Salik War #1) by Jean Johnson
The Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoir by Lady Trent #3) by Marie Brennan

14 for 14: My Best Books of the Year


2014 digital numbers

I do three different “best of the year” lists in different contexts. This is my personal list, but…I also do a Best Ebook Romances of the year for Library Journal, and I’m one of the judges for the SFR Galaxy Awards, which is effectively a best SFR of the year list.

So there are repeats. After all, if it was one of the best in one context, there’s an awfully good chance it will be one of the best in another if applicable. Even so, when I looked at my A+, A and A- reviews for the year, I had too many choices.

That being said, I have wondered whether I could (or should) keep going with the theme of “besting” the same number of books as the year. So far, it is working all too well.

bollywood affair by sonali devIn the romance category, I have three that stood out from the other terrific books I read this year. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev was an absolute standout. (It’s also on my LJ list). Dev’s book is a slow burning romance and an introduction or exploration into Indian-American and Indian culture. Her heroine is a good girl with a little bit of defiance, and her hero is a bad boy who discovers how much fun it can be to be good.

Jeffe Kennedy’s Mark of the Tala is a great fantasy romance and the first book in her Twelve Kingdoms series. In this one, what I loved was the number of different ways that the road to hell gets paved. Her hero and heroine want to do the right thing for both their peoples, and are lucky enough to fall in love in the process. But this is a story about the fight for the soul of two kingdoms, and a lot of men do evil in the name of either good or power. This one goes surprisingly well, if sadly, with Maleficent.

Robin York, better known as Ruthie Knox, told one of the best New Adult stories I have read so far in the genre in Deeper and Harder, the story of Caroline and West. These are real people facing real problems, including a “wrong side of the tracks” type of love story. They overcome a lot of obstacles, with a lot of love, but also quite a bit of heart-rending pain.

No Place to Hide by Glenn GreenwaldI read a bit more nonfiction than usual this year, and two titles have stuck in my head long after I finished. Partially for the topics they cover, and also significantly for the marvelous writing style. No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald reads like a spy thriller, but it is a cautionary tale about the case of Edward Snowden, the NSA papers he released, and the subsequent persecution of the reporter who covered the story. It will make you look at everything you read that purports to be true with a much more critical eye.

Forcing the Spring by Jo Becker reads like a legal thriller, but it tells the story of the fight for marriage equality using the lens of the case against Prop 8 in California. Becker was embedded with the legal team during the five years that this case wound its way to the Supreme Court, and her “you are there” style of reporting will keep you on the edge of your seat.

ryder by nick pengelleyTwo books don’t fit into categories at all well. Ryder by Nick Pengelley is action/adventure, with a heroine who is a combination of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and Robert Langdon from The DaVinci Code. Ayesha Ryder kicks ass, takes names and discovers secrets that weren’t meant to be revealed in a delightful thriller.

The Bees by Laline Paull feels like a bit of an allegory – it is social commentary about human behavior disguised as bee behavior. But it is also a story about listening to your own inner voice and absolutely NOT blooming where you are planted. You will find yourself rooting for the bee, and laughing at some of her observations that hit close to home about both bees and us.

The urban fantasy series Mindspace Investigations by Alex Hughes continues to wrap me in its web. This year’s entries in the series are Marked and Vacant, and the one word titles represent something in the life of the series protagonist, Adam Ward. Adam is a recovering drug addict, a police consultant, and a telepath. He’s also in love with his equally damaged but otherwise normal police partner. The layers created in this post-apocalyptic but still mostly functioning version of suburban Atlanta are fascinating. It is just close enough to now to recognize what is still going right, and what went wrong.

queen of the tearling by erika johansenIn epic fantasy, my favorite this year was The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. This is in the classic mold of the hero who is raised in obscurity to become the ruler, but the hero is a heroine. This one has the feeling of the King Arthur story, but with a Queen instead. So Queen Kelsea is a fish very much out of water who has to learn fast to save her kingdom. Unlike so many retellings of the Arthur story, Kelsea operates in shades of grey; good choices can have every bit as costly an outcome as bad choices, sometimes more costly. She is learning by the seat of her pants while attempting to preserve her kingdom and fighting with everyone on all sides. A marvelous coming-of-age epic fantasy on a grand scale.

But this year, so many of my memorable reads were in my first love, science fiction.

Two books that I am not going to say a lot about because it’s all been said. These were bestsellers and were covered everywhere.

ancillary sword by ann leckieJohn Scalzi’s Lock In is a murder mystery wrapped in a near-future science fiction setting that, as is usual for Scalzi, has as much to say about our current society as it does about the future in which the book is set. This one works on multiple levels, and has a surprising twist that will tell you a bit about yourself as well. Great fun and an awesome read.

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie is a worthy sequel to the “sweeping all the awards winner” Ancillary Justice. This series is fantastic space opera with a unique point-of-view character from a galaxy-spanning empire with a fascinating culture and a very different way of managing its far-flung holdings. Whatever you might have heard about how good this series is – it’s even better than that.

damnation by jean johnsonJean Johnson’s Theirs Not to Reason Why series concluded this year with two books, Hardship and Damnation. Johnson’s series, like Leckie’s, is epic space opera, but Johnson is firmly in the military SF camp with this series. Her heroine rises through the ranks of the Space Force as the story is told, while she fights an interstellar war, first as a grunt, but eventually as Commander of the Armies. The thing that makes this series unique is that her heroine, Ia, is a precognitive who knows what has to happen, but still has to move heaven, earth, the central command, and everyone she ever meets into the right place at the right time to save the universe in a future that she will never live to see. Awesome from beginning to end.

Soulminder by Timothy Zahn was a complete surprise. Zahn is probably best known for his Star Wars fiction, but this is something completely different. As with Scalzi’s Lock In, Soulminder is SF of the laboratory type, where it is a scientific discovery that fuels the story arc. Also as with Lock In, there is a definitely plot thread about the way that humans will take something potentially good and pave the road to hell with it. (Soulminder was published before Lock In, so any resemblance is unintentional). For hard science SF, Soulminder has a surprising amount of story concerned with keeping one’s soul. It is a tale that embodies the principle “for evil to flourish, it is only necessary that good men do nothing.” It’s also about what happens when those good men stop doing nothing.

forever watch by david ramirezLast but not least, The Forever Watch by David Ramirez. If you threw Gorky Park, Blade Runner, one of Robin Cook’s medical thrillers and Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang into a blender, along with spice from The Matrix and Madeline Ashby’s Suited, you might come up with a story that has some resemblance to The Forever Watch, but it wouldn’t be nearly as good. The Forever Watch is epic SF of the generation ship type, and it was one of those books that I shoved at people because I was so captivated. And it has one of those ending plot-twists that makes you re-think the entire story.

And that’s my top 14 for the year. 2014 was a wild ride, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store! What were your favorites of 2014? Do share! We all need more awesome books to read!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 12-21-14

Sunday Post

It is SO much easier to do Stacking the Shelves and this Sunday Post with my double-screen monitors and my desktop PC. I love the idea of laptops, and the ability to carry one around wherever (especially traveling) but I find a desktop keyboard tons easier to work with. I tend to rest my hands on the edge of the keyboard, but when I do that on a laptop, it does things. Sometimes, bigger is better.

winter warm up blog hopWhile there is only one winner this weekend, there is still time to enter the December blog hops. The Winter Warm Up ends on Tuesday, and the Christmas Wonder Giveaway Hop will be here until the end of the month.

Current Giveaways:

$50 Amazon Gift Card in the Deadly, Calm and Cold Blog Tour
$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Winter Warm Up Blog Hop
$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Christmas Wonder Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of The Wanderer’s Children by L.G. O’Connor is Debra G.

tethered by pippa jayBlog Recap:

B+ Review: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy
B+ Review: Deadly Calm and Cold by Susannah Sandlin + Giveaway
B Guest Review by Galen: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
B+ Review: Tethered by Pippa Jay
Winter Warm Up Blog Hop
Stacking the Shelves (114)



night before christmas by mary mcnearComing Next Week:

Thirteen Days in September by Lawrence Wright (review)
Damnation by Jean Johnson (review)
Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas by Mary McNear (review)
Best Books of 2014